PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Psalm 78; The Next Generation

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090830_psalm78_the_next_generation.mp3

8/30/2009 The Next Generation

Psalm 78:1 A MASKIL OF ASAPH. Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8 and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Over the summer we have had most of the kids in the service with their parents, and I think that has been good. Stretching at times, but good. It is good to worship as a body and learn and grow together as families. There is a sense of unity that is beneficial, and it gives most of our teachers a much needed break. Next Sunday we launch our Sunday School classes and Children’s Worship, and that too will be good. It is good to give our kids more individualized attention and hands on learning opportunities, and it opens up opportunities for our adults to grow as they step into leadership and teaching roles and learn along side our kids. We just finished up Vacation Bible School, where our kids had opportunities to learn about God and grow, and in a few weeks we will be launching our AWANA program for our elementary kids, with a huge emphasis on Bible memorization. I’m very excited about what we are able to offer for our kids, and I want to exhort you and encourage you in your involvement in these opportunities to serve our Lord Jesus. Jesus said

Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

But I want to remind us that these programs are optional and they are secondary. They are not primary and they are not essential to the life of the church. I could envision a growing, healthy, biblical church that does not have any of these programs. Nowhere in the bible does it say ‘thou shalt teach Sunday school’, or ‘thou shalt have a youth group’. Here’s what Jesus does say:

Matthew 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

I think that VBS and AWANA and Sunday school and youth group are good ways of letting the children come to Jesus, but they are not the only ways, and I would even dare to say that they should not be the main ways our kids grow in their relationship with Jesus. Look back at Psalm 78 and see where the responsibility lies: in verse 3 it says ‘things… that our fathers have told us’ and in verse 5 it says ‘he commanded our fathers to teach to their children’. This year I didn’t give a special Father’s day or Mother’s day message. So here it is – a Father’s day and Mother’s day and Grandparent’s day message all rolled into one.

Look back at Deuteronomy, where Moses urged the people of Israel to keep their focus on the centrality and majesty of God. In chapter 4, Moses reminds us of the danger of following other gods, and he warns:

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children––

Keep your own soul diligently, so that you can make God known to your children and grandchildren. In chapter 5, Moses reminds the people of the 10 commandments that God gave, and the central command to fear and love God with all your being:

Deuteronomy 6:1 “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, …2 that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long….4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

You must fear the LORD, you and your son, and your son’s son. It is the responsibility of parents to model and diligently teach the fear and love of the LORD to their children, using any means possible. He tells us again in chapter 11:

Deuteronomy 11:19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

The primary responsibility of passing on a vision of God and his glory to the next generation does not rest on the church or the Sunday school teachers or youth group leaders. The responsibility of raising the next generations to fear and worship the one true God rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents, particularly the fathers. Look back to Psalm 78 at the multi-generational goal of this exhortation:

5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,

We are not simply responsible for training our kids to know and love and serve Jesus. We are held accountable for equipping our kids to lead and teach the generations to come. It is one thing to train someone to have a personal relationship with God; it is another thing to equip someone to train others for leadership. And that is what we are called to do as parents, and secondarily as a church. Kids, that is our prayer for you – not just that you become followers of Jesus, but that you become leaders and point the generations after you to follow your example as you follow Christ.

I’ve heard some nonsense of parents not wanting to force kids to believe what they believe, but laying out the options and letting the kids decide for themselves. That’s an arrogant statement, because it presumes that you can persuade them to follow what you believe. You can’t. Only God can create new life in your child, but he has given you the responsibility and privilege of teaching your kids the truth and leading them in the way they should go and praying earnestly for that work of God in their heart. It’s a foolish and irresponsible statement, because when your two year old has a fever, you don’t empty the medicine cabinet onto the kitchen table and say – here’s the options, you decide. And it’s a lazy attitude, because what it means is ‘I know raising children to fear and love the one true God is hard work, and I’d rather not put in the effort. There is a roaring lion that is seeking someone to devour. Don’t send your kids out into the world with their hands tied behind their back!

Some of you are single mothers, or have an unbelieving spouse. What about your situation? How can you possibly do this alone or in a divided house? Is there any hope when the primary responsibility lies with the father? Let me hold out one example as an encouragement to you: young pastor Timothy. Paul encourages Timothy to continue in the faith he had embraced from childhood.

2Timothy 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

But from whom did he learn it? A godly father?

2Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Timothy’s father is not mentioned. It is quite possible that he grew up in a single parent home, or if his father was around, he was no help in the spiritual formation of this young man. And Timothy was called to pastor the church that Paul had planted in Ephesus. Paul called Timothy to fight the good fight of faith, and to set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. He charged him to preach the word, whether that was what people wanted to hear or not. And Paul is convinced that Timothy’s sincere faith was passed to him through his mother and grandmother. By God’s grace a single mom can raise a leader for future generations!

Look back at Psalm 78. I want to focus on the content and goal of the training. What is it we must convey to our children, and what is the response we want to see in them?

Psalm 78:1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

So he’s encouraging varied methods of communication; teaching, conversation – words of mouth, parables, and dark sayings or difficult truths. Matthew (13:35) cites this verse as being fulfilled by Jesus teaching in parables.

3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

These are not only things that we have heard. He says ‘heard and known‘. We are not simply to mimic or parrot a truth, but to ingest and internalize it first. The truth must be known and practiced by the teacher before it can be effectively passed on to the student.

But what is the content that we are to pass on to the coming generation?

4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

The glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. The ‘what’ that we are to pass on is the ‘who’ of who God is. Why should we fear this God and love him with all our heart and soul and might? Because of who he is as seen in what he has done. The rest of the Psalm goes on to recount some of the historical deeds of awesome power and might, like the parting of the red sea, the pillar of cloud and of fire in the wilderness, water from the rock and food from heaven, the ten plagues that he brought on Egypt, and the supernatural conquest of the promised land; but more than that, the thread of his relentless mercy and grace runs through the whole chapter. All these mighty acts of God in caring for his people and yet his people were stubborn, rebellious and unfaithful, refusing him and forgetting what he had done, sinning and testing God, even speaking against him, unbelief and distrust, sin and unbelief, lying, provoking, turning away and acting treacherously, moving him to jealousy with their idols. God’s anger flashed and his just wrath and discipline was poured out, but over and over and over he was gracious and he exercised his awesome power on their behalf; he made a way for them and led them and was a light to their path, he gave them water to drink from a rock and rained down food from heaven, he was compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger; he was grieved; but he turned his anger toward their enemies, he led his people like sheep, guided them in the wilderness, he led them to safety, brought them to his holy land and drove out nations before them and settled them; he chose them and shepherded them.

We are to communicate to the coming generation the great and glorious renown of God – the fame of his name, the sheer terror of his power, the stunningly amazing gift of his grace toward the undeserving. We must communicate who God is in all his majestic awesomeness and soul-satisfying beauty in a way that is compelling.

But what is our goal? What do we want our kids to come away with? Are we shooting for a one year bible certificate that says they know the right answers to all the important questions? Do we want them to be biblically literate so they can teach their own kids who Adam and Noah and Abraham and Moses and Matthew and Paul and Jesus were? Do we want you to be able to list the attributes of God and explain the Trinity?

5 He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8 and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Verse 7 gives the goal of parental instruction – ‘so that they should set their hope in God‘. This is what Peter has been teaching us in 1 Peter. In the first 12 verses he painted a picture of our awesome God and described his great mercy toward sinners, and laid out the riches of the promises that God has made to us, and then he tells us ‘therefore, set your hope fully on grace’ (1:13). ‘So that they should set their hope in God’. How is it that our children will come to set their hope in God? If we don’t set before them the incomprehensibly limitless power of creator God, our kids will hope in superman or the x-men. If we don’t hold out to them the infinite skill and persevering faithfulness of our covenant keeping God, they will set their hope in the next great athlete that comes on the scene. If they don’t see God’s infinite wisdom and care, our kids will hope in human wisdom and the pursuit of knowledge and the advances of technology. If they don’t grasp the absolute holiness of his character and nature, their admiration will fall on another object. If we don’t show them his overwhelming grace toward desperately sick and undeserving sinners, they might even hope in their own intrinsic goodness and worth. We must give them a God who is big enough to be hoped in!

He goes on: ‘and not forget the works of God’. The character of God is most clearly seen in his awesome acts. That’s why much of the bible is narrative – stories. In every piece of history, we should be asking ‘what can I learn about who God is from this story?’ We need to know the stories, because the stories teach us that God is worthy to be hoped in.

The next one is puzzling – framed as opposites: ‘not this but that’. What would you expect? Do not forget, but instead I want you to ??? (remember). Instead he sets obedience as the opposite of forgetfulness and says ‘Do not forget, but keep his commandments‘. Here’s how this works. God commands that we trust in him and hope in him and love him more than anything else and follow him and depend on him. When we’ve seen how he’s been always faithful in the past, it makes sense to hope in him for our future. But if we forget what he’s like, then we might be tempted to disobey him by hoping and trusting in something else. Obedience is the fruit of rock-solid confidence in the character of God. Obedience is embracing the ‘right’ of God. It is God’s right as God to make the rules, and all the rules he makes are right -the best possible rules that bring maximum joy to those who follow them.

We want you children to see God for who he is so that you will set your hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep his commandments, and we don’t want you to be like us in the ways we have blown it. This is a humbling way to instruct our children. Kids, don’t be like your dad, because your dad is stubborn and rebellious. (I could hear mom saying that to the kids, but remember, this is coming from the fathers). I am stubborn and rebellious. My heart was not steadfast, and I was not faithful to God. I want you to see God for who he truly is, but I don’t want you to be limited in your pursuit of God by my ineptness and failure in my pursuit of God. Please, children, pass me up in your wholehearted pursuit of holy joy in God. Don’t be stubborn, but be pliable in God’s hand. Don’t rebel against God, but submit gladly to his gracious and good plan. My heart was prone to wander, you fix your affections firmly on God and do not be moved. My spirit was plagued by unbelief – I was not faithful to God. You, see God for who he is, never forget what he’s done, hope in him and keep your faith fully fixed on him.

This is what we want for our kids. We want you to be so captivated by a true vision of who God is that you are gladly surrendered to his authority in your life, that you are rock solid in your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, following where he leads and doing what he calls you to do, trusting that he is good and what he does is right.

Parents, how do we effectively pass this on to our children. I’ve attempted to say it in a way that is compelling, and maybe I’ve gotten some of you fired up about communicating the greatness of God to the future generations. That might last the afternoon. What are some take-home things that we can put into practice that will gain momentum toward faithfully communicating this most important truth to the next generation?

We must experience it.

Our lives must revolve around God as the center of our universe. Our lives will revolve around whatever has the most attraction or pull or gravity. Our actions will reveal our true affections. We must stop and take a fresh look at who God is and re-center our lives around him. We must taste him for ourselves before we can commend him to others.

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

We must remember.

We need to be constantly reminded of God’s overwhelming grace that is constantly poured our in our own wretched lives. Look back over God’s undeserved grace to you and be freshly amazed that he extended mercy to a sinner like you.

Finally, we must be humble.

A proud person has something to offer. A humble person is acutely aware of their own insufficiency and willing to receive the free handout of another. We don’t want our kids to hope in us or in the church; we want you to hope in GOD!

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

Advertisements

August 30, 2009 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 5:12-14; Stand Firm in the True Grace of God

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090823_1peter5_12-14.mp3

08/23 1 Peter 5:12-14 Stand Firm in the True Grace of God

5:5 …Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Intro:

Peter is closing his God-centered, grace-saturated letter to the saints in Asia Minor. But these are not trite phrases following the rules of polite etiquette, but genuine heart felt sentences packed with rich significance. He mentions some people and places, and we will see what we can learn from them. He packs the main thrust of his entire letter into one phrase, to make sure we didn’t miss the main point. He sends personal greetings, and encourages us to warmly greet one another. And he concludes by speaking a blessing over us.

Silvanus

Who is Silvanus, and why should we care? Here’s why I want to know who he is: I want to know because the Apostle Peter here counts him a ‘faithful brother’, and I want to be counted a faithful brother. That’s high praise for anyone, and even higher to hear it from the apostle himself. The only thing higher would be to hear it from the Lord Jesus himself: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt.25:21). That’s what I long to hear. So who was this Silvanus, and how did he do it?

Peter says he wrote the letter ‘through Silvanus’. Some have thought that this means Silvanus was Peter’s amanuensis, or scribe who took down Peter’s dictation of the letter. Some have even thought that Peter delegated the task of writing a letter in his name to the believers in Asia Minor. Most likely, this means that Silvanus was to be the one to hand deliver the letter to each of the churches scattered throughout Asia Minor, probably reading it to them and explaining it to them. This is not the first piece of critical correspondence that Silvanus was trusted to deliver. After the stoning of Stephen, believers were scattered because of the persecution and the gospel spread into Gentile territory (to the Hellenists – Jews who had adopted the Greek culture). A church was planted in Syrian Antioch and news came to Jerusalem so they sent Barnabas to investigate. Barnabas saw the hand of God at work and went and found Paul and brought him to teach there a whole year. He and Barnabas were sent out to preach the gospel and when they returned to Antioch, they reported that God had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. But men came from Judea teaching that no one can be saved without being circumcised according to the law of Moses. Paul and Barnabas were appointed to bring the question before the church in Jerusalem. The first church council determined that it was not right to burden the Gentiles who were coming to God with additional laws, because ‘we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:11) so they drafted a letter and chose Silas and Judas to accompany Barnabas and Paul to deliver the letter.

Acts 15:22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers…

Silas and Judas were considered ‘leading men among the brothers’. In verse 32, we find they were prophets in the early church:

Acts 15:32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words.

Not only did they deliver the message and the letter, but they used their gifts to strengthen and encourage the brothers there in Antioch. Silas is the shortened form of the name Silvanus, likely the same man Peter now uses to deliver this letter to the churches in Asia.

Later, when Barnabas and Paul were going to strengthen the churches they had planted, they disagreed sharply over bringing John Mark with them, who had deserted them on their first journey. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus, and Silas became Paul’s co-worker. When they were thrown in jail in Philippi and their feet put in the stocks, these two were singing praises to God even in chains.

Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.

And Paul and Silas had the opportunity to lead the Philippian jailer to faith in Christ. Silas along with Timothy accompanied Paul on much of that journey, and was with Paul when he authored 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Silas or Silvanus was a faithful brother. He stood by Paul even in the darkest hours and brought encouragement and hope. He suffered injury along side Paul, and rejoiced in the advance of the gospel. He faithfully delivered the message of the Jerusalem council, and brought encouragement to the church and strengthened them. Now we find him alongside Peter, willing to undertake a major journey into northern Asia Minor to become a vehicle of God’s grace to them. Silvanus could be counted on to accomplish the task at hand. He stood firm in the grace of God and was counted a faithful brother along with men like Timothy (1Cor.4:17) and Epaphras (Col.1:7), Tychicus (Col.4:7; Eph.6:21) and Onesimus (Col.4:9). Even men like Demas and Crescens and Titus deserted Paul in his time of need (2Tim4:10). What was the difference? Silvanus was faithful – full of faith in God and humbly dependent on God’s grace.

John Mark

It’s interesting that Peter also mentions Mark as sending a greeting. It is thought that John Mark was the young man who fled naked at Jesus’ arrest in the garden (Mk.14:51-52). Mark was Mary’s son, whose house the early church used to meet in (Acts 12:12). Mark and Barnabas were cousins (Col.4:10). Mark returned to Antioch with Barnabas and Paul after they delivered the gift to the saints in Judea. He accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey, but deserted them when things became difficult in Pamphylia (Acts15:37-39) . He was the center of the disagreement that led to the parting of ways between his cousin Barnabas and Paul. Mark became associated with Peter, and Mark’s gospel is derived from Peter’s preaching and teaching. Paul commended Mark in his letter to Colossae (Col.4:10), considered Mark a fellow-worker in Philemon 24, and even called for Mark to be brought to him in prison because he said ‘he is very useful to me for ministry’ (2Tim.4:11). Apparently Mark was with Peter in Rome when he wrote this letter, and he sent his personal greetings to the churches in Asia Minor.

Peter gets to the point of his letter when he says ‘I have written to you briefly, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it’

Exhorting and Declaring

Peter has used this word ‘exhort’ twice already in this short letter:

1Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

1Peter 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:

And the letter has been full of exhortation. But the exhortation does not stand alone. All his exhortation is based on declaration. These are the facts. I attest to the facts. Based on the facts, I urge you to take appropriate action. The first exhortation appears in 1:13 and it is based on the truth he has unfolded in 1:1-12. He has unfolded the truth of God’s gracious purposes toward us, and in verse 13 he tells us “therefore… set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Here I testify to the riches of God’s grace. Therefore hope in that grace. Every moral exhortation that Peter has given is founded on a theological truth. Do this because of that. Act in this way because this is true. We see this pattern even in Peter’s first sermon recorded in Acts:

Acts 2:40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

The True Grace of God

Peter has written about grace. This is the true grace of God. This is not a cheap counterfeit. This is the real thing. The message of salvation we received is the true grace of God – it is for real. Grace is the objective message of salvation in Christ. As he said in:

1:18-19 …you were ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…

3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…

This is God’s grace toward sinners – those who humbly acknowledge that they are in need of God’s undeserved favor. God is the God of all grace; electing grace, saving grace, sustaining grace, sovereign grace; it was God’s grace that chose us and called us; it is God’s grace that keeps us; eternity will be an enjoyment of the riches of God’s grace that is coming to us.

1 Peter 5:10…the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

This is God’s restoring grace, his confirming grace, his strengthening grace, his establishing grace. Peter testifies that this is the true grace of God.

Stand Firm

And he exhorts us one last time; stand firm in it. Set your hope fully on God’s grace to you, highlight the priority of God in your actions and attitudes; fear treating the infinitely precious sacrifice of Jesus as something worthless; love one another as members of the family that God has caused us to be born into. Crave the milk that causes you to grow up to salvation. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Set Christ apart as Lord. Be self controlled and sober minded toward prayers. Rejoice. Glorify God. Shepherd the flock. Humble yourself. Be sober; be watchful. Resist the temptation to shift your faith to yourself in pride. Stand firm in the grace of God.

Plant the feet of your faith firmly on the character and promises of the God of all grace. Anchor your life in the objective truth of God’s word. Find safe harbor in the shelter of his unconditional love. Sink your roots down deep into the rich soil of a God who gives grace to the humble. He called you and he will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Your are being guarded by God’s power through faith for salvation (1:5). So stand firm!

Romans 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 11:20 …They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.

Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

1Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

1Corinthians 15:1-2 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.

Ephesians 6:10-14 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,…

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you (cause you to stand) blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,

12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Babylon

Babylon is the place of exile for those whose natural home is Jerusalem; Peter is identifying with his readers who are ‘elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia’ (1:1). In Jewish and Christian writing in the first century, Rome was referred to as Babylon – the contemporary parallel of the center of world power and opposition to God’s people. Peter has credibility to give instruction because he and his church are facing the same types of situations that his readers are facing.

Co-Elect

The elect of Rome send greetings – those who are strangers in Roman society because Christ Jesus plucked them out of their bondage to sin, opened their eyes to the realities of God and birthed in them new life. Peter began his letter by calling the saints in Asia Minor ‘elect’ , those chosen out from among the rest. Now he ends the letter by referring to the believers in Rome as those that are literally ‘co-elect’. The church in Rome was chosen by God just as you and I are chosen by God. Men and women are co-heirs of the grace of life(3:7); Peter considers himself a co-elder (5:1) with the elders in Asia Minor; and the church in Rome is co-elect with the elect exiles of the dispersion. The brotherhood around the globe stands alongside one another. Warm greetings come to you from your brothers in Rome. And as he is writing to churches scattered across a geographic region, he exhorts them to greet one another. In 1:22, he has told us to love one another earnestly from a pure heart because we have now been born again into the same family, and here he tells us to express that love in a tangible way. The kiss of love was exchanged between family members and between rabbis and their disciples. This is a strong affirmation in the face of a threat that we are on the same team. A holy hug will encourage and strengthen in a way that mere words cannot.

Peter concludes his letter with these words: ‘Peace to all of you who are in Christ.’ He began the letter with the prayer ‘May grace and peace be multiplied to you.’, and he spent the bulk of the letter unfolding God’s varied grace even in the face of a hostile society. Now he concludes by pointing us to the God of all grace and speaking peace to us. There is no real peace outside of the peace with God that we find through our Lord Jesus Christ. Because we are recipients of God’s undeserved grace, we can have true inner peace. We have been reconciled to God and our sins have been dealt with decisively and finally at the cross, and we can stand righteous before a holy God on the basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

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

August 23, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 5:10-11; The God of All Grace

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090816_1peter5_10-11.mp3

08/16 1 Peter 5:10-11 The God of All Grace

5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Connection with preceding verses:

Before we dive into these verses, let’s take a moment to see how these verses fit into the section. He’s been pointing us toward humility. We are to keep humility as close to us as the shirt on our back because God aggressively engages himself in pouring out his great grace on sinners who are acutely aware of their desperate, helpless and humble position before him. True humility means not even feeling like we can handle our own problems. We humble ourselves by casting all our anxieties on God. But we have an enemy. He would like to see our allegiances subtly shift so that our confidence is in ourselves and not in our compassionate Creator. If he can puff us up with pride, then God himself will oppose us. We must be on our guard and keep our faith firmly in the God who cares. If we do, then God promises that the devil will flee from us. We can take courage to persevere from the fact that our circumstances are not unique. Our brotherhood through history and around the globe are experiencing the same kinds of suffering that we face.

Suffering in 1 Peter

And with that, Peter brings us back to a main theme of his message: suffering. He began the letter by addressing us as exiles – outcasts and aliens because of our new identity (1:1). He’s told us that our various trials are necessary because they prove the genuineness of our faith (1:6). He’s given encouragement and instruction on how to bring glory to God by our attitude and our action as outcasts in society (1:13). He’s told us how to relate to gossips, to good government, to evil employers, and to unbelieving spouses (2:12-3:7). He encourages us when, for the Lord’s sake we suffer unjustly, because this is grace in his sight (2:20). In fact, unjust suffering for doing good is what we have been called to (2:21). Often it is God’s will that we suffer (3:18; 4:19). And he’s held out to us the ultimate example of Jesus, whose unjust suffering purchased our redemption (2:21). We are not to fear when we suffer for righteousness sake, because we serve King Jesus and we will be blessed (3:14). Suffering in the flesh has a purifying affect on us (4:1). We are not to be suprised at the fiery trial, but rather we are to rejoice (4:12). Suffering as a Christian is a primary way in which our lives can put the greatness of God on display (4:16). Because God uses suffering to refine us, we should humble ourselves under his mighty hand, so that at the proper time he will lift us up (5:6). We have an adversary that would like to swallow us whole, so we must be on our guard and keep our faith firmly fixed on God (5:8). But our suffering is not unique; our brotherhood throughout the world experiences the same kind of suffering (5:9). And our suffering is not permanent but will last only for a short season compared to the eternal glory that we will enjoy (5:10).

5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Paul said the same thing about our suffering:

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

His Eternal Glory

What we have to look forward to is ‘his eternal glory’. The glory is his – all glory belongs to him.

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

Isaiah 48:11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.

The glory of man is like the flower of grass that withers and falls, Peter says (1:25), but God’s glory is timeless and constant. We exist to bring him praise. As recipients of God’s great mercy you are:

1Peter 2:9 …a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

I love that! Proclaim the excellencies of him! It’s all about him! To delight in the radiance of his marvelous light! This is the one thing the Psalmist pursued:

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Psalm 63:1-4 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 96:5-9 … but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

Isaiah 33:17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;

2Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

1John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

The Westminster Catechism puts it this way: ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.’ This is what we are called to – to enjoy God; to revel in the beauty of his character and nature; to be overwhelmed by his justice and his mercy and his costly undeserved love; to bask in the radiance of his face as he shines on us freely with favor. Day by day for eternity to discover hidden facets of the depths of his personality, growing in our admiration for the most perfect of all beings and to declare his infinite worth; satisfying all our holy cravings in his undiminished fullness.

The God of All Grace

Look at his name in this verse: ‘the God of all grace’. What a name! All grace! All grace is his; all grace comes from him. Grace is undeserved goodness poured out on us.

Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 4:4-5 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

Grace by definition is unearned undeserved favor and kindness. Our God is the God of all grace. The only one who is worthy pouring out undeserved kindness on sinners. All grace originates in God himself, and apart from him there is no grace. God is the source of all grace. God is God over all grace. God is free to give grace as he pleases, and no grace comes to us apart from his sovereign good pleasure. And the bible tells us that God is ‘rich in mercy’ (Eph.2:4) and loves to pour out blessing on unworthy sinners. God is God of all grace of every kind, grace in every form and expression; grace for salvation, grace for suffering, grace for service, even the hope of promised future grace.

Peter as he closes his letter is choosing words that will spark in our memory of what he has taught us already. He prayed that grace and peace would be multiplied to us in 1:2; he pointed us to God’s great mercy in causing us to be born again in 1:3; in 1:10 he reminds us of the prophets who prophesied of the grace that is to be ours in salvation. In his first command in the book (1:13), he insists that we fix our hope fully on this future grace. Anything other than grace is justice. And sinners who demand justice get wrath. Our hope is grace. He says in 2:10 ‘once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy’. He tells us in 2:19 & 20 that it is the grace of God when for God’s sake we suffer for doing good. In 3:7 he reminds us that husbands and wives together are heirs of the grace of life. In 4:10 he commissions us that we are stewards entrusted with dispensing God’s varied grace to one another, showing favor where it is not deserved. In 5:5, he quotes the Old Testament scriptures which say that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. He concludes the letter (5:12) pointing to the true grace of God in which we are commanded to stand.

Who has called you in Christ

In this verse he is explaining what it means for God to give grace to the humble and lift us up. The first expression of grace is God’s grace in election. This most gracious God called you! Peter is again reminding his readers of what he has taught. In the very first verse of the letter, he pointed us to the fact that God chose us. We are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. In 1:15 the holy character of the one who called us is highlighted as a pattern which we must follow. Our relation to him as children to the Father is a result of his calling, electing love. It is through Jesus, he tells us in 1:21, that we are believers in God, and God’s call that creates new life in us comes to us through the living word, the proclamation of the good news (1:23-25). In 2:4-5 he compares us to Christ, who was rejected by men but is chosen by God and precious to him. In 2:9 he calls us ‘a chosen race’, chosen by ‘him who called you’, and our being called is parallel to receiving mercy. In 2:21, we have been called to do good and suffer for it, following the example of Jesus. In 3:9 we are called to bless those who are evil and hostile toward us. He ends the letter (5:13) with a greeting from others who have been chosen in the same way.

Will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you

God has graciously called you to his eternal glory in Christ, but his grace does not end there. God ‘has caused us to be born again’ (1:3)…

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

We ‘by God’s power are being guarded through faith for salvation’ (1:5). Here he describes in more detail how he gives us the grace to persevere. It is emphatic that God is the one at work here. God himself, personally, is the one who does this. Four verbs describe God’s work. God promises to do four things; he will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Restore means to set right what has gone wrong, to repair what is damaged. God himself will set right what has gone wrong in our lives and repair the damage. Confirm means to stabilize or support, to come alongside to make firm and immovable. Strengthen means to impart the needed strength, to make strong. Establish means to lay the foundation or place on a firm foundation. This is how God gives grace to the humble. It is God’s grace in repairing what has been damaged, supporting what is shaky, making strong what is weak, and anchoring on a firm foundation that enables us to ‘resist the devil, firm in your faith’. We can cast all our anxieties on him because he is caring for us by restoring, confirming, strengthening and establishing us.

Perseverance of the Saints

How does this fit with our eternal security and our responsibility to believe? I believe that once God has justified a person, declaring them righteous by the merit of Jesus Christ, God will never unjustify that person. God will not go back on his word.

2Timothy 2:11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful–– for he cannot deny himself.

And yet Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

1Corinthians 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.

We must endure, but we are safe. Paul says in Romans:

Romans 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So we are inseparable from the love of Christ, yet we must persevere and stand firm in our faith to the end or our faith is worthless and will not save. How does this work? How are we safe if it is ultimately up to us? Jude helps us here:

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Our faith must not fail, but God is able to keep us from stumbling. Paul looks at the two sides in Philippians:

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

So we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But we are incapable of doing anything to accomplish our own salvation. The only way we can work out our own salvation is because it is God who works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure. God’s enabling power is what causes us to stand firm in our faith to the end. This is what Peter said in chapter 1:

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

We are being guarded by the omnipotent power of God, but God does not guard us apart from our faith, but rather through our faith. He does that, Peter says, by himself repairing what has been damaged, supporting what is shaky, making strong what is weak, and anchoring us securely on a firm foundation

Doxology

The emphasis is on God who does these things himself. So it is right to ascribe to him the power. Peter naturally flows from truth and promises into praise. ‘To him be the dominion forever and ever’. He has purposed to extend grace to us. He has every ability to carry out his plan. He is able to make us stand firm in our faith. We do well to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God because he will indeed be able to lift us up. He knows how to pour out grace on sinners. This is the second time Peter has burst into worship in response to the truth. In 4:11 he responds to service that is done in a way that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, and he says ‘To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Here he responds to the declaration of God’s preserving persevering grace. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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

August 16, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment