A Realistic Book About Life Today

Lessons on Living as Exiles, Part 1

Here’s the plan which may or may not happen. I did a Look at the Book on 1 Peter in Vancouver three weeks ago or so. We got through 1 Peter 2:12. That was five hours. I plan to do that in an hour and a half right now or an hour and twelve minutes. So I’m going to zip, I hope, through that unit. Then we do new stuff all day tomorrow. That is four hours together tomorrow.

So 1 Peter 3–4 tomorrow. That’s the plan, and then maybe sometime in the future I’ll get to 1 Peter 5. But that’s a plan. We won’t take a break tonight. We’ll take two breaks tomorrow. So gird up your loins, and if you need to go, that’s all right. You can walk out and come back in. I won’t be offended.

Let me do some stage setting four ways:

  1. I want to say a word about how you can know 1 Peter is the word of God. How you can know the Bible is the word of God. I want to say that. I just wrote a book on that in my writing leave, early part of this year, and I’m brimming with stuff I’d love to talk about.

  2. I want to say a word about ISIS and the way they relate to the Bible.

  3. I want to say a word about the prosperity gospel because 1 Peter is relevant for that.

  4. I want to say a word about American secularism.

Now that would sound like the weekend, but it’s going to take, I hope, maybe ten minutes or less. We’ll see.

1. The Bible Is the Word of God

A word about how you can know the Bible is the word of God. I’m just going to point you in a direction that you may never have thought about before about how you can know. And I’m assuming most of you are not trained biblical scholars. Not Greek and Hebrew, not a lot of historical reasoning practiced in your life, and therefore you are average, and therefore you need to be able to die for the word of God. How can you do that?

How can a person come to such a conviction that this book is God’s word that you would actually die for it? That’s why I wrote this book. Here’s the pointer. I believe that the glory of God is self-evidencing and self-authenticating and is radiant in this book, and manifestly so in 1 Peter. I’ll show you how 1 Peter talks about that when we get there.

But here’s what I mean. So I’m saying that if you will pray, open this book, read enough of it to get what’s really going on, God will stand forth from this book and be self-authenticatingly compelling in your life and heart. And it will be a real foundation. It won’t be made up. It will be objective, outside of you, and a real warrant for well-grounded faith. Now, to help you catch on to what in the world that means, let me give you three analogies.

Analogy 1: The Way Nature Works

“The heavens are telling the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Did you see it today? Do you see it there? The heavens, the sky, the clouds, the planets, the sun, the stars, and I think virtually all of created nature is telling the glory of God. Does God expect you to see that? He does. And if you see it and therefore conclude, “God made that,” you have seen reality. That’s an analogy to what I’m saying happens with this book because the Bible says that must happen. Romans 1:19–21:

What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God.

They didn’t glorify him as God. They should glorify him because glory is what the nature is saying about God. Just think of that. The whole world will be held accountable because that evidence is real. Isn’t that amazing?

I was listening to Richard Dawkins being interviewed the other night, just so blatantly lying about God who isn’t in his mind, in his thought. God, that is so tragic. God, that is so tragic. A child can see this. That’s number one.

Analogy 2: The Son of God.

John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

So when they say to him, “Show us the Father,” Jesus says, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me?” (John 14:9). What did they see? “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). The Pharisees didn’t see it. Judas with him three years, probably performing miracles in his name, didn’t see the peculiar glory.

You can look right at the sun and not see light. You can look right at Jesus and not see God. But you will be the problem. Not Jesus. Jesus was, in his whole bearing words, actions, death, resurrection, his whole bearing was manifestly self-authenticatingly real. That’s analogy number two.

Analogy 3: The Gospel

So you’re a missionary church. You go to places where they’ve never heard. Somebody opens their mouth, spends thirty minutes explaining the gospel. How in the world is anybody supposed to be able to believe that?

Second Corinthians 4:4: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from” — this is one of the most shaping phrases in all my life — seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Light. That’s not this kind of light. That’s spiritual light: light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. And the devil is blinding the world to see that. But if God lifts the veil, you see it and it’s over. Your quest is over. You’re ready to die.

So for those three analogies: nature, and Son of God, and gospel of God. I argue the same thing is true of the whole book. This book is the unfolding of the testimony of the Son of God. Here’s the way John put it in his letter: “That which we have seen and heard.” What did they see and hear? “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father” (1 John 1:3).

So you can know. If God has mercy upon you, lifts the veil, takes away the darkness and the blinders from your mind, in what we do here in the next five hours together, today and tomorrow, you can know. Beyond doubt, you can know with firm, well-grounded, authentic, objective, confidence, this is the word of God. That’s first.


They are a bold and a murderous force, and they published a couple of weeks ago on CNN, a response after they killed the Ethiopians. A long statement. Part of it goes like this. “Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood, until there’s no more polytheism.” And you know what they’re referring to there? Trinitarianism. “And obedience. No more polytheism and obedience becomes Allah’s on its entirety. The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah, we will mix it with your blood.” Which is why they’re killing these people by the seashore.

Now, the reason that’s relevant is that Jesus said in John 16:2, “The days will come when people will think that they are serving God when they kill you.” Which is what they’re doing and what they’re thinking. First Peter is all about that. It’s all about suffering and persecution and the days we are in. Not coming in. In.

3. A Word About the Prosperity Gospel

One must speak with some nuance, I think, globally about the prosperity gospel. I’ve said some pretty strong words against it.

1. When I say prosperity gospel, I mean that a promise is held out to people for health and wealth and prosperity that is too soon, it’s unmixed, and fails to take into account the measure of suffering and the exile status in which we live.

What I mean by “too soon” is this. I totally believe in prosperity gospel. It’s just when Jesus comes is when it happens. I get to own what? Tell me what I’m going to inherit. The world! That’s what it says in 1 Corinthians 3:21. The world is yours. “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). I can wait. I mean I’m 69. It’s there.

2. The Christian life is a mixed life. There are blessings. Good night! There are blessings. Marriages stay together better. Not perfect. Better! And you don’t drink yourself to death and you don’t worry yourself to death. There are benefits. Whole cultures rise over centuries when Christian principles are at work in economies.

Of course, this is why you must speak with some nuance about prosperity. The gospel is not bad for the world. It just may get you killed as you build nations. And that’s not emphasized. The whole philosophy of suffering is missing from too many churches, and then this whole book that we’re going to look at now is based on the fact that we are aliens and exiles here. And that’s what Americans now need to learn. How to be aliens and exiles on the planet. That’s number three.

4. American Secularism

And then the last thing by way of introduction is American secularism or secularization, which of course as you’ve seen has gone into high gear in the last ten or twenty years. And the flashpoints, of course, are sexuality, parenting, and marriage, the uniqueness of Christ as the only way, and other things. And this book of 1 Peter, as I worked through it again the last three days, is so astonishingly relevant.

Just throw out one question and then we’ll get there to see the answers: How do you think about the promises on the one hand to let your good deeds be known so that people will glorify your Father in heaven, and the promise that as you live for Christ, you will be maligned and hated by everybody and killed?

This is a realistic book. He’s not naive. We didn’t surprise the Bible by pointing that out. That’s all in 1 Peter. That’s all there in 1 Peter. Both of those are in 1 Peter. Live to glorify God in this nation. Live so that people will see your life and say, “He’s real,” and then expect to be killed.

“Wait a minute. That doesn’t work. If they’re killing me, they’re not glorifying Jesus.” That’s the question we have to wrestle with because the last thing I want to do is be a part of the number who would encourage you in these difficult days to be jaundiced, morose, bitter, angry. “Where’s my America? Give me my America back.” That’s not going to help anybody. Not you, not your church, not your America. Never was your America.

There must be a way forward. Ready to pay any price to stand with the word of God and toe-tappingly happy. That’s a miracle. That’s a miracle. Let it go through your blog, let it go through your Facebook, let it go through your Twitter. You’re standing and you’re not a curmudgeon. Whatever that is. You’re not sour.