From the pen of Dr. Sam Jones
Happy New Year! Students, staff and faculty, welcome back for the start of January Short Courses and later the Spring 2013 semester. The Office of Spiritual Development trusts that 2012 was spiritually a productive year for you and it’s our wish for 2013 to be better, not only spiritually but academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. The devotional theme for the month of January is Reasons to Rejoice. First and Second Peter will be the focus of the study to address the theme.
Peter, most likely penned these epistles from “Babylon” or Rome (5:13). He refers to the recipients as “pilgrims of the Dispersion” (1:1). These Jewish and Gentile Christians, scattered in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, had experienced severe persecution (1:6), and more suffering was on the way (4:12-19). In this first epistle, Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, encourages Christians to do at least two things: first, remain steadfast (1:13; 4:16; 5:8-9) and second, learn to rejoice or be happy in whatever situation you find yourself (1:6, 8).
The exhortation for each of us, in the month of January, is that we will learn to be happy, at peace, and content daily. Peter in these two epistles states or implies several reasons for Christians to have an attitude of happiness or have joy inexpressible (1:8). During this month, the devotional thought will encourage us to resist Satan’s temptation to think negatively or manifest a discouraged spirit, and to have a spirit of joy.
Peter says the first reason for Christians to rejoice or be happy is because they are God’s elect (1:2). To be God’s elect, what does it mean? The word “elect” simply means to be chosen. Peter says Christians are a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…” (2:9). What is so exciting about being an elect or chosen one? Well, Peter says Christians are part of God’s plan or scheme of redemption according to the “foreknowledge of God” (1:2). Foreknowledge implies pre-arrangement, i.e., God developed a plan to save all people before the universe was created (Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Tim. 1:8-12). In Romans 8:30, Paul informs Christians of four wonderful thoughts: first, God has predetermined or predestined who is going to be saved; second, those who will be saved are those who answer or obey the call of the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14); third, those who obey the gospel will be justified or made righteous at the second coming of Christ (2 Thess. 1:7-9), and finally, those who have been made righteous by obeying the gospel of Christ will be glorified before God.
So, who will be glorified before God, the “elect?” The reason Christians should rejoice daily and have joy unspeakable or inexpressible is because they are God’s elect. Regardless of what happens to Christians today or tomorrow, they should rejoice because they are predestinated to have a home in Heaven (Jo. 14:1-30). Therefore be happy and rejoice!