PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

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

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August 23, 2009 - Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , ,

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