Posted by: Terry | October 26, 2010

Exiles in a strange land

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles…” (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Peter tells us that we are “elect exiles” – what a thought, a member of God’s chosen people living in a strange land. Exciting and comforting for sure.

Yet we are confronted with one of the great dilemmas of Scripture: Who are the elect or chosen? Centuries of discussion and debate have failed to produce a satisfactory answer. The reality is that we will never completely understand it all this side of heaven.

Controversy over the word “elect” has at times resulted in divisions and conflict in the church, as sad as that is, the real tragedy is that in arguing over an unresolvable issue we miss the blessing contained in the truth; our adversary delights in confusion, we should recognize this and be alert us when it appears.

Pastor Kent Conrad once said, “If you remove contradiction from the Bible you end up with dogmatism.” Wisdom for sure. The Bible has what appears to our limited intellect to be contradictions, we either accept that it is due to our human limitations and find our substance in placing faith in the wisdom and goodness of God, or we pick the side of the issue we like and argue against the other. I doubt that is ever the right answer.

Who are the elect? In the Old Testament they are first of all Israel, but more specifically the small group, the remnant, who remained and demonstrated their faith in God through their obedience to him. (Romans 9.6) In the New Testament the term is most always applied to those that are to inherit salvation through faith in Christ.

The “elect” are those that are in a right relationship with God through faith, it has been that way in the OT and in the NT, debates beyond that may cause us to miss the simple truth that throughout history God has had a group of people who are his faithful followers, in the present day that is the Church.

There comfort in knowing that we are God’s elect, his chosen, those that he died for and is protecting and molding to his image. There comfort in knowing that as we live in a world that is frustrating and foreign to us we are here as God’s elect, he knows us, he separates us to him, he justifies us and is conforming us to the image of Christ as we follow and obey him.

The world we live in is supposed to seem a bit strange, after all we are in exile, we are elect exiles!

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