PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

1 Peter 4:7-9; The End is Near!

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090524_1peter4_7-9.mp3

05/24 1 Peter 4:7-9 The End is Near: Prayer,Love, and Hospitality

4:7 pantwn de to telov hggiken swfronhsate oun kai nhqate eiv proseucav 8 pro pantwn thn eiv eautouv agaphn ektenh econtev oti agaph kaluptei plhyov amartiwn

-Intro:

Peter is writing to believers in Asia Minor who were undergoing persecution and suffering, or would soon be suffering for the the sake of Jesus. Because of their relationship with Jesus, they had become strangers, outsiders in their own communities. Peter gives clear direction that when suffering comes, and it will come (we have been called to suffer – 2:21), this is how we must respond; we are to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus did not suffer for any wrong that he had committed, so we must not bring suffering on ourselves by sinful action. While suffering, Jesus continued entrusting everything to his Father who judges justly. Jesus suffered for the good of others – ultimately in order to bring us to God. In Jesus’ suffering, he won the decisive victory over sin. Since he suffered in the flesh and conquered sin once for all, our battle with sin is a battle against a defeated foe. When suffering comes our way, we might be tempted to use it as an excuse for sin – we think we have a legitimate reason to indulge ourself because life is hard. Instead, we can fight against sin by arming ourselves with the attitude of Jesus toward suffering – we can resolve to face the suffering that comes to us knowing that it is the will of our loving Father and it is for our good. We know that it is temporary and will soon be replaced by inexpressible joy. For Jesus, and for us, suffering is the pathway to victory. We can be done with sin and instead passionately pursue the will of God. Jesus now is seated at the right hand of his Father, with angels, authorities and powers having been subjected to him. He now stands ready to judge the living and the dead. Everyone will give account to him, and those who have suffered for him will be richly rewarded. It is infinitely worth it to suffer in the service of Jesus. This thought of this final judgment leads Peter to give instruction in light of the end:

4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self–controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies––in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Peter’s instructions are somewhat unexpected. The world is coming to an end! You are about to stand before your Maker! The Judge is ready! The end is near! I would anticipate …Doom and gloom. Fire and brimstone. Flee. Repent. Sell everything and look up in the sky. or Hurry and do something crazy to get everyone’s attention and tell them about Jesus before it’s too late.

He’s got a shaggy beard and unkempt hair and he just put on his sandwich board sign that says ‘the end of all things is at hand’ and he steps out into the busy street and this is what he says: “Be self controlled. Be sober minded. Pray. Love each other. Show hospitality. Make use of your God-given gifts for the glory of God.” That’s not what I would have expected. I would expect something more radical, more urgent than ‘keep your head so you can pray and love each other’. But that’s exactly what he says. Let’s look at what he says and why.

First, his statement ‘the end of all things is at hand’. The word ‘end’ indicates the goal or consummation. The goal of everything is near. Peter wrote these words some 2000 years ago. Was he wrong? What did he mean? This is the same word that both John the Baptist and Jesus used about the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The same word is used in Luke 22:47 of Judas, who was near enough to kiss Jesus.

Luke 22:47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him,

The point is that there is time for action, but there is no time to waste. Peter said that he ‘is ready to judge’. James says it this way:

James 5:8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

Jesus made it clear that although no date could be set, the disciples were to be always ready for his return:

Matthew 24:42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. …44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus promised to come quickly and he has not come back yet. Is that a problem for us? It was already for the early church, and Peter addressed this question in his second letter:

2Peter 3:4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? … 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Jesus is at the very door, ready to burst in at any moment. The fact that he has not yet is sheer undeserved mercy. Every moment he waits is another opportunity for repentance. Never in the bible is the end mentioned merely to satisfy our curiosity. It is always mentioned as a motivation for action and right living.

Because the consummation of all things is right around the corner, this is how you should live: He mentions four things: (1) prayer and the necessary mental attitude for prayer, (2) love toward one another, (3) hospitality, and (4) the use of our gifts for serving one another for the glory of God. We’ll look at the first three and save the last for next time.

First, because of the nearness of the end, he tells us to ‘be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers’. Our inclination in light of the soon return of Christ would be to lose our heads and act irrationally. Instead, we are to be sensible and alert. Peter has already told us to be sober-minded:

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.

Here he focuses our sober-minded self-controlled attention on the duty of prayer. We are to enhance our effectiveness in our prayers by clear thinking about the end. We should not be surprised or irrational in our praying, but rather enlightened by reality as seen from God’s perspective, calling on and submitting to his authority. We must recognize that the time is short and implore God to act in the time that still remains. Realizing that God is in control of these last few moments of history should cause us to focus our attention on him and lean on him more. We should be constantly looking to him for power and guidance to make our last moments here count. “It is only through clear communication with headquarters that a soldier can effectively stand guard” (Davids, p.157). We must stay connected with God and there are some things that we can practically do to maintain an effective prayer life; namely being self-controlled and sober-minded.

Next, and Peter says ‘above all, keep loving one another earnestly’. Second only to love for God, is the importance of loving his people. John tells us that this is the main evidence of our love for him.

1 John 5:1 … everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

Because of the nearness of the end, and the difficulties that will bring, we are reminded to keep on loving one another earnestly. When we face suffering, it is natural to turn our focus inward. My problems are big. Someone needs to help me and alleviate my suffering. Peter turns our focus outward. Even when you are suffering; especially when you are suffering, you need to care for the needs of others. In the middle of your trial, you need to know that because of what God has given you, you have something to give to those around you. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly. This is almost the same as what he said in:

1Peter 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 ‘earnestly’ indicates stretching out to full capacity, like a horse at full gallop. Our love must be constant and enduring, not slacking off. Jesus predicted that in the end times, love would suffer:

Matthew 24:10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Peter’s reason for our persistent intensity of love for one another is that love covers sins. Peter’s idea comes from:

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

The idea is not that we justify our sins or ignore each others faults. We are to ‘stir up one another to love and good works’ (Heb.10:24) and to ‘reprove, rebuke, and exhort’ (2Tim.4:2) with all authority (Titus2:15). Jesus himself taught:

Luke 17:3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, …

But he goes on:

…and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Love does not excuse or overlook sin, but love does not seek to destroy because of sin. We all know the difference between someone who has been watching us hoping that we would stumble and they are eager to kick us while we are down and wring every drop of juicy satisfaction out of our failure that they can, drag our name through the mud and put our sin on public display; and those that genuinely care for us and although they confront us about our sin, it is privately and for our own good, with the purpose of restoring us to fellowship both with God and with them. If we are truly in the last days as Peter says, we have a common enemy. We don’t need to be seeking occasion to destroy one another. Instead we should cover each other and care for each other with love – as we would like to be treated. Love is eager to forgive and will overlook the faults of others in the church so that together we can stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph6:11). In the face of persecution, this is an essential attitude of the community of faith. Above all, keep on loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Peter goes on: ‘Show hospitality to one another without grumbling‘. Hospitality literally is being a friend to a stranger. It typically implied offering food and lodging. In a situation where people can barely meet their own needs, hospitality is a costly act of love. The word is plural – referring to repeated acts of hospitality. The early church did not often have public facilities available to them for meeting, so hospitality would be put to the test as the church would meet regularly in someone’s home. The persecuted church would also put hospitality to the test as Christians fleeing persecution would be in great need, but would also bring the threat of danger to the family who gave them shelter. Peter not only commands hospitality, but specifies the attitude that is to go along with it. Hospitality is to be cheerful, joyful hospitality. It is not to be grumbling hospitality.

2Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Because the time is short and the days are urgent, we are to extend practical love and hospitality with generosity to our brothers and sisters in need. We are to earnestly love and be eager to forgive. We are to think clearly in order to pray more appropriately and effectively. And we are to use our various gifts to serve one another in order to bring glory to God.

4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self–controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies––in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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May 26, 2009 - Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. What a great post about how we should be living in these exciting days.

    Anna

    Comment by annaldavis | May 28, 2009 | Reply


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