PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

1 Peter 2:11-12

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081130_1peter_2_11-12.mp3

11/30 1 Peter 2:11-12 conduct that glorifies God

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

11 agaphtoi parakalw wv paroikouv kai parepidhmouv apecesyai twn sarkikwn epiyumiwn aitinev strateuontai kata thv quchv 12 thn anastrofhn umwn en toiv eynesin econtev kalhn ina en w katalalousin umwn wv kakopoiwn ek twn kalwn ergwn epopteuontev doxaswsin ton yeon en hmera episkophv

Peter has reminded us of our identity in verses 9-10. We have been chosen by God, to be priests to God, set apart as holy for God, we are now the possession of God, in order to make proclamation about the great worth of God. God called us out of darkness by an act of his great mercy. Our ultimate purpose is to proclaim his excellencies. We have been chosen, set apart, given the office of priests, possessed by God so that we can make proclamation to others about the greatness of God. Our primary purpose is proclamation. And the content of our proclamation is God – the beauty of his nature and the excellencies of his character. We are to noise abroad the supreme worth of our redeemer who by his life giving word called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We exist to make him known.

Verse 11 begins a new section of the letter. Peter starts this section of the letter by addressing his readers as ‘beloved’. He will start the next section of his letter in chapter 4 verse 12 by again addressing them as ‘beloved’. This section begins and ends with reference to the theme of God’s glory.

1 Peter 2:12 …they may see your good deeds and glorify God …

1 Peter 4:11…–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In this section, Peter fleshes out how we are to proclaim God’s excellencies to the hostile community in which we live:

We glorify God in our lifestyle by our attitude of submission to authority; in 2:13-17 we are to be submissive to the governing authorities; in 2:18-25 slaves should submit to masters; in 3:1-6 wives should submit to husbands; in 2:21-25 Christ’s suffering is set up as the supreme example to imitate. The goal in every instance is to live in such a way that unbelievers will glorify God and repent and believe.

Verses 11 and 12 are the introduction to this new section. They give us a two-pronged approach to proclaiming the excellencies of Jesus with our lives; first negatively and then positively. Negatively, we are to abstain from certain desires; positively, we are to make sure that our conduct in the world has a certain integrity. All this is for the purpose of bringing glory to God. That’s the big picture; now lets look closer at the details of verses 11-12.

Back in the first line of this letter, Peter pointed us to God’s call or selection of us as the basis for our alienation from the world:

1Peter 1:1 …To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion..

Now he looks at our alien identity as a base from which to wage war against the desires that linger in our flesh. This is how Abraham identified himself when he was seeking to buy a burial plot for his wife Sarah.

Genesis 23:4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”

He had no permanent possession. He was an outsider in their community. He worshiped a different God. His customs and culture were distinct from theirs. His world view was completely different from theirs. He understood their culture and was able to make a business transaction in it, but he maintained his distinct identity. Because of who we are – we are sojourners and exiles – our conduct should not match the conduct of the citizens. If our citizenship is truly in heaven, there should be a distinction between our conduct and our values and our desires and the conduct and values and desires of a worldling.

Peter begins by addressing us as ‘beloved’. The word is ‘agapetoi’ (agaphtoi) from the root ‘agapao’ (agapaw) which is God’s undeserved love. Peter is expressing his affection for his readers, but his primary meaning is to remind us again of our position. We are the beloved of God. And because of this, we are sojourners and exiles. This is a re-statement of what he said in 1:1-2 that we are ‘elect exiles … according to the foreknowledge of God the Father’. God loves you – you are the beloved. Because you are dearly loved by God, your character must be affected.

The Apostle urges us as elect exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh. No mere abstinence from the outward acts of sin is commanded here, but an all-out attack on the root and power of sin within; an attack on the inclinations and desires of the soul. Christianity is not a list of do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations. Christianity is a genuine transformation of our wants and desires. The word here translated ‘passions’ can refer to good or bad desires. We are to abstain from our natural desires in contrast with desires that are renewed by the Spirit of God. Our desires are to be different from the desires of the world. Desires for possessions and power and honor and pride, position and prestige, comfort and leisure, these things are not to be the driving impulses of the believer. The Spirit of God produces new desires and new affections in our souls – desires to bring him honor and praise, desire to bless others, desire for God to be made much of in our lives, desire to be weak so that his strength is seen through us, a contentment with what we have, joy and delight in knowing who we are in Christ, desire to see others come to know him, desire to bring him pleasure in all our thoughts and desires.

We will never have victory over the stranglehold sin has in our lives until we dig down and sever the root of desire. We may cut off the weed at ground level, but it will grow back quicker and its roots will be deeper and stronger. Our desires must be transformed if we are to have any lasting victory in our battle with sin. We must root out the old desires and fight to cultivate new desires to take their place. I think our text hints at the solution – as the beloved of God, abstain from desires of the old nature. God loves you, so fight against the things that would separate you from that love. You are loved by God – desire to please him.

Peter alerts us to the gravity of the situation. These desires are waging war against our souls. This is no game. This is all-out war – life and death. The eternal destiny of your soul is at stake. If your natural desires are allowed to grow up and choke out the word so that it cannot bear fruit to God in your life, you will be thrown into the fire and burned. Natural desires unchecked are lethal to the spiritual life.

Jesus said:

John 15:5-6 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

Paul says:

Galatians 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. …21 …I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. … 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Your hope in the superior value of the inheritance that God has secured for you should cause you to sever the root of anything that might jeopardize the realization of that blessed hope. Our society spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince you to use the right kind of soap and drink the right brand of cola, but we give no thought to the importance of eternity and the value of the human soul. Something is seriously out of balance here. We are passionate about the trivial and totally neglect the weighty issues of eternity. The most important matter in the universe is off limits in most discussions. We must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires so that we are not robbed of our eternal joy. Crucify those things that Peter listed:

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

Peter goes on to give the positive:

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Victory in this inward spiritual battle will have observable outward effects. Your walk of life will be admirable and attractive even to your enemies. And if you are following Jesus, you will have enemies.

In Peter’s day, Christians were accused of being atheists because they didn’t bow to the gods that the people worshiped. Because they refused to bow to the emperor, they were considered enemies of the state. Since the Christians did not honor the gods of the community, they were viewed as subversive and evil. The were viewed with suspicion and hostility because they did not conform to the unbelievers way of life. False accusations and slander were directed toward Christians. The reference to fellow Christians as brothers and sisters was misconstrued to indicate incestuous practices, and the celebration of the Lord’s supper won them the accusation of cannibalism.

What was to be the response of the Christian community to such accusations? Go on a truth campaign and correct all the errors? Track down the source of the rumors and put them to rest? Peter’s response was simple: do good. Keep your heart right and your actions pure. And the motive for doing good was not simply to clear your name. The motive was evangelistic. Peter’s desire was not that the Christians be exonerated. His driving desire was that God be glorified. Good deeds are never an end in themselves, and they are never a means to earn favor with God. Good deeds serve to bring glory to God as the author of the new life which produces the good deeds. Good deeds flow from a transformed life and God is the one who has caused us to be born again (1:3). Peter’s desire is that even though they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God. You can proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light by continuing to do good even when you are slandered. Do good with the hope that your accusers will be persuaded by your transformed life to want what you have and come to Christ. Peter’s goal is that those who slander the Christians are persuaded by the moral integrity of the Christians to trust Jesus and so glorify God.

Peter probably has in mind the saying of Jesus recorded in:

Matthew 5:10-16 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. …14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christians in the face of persecution and slander are to so let their light shine publicly that all those that observe will give glory to God. The good works must be public – not done in order to be seen by men and be praised for them; but a public display of the glorious mercy of God. We must let our light shine publicly in such a way that we are not given credit for our good works. Our light must shine so that God is given credit for the transformation that he has accomplished in us.

The day of visitation can have implications of condemnation or salvation. On that final day even the knees of unbelievers will bow to Jesus and give God glory, but Peter has in mind the day when God visits the unbelievers with mercy and brings them to faith in Christ. God is glorified when his people exhibit his greatness so that others are attracted to him and transformed by him. Are you being persecuted? Slandered? Misunderstood? Rejected? You have the opportunity to put God on display in such a way that unbelievers are attracted to Jesus and put their trust in him! Alexander Nisbet, a minister in Scotland, in his commentary on Peter first published in 1658 writes:

The children of the Lord should not lose their hopes nor quit their endeavours of gaining the greatest enemies to God or themselves, among whom they live, considering how soon and easily the Lord can make a change upon them: for the Apostle would have them looking upon those that were heathens and speaking against them as evil doers, as such whom God might visit in mercy, and in whose conversion they might be made instrumental…” (A. Nisbet, p.89)

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Advertisements

November 30, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 2:6-10

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081123_1peter_2_6-10.mp3

11/23 1 Peter 2:6-10 shame or honor; proclaiming the excellencies of Him

1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation–– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

6 dioti periecei en grafh idou tiyhmi en siwn liyon eklekton akrogwniaion entimon kai o pisteuwn ep autw ou mh kataiscunyh 7 umin oun h timh toiv pisteuousin apistousin de liyov on apedokimasan oi oikodomountev outov egenhyh eiv kefalhn gwniav 8 kai liyov proskommatov kai petra skandalou oi proskoptousin tw logw apeiyountev eiv o kai eteyhsan 9 umeiv de genov eklekton basileion ierateuma eynov agion laov eiv peripoihsin opwv tav aretav exaggeilhte tou ek skotouv umav kalesantov eiv to yaumaston autou fwv 10 oi pote ou laov nun de laov yeou oi ouk hlehmenoi nun de elehyentev

It is God’s word in the preaching of the good news that brings about the new birth (1:23-25). So we are commanded to be like infants and crave pure spiritual milk so that we can grow to maturity (2:1-2). And having tasted that the Lord is good (2:3), we will come to Jesus and keep coming back to Jesus over and over and over again (2:4) to meet him in his word to receive sustenance and nourishment for our souls.

We come to Jesus as a life giving unshakable stone. But as we come to Jesus we see massive conflict. Peter knew this. Peter had been with Jesus as he taught and as hostility rose against him. On that awful night, Peter denied his Lord three times to avoid the consequences of being identified with Jesus. Now Peter was likely writing from a dungeon in Rome because of his unashamed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Peter’s readers knew this. They were followers of Jesus who were scattered across Asia Minor, who had become exiles and foreigners in their own hometowns because of their newfound faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the watershed. Jesus said:

Luke 12:51-53 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother–in–law against her daughter–in–law and daughter–in–law against mother–in–law.”

John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

The cross divides:

1 Corinthians 1:23-24 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Peter has looked at Jesus as a living stone and we as living stones built into a spiritual priesthood offering acceptable sacrifices to God. Peter is looking at Jesus as the foundation stone that God has established and that divides people. He begins by quoting Isaiah 28:14 which is a decree of destruction to the leaders of Israel for their disobedience and unbelief.

Isaiah 28:14-17 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; 16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ 17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”

Jesus is the watershed, Jesus divides people. But Jesus is a stone laid by God the Father appointed and set by him as the cornerstone. He is elect or chosen by God and he is precious or honored in the sight of God. God gave Jesus honor by raising him from the dead. Jesus is a solid foundation to build your life on. Those that put their trust in him will never be shamed. If you are trusting in Jesus, you will not ultimately be disappointed. It may seem now that your persecutors are receiving honor and you are being shamed, but God has established Jesus as the cornerstone. Jesus defines and establishes the shape and direction of the building. Believers in Jesus have their feet on the rock that cannot be moved. Peter draws the application from the text that as the Father honors Jesus, so you who are depending on him will also be honored by the Father. This is in contrast to those who do not believe. Honor for those who believe in Jesus; shame for those who reject Jesus. In spite of their efforts to undermine and overthrow and marginalize Jesus, he has indeed become the cornerstone. Peter is quoting Psalm 118:22:

Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This appears in a Psalm that draws contrast between trusting in man and trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 118:5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. 6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 7 The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.

The original context of the Psalm is the return of the king to the temple in Jerusalem after God has given him victory over his enemies. The ‘builders’ were the foreign kings who assured their own destruction by fighting against Israel, God’s chosen. Peter follows Jesus in his application of this Psalm, not to the foreign nations, but to the Jewish leaders who in attempting to build God’s building have rejected the cornerstone. Let’s take a minute to look at Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees:

Matthew 21:31-45 (cf. Luke 20:9-19) … Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. 33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.

Jesus is the divisive stone. Jesus is abrasive and offensive to his enemies. But Jesus will be victorious. Those who trust in Jesus will be victorious in the end. Those who reject Jesus will be ashamed. In verse 8 he quotes a phrase out of Isaiah 8:14. This passage is a warning to Israel and Judah to fear and trust the Lord rather than fearing other nations. Here’s some of the context:

Isaiah 8:9 Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. 10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us. 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

God set Jesus as cornerstone to do two things. For those who are willing to stake their life on him as foundation, he is solid and reliable and will bring them honor. To those who choose to fight against him and reject him as foundation, he becomes to them a stone of stumbling and rock of offense. And Peter’s commentary on these passages is ‘They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do’. The word for ‘stumble’ can mean a violent beating against something. The cause of their stumbling is their disobedience to the word. Disobedience is synonymous with unbelief;

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

‘The word’ is synonymous with the good news message:

1 Peter 1:25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

So they stumble over Jesus because they refuse to embrace the good news message. The question that Peter addresses here is ‘doesn’t their unbelief frustrate the purpose of God?’ God’s word is the indestructible life giving seed as he said in:

1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

If the imperishable good news word of the Lord that remains forever and accomplishes its purpose becomes something that people stumble over, doesn’t that nullify its life giving purpose? Peter’s answer is ‘no, they were destined to be disobedient to the word and stumble.’ God’s purpose is fulfilled even in those that reject him. It is an encouragement to believers who are suffering at the hands of unbelievers to know that what is happening to them is not beyond the control of their sovereign God. Just as the unbelief and rejection of Christ by the Jewish leaders who had Jesus crucified served the purpose of God by inadvertently accomplishing what God had set out to do (Acts 4:27-28); in the same way, the unbelievers who are grieving Peter’s readers with various trials (1:6) are serving the purpose of God in testing the genuineness of their faith (1:7). Peter contrasts their destiny with your destiny:

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

In contrast, you are an elect race – chosen – descendants of a common ancestor, people with a common heritage, sharing the unity of a common life. Because of the new birth this chosen race transcends the natural distinctions of ethnicity, language and culture. Peter draws his language from Isaiah 43:20:

Isaiah 43:15 I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” …19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?… 20… for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

He calls us ‘a royal priesthood.’ Jesus, our foundation stone, is both King of kings and our great High Priest. Being built on him, we are a royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God, and we will reign with him. This and the next description come from Exodus 19:6.

Exodus 19:4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

We are a holy nation. We are a community of people held together by the same laws, customs, and mutual interests. Holiness is our distinctive characteristic. We are a people set apart for the Lord.

And we are ‘a people for his own possession’. God ransomed us (1:18); he owns us and he delights in us. This language comes from Isaiah 43:21, Exodus 19:5 and Malachi 3:17.

Malachi 3:16…those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

And now he gives our ultimate purpose, our reason for existing as his possession; his elect race; his holy nation; his royal priesthood; it is

9 … that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

We are called to proclaim his excellencies! God who spoke into the darkness and said ‘let light be’ has called us effectually out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Now that we are in the light, our eyes are opened to see the glorious grandeur of his nature and character. (1Cor.4:4-6) Our purpose is proclamation. The subject of our proclamation is God – the excellencies of his being. God is great – make it known! And in the middle of our great high calling, verse 10 calls us to an appropriate humility. Peter reminds us that it is all of grace. We were in darkness and would have remained in darkness had it not been for the great mercy of God. He reminds us with the picture of Hosea, and the unfaithful wife that the forgiving and faithful husband won back and made his own:

Hosea 2:19-23 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. …23… And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.”’

We were people with no identity; God made us his own people. We were rightly subject to the wrath of God and had no claim on his mercy, and he who is rich in mercy poured out mercy in abundance on our heads! Let us in humility as recipients of God’s great mercy proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light!

November 23, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 2:4-5

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081116_1Peter2_4-5.mp3

11/16 1 Peter 2:4-5 be built together as a house of priests offering sacrifices

1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

4 prov on prosercomenoi liyon zwnta upo anyrwpwn men apodedokimasmenon para de yew eklekton entimon 5 kai autoi wv liyoi zwntev oikodomeisye oikov pneumatikov eiv ierateuma agion anenegkai pneumatikav yusiav euprosdektouv yew dia ihsou cristou

Peter has given us five commands on how we are to respond to the initiating grace of God. After describing God’s great mercy and the riches of his grace to us, he commands us to set our hope completely on grace – God’s grace that is yet to come and will come to us at the proper time. Then he commands us to be holy like God is holy. We are to stop acting like we are still stupid and set God apart and treat him as if he were the most valuable thing in the universe – because he is! Then we are commanded to fear him – conduct your lives in fear – fear that we would offend God by treating the blood of his dear Son as if it were impotent and powerless to accomplish our transformation.

The first three commands are fix our attention on God. The fourth command looks at our horizontal relationships as an outward expression that our relationship with God is on track. He commands love – love one another unhypocritically, earnestly, from the heart.

Next he commands us to crave milk – the pure spiritual milk – so that we will grow up to salvation. It was the word that effected our new birth; it is the word that God gives us so that we will be spiritually nourished and grow to maturity – so develop a healthy hunger for God’s word. He has commanded holiness, hope, fear, and love, and he has commanded the means by which we are to accomplish those things – feed on the word and you will grow to maturity in holiness, fear, love and hope.

Then he adds a conditional clause – ‘if’. He takes Psalm 34:8 which says:

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD [YHWH] is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

and changes it to a condition – you will crave milk and grow IF you have tasted that the Lord is good. He is assuming that we have and that we will, but he is laying it out as a question to provoke us to think. Have we tasted that the Lord is good? Do we crave more of him in his word? Do we long, like a newborn baby longs for its mother’s breast, to feed on him and have all our cravings satisfied in him? If we do, what comes next naturally flows – we will come to him.

‘As you come to him’ is a participial phrase that could be translated ‘coming to him’. He probably adopted this language from Psalm 34:5,

Psalm 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

where ‘look to him’ in the LXX is the same verb that is here translated ‘coming to him’

‘Him’ in this sentence refers back to the ‘Lord’ of the last sentence that we have tasted and found good. Peter has lifted ‘YHWH’ – the covenant name for God in the Old Testament – from Psalm 34 and made it equivalent to ‘Jesus’ that we as believers come to.

John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

‘Coming to Jesus’ can describe our initial act of believing in him; But believers come continually and repeatedly to Jesus as an expression of our faith in him. If we have tasted that he is good we will come earnestly and often to him for much needed nourishment.

Peter – (who was nicknamed ‘the rock’ by Jesus in Matthew 16:18) uses a stone metaphor to describe Jesus. He had used this in Acts 4 in his preaching. He picked it up from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 21. A rock is something solid, unchanging, dependable. When we want to say someone is dependable we say they are ‘rock solid’. In C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Peter is not sure he will survive a battle and tells Edmond to ‘say something especially nice to Trumpkin. He’s been a brick.’ (Prince Caspian, p. 193). Brick is used as an idiom for a helpful, reliable person. When we want to make a memorial that will withstand the ravages of time, we have it chiseled into granite. Peter’s readers have nothing solid in their lives – they are aliens and exiles. They have no certainty of the future. They don’t know when they might be arrested or killed for their faith. Peter encourages them that they have come to him who is a rock – in the midst of shifting times, they have their hope anchored in the bedrock.

But we use rocks in a different metaphor as well. We might say ‘you’re as dumb as a rock’ and we mean that there’s not much activity upstairs. Or we say something is ‘stone dead’ – it doesn’t get much deader than a stone. In fact the bible refers to false gods that were made out of wood and stone:

Deuteronomy 4:28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.

Isaiah 37:19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.

Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind, … did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,

Peter surprises us here with his paradoxical metaphor – Jesus is not a normal lifeless stone, but a living stone. Absolutely steadfast and immovable, but full of life and life-giving to all who come to him. This is the third time he has used the term ‘living’; we are born again to a living hope, we have been born again through the living word, and now Jesus is the living stone that we come to.

But he says Jesus is ‘rejected by men’; Jesus to many was a rock in the path; he was in the way – an obstacle that you would trip over if you weren’t careful, and they cast him aside – they crucified him. Peter has in mind Psalm 118:22 and he quotes it down in verse 7. He also quoted it in his sermon recorded in Acts 4:

Acts 4:10-12 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead––by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

and there he specifically applied it to the Jewish leaders. Here he applies it to mankind generally – Jesus is in general rejected by men.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

If you want to be popular and do what the majority of people are doing, you won’t come to Jesus – not on his terms anyway. Men naturally reject Jesus. That shouldn’t surprise us. What should surprise us is when we see a work of God’s grace in a person’s life where they are awakened to who Jesus is and their blind eyes are opened and they joyfully embrace Jesus as King and Savior. When I look around this room, what I see is evidence of God’s grace. No one, apart from God’s work of grace in his life, turns to Jesus. That’s what Jesus said:

John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Every believer is evidence of God’s grace.

Jesus is rejected by men. But God has a completely different perspective on his beloved Son. Men despise and reject Jesus. To his Father, he was chosen – elect or choice – the same word Peter used of his readers in 1:1; and Jesus is precious – or honored, of high reputation with his Father. The rejection of men found expression in their calling him illegitimate, saying that he has a demon, attributing his miraculous deeds to the devil and climaxed in their shouts ‘crucify him, crucify him!’ The Father’s love for Jesus was expressed through the voice from heaven that declared:

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Luke 9:35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

and found ultimate expression in the Father raising Jesus from the dead three days after the crucifixion. Peter said in Acts 3:

Acts 3:13-15 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

God raised Jesus from the dead. So we come to Jesus is the life giver:

John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. …25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

John 10:10 …I came that they may have life and have it abundantly….28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

If you come to Jesus you will live. Jesus was the one who could touch a leper and rather than contracting that infectious disease, his life giving power would make the leper clean. The resurrection life of Jesus is infectious. Come to Jesus and you will live. In verse 5 he carries this metaphor of Jesus as the living stone to us as living stones. Because of Jesus we have life, and because of Jesus we are solid and will last forever.

Now we get to the central phrase of the sentence – ‘you are being built up’. Coming to the living stone, you as living stones are being built up. God is implied as the builder, and he has a purpose for you! There are two purpose phrases in verse 5; ‘to be’ and ‘to offer’. We are being built into something so that our identity is changed and so that our actions are changed. God is shaping us with a definite purpose in mind. And the ‘you’ here is not singular; ‘you individually’ but plural; ‘you all’ our ‘you collectively’. Of course this has implications for us individually, but Peter’s emphasis is on us collectively. Remember his admonition for us to ‘love one another’? that fits right in here –

you can’t love one another all by yourself. The command to love one another implies connectedness to the group. So here, if you are one living stone out in a field by yourself, you have no potential of being built into anything. We have Lincoln Logs at home. And we have five kids. There’s different ways they can play with the Lincoln Logs. They can divide up all the pieces equally so each one gets their fair share. They can move to a corner of the room so that they have control of their pieces. But there’s not much they can do with their little pile of Lincoln Logs. They could pretend the logs were people and they could have conversations. But that’s not what the Lincoln Logs were designed for. In order to build anything significant, they have to come together and allow their little pile to be used for the common good. Then they can really build something, and they are using the logs for what they were created for. God wants to use us together to build a house. You and I are in the process of being built up as a spiritual house.

But what if the pieces don’t fit together? We’re simply incompatible – we just can’t peacefully co-exist… Lies! Those are lies from the pit of hell. Jesus said he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We reject those lies and submit ourselves to the wise master builder. He looks at us, his living stones, that don’t fit together and he says ‘hmmm, these stones don’t fit nicely together. Look, this one has a sharp outcropping of envy that I will chisel off. This side is all lumpy with hypocrisy and I will grind it smooth. This deceit must go if these stones will fit together as I intend. This corner of malice must be filed smooth. This one is covered with the leprosy of slander and bitterness. I will bake it in the furnace until all the disease is gone. Ahh, now they are just beginning to fit together. These two I will allow to rub against each other and chafe each other until over time they will have worn each other so smooth and will fit so perfectly together that not even a knife blade could fit between them.

Understand, we are talking about a spiritual house – not a physical building. When we believers come together, we are God’s house, God’s temple. When Jesus on the cross cried out ‘it is finished’ the heavy curtain that hid the most holy place from view was ripped from top to bottom.

Mark 15:37-38 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

God …does not live in temples made by man (Acts 17:24). But he dwells in the midst of his people. You and I as living stones are being fitted together in to a spiritual dwelling for the God of the universe!

And our purpose? ‘To be a holy priesthood’ and ‘to offer spiritual sacrifices’. Here the metaphor bends. Now the living stones who make up the house become the holy priesthood that offer sacrifices to God. Under Old Testament law, not just anyone could take upon himself the office of a priest. You must have been a literal physical descendant of Moses’ brother Aaron. You had to be able to trace your blood line to the tribe of Levi. The priests were appointed by God to facilitate the worship of God. Only those selected to serve as priests could enter the holy place to offer sacrifices to God, and only after they had been set apart by blood. Only one priest, the high priest could ever enter the most holy place, and he could only enter once a year carrying blood from the offering to present at the mercy seat to make atonement for the sins of the people. Jesus, our great high priest, presented his own precious blood before the throne of God, propitiating our sins and :

Hebrews 1:3 … After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, …

We now together have been set apart as holy to serve as priests to God. But what kind of sacrifice do we offer? Our text says that we offer ‘spiritual sacrifices’. We no longer offer the blood of bulls and goats – the once for all perfect blood sacrifice has been made. Our sins are decisively and finally dealt with. So what kind of offering do we make?

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

So we offer our bodies, we preach the good news, we support the ministry of the gospel, we worship and praise God; we do good and share what we have. These offerings that we make are said to be ‘acceptable to God.’ A priest had to be extremely careful that he did not defile himself and so become unfit to offer sacrifices acceptable to God. He had to check the animal carefully to be sure that it was unblemished so that it would be acceptable to God. The procedure for offering had to be followed exactly so that the sacrifice would be acceptable to God. And the heart motive of the offerer had to be right before God for that offering to be acceptable to God. We are said to be a holy priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. What is the procedure by which we make and offering that is acceptable to God? We certainly don’t want to be rejected by God. Our text tells us that we offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. There is no offering, no matter how great it may seem, no matter how deep the cost to ourselves that is acceptable to God if it is not through Jesus Christ. Many try to come to God on their own merits and offer to God their best, but it is filthy rags and rejected by God. Only those that come, not on their own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ as their perfect substitute, can:

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

It is only:

Ephesians 3:11-12 …in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Only through Jesus Christ and his precious blood can we find acceptance with God. Only by putting our confidence in the perfect sacrifice that he made can our sins be washed away. Only having been born again by the living and abiding word of God and given new life through the resurrection of Jesus can we approach the Father and find his favor.

So together, as his redeemed blood bought people, his holy priesthood, we together will offer a sacrifice of praise to him. We together will approach the table that God has prepared for us and we will commune with him and with one another. We together will lift up our prayers of worship and adoration to the King who is holy, and in so far as it is through Jesus Christ, we can have confidence that we are accepted by the Father.

November 16, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 2:1-3

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081109_1peter2_1-3.mp3

11/9 1 Peter 2:1-3 crave milk!

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1 apoyemenoi oun pasan kakian kai panta dolon kai upokrisin kai fyonouv kai pasav katalaliav 2 wv artigennhta brefh to logikon adolon gala epipoyhsate ina en autw auxhyhte eiv swthrian 3 ei egeusasye oti crhstov o kuriov

Last time we looked at the fourth imperative in 1 Peter: love one another. That love is to be earnest, unhypocritical, from the heart. How are we all doing on this one? Does everyone have that one down so that we can move on to the next one? Everyone is selfless and puts the needs of others above their own? No one acts like they love someone they don’t really like just because they feel they’re obligated? If we’re not all there – and I think that if we are all truly honest with ourselves, each of us have lots of room to grow in loving one another like God loves us – then there is help for us in Peter’s letter this morning.

So far, Peter has given us four commands. He has commanded us to hope in God’s future grace. Put your hope fully on what God is going to do in you tomorrow and next year and 20 years from now. He has commanded us to be holy like God is holy – to love what God loves and hate what he hates. Be completely devoted to God and his glory as the primary driving principle of our lives. He has commanded us to fear – fear God. Fear the awful tendency in our hearts to treat the precious blood of Jesus as something insufficient and impotent to effect any real change in us. Fear despising the gift and offending the giver. On the horizontal level, he has commanded us to love one another -earnestly -from the heart.

All these commands are rooted and inextricably connected to the twelve verses of massive truth that he began with. You can hope, you can be holy, you can fear, you can love, because of all that God is for you in Jesus Christ. Because of the miracle that God has brought about in you through the new birth – you now have a new life force pulsing inside of you that loves differently and desires differently and has hope fixed in different places.

We are going to look at verses 1-3 of chapter 2. This is not new chapter; start over; brand new thought. This is a continuation; here we have point five in his outline of our response to God’s grace; hope, be holy, fear, love, crave milk. Again we have one central imperative: crave milk. The command is again preceded by participles that set the stage for the command and the command is followed by purpose and reasons. Again a desire or affection is commanded.

Here’s the connection: in the last verses he said: Love like Jesus loves because you have been born again and the new life that is created in you is unstoppable – the word of God absolutely accomplishes what it sets out to do every time without exception. When God said ‘let there be light’, there was light. When God said ‘let there be new life in you; a life of love reflecting my image’, that love will be created in you; God planted an imperishable seed that will break up the rocky ground of your hard heart and burst out with fruit. Now he says: Because it’s the unstoppable word of God that accomplishes new life and love in you, then cultivate a desire for that word as a means to the intended effect. If new life is created by the word, then cling to the word as if your life depended on it (because it does); feed on the word for it is what God has given as nourishment for your growth. You don’t have that kind of love in your heart for your brothers and sisters? You don’t have a life giving fear of God and of despising his gift? You don’t see a holy devotion to God in your life and attitudes? You have your hope fixed on other things, not on God’s grace to you? You’re dissatisfied with your spiritual growth in these areas? Good! But don’t go sit in your room and cry. Don’t throw yourself a pity party and call your whimpering and whining to God ‘prayer’. Don’t set your will and resolve to try harder to make these things happen in your life. Don’t go to the Christian book store and find the latest spiritual self-help book. Pick up your bible! If you eat, you will grow. There is no substitute and no short-cut for genuine growth in spiritual maturity. Eat healthy and you will be healthy. Eat sick and you will be sick. That’s the connection and flow of the passage. Now let’s feed on the word together by looking at the details as Peter lays them out.

First, he gives five things that we are to be done with: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander.

All Malice… Malice is ill will or a desire to see harm come to others. It is the opposite of love – seeking the highest good of others.

All Deceit… Deceit is duplicity, falseness, distorting the truth to mislead; a desire to gain some advantage or preserve some position by deceiving others; it literally means ‘to catch with bait’. Hold on to this thought – we’re going to come back to this word in verse 2…

Hypocrisies… Hypocrisy is acting on a pretense, desiring to be known as something you’re not, being false; is same root as the word for sincere or unhypocritical love in verse…

1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

Envies… Envy is feeling discontent or resentment toward the advantages, success or possessions of another, coveting their position or qualities.

All Slander… Slander is speaking falsely to damage the reputation of another. Slander is often driven by the desire to deflect attention from our own failings – our faults are hidden by highlighting the faults of others.

Some of these vices are chameleons and take on many forms. We are not to get rid of most of our malice or some deceit and hypocrisy; all of it in all their varied manifestations must go.

He tells us we are to be done with these things. This is a past participle: having put off – it’s the negative precondition to the command. You can’t come to the word harboring malice and deceit in your heart and expect to grow. The picture is taking off and putting aside a soiled garment. We have one that is still in diapers. It stinks. She will come in the room and she might act like nothing at all is the matter, but the smell is enough to clear the room! Apparently she’s grown accustomed to the smell, but no one around her can stand it. We change her diaper whether she wants us to or not. She doesn’t usually initiate. Her attitude is ‘I don’t care if it stinks; it’s warm and it’s mine!’ That tends to be our attitude about our sin. Every one around us knows it stinks and they know where it is coming from. But we are comfortable to sit in it and do nothing about it. We need to put it off – double bag it and bring it out to the street – it stinks!

Peter assumes that we have our sense of smell reconditioned to be offended by the stench of sin and get it out of our lives. He says ‘having put these things aside, now let’s get to the real business. Now do this. Crave milk. Long for milk. That’s a powerful word. It points to intense longing; a very strong desire.

And he gives us a clear picture of how to crave milk. He says crave it like a little baby craves the breast. That’s intense. That’s a wake you out of your dead sleep in the middle of the night ‘I need milk’ cry. That’s ‘I’m not shutting up until I get what I need’ passion. That’s regular – about every three or four hours day and night. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Peter builds on what Jesus said. You need to want milk like a baby wants milk – passionately and consistently. And he gives us two descriptions of the milk we are to crave. It is to be pure and it is to be spiritual. Pure is the negative form of the same word we had in verse 1 ‘deceit’ – the milk we crave is to be without deceit or without mixture. Don’t water it down. Don’t mix anything with it. I want the real thing and only the real thing. And he says that the milk we desire is to be ‘spiritual’. The word here is a little tricky – it is ‘logikovlogikos’, and this word only appears here and in Romans 12:1 in the whole New Testament. It can be translated ‘rational’ or ‘spiritual’ as opposed to ‘literal’; the milk we crave is not literal breast milk but a metaphorical milk. It is milk to nourish the mind and soul, not the body. ‘Logikos’ is the adjectival form of the word ‘ logov – logos’ or word, the word that Peter used in:

1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

so he could be hinting that the milk is biblical milk. That fits the context well as he has explained with biblical proof what a powerful life giving instrument the word is in the life of a believer. James makes this explicit in his letter:

James 1:19 …let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; …21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

The stated purpose for craving this kind of milk is ‘that by it you may grow up to salvation’. The goal is our final future salvation, just as he has said in chapter 1:

1 Peter 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,

If the goal is our final salvation, how we get there is by feeding passionately and regularly on the pure milk, we grow up. We need to hear the seriousness of this command. Crave milk! Because if you don’t feed on the milk, you won’t grow and if you don’t grow then you will not be saved! That’s as serious as it gets. That’s what the text says; crave pure milk because that’s what causes you to grow up to salvation. But is this teaching salvation by works? If I have to feed on the milk and grow up so that I will be saved in the end, that sounds like I’m earning my salvation. Let me explain why I do believe this command is serious and why I don’t believe that this command implies salvation by works. I don’t want to get out from under the weight of the command by saying ‘Peter really doesn’t mean that you won’t be saved if you don’t feed on the word and grow’ – he really does say that and he really does mean that. So how is this not salvation by works? It sounds like I have to do something in order to be saved. And I would answer ‘yes’, you absolutely have to do something to be saved – you have to believe on the Lord Jesus – that’s doing something! I don’t see this command really as much different from believing. Peter said it was the word of God; the good news message about Jesus that created new life in us. Now he expects that new life that he birthed in us through the unstoppable word to cry out and hunger for more of the word so that it can grow. God caused us to be born again – and that new birth found expression in believing. Now the spiritual life that was birthed in us longs for spiritual food so that it can be sustained by God and grow to spiritual maturity. I think it’s a stretch to say that we are earning anything here by our efforts. Remember, Peter has told us that God caused us to be born again to a living hope; God is keeping an inheritance safe for us, and by his power he is keeping us for the inheritance – through faith. Our faith finds expression in clinging to the things God gives us for our growth – trusting him that regularly feeding on his word really will bring about spiritual maturity in our lives. That’s not earning anything -that’s living by faith – trusting God to bring us the grace he promises for growth as we seek him in his word.

Peter concludes his exhortation for us to crave milk with an allusion to:

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Taste and see that the Lord is good! Peter changes it to a question- if you have tasted that the Lord is good? If you have tasted the goodness of the Lord in the good news of Jesus the God-man who laid down his life for his enemies to conquer our rebellious hearts and make us his friends. If that is sweet to you this morning, don’t you want to come back to it over and over and over again? To savor the richness of Jesus who bore all my sins in his body on the tree. To dwell on the love expressed by him who knew no sin becoming sin for us. To linger over the wonder of one who would die for his enemies. To drink in the gracious giving heart of the father who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all. If you have tasted that the Lord is good, don’t you hunger to know him more? If you don’t hunger for God, maybe you’ve never really tasted the goodness of the Lord. Taste is an experiential thing. You can know the chemical make-up of chocolate and understand the balance of sweet that overcomes bitter, you can appreciate the health value of its antioxidant properties, you can be told about the silky-smooth texture, but until you unwrap it and put it on your tongue and let it melt into your taste buds, you haven’t experienced it. You can know a lot about Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Son of God who died for sinners at a place called calvary some 2000 years ago, but Jesus invited us to taste. He said ‘my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.’ (John 6:55) He said ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven’ (John 6:51). So eat; drink. Have your longings satisfied at the only source that will never run dry. Participate in the pleasures of him who has no bitter aftertaste. Crave Jesus – crave Jesus as he reveals himself to you in the bible. If you have tasted you will want more… and more… and more.

****************************

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, …

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. …10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, … By his wounds you have been healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 6:33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” …35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. …48 I am the bread of life. …51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” …53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 1:22-25

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20081102_1peter1_22-25.mp3

11/2 1 Peter 1:22-25 love one another

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

1:22 tav qucav umwn hgnikotev en th upakoh thv alhyeiav eiv filadelfian anupokriton ek kardiav allhlouv agaphsate ektenwv 23 anagegennhmenoi ouk ek sporav fyarthv alla afyartou dia logou zwntov yeou kai menontov 24 dioti pasa sarx wv cortov kai pasa doxa authv wv anyov cortou exhranyh o cortov kai to anyov exepesen 25 to de rhma kuriou menei eiv ton aiwna touto de estin to rhma to euaggelisyen eiv umav

Peter has spent the first 12 verses celebrating what God has done to make us his forever. In verses 1-3, he chose us and caused us to be born again through the resurrection of Jesus. In verse 4 he is keeping our inheritance safe for us. In verse 5, he is guarding us by his power for our salvation through our faith. In verses 6-7, he is testing our faith by the fire of trials so that it is proved genuine. In verses 8-9 he points to our joy in Jesus as evidence of our genuine belief that will result in our salvation in the end. In verses 10-12 he encourages us that prophets and angels and evangelists, through the Holy Spirit were all working together to bring us salvation. Then in verse 13 he inserts a critical ‘therefore’ to give us commands; the commands hinge on and flow from an understanding of the doctrinal truth he has presented. Because of what God has done to make you his forever, this is how you should respond. So far, he has given us three commands. In verse 13, set your hope fully on future grace, in verses 14-16, be holy – highlight the priority of God in you actions and attitudes, and in verses 17-21, live in fear – fear of treating the infinitely precious sacrifice of Jesus as something impotent and insignificant. These three imperatives are primarily Godward – they define our relationship with and attitude toward God – we are to hope in him, to be holy like him, and to live in fear of displeasing him.

Now in verses 22-25, Peter turns his attention to our horizontal relationships that flow out of our vertical relationship:

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Peter now gives us a fourth command – ‘love one another’. We need to understand what he is commanding us to do, why he demands it, and how he expects us to do it. He is demanding that we love one another. We might initially react against this. How can you command love? Isn’t love an emotion? You can’t command me to feel something that I don’t feel. I’ve often hear the comment: ‘I know I’m commanded to love them, and I do, but I don’t have to like them’ By studying what Peter has to say, we should come away with a better understanding of our obligation to our fellow believers and some practical advice on how to put it into practice.

Peter starts us out by reminding us of our conversion and what it accomplished. In verse 2, Peter told us that we are elect ‘for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.’ He now points us to our obedience to the truth as what has purified our souls. In the New Testament, obedience to the truth and belief in the truth are synonymous concepts. Believing the gospel message is the same thing as placing yourself under the authority of God and his word. Nowhere in the bible is faith a mere mental agreement with the historical facts of the gospel message. Always faith engages the whole person and demands a new affection and and is produced by a new life. Embracing the good news about Jesus means subjecting yourself to the authority of the truth about God and living consistently with it.

Peter points us to the purifying effect of embracing God’s truth. And he points to a decisive past action rather than a continuing process. If you have embraced Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection as the substitute for your sins, then you have been purified. You have been decisively washed by the blood of Jesus.

Remember when the disciples came into the upper room, and they had been arguing about who was the greatest and none of them would stoop to do the menial task of washing the feet of the others? To their shock, their Rabbi laid aside his clothes and wrapped himself in a towel and stooped to wash their feet. When Jesus came to Peter, Peter said ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ (Jn.13:8-10). Jesus replied ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me’. So Peter ambitiously answered ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus replied ‘the one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean…’ Peter had been washed from his sins by trusting Jesus.

In Acts 15:9, Peter said that God cleansed the heart of the Gentiles by faith; here he says that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth.

Acts 15:9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

You have purified your soul by obedience to the truth for an intended purpose. That purpose is ‘a sincere brotherly love’. Jesus washed you so that you can love your brothers. This is sibling love – blood relations are strong. I have a brother who is 8 years older than I am and we are good friends today. But this was not always so. I was the little kid that was into his stuff and he loved to torment me. But I remember one glorious day when a bigger kid was bullying me and made the mistake of pursuing me all the way home. He didn’t expect to run into my big brother, and he suddenly found his feet dangling a few inches off the ground as my brother explained in graphic detail what would happen to him if he was ever found bothering me again. Blood relations run deep. Relationships bought with the precious blood of Jesus run even deeper. We are blood brothers and sisters. We have a new family bond because of being born into God’s family.

We were purified for sincere brotherly love. The word is literally ‘un-hypocritical’. Our love toward our brothers and sisters is to be real; genuine; not fake; not the putting on of a mask and pretending to love. That is all too common in the church and we need to repent of that. Peter’s argument here is ‘since you have been purified for un-hypocritical love, then love! He changes the word from ‘philadelphia’ to ‘agape’. This describes unconditional purposeful love – to intentionally bring the highest good to the other, even at the expense of self. This love that has no conditions- ‘I’ll love you as long as you are part of my natural circle of friends’ ‘I’ll love you as long as you respond appropriately and gratefully’ ‘I’ll love you if you are somehow deserving of my love or if I am able to see some growth or effort on your part’; I’ll love you if you are lovable’; ‘I’ll love you if the demand is not too high or the duration is not too long’… Agape love is love with no conditions. Love that puts the needs of others before your own – self-sacrificing love.

And this love is descried in two ways. It is an earnest love and it is from the heart. The word ‘earnest’ carries the idea of being stretched to the limit or exerting your full capacity to love. Love in earnest and love from the heart. This is not a superficial kind of love. This is love that originates in the core of your being. We might say ‘love with all your heart and soul’ – love with full intensity with a love that is heartfelt and genuine.

This brings us back to the question – how can Peter command heartfelt un-hypocritical love? I can do the loving thing because I know I ought to, but I can’t manufacture this full-on heartfelt intensity of love that Peter demands. I can act loving even when I don’t feel like it, but how do I eliminate hypocrisy from my love? How do I love sincerely, from the heart, in earnest? How do I become not merely willing, but eager to love my neighbor like I love myself? How do I not quit loving when I get tired and worn out? Peter gives us his answer in the next verse:

23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Peter grounds his command for agape love in our regeneration. You can love like I am commanding you because you have been born again. In verse 3 he said ‘blessed be…God…’ because…

3…According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again…

Our new birth results in a new family relationship. We love one another because God is now our common spiritual father through new birth. We love one another because the nature of the father – who is love- has been passed on to us. We can keep on loving one another because the new life we have in Jesus is indestructible.

In verse 4, Peter told us that our inheritance is imperishable. In verse 18, he told us that we were not ransomed with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Now he tells us that the seed or sperm that produced our new life is not perishable but imperishable. We have imperishable DNA through our new birth!

Our new birth came by means of God’s word.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Peter here tells us that God caused us to be born again through or by means of his word. His word is living; so we have life. His word remains; so we will persevere. God’s word will not perish, so we who trust in God’s word will never perish. Peter substantiates his claim with a quote from Isaiah 40:6-8. The context is a proclamation of comfort to Israel, because although they will be carried off in captivity to Babylon, God will restore them from their exile. He will blow on their enemies and they will wither like grass, but his promises will never fail. Peter is writing to the elect exiles in Asia Minor, and he is encouraging them to love because God’s word has created new life in them. No nation, no matter how strong, not Babylon, not Rome, not the people that are now persecuting you, can thwart God’s purposes. God is keeping an inheritance for you, and God is keeping you for your inheritance. God’s word has birthed new life in you, and that life is imperishable. God’s word is powerful and will accomplish its purpose.

Isaiah 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Jesus said:

Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

And God’s purpose for his regenerating word is to create a community, a family who hope in his grace, who love what he loves and are holy like he is holy; who esteem Jesus so highly that they fear treating with contempt the value of the cross; who love one another sincerely, earnestly, un-hypocritically, from the heart.

And Peter concludes ‘and this word is the good news that was preached to you.’ This indestructible word, this life creating word, is the good news, the gospel message that was preached to you. Prophets prophesied, searched and inquired about the grace that was to be yours; they served not themselves but you; these things have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (1:10-12).

This is the gospel message:

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you––unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared…

The good news is a message of God’s gracious love:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God’s love is free and unconditional:

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Our love for others is a natural result of God’s love for us and the new birth;

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

So how do we love? The good news that Jesus died for our sins was proclaimed to us, and that indestructible message creates life in its hearers. The life that is created is life from God and will reflect God’s character of love.

So what if this morning an honest glance into my own heart tells me that I don’t find God’s love there? What should I do? Our text this morning tells me to look to God’s love in the gospel message. Look to the life transforming message of God’s grace toward sinners in the cross. Look to the magnitude of your sin against God, for ‘he who is forgiven little, loves little’ (Luke 7:47). Look to the precious blood of Jesus that ransoms us from the futile loveless life inherited from our forefathers. We are set free to love each other. Be immersed in the word of God that creates a life of love in its hearers. The good news is the power of God to save believers. Drench yourself in God’s word and allow God to shape your emotions and attitudes and actions to the image of Jesus.

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

November 2, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment