The new “church” in Jerusalem was founded on Holy Scripture because of the fulfillment of prophecy in the Messiah, Jesus the Christ (Isaiah 7:14, Chapter 53). Jesus’ intimate 12 saw their primary function as ministering the gospel to the Jews; they risked their lives to remain in Jerusalem where they faced daily hostility. However, after Jesus’ ascension, persecution of the Jerusalem church forced a multitude of Jesus’ followers to leave the city, just after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1).
Led by God, those who left the city carried this message to other parts of the world. In so doing they fulfilled the second part of the Abrahamic Covenant. It is difficult to know if the 12 disciples at that time defined that covenant as twofold, but clearly, reading Genesis 12:2 there are two parts to God’s promise. “I will make you as great nation” [Israel] and “all peoples on earth will be blessed by you” (Gentiles, through Abraham). We must not forget that Christ was that promised seed.
Our faith is grounded in both Old and New Testaments. Peter reminds us that we (the church) are shielded by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5). We must remember that “to whom much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Amazing how the Word of God is as relevant today as it was two thousand years and more ago! Man’s nature and needs have not changed much over that period of time. The tendency is evermore towards self-centered living, personal opinions, control, creature comforts, all which center on me, myself and I.
Releasing control of our lives to God is very difficult! So when Peter writes that God’s elect have been chosen and sanctified for obedience to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2), this message often meets with resistance and resentment. While we refuse to obey His principles and precepts, we are actually placing ourselves in the hand of the enemy Satan, or making ourselves vulnerable to his attacks. God’s warnings and laws are for our protection!
Peter describes God in His Holiness, as merciful and gracious, faithful to His promises, One who has provided for us now and through eternity, through redemption in Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Peter 1:18). Peter challenges us today to prepare our minds to follow Jesus as obedient children, in the way of holiness.
That might involve suffering. Paul told the Colossian church he rejoiced in suffering for the sake of the body of Christ, which is the church, because his goal was to build them up,, to present the Word of God to them in all its fulness. What glorious riches God had chosen to reveal to His children, both Jew and Gentile! As God’s instrument, Paul laboured “Struggling with all his energy which so powerfully works in me”! (Colossians 1:29).
Paul sought to live a Godly life, as an example to the Church. If the distinguishing characteristic of God’s Church is holiness, what does that look like today? When I was growing up we had a list of do’s and don’ts provided by the Church to keep us on the straight and narrow. However, today that list has largely been discarded by a “Church” that is feeling liberated , enlightened by societal norms of our day. Is this Church any more holy? Is the Church willing to suffer for righteousness sake? Is our love for God pure and selfless? Do we concern ourselves in the lives of others who need to know Jesus? Are we anxious to receive from God each day what He desires in us, of us and through us, in the way of holiness? Is Satan a regular attender in the Church of today?
“Since we have these promises, dear friends [church of the twenty-first century] let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”.
(2 Corinthians 7:1)