As Christians we understand that God is worthy of praise. We understand it, but is it something we express often in the Lord’s direction? Perhaps in your life you don’t do this as often as you should. I am speaking more than just a Sunday or Wednesday occasion.
In Peter’s first letter to those saints who were scattered abroad (in what we know as Turkey today, Asia Minor then), he mentions a number of things at the outset of his letter than should prompt us to reflect on just how great our God is (1 Peter 1:1-4).
God’s foreknowledge. The word “foreknowledge” is a Bible word that some people actually struggle with understanding. The struggle is not in knowing the meaning of the word, but only how God can have foreknowledge and not at the same time save that one He knows beforehand what he (she) is going to do. “If God knows beforehand, did not His knowledge of this mean one had to do that which the Lord knew early on?” Do you struggle with this? The word “foreknow” comes from a Greek word that means “know beforehand” (prognōsis). This particular word is only used twice in Scripture (Acts 2:23), though a related word is used often. If God knows beforehand what you and I are going to do, can we actually not do it?
There is a necessary distinction to be made between knowing beforehand and what some people understand as predestination. Knowing beforehand what a person will do (or does) in no way precludes his willingness (free will) to do it. The common understanding of predestination does not allow for this. Foreknowledge means only that the quality of God’s character knows before (or sees ahead) what will be done. For instance, if you will allow this illustration, we can get a better sense of what is meant when we think of the word prognosis. You teach a young person that if a certain thing is done, then a following consequence will result. You know this by experience, learning, and by seeing the path laid out before that young person. In your teaching of the youth, you laid out the options and potential consequences, but it was the youth who chose and with that choice, you “saw” what would happen (and it did). This limited illustration makes the point, I think.
God’s sanctification. In God’s foreknowledge, He saw what we would do in the way of choices made. He saw that we would choose to live the life of the Savior and with that choice made, He sanctified us in His Son. How did He do this? Peter said it was “by” (NASV) or “in” the Spirit (Holy Spirit). This idea of “sanctification” is not a mysterious concept that we can hardly understand. You will remember that Paul said that what was once a mystery is now made known (Eph. 3:1-6). With this in mind, how does God’s sanctification work (or operate)? To begin, it is not some mysterious way not revealed in Scripture! As God’s word is preached, the power of God operates through that word (Acts 16:14, Romans 1:16), Peter even speaks of this later in the first chapter (1:21-25). When one hears and believes that which is taught, then God’s power begins to work on that heart, setting him (or her) apart for salvation. The completion of this sanctification is fulfilled in obedience to that which the Lord said (1 Peter 1:2).
God’s blood. God the Father did not actually shed His blood, for He is not a material creation whereby He could “spill” blood. God the Son, however, became flesh (incarnate), took on the form of man and willingly gave His life for you and me (it was not taken from Him against His will). The initial level of this sanctifying process is in teaching and inclining the heart through God’s power for us to move in His direction. This movement then turns into a penitent attitude with the culmination being the taught person obeys His holy will, thereby becoming a “blood-bought” person, identified as a God’s saint.
There is much for us to praise the worthy name of the Lord.