Report From The Tower
(KJV) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
The mere surface level understanding hinted at in this verse tends to ignore that the Greek word herein translated as "strangers" is also used to describe a pilgrim or an alien: a refugee from his or her true nation. The Greek word that follows herein is translated as "strangers scattered" and is the word "diaspora", which has rich references back several centuries in Jewish history when Jews began to be scattered to the four ends of the Earth. Something that Peter saw in this early birthing of Christianity reminded him of the times when God's people had no home of their own in this world: they were strangers in a strange land, singing the songs of the redeemed in Babylon. Now, one might think that Peter was referring only to the natural aspect of being a refugee or an alien, which was always a sorrowful and negative thing in the history of the Jews, yet Peter quickly says that in writing to these strangers, aliens and refugees, he is writing to the ELECT. The ELECT are by implication, God's favorites...God's chosen elect. We therefore realize that God was speaking through Peter to all of His pilgrims, strangers and aliens down through time who are not of this world, yet we find ourselves in it as spiritual refugees, waiting to arrive in our true homeland.
Consider the Tree of Life version of this first verse of First Peter:
1Pe 1:1 Peter, an emissary of Messiah Yeshua, To the sojourners of the Diaspora in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and BithyniaŚchosen 1Pe 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, set apart by the Ruach for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Yeshua the Messiah: May grace and shalom be multiplied to you.
The believers in the first century were not, in any sense, a part of any established religion. They were outcasts socially. They were not particularly numerous in any place, other than Jerusalem. They were intensely persecuted and had to meet many times in secret and out of the way places if they sought by any means to avoid the persecutions. These early believers were not many rich or popular or much admired in the society of their day. They were not found among the powerful or the captains of their age. Only rarely do we find any man or woman of worldly station who came to Christ in the first century: there was simply too much to lose. Such a one almost always lost everything they had in this world. Such early converts leaving Judaism might never see family again, as the family was quite legally authorized to sit "shiva" for them, regarding them both publicly and privately as if they were dead by holding a full week of public mourning tor them in their homes. The husband or wife of such a convert to Jesus Christ no longer regarded himself or herself as married. These early disciples suffered the confiscation of their goods, as the author of Hebrews informs us in chapter ten. They fell under many afflictions and bore such grievous treatment joyously. Gentile converts who left off the worship of the various Roman gods met with similar fates. In short, it was a tough road to walk, to put it mildly, but these people were rough cut of rough origins. Most of them were illiterate slaves who might hope for not much more of a life expectancy of forty or forty five years. The church of Jesus Christ...the true living assembly, was born against this backdrop.
Every single one of those early believers was a pilgrim, an alien and a stranger: they were not of this world. They were spiritual refugees, desolate and outcast by this present world and they were very joyous about their condition, for they believed that they had a much better home awaiting them. They had no place in this world. The world despised them; the Jewish religion despised them; the Roman temple keepers and devotees despised them and hence, the ruling Romans despised them too.
Something then began to happen: they began to find acceptability. The enemy found that the blood of the martyrs only watered the church, so he began another tactic: he began to lure these believers back into the world they had forsaken. Nineteen centuries later, how many of us can honestly look into the face of Jesus and say that we are strangers, aliens and pilgrims: not of this present world? How many of us love this world or any thing in this world? Our current status clearly reveals that we now are witness to a Christian system that is every bit as rotten to the core as the Jewish religion that preceded it. Five hundred and one years into reformation, our established churches in no way resemble anything like those who preceded them in the first century. We must look to the wilderness, out of the church, to find the present pilgrims, aliens and strangers. Among those out of church, we find many madmen and deceived persons and yet, rarer than the rarest ruby, true disciples of Jesus are found one to a city and two to a country, dispersed all over this world.
Consider for a moment how catastrophically deficient our present churches have been in teaching us the things of the Holy Spirit? I am not talking about the basics of charis-mania here. I am speaking about things that the Holy Spirit will only teach to those who have come out of this world and who refuse to defile themselves in the filth of the Babylonian style churches that we find here in America and abroad. Jesus said that we must be born again! That kind of new birth of which he spoke was a new birth of the Spirit: it speaks of change...radical change. That change is not accomplished by New Year's resolution but by the inner working of the power of God, yet we do not see many lives that evidence such dramatic change. People who are born again of the Spirit of God should have some familiarity with that Spirit who lives within them, yet you can look far and wide and find no one to teach you anything of any depth at all. I will close this article with one point of evidence for proof of that which I have stated above.
Consider this familiar verse
Isa_59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Did you know that if you come to know the Lord well and then you practice much intimacy with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will reveal the intricacies of the presence of God to you as you offer up praise and worship to God. You will then discover that if you are active in the faith, in that you witness to people and engage in prayer for them for their various needs, God's presence will come down on some of them as you lift your hands over them. Others will provide no experience for you of God's presence as you lift your hands over them. We have been told that we are to "lay hands on no man suddenly". One way of properly understanding this admonition is that we should lift our hands over every single person that we pray for. We ought not pray or lay hands upon those for whom God's presence will not come down upon them. What should we do? We should ask them to select someone they trust, and confess their sins to such a person. Then, return to that person to repeat the process. God's presence will then be evident as you lift your hands in the air, over their heads. You may then commence to pray and intercede for them, knowing that their sins are no longer separating them from God! I have applied this method hundreds of times in sessions of prayer and I know by the Holy Spirit of God that it is 100% effective.
No man taught me this method. I have never read about it in a book, or heard it in a sermon, nor have I ever seen any other person employ this method, yet it is something the Holy Spirit has taught me to do that I consider to be so elementary, yet so valuable and critical to effective intercession. The defiled church knows absolutely nothing about such things as this. You will only learn about such things if you are one of my fellow exiles: strangers in this strange land of organized christian churches on every block, yet not a drop of the true water of the word to be found anywhere in the land.
God is alive. He needs to be presented to people as a LIVING GOD. There will be evidence of His life. A dead corpse of a church has no ability to carry out this assignment. Praise be to God: He will bring back the living assemblies in His time, but for now, we remain scattered, dwelling solitarily in the woods, as the prophet Micah foresaw in chapter seven. We must continue to eat the vegetables of the Spirit, avoiding the defilement of this present age and this present world. He will not fail to empower His elect.
1Sa 2:30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Stephen L. Bening
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