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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

1 Peter 5:8-9; Resisting the Lion

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090719_1peter5_8-9.mp3

07/19 1 Peter 5:8-9 Resisting the Lion

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.

We learned last time that humility is an essential grace in the Christian life. Almighty God is actively and aggressively engaged against those who lift themselves up, but he is just as actively and aggressively engaged in pouring out undeserved kindness on the one who has a deep sense of his own unworthiness in the sight of God. We found that anxiety or worry is evidence of a proud heart. As Alexander Nisbet said in his commentary written in 1658

“Mis-believing anxiety, whereby Christians break themselves with the burden of these cares which God requires to be cast upon Him, is one of the greatest signs of pride in the world; and to trust God with the weight of these in following our duty is a prime evidence of true humility…” [Nisbet, p.201]

Peter has addressed the Elder-Shepherds and exhorted them to shepherd God’s flock willingly, eagerly, being examples to the flock. He’s told us to live in humility with one another, let go of pride, and relax under the mighty hand of our awesome God. He tucks us in to our safe care free life under the security of the awesome hand of mighty God, and as we begin to drift off into anxiety free bliss, he says ‘by the way, did I mention the lion?… Humble yourselves… casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. Don’t worry about a single thing. And oh, we’ve got a hungry lion on the loose… Every thing’s going to work out all right. God is caring for you. He gives grace to the humble…PAY ATTENTION! WATCH OUT!

This is the third time that Peter has called us to stay alert and be sober-minded:

1Peter 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.

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self–controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Peter warns us against the ‘mental and spiritual lethargy that would prevent us from recognizing and meeting an attack on our faith’ [Davids, p.189]. Peter calls us to sober-mindedness. We are to always be on our guard and keep our heads clear. And we are to be alert and watchful. Peter has the vivid recollection of first hand experience with watchfulness and the consequences of a lack thereof:

Mark 14:34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Peter, having failed to be vigilant in his hour of crisis, now turns to strengthen us, just as Jesus had promised:

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter knows first hand what it is to be attacked by the roaring lion. Peter knows what it’s like to be caught with your guard down. But I like Peter’s perspective here. You are safe under the mighty hand of our sovereign God. God is the omnipotent uncreated cause of all things, high king and ruler over all things. You do have an enemy. He seems fearsome and powerful, but compared to God he is weak and limited. He is a finite created being. He is dangerous, but he’s been decisively defeated. You need not fear him, but you do need to know how to handle him. In this God centered God saturated letter, Peter gives only one verse to describing the adversary, and he gives concise clear instruction on how to defeat him.

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.

First, the identity of the adversary. The Hebrew word ‘satan’ means ‘adversary’ or ‘opponent’; sometimes carried over directly from the Hebrew as ‘Satan’ (Mk.1:13; 8:33; 1 Cor.5:5; 7:5); sometimes translated [diabolov] devil, which means ‘slanderer’ or ‘false accuser’. He is further described in this passage as our adversary [antidikov] which means ‘opponent in a lawsuit’. The Devil, or Satan in the bible is ‘a personal spiritual being who is in active rebellion against God and who has leadership of many demons like himself… He is a cunning and evil personal being who has the ability and propensity to attack (and presumably harm) Christians.’ [Grudem, p.196]. We see his personality in his conversation with the LORD in Job 1:7

Job 1:7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”

In Job we see Satan going to and fro, walking up and down on the earth. He prowls around like a roaring lion. In Zechariah 3 and Revelation 12 we see Satan as the adversary or accuser of God’s people:

Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

The roaring lion metaphor is taken from Psalm 22 which described the passion of Jesus:

Psalm 22:12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

This is not the sneaking slithering serpent Satan. This is the roaring lion Satan. Satan would either have you think too much or too little of him. If he can convince you he doesn’t exist, then he has free reign to work in your life without fear of discovery. If he can convince you that he is more powerful than he really is, then he can manipulate you by intimidation. That is how he is pictured here – roaring intimidation. And he seeks someone to devour. The word devour means ‘to gulp down’. It is the word used to describe the great fish swallowing the prophet Jonah whole.

Jonah 1:17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

The devil would like to swallow up believers. And with this we must ask some hard questions. Can he? What would that mean? The implication is that he does devour those do not resist him, those who are not firm in their faith, those who are not sober-minded and watchful. This is a warning that has real consequences for ignoring. If we don’t take up the shield of faith, we will be hit by the flaming darts of the evil one [Eph.6:16]. Being devoured or gulped down by the roaring lion does not sound like a good thing. Satan’s voracious appetite will be appeased by nothing less than to bring you with him to hell for eternity. And I think that is exactly what is at stake in this verse. Stay alert and think clearly because your adversary would like to drag you to hell. Is that possible? Is it possible for Satan to have the ultimate victory over a genuine reborn believer in Jesus? And I have to answer a resounding NO based on scriptures like:

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Romans 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified….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.

Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

2Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful–– for he cannot deny himself.

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Those who are in Christ Jesus are absolutely safe and secure and nothing can change that – not even Satan. So is this an empty warning? Why waste so much energy watching out for a lion that can’t possibly eat you? Stay awake, but if you fall asleep, it’s not a big deal because nothing will happen anyway. I don’t think that’s what Peter is saying. So how do we put this together? We who have eternal life, who shall never perish, who have been justified by his grace as a gift, who have been made alive by God, who cannot be separated from the love of God, who are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of the inheritance, we are warned not to fall prey to the devouring lion. Here’s how I see these fit together: True believers are those who:

1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. [c.f. 2Timothy 4:7]

A characteristic of a born again believer is that they fight. That they are vigilant against the enemy and that they resist him firm in their faith. The fight is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in the heart of the believer. Lack of fight indicates a lack of genuine spiritual life. Jesus is clear that there will be many on that day that thought they were spiritually safe and he says ‘I never knew you; depart from me [Mt.7:22]. Let’s look at this from another angle. Ephesians 6:

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

God tells us that the fight is way out of our league, but he has provided invincible armor. Would it be evidence of genuine faith to run out into the battlefield without putting on the equipment that he graciously supplies? We cannot hold God to a promise that he did not make. I want to be able to stand against the schemes of the devil, but I’m not going to make use of the armor that God gives. I don’t want to be eaten by the lion, but I’m going to pet the lion and curl up with him and take a nap. If that’s what you say, you are not a believer. Not heeding the warnings is evidence of unbelief, and it is he who believes that has eternal life! The believer walks by faith, trust, obedience to the commands and warnings of God. So how do we handle this lion?

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.

When faced with the lion, we are to stand our ground and resist him. Not so with many sins. We are told to:

John 10:5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him [a false shepherd], for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

1Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

1Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1Timothy 6:10-11 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

2Timothy 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

It is right to run away from sin. We are commanded to flee. But when we are faced with the roaring lion, we are to stand firm. If you examine the spiritual armor that God has given us for the battle, there is nothing to protect our backs. In fact James says:

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double–minded.

When faced with sin and temptation, we should look for the promised escape and flee [1Cor.10:13]. But when faced with the devil, we are to stand our ground and resist him and he will flee from us. But how? How do we resist the devil? Peter tells us. Resist him firm in your faith. It is our weapon of faith that will defeat our foe and keep us safe. Our rock-solid confidence in the faithfulness of God to us. Our confidence is in the gospel message that Satan was defeated at the cross of Christ, that we are fully and freely forgiven, and now even death cannot separate us from the love of God.

Peter is expanding here on what he said at the beginning of the letter. He started by telling us that we are elect according to the foreknowledge of God, that God caused us to be born again, that we have an inheritance kept in heaven for us…

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.

God’s power is guarding us so that we stand firm and receive the promise rather than being devoured. The means by which his omnipotent power is guarding us is ‘through faith’. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please him’ [Heb.11:6], but ‘all things are possible for one who believes’ [Mk.9:23]. Jude says it this way:

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 confidence is not in ourselves or our faith, but in the mighty hand of God. We resist the temptation to pride and self dependence and instead humble ourselves under his mighty hand in absolute surrender and utter dependence, trusting that he knows best.

Satan’s roar is the roar of suffering. His roar can be heard in the roar of the emperor, in the roar of the harsh employer, the roar of the unbelieving spouse. The roar of intimidation through suffering that would cause us to buckle under the pressure and distrust the God who called us. Faith cries ‘you can take my livelihood, you can take my family, you can even take my life, but you can never touch my soul because it was bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we can be encouraged that we are not alone. Our brothers around the globe are experiencing the roar of suffering. Our suffering is not unique, and God has given many who have gone before the faith to stand firm

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.

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

July 19, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 5:5-7; God’s Mighty Hand and Humility

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090712_1peter5_5-7.mp3

07/12 1 Peter 5:5-7 God’s Mighty Hand and Humility

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.

Peter has addressed the elder/shepherd/overseers of the churches and given them instruction on how to shepherd and lead in the way that God would have them. Now he turns to the youth of the church and gives instruction, then he broadens his directives to the whole church. And his instruction centers around humility. He tells the youth to be subject to the elders, a command that requires humility. He instructs all of us to be clothed with humility toward one another, he quotes a proverb to show that God’s grace is toward the humble, he commands us to humble ourselves before an omnipotent God, he gives us the future result of humility, and he tells us practically how we are to humble ourselves under God. Humility is a central grace in the Christian life; humility toward authority, humility toward one another; humility toward God. What is the big deal with humility? What does it mean to be humble? What does it look like?

I thought we’d start with a definition, but this proved more difficult than I expected. I looked up ‘humility’ in an online dictionary, and found this:

Main Entry: [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary]

hu·mil·i·ty Pronunciation: \hyü-ˈmi-lə-tē, yü-\

Function: noun

the quality or state of being humble

That’s it! Many words have yards of definitions. Not humility. So I looked up ‘humble’

Main Entry:

hum·ble; Pronunciation: \ˈhəm-bəl also chiefly Southern ˈəm-\

Function: adjective

Etymology:

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin humilis low, humble, from humus earth; akin to Greek chthōn earth, chamai on the ground

1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive 2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission ‘a humble apology’ 3 a: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale: insignificant, unpretentious b: not costly or luxurious ‘a humble contraption’

I thought I might find some interesting stories about humility in ‘The Book of Virtues: a treasury of great moral stories’ compiled by William J. Bennett. As I scanned the table of contents, I was surprised to see that humility is missing. He has sections on self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and faith, but nothing on humility. It seems humility is not a virtue we value today. Even the dictionary definitions are weak. So I stepped back a few centuries and looked at Webster’s 1828 dictionary [http://1828.mshaffer.com/] and among other things I found this:

HUMIL’ITY, n. [L. humilitas.]

1. In ethics, freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth. In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.

Under humble, we find this:

HUM’BLE, a. [L. humilis.]

1. Low; opposed to high or lofty.

HUM’BLE, v.t. To abase; to reduce to a low state.

1. To crush; to break; to subdue.

2. To mortify.

3. To make humble or lowly in mind; to abase the pride of; to reduce arrogance and self-dependence; to give a low opinion of one’s moral worth; to make meek and submissive to the divine will; the evangelical sense.

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you.” 1 Pet.5.

At its root it means low – not rising far from the ground. Webster hits it when he says humility is “a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God”. Our culture tells us that what we need to do is build up our self-esteem. What God’s word tells us here seems to fly in the face of that. Let’s examine at the text:

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.

He has addressed the elders in the churches, and now he turns to those who are younger. With youth often comes the desire for more independence, even rebelliousness, and less respect for authority. Some experts feel that this category of ‘younger’ could include those up to 40 years old (Schreiner, p.237 fn.85). The younger are told to place themselves under the authority of the leadership in the church. So an aspect of humility is being under proper authority. The author of Hebrews puts it this way

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Then Peter broadens his scope. He moves from the younger, who are often inclined to think quite highly of themselves, to everyone. Everyone needs to hear this. No exceptions. All of you toward one another clothe yourselves with humility. ‘Clothe yourselves’ is an interesting word. It means to tie it on like an apron. Something a slave would tie over his clothing to keep clean during menial tasks. Tie on humility like an apron. This ought to remind us of Jesus:

John 13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

We are to be wrapped up in a deep sense of our own unworthiness in the sight of God as we deal with one another. We are to take the low place with one another. Paul states it radically:

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Peter draws his reason for humility from Proverbs

Proverbs 3:34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.

God opposes the proud” That should make us stop in our tracks. If I asked each of you as you came in this morning what is the worst thing that could possibly happen to you, I doubt any would give this answer. I would expect to hear catastrophe, cancer, financial ruin, family strife, war, disease, disaster, murder, rape. But if we really understand who God is, the thought of having him against us should be a terrifying prospect. If God is opposed to me, peace and health and prosperity matter not at all. But if God is with me, then by his help I can get through whatever comes my way. The opposite of humility is pride. If we do not take the low place, if we do not have a deep sense of our own unworthiness in the sight of God then we are lifted up – we are proud. And if we are proud, then God is against us.

We could argue that the worst sin in the world is pride. Abortion and incest and child abuse and rape and racism and murder would top our lists, but God goes deeper than the outward act to the heart issue at the core. Pride. God hates pride. God is not passively displeased with pride. God is actively and aggressively engaged against pride. God opposes the proud. God is arrayed in battle against pride.

But what’s so bad about pride? Pride is the lifting up of self. It is a compound word that literally means ‘to shine above’. Pride is robbing God of the glory that belongs to him alone. Pride is lifting ourselves up from a status of humble dependence on God to an arrogant independence from God. Pride is contending for supremacy with God. This was the first sin in the angelic realms; when Lucifer said:

Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

And it was at the core of the temptation in the garden:

Genesis 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

All sin stems from the arrogance of thinking that we know better than God; that our ways are higher than his ways. When we lift ourselves up and get glory for ourselves, we attempt to obscure his glory. This is idolatry of the worst kind – self idolatry

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD;be assured, he will not go unpunished.

That is the warning – God opposes the proud. The opposite of this is what Peter is holding out to us. God gives grace to the humble. If God is actively and aggressively engaged against those who lift themselves up, then God is actively and aggressively engaged to bless those who have a deep sense of their own unworthiness in his sight. God gives grace to those who are humble. If grace by definition is undeserved unearned favor and kindness then grace can only be received as grace by those who have a deep sense of their own unworthiness. If we have a puffed up sense of our own value, then we will receive God’s grace as if it were payment for a job well done. God loves to pour out undeserved kindness on the humble because they receive it as it really is – a free gift from a benevolent God to an undeserving sinner. Now if I were to ask ‘what is the best conceivable thing that could happen to you?’ I could imagine answers of fame or power or wealth, but this is the answer I would hope to hear: ‘the greatest thing I could imagine has happened to me. I have been made a recipient of God’s grace!’ Because of Jesus, through the cross, God now looks on me with favor. That is a gift that demands humility to receive. God gives grace to the humble. Look at Isaiah 57:

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

God who is holy dwells with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit!

Isaiah 66:2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

God made all things, but his eyes are on you if you are humble and contrite in spirit. The choice is clear. You either raise yourself up and rob God of his glory and he is against you, or you humbly acknowledge your helplessness and dependence on him and become a recipient of his free and sovereign grace.

Peter’s instruction is clear. Because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.

The imagery of God’s mighty hand comes from the exodus from Egypt. God says to Pharaoh:

Exodus 9:16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go.

God’s people celebrated God’s strength demonstrated over Egypt:

Deuteronomy 26:8 And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.

You are under God’s mighty hand. God is all-powerful and you are under his hand. There are two responses when you realize that you are under God’s mighty hand. Terror and dread, or comfort and peace. When God’s mighty hand moved over the proud Egyptians, there was terror. When God’s mighty hand moved over his people, there was holy joy, songs of praise and dancing. To the one, God’s hand was a crushing hand. To the other, God’s hand was a protecting rescuing hand. What is your response to God’s mighty hand? Do you rise up against him or seek to escape from him? Or do you rest secure knowing that he is over you? Your response gives evidence of the pride or humility in your heart. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. This is what Jesus taught repeatedly in the gospels:

Luke 18:9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (c.f. Lk.1:52; 14:11; Mt.18:4; 23:12)

The Pharisee lifted himself up before God and listed his accomplishments. His prayer was a self-centered boast. The tax collector had a deep sense of his own unworthiness before God and he uttered a desperate cry for mercy. And he did receive mercy. God gives grace to the humble. The one who raises himself up will be leveled, but the one who makes himself low will be lifted up. The proper time is coming. The time when humble recipients of his grace receive “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1Pet.1:4).

Peter has given us the instruction to tie on humility like an apron in our attitudes toward one another. He has given us the textual basis for humility in God’s differing attitudes to the proud and the humble, he has instructed us to humble ourselves under the sovereignty of God, and held out the promise of reward that will count for eternity. Now he goes on to describe practically how we go about humbling ourselves. He says in verse 7:

7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Now if you have a New International Version, you will miss the connection. They start a new sentence here as if it could stand alone: ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ But verse 7 is a subordinate clause to verse 6 that describes how to humble yourselves. How do we humble ourselves? We humble ourselves by casting all our anxieties on him. So, an anxiety free life is an expression of humility before a sovereign God. And alternately, worry is an expression of pride in the heart. Here Peter nails us. I thought I was pretty humble. But I worry. You’re saying that worry is evidence of pride in my heart. How can that be?

In Jesus’ parable of the sower and the soils, where the seed was choked out by thorns and prevented from bearing fruit, the cares of the world is one thing that chokes the word and causes it to become unfruitful. Jesus taught his disciples:

Luke 12:22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Notice the connection between human inability and freedom from anxiety? Since you are incapable of controlling anything in your life, you should not worry as if you could control it. Anxiety is a form of pride because it indicates that I think I can do something to fix the problems in my life. I am depending on me to put food on the table and clothes on my back. And notice, Jesus connects worry directly with a lack of faith. Worry indicates that you are trusting in yourself and not in God. Freedom from fear comes from knowing the character of the Father – our father loves to give good gifts to his children. Freedom from anxiety comes when I can let go of the arrogance of my own self-dependence and humbly trust in the all-sufficiency of Christ.

Anxieties will come. Cares will seek to choke out the word of God and destroy our fruitfulness. Peter is addressing the persecuted church, and there was plenty to worry about. But we are invited to hurl these worries on God. We are not to shoulder them in pride as if we have the strength to carry them. We are to throw them upon him because his mighty hand is strong enough to handle all our cares. He is sovereign over all things, including our suffering, and when we humble ourselves under his mighty hand, he will lift us up in due time.

1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

What a beautiful verse! Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand by casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you! God’s almighty hand is a personal, tenderhearted caring hand.

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.

Whatever burden you are carrying right now today, lay it down at his feet. Believe him that he is infinite in strength and absolutely in control of all things. Believe that he is good and faithful and that he cares individually, personally for you. Admit that you are helpless to carry the load yourself. Ask God to awaken in you a deep sense of your own unworthiness in his sight and an acute awareness of your absolute inability. Throw yourself completely upon his mercy toward sinners displayed at the cross

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

Today, trust in him and go home justified.

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

July 12, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 5:1-4; God’s Under-Shepherds

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090705_1peter5_1-4.mp3

0705 1 Peter 5:1-4 God’s Under-Shepherds

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 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: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.

Peter is writing to the suffering saints in Asia Minor. He encourages us not to ‘be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice…’ He tells us that when we suffer for the name of Christ, we bring glory to God. And he tells us that God’s judgment is ready to be unleashed on the unbelieving world. But when God’s judgment comes, he begins by cleansing his own house; his own people. We saw this when we looked back at some Old Testament passages like Ezekiel 9

Ezekiel 9:5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house.

So Peter warns his readers that judgment is coming and exhorts us to self-examination.

1Corinthians 11:31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

God’s judgment is coming on the world, and God’s disciplinary judgment has already begun in the suffering of his people. If God’s judgment begins with his own house, particularly with the leaders of his people, that’s where Peter starts. Peter addresses the elders and exhorts them to shepherd in a godly way.

This is an awkward passage to teach from. As I teach God’s word, I am obliged to find truth that applies to every person who hears. But not every person is called to lead God’s people. So this morning you all get to listen in on a private exhortation to leaders in God’s church. And as a leader in God’s church, I am acutely aware of my own shortcomings and inadequacies and how desperately I am in need of God’s mercy and grace. I am deeply challenged by this passage to be a better shepherd of God’s people. So for me today, this is awkward and humbling, and I feel vulnerable. But that is meant to be. That is built in to the passage. God intended it to be so. Put yourself for a minute into a first century group of believers gathering in Asia Minor for worship, teaching, prayer, and communion. One of the elders addresses the group and announces that we have received correspondence from the Apostle Peter, who we have heard has been imprisoned in Rome under the emperor Nero. The letter is addressed ‘to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bythinia’. This is a circular letter, intended to be read to all the believers in all the churches in this diverse geographic region. The letter would be read aloud to the entire group. There was no separate sealed envelope containing this paragraph to be read behind closed doors of a board meeting somewhere. If an elder was know in the congregation as pushy and domineering, he would have to read this aloud to the people he was lording it over; if a leader was living large at the expense of his people, he would be publicly rebuked by the Apostle Peter; if he was leading with a grudging heart rather than joyfully, he would be publicly exhorted to lead as God would lead. So from this passage we see that God has designed that there be godly leadership in his church. It is not anarchy and the church is not a democracy. Jesus Christ rules over his church. And he has appointed leadership under him to care for the church. But there is some healthy public accountability built in to that leadership.

Before we dive into the text, we need to have a Greek vocabulary lesson. There are some terms we need to be familiar with to help us understand this passage.

The first term is ‘elders’ (presbuterov) – it’s where we get our English word ‘presbyter’ – this is where the Presbyterian churches take their name. The word itself points to wisdom that comes from age and experience and maturity, hence the translation ‘elder’

The next term is ‘shepherd’ (poimainw) ‘poimano’ – here it’s a verb, derived from the noun ‘shepherd’ (poimhn) ‘poimen’. The Latin translation of this word is ‘pastor’ – which is where we get our word ‘pastor’. The task of the shepherd or pastor is primarily to lead the sheep to food and to guard the sheep from danger.

The third term we need to look at is (episkopew) translated here ‘exercising oversight’. It is the verb form of (episkopov) ‘episcopos’ which came to us through the Vulgar Latin ‘ebiscopos’ as ‘bishop’. This word is where Episcopalians or the Episcopal Church derives its name. The word means ‘to watch over’ or ‘to oversee’; hence our translation ‘exercising oversight’.

So in this one passage (and this is supported by a study of these words in the rest of the New Testament documents), we have lumped together pastors, bishops, and elders. The elders of the church are told to pastor and to bishop or oversee the flock of God that is under their care. Or, dropping the titles, those who have wisdom and maturity and experience are to feed, nurture and protect; they are to supervise, look after and watch over with vigilance and care, God’s sheep. Now, understanding the vocabulary, lets dive in to the passage:

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: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Peter comes along side the elders of the church to exhort and encourage them to do what God has called them to do. But Peter doesn’t appeal to his authority as Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather he calls himself a ‘fellow-elder’. Addressing those who hold a leadership role in the church, the Apostle comes along side them as one who together with them also holds a leadership role in the church and will with them give account to the Chief Shepherd and Judge. He further designates himself as ‘a witness of the sufferings of Christ’. That., for Peter must be a vivid and humbling recollection. I was a witness of the sufferings of Christ. I was with him in the garden when he prayed to his Father and sweat great drops of blood. I fell asleep. I was with him there when he was arrested. I pulled out my little sword and mangled a man’s ear. After Jesus repaired the damage and rebuked me, I too ran away and abandoned him. I was there in the courtyard warming myself by the fire while he was being falsely accused and three times I denied that I even knew him. Yes, I am a witness of the sufferings of Christ. But I am also ‘a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed’. Peter claims to presently be a participant in the glory that will be revealed in the future. When Jesus returns in all his glory, Peter is assured fellowship with him in his glory. Peter, as a fellow-elder, as one who witnessed Christ’s sufferings, as one who participates in his future glory, exhorts the elders among the congregations. His exhortation is simple. Shepherd. Shepherd the flock of God. Peter had failed in his devotion to Christ. He didn’t live up to his own expectations. Jesus had called him to make him a fisher of men, but Peter went back to his fishing. Our resurrected Lord met him on the shore, fed him breakfast and spoke to him:

John 21:15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. …19 … And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

In three different phrases, Jesus commissioned Peter to shepherd his flock. Peter now passes on that exhortation to the elders in the churches – feed the sheep. Shepherd the flock. And we must always keep in mind whose flock it is. Consistently in the bible it is God’s flock, Jesus’ sheep. The lambs do not belong to the elders who are over them. They belong to the Good Shepherd. But what does it mean to shepherd the flock of God? Surely we are not to buy land and graze livestock! Martin Luther put it this way:

Therefore to tend them is nothing else than to preach the Gospel, by which souls are nourished, made fat and fruitful – since the sheep thrive upon the Gospel and the Word of God. This only is the office of a bishop” [Luther, p.205]

Jeremiah confirms that he is on the right track:

Jeremiah 3:15 “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Turn to Ezekiel. God has an extended rebuke to the shepherds of Israel:

Ezekiel 34:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. 7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. 11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

The shepherds of Israel are rebuked for not shepherding rightly. From this passage we get a clearer picture of what God expects from his shepherds. Shepherds are to feed the sheep, strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strayed, seek the lost, protect from danger, keep the flock together. Peter gives the clear instruction; Shepherd the flock of God exercising oversight. That is the task. But successful completion of the task is not all that is required of elders. The attitude and motive with which they go about the task is also mandated. Motive matters to God. Attitude matters. Peter gives a list of three negative / positive contrasts to paint the picture of what is expected. Not this, but this; not this, but this; not this, but this.

The first contrast is ‘not under compulsion, but willingly’. We are not to have an attitude of grudging obligation and duty bound faithfulness. Instead, the service that God desires is willing voluntary service. Not because I must, but because I get to; not because I am required but because I choose to. What a supreme honor, to be entrusted by the Chief Shepherd with the oversight and care of his own sheep! The church of God is in need of happy pastors in glad service to the King. Peter qualifies this with the phrase ‘as God would have you’. In the original that is just two words ‘according to God; as God; or like God’. As God is not under compulsion to care for us, but rather willingly and freely chooses to shepherd us and serve us, so we must reflect his glad-hearted service as we care for his sheep.

The next contrast is ‘not for shameful gain, but eagerly’. The motive for service is questioned. Why go into pastoral ministry? It’s a respectable way to make a living. There’s money to be had selling books and videos and holy handkerchiefs. Send your money to me and God will bless you and cause you to prosper. Send lots of money and God will bless you more. Support my ministry and God will heal you.

The bible is clear that ‘the laborer deserves his wages’ (Lk.10:7; 1Tim5:17-18) ‘especially those who labor in preaching and teaching’, but this is why part of the qualification for leadership is ‘not greedy for gain’ (Titus 1:7). Money must not be the motive for service. The contrasting attitude to being motivated by shameful gain is ‘eagerly’ – with passion, fervor, enthusiasm, zeal. God would have passionate preachers not calculating preachers. The problem with calculating preachers is the content is controlled by the motive for money. Don’t teach that – that would offend the biggest givers. Passionate preachers, teachers who have a zeal for God and his truth will get themselves fired for speaking the truth – because they are more concerned about what God thinks than whether the paycheck keeps coming.

The third contrast is ‘not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock’. This is exactly what Jesus taught:

Mark 10:42-45 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Shepherds do not drive the sheep. They walk ahead and call the sheep to follow. We are talking about leadership positions in the church – Pastors, elders, overseers. There is real authority in those offices. There is authority to direct and authority to discipline. But the authority to lead is authority to keep safe from danger and lead to green pastures. The authority to discipline is authority to serve the stray by bringing back into the fold. Jesus was the ultimate example of servant leadership. Peter tells us that we must model for the people what we would have them do. Leaders must serve the people so that the people will in turn serve one another.

Shepherd, exercising oversight not under compulsion, not for shameful gain, not domineering, but rather shepherd willingly, eagerly, living as an example for the flock to follow.

Now that Peter has given us the charge and clarified what it does and does not look like, he gives us the true motive for shepherding. Shepherding can be thankless, emotionally draining, painful, hard work. Overseeing a persecuted church can be dangerous, even life threatening. Peter tells us that it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God, and James tells us that ‘we who teach will be judged with greater strictness’ (James 3:1). So why do it? Who wants that? Here is the motive:

4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

The motive for faithful shepherding is the appearance of the chief Shepherd. Jesus is coming, and he will reward faithful service. This is amazing, because any service that is faithful is because of his grace, which is why the crowns of glory we receive will go right back to his feet and redound to his glory. At the end of the day, every pastor has much more in common with the sheep than the Shepherd. Leaders by nature are sheep. And all we like sheep have gone astray. But by his grace, he gives some sheep the privilege of caring for and serving other sheep. And by his grace, he enables faithful service. And in the abundance of his grace, he rewards the service he enables.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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

July 5, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 4:17-19; The Reason for Suffering

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090614_1peter4_17-19.mp3

06/14 1 Peter 4:17-19 The Reason for Suffering

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Intro: Peter is writing to encourage the saints in suffering. The ultimate purpose of humanity is to bring glory to God, as Peter stated at the end of verse 11:

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.

And suffering is a stage on which we can most eloquently magnify our great God and Savior. In verse 16 he tells us ‘if anyone suffers as a Christian… let him glorify God in that name’.

Peter has warned us against a wrong response to suffering: don’t be surprised. We are not to be surprised because Jesus prepared us for suffering by his teaching, and because we know what suffering is for – just like precious metals need the impurities to be burned away in the furnace, so our faith must be tested in the furnace of affliction to prove its infinite worth. Martin Luther put it this way:

“When faith begins, God does not neglect it; he lays the holy cross upon our back in order to strengthen us and make our faith mighty.” Luther, p.192

We are warned against a wrong response: suffering is not unusual – expect it. Then he gives us the desired response: suffering is fellowship with Christ – delight in it! The weightiness of intimacy with a God who is glorious beyond our comprehension far outbalances any temporary pain that we must endure.

In verses 17-19, Peter gives us reason for our sufferings, and he brings us comfort by drawing inferences from our situation, and finally he concludes with a summary directive for how we are to live in light of this truth. He says:

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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

+The Reason for our Suffering

He starts with the word ‘For’: Peter is giving us reason for suffering. We might ask ‘what is going on in the world? Why are God’s people suffering and evildoers are going unpunished?’ Peter’s answer is that we suffer as Christians because it is time. Take courage and be faithful to endure, because even the timing of the trials is God’s own appointment and does not come from our enemies. We live in God’s appointed season for judgment. Judgment -(krima) is not necessarily condemnation (katakrima); this can be a judgment that results in good or bad evaluations. The results could be approval, or discipline, or condemnation.

Our God is described as a consuming fire:

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, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

And no one will be untouched by his consuming fire.

Isaiah 33:13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

When I read that, I assumed it was a rhetorical question, with the expected answer ‘no one!’. But then I read the next verse and found Isaiah’s inspired answer:

Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, 16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. 17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar. 18 Your heart will muse on the terror: “Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute? Where is he who counted the towers?”

‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings? He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly’; in a word, only he who is clothed in the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ! Our eyes will behold the king in his beauty! What a thought! And our heart will muse on the terror – where is he? Where is he? But for the grace of God, that is where I would also be.

Believers are strengthened and purified by God’s refining fire. Sins are being eliminated, holiness is being developed and trust in God increases.

It is time for judgment to begin from the household of God

Peter has told us that we as the church are:

1 Peter 2: 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

And although this is a privileged position, it is also a vulnerable position. We see in scripture a pattern for God’s judgment to begin within his own house There are three passages that Peter probably has in mind: Jeremiah 25, Ezekiel 9 and Malachi 3

In Jeremiah 25 – (God tells disobedient Judah that he is bringing Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon against them to judge them for 70 years. Then he will punish the king of Babylon for their iniquities.)

15 Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” 17 So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it: (notice where he starts) 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day;

(then he goes on to list the other nations; Egypt, the Philistines; Arabia, and finally down the list to Babylon; he says:)

26… And after them the king of Babylon shall drink. 27 “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’ 28 “And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: You must drink! 29 For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the LORD of hosts.’

30 “You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: “‘The LORD will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the LORD.’

God will judge the nations, and he begins with his own people. In Ezekiel 9, God is pouring out his wrath on the rebellious people of Israel and he commands

Ezekiel 9:5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house.

God being infinitely holy cannot condone sin; even his own family stands under his judgment. He proves himself impartially just in correcting the sins of his own. In Malachi

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. 5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. 6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed….

God begins by purifying his house, then he moves to judge the evildoers. But there is a distinction; he goes on:

Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of 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.

4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

Remember, the suffering of the Christian is not God’s vindictive wrath, but his fatherly discipline.

1 Corinthians11:32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews makes this abundantly clear:

Hebrews 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

He goes on to contrast the discipline of God with our physical parents:

Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

+Comfort and Caution from the Implications

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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

This is an argument for fearful joy. It is fearful to think about the end of those that reject the good news of Jesus. It is fearful to think of the pain we experience in the refining fire and think of those for whom it is not redemptive but vindictive. And yet there is a sense of comfort and joy knowing that we will only endure the beginning of what will make an end of God’s enemies

He describes the ungodly as ‘those who do not obey the gospel of God’. Notice he does not say ‘those who do not believe’, but ‘those who do not obey’. The gospel is not only a set of facts to be believed. It is a God to be obeyed. We obey the gospel of God by coming to him on his terms and submitting to his authority. The good news is that there is one God, and there is one way for us to find favor with him – through the great exchange at the cross of our sin for the righteousness of Jesus Christ:

1Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,

The good news is God himself; that we will be brought into the consuming fire of his absolute holiness and our eyes will behold the king in his beauty! That our senses will be ravished by the one who is ultimately satisfying and we will bask in the radiance of his glory and gladly worship at his feet.

Peter draws from the wording of Proverbs when he says:

18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

The righteous – no one is righteous on their own – he is speaking of those who are counted righteous in Jesus Christ, because their sins are washed away by his blood and they are given his perfect record of righteousness. These righteous, Peter says, are ‘scarcely saved’. They are saved, but it is with extreme difficulty. This does not imply that there is a question as to the outcome – whether those who trust in Christ will be saved or not; all who trust Christ will be saved, but it will not be without persevering through great difficulty. The great reformer John Calvin described it this way:

“But when he says, that a righteous man is scarcely saved, he refers to the difficulties of the present life, for our course in the world is like a dangerous sailing between many rocks, and exposed to many storms and tempests; and thus no one arrives at the port, except he who has escaped from thousand deaths. It is in the meantime certain that we are guided by God’s hand, and that we are in no danger of shipwreck as long as we have him as our pilot.” ~John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter

Saving sinners is probably the most difficult and personally costly thing God has ever done. To overcome justice with mercy at the cost of his own beloved Son was infinitely more than we will ever be able to appreciate. Forgiving sinful man left a question mark on God’s righteousness that could only be removed by the blood of an infinite and holy sacrifice. If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

Hebrews 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The author of Hebrews goes on to encourage his readers based on their joyful endurance of suffering

Hebrews 10:32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

+Concluding Directives

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

A main theme of the entire letter summarized here – Christians do not suffer accidentally or because of the irresistible forces of blind fate, but we suffer according to God’s will. The world is not out of control; God is working out his plan in our lives. Peter explicitly states this because suffering is not normally perceived as God’s will. Because this is true, because we know that suffering is purifying for us, it must affect the way we suffer. We are commanded to ‘entrust our souls‘ to God. To entrust is to hand over something of value to the care of another. Paul said to Timothy

2 Timothy 1:12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

Our future salvation is secure if we have placed it completely in the hand of him who is able to save, who made us and everything out of nothing, and has engaged his faithfulness in his promises to us! We have no ability in ourselves to preserve our souls. We place ourselves securely in his strong hands and relinquish control. Notice God’s name in this passage: ‘a faithful Creator’ God’s authority as universal judge rests on his role as creator of all people; the one who created the world is also sovereign over it. Not a ruthless sovereign, but a faithful Creator – God is faithful to his people and to his promises. He who created the universe out of nothing by his word surely knows how to care for those that he created. We can have confidence in his ability; and confidence in his faithfulness.

Our part is: ‘while doing good’ We trust God to care for our souls and we keep on doing what we know is right; living in such a way that ‘they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation’ 1 Peter 2:12; living to ‘proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light’ 1 Peter 2:9; serving ‘by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ’.

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

June 14, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 4:12-16; Delight in Suffering

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090607_1peter4_12-16.mp3

0607 1 Peter 4:12-16 Delight in Sufferings

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Intro: Peter is dealing with fiery trials in the life of the believer. He warns us of the thinking and attitude we are not to have toward our suffering, and then he tells us the attitude we are to have in the midst of our suffering, and he gives us weighty reasons for this kind of attitude. He has just finished giving us instructions in light of the imminent end; pray, love, practice hospitality, and user your gifts, and he burst into worship…

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

Now he begins a new section:

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Peter starts by prohibiting the wrong response to suffering. But he starts this new section by reminding us who we are. As he said in 2:11, he now repeats here – we are beloved. This is a term of affection, a term of endearment. And I’m sure Peter felt warmly toward his readers, but he is reminding us of God’s love toward us. We are beloved! Peter began this letter pointing us to God’s work in our salvation. We are the privileged recipients of God’s great mercy. He caused us to be born again to a living hope, the promise of resurrection and an imperishable inheritance, which he is keeping for us, and he is guarding us for it. Trials prove our faith genuine so that we indeed obtain the outcome of salvation. Our salvation was the focal point of the Old Testament prophets, it is the goal of the New Testament proclaimers of the good news, and the Holy Spirit who empowers their message, and the Father who sent the Spirit. Even angels are fixated on the great mercy and grace that has been extended to us sinners.

Sinners, beloved by God, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

We are not to let suffering take us by surprise. Back in 4:4, Peter used the same word to tell us that our old friends will be surprised when we no longer sin with them the way we used to. They are freaked out that we won’t do what we used to do. Now we are not to be freaked out by trials as if something freaky were happening. Why?

1. Jesus warned us suffering would come:

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Mark 13:9-13 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
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. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Suffering should not take us by surprise because Jesus warned us that it would come. In fact, he promised us that it would come.

2. We should not be shocked and bewildered when suffering comes because we know what trials are for. Peter tells us right in this verse: the fiery trial is coming upon you to test you. Back in chapter 1 he told us:

1:6-8 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith––more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire––may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Trials are necessary to prove our faith genuine like the refining fire is necessary to purify precious metals. We should not be surprised by trials because we need the refining process so that our faith will shine. Peter has adopted this picture from the Old Testament:

Proverbs 27:21 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.

Psalms 66:10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.”’

Malachi 3:2-3 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

The goal of the refining process is to create purity by burning off all the impurities. It is when the heat is turned up that we realize the limits of our own strength and we are forced to cling to God’s grace. And it is in the midst of the fire that we realize the strength of his grace to comfort and keep us. We have God’s promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

That’s the negative – what we are not to do – we are not to think suffering is unnatural – because Jesus predicted our suffering, and we know that suffering produces a positive purifying effect.

Now let’s see what he does tell us to do:

13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Suffering is not unnatural; expect it. Now he tells us: suffering is fellowship with Christ; delight in it. This is a strange command. I can understand suffering is inevitable, so brace yourself, grit your teeth and get through it. I can even understand the motivation that future good will come out of the present suffering, so hang in there and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. But what Peter tells us is shocking. He tells us not just to tough it out now so that we can enjoy future blessing, but he tells us to delight in the suffering right now as you go through it. That is completely unnatural. Only someone who has been through the deep waters of suffering with Jesus can really understand this. Do you believe that Jesus can meet your needs? Yes. Do you have any needs? No, not really. But those who are profoundly suffering will say ‘yes, Jesus is meeting my needs. I am clinging to him. He is all that I have.’ And in the middle of suffering, there is communion with Christ. The word translated ‘share’ is the rich Greek word ‘koinonia’ – fellowship, intimacy, communion. When we suffer like Jesus suffered, we experience an intimacy with him that is sweet beyond degree. Listen how a woman who spent 10 months in Nazi concentration camps for hiding Jews puts it:

“Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.

“Sometimes I would slip the Bible from its little (sack) with hands that shook, so mysterious had it become to me. It was new; it had just been written. I marveled sometimes that the ink was dry…I had read a thousand times the story of Jesus’ arrest–how soldiers had slapped Him, laughed at Him, flogged Him. Now such happenings had faces and voices.” ~Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

‘Life (in the concentration camp) took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. (as the daily life grew every day more horrible), the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory’ This is a woman who knew suffering – suffering for doing what was right. And in that suffering, she found an intimacy with God that grew daily better and richer and deeper and more glorious. Here’s what she said later:

“Looking back across the years of my life, I can see the working of a divine pattern which is the way of God with His children. When I was in a prison camp in Holland during the war, I often prayed, ‘Lord, never let the enemy put me in a German concentration camp.’ God answered no to that prayer. Yet in the German camp, with all its horror, I found many prisoners who had never heard of Jesus Christ. “If God had not used my sister Betsie and me to bring them to Him, they would never have heard of Him. Many died, or were killed, but many died with the name of Jesus on their lips. They were well worth all our suffering.

‘many died with the name of Jesus on their lips. They were well worth all our suffering.’ The horror was real. The suffering was unimaginable. But ‘they were well worth all our suffering’. That is an eternal perspective.

13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Rejoice now in sufferings so that later when his glory is revealed you may be overjoyed. Peter goes on to explain how it is possible to rejoice inside of and because of suffering.

14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

This is what Jesus taught about suffering:

Matthew 5:10-12 “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.;

Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

The apostolic verdict on those who suffer for the name of Christ is ‘you are blessed’ – you are fortunate, so rejoice. And this is why he can say that: ‘you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.’ When you suffer, God’s Spirit and God’s glory rests upon you. Peter is borrowing language here from Isaiah:

Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

The Spirit of the LORD was prophesied to rest upon Christ. When we suffer for the name of Christ, his Spirit also rests upon us.

It says ‘the Spirit of glory and of God’. The glory of God is an awesome thing in scripture. The word ‘glory’ (kabod) literally means weighty or heavy or dense – to have mass and substance – gravity. When Solomon completed the temple in Jerusalem, we are told that ‘the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD’ (1Ki.8:10-11) so that the priests could no longer enter the temple. But in Ezekiel 10-11, the glory of the LORD is seen withdrawing from the temple because of the sins of the people, and God sent them into captivity and allowed Jerusalem and the temple to be destroyed. But then, after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from their captivity, God said to Zerubbabel who rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem:

Haggai 2:5 …My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. … 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.”’

That was the promise, but the glory of the LORD never descended on that temple like he had on the first. At the end of the Old Testament, God promised:

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

For 400 years the Jews waited for the Lord to come to his temple. Then a young couple, Mary and Joseph brought their child to be dedicated at the temple, and Simeon recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of that prophecy. The presence of Jesus is the greater glory of the temple.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…

That is truly awesome! Jesus is the glory of God – the weightiness of God. And in your suffering, Peter says, the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you! If we understand who God is – his reputation, his fame, his weightiness, there is nothing that we could experience that compares to having his glory and his Spirit resting on us. Fellowship with Jesus is true joy in the middle of suffering.

But Peter must clarify:

15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

Some might say ‘I’m in prison suffering for Jesus’ – no, you’re in prison because you’re an evildoer and you belong there. You put yourself there by your own stupidity. There’s no merit in that. I’ve got lung cancer – I’m suffering for Jesus. No, two packs a day, you did that to yourself. Your nose got bloodied because it was poking around in somebody else’s business. That’s nobody’s fault but your own. That is not the kind of suffering that Peter is talking about. That is not fellowship in his sufferings. Jesus didn’t suffer for any of his own sins – he didn’t have any!

16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

This is the third time in the whole bible that the name ‘Christian’ is used (Acts 11:26; 26:28). Every time, it is on the lips of unbelievers as slander toward those who are followers of Christ. There is no shame associated with suffering simply because you are a Christ-follower. You can be ashamed of yourself if you were stupid and are suffering for it. But if you are suffering because of your identification with Jesus, if you are suffering because in some small way you resemble Jesus, if you in your sufferings are faithful and joyful and meek like Jesus was, that brings glory to God. Peter ended the last section of his letter by saying:

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

If you suffer as a Christian, suffer in such a way that in your actions and in your attitudes and in your words God is honored. That in everything God may be glorified as you act in the name of Christ, as one who represents Jesus to others. That by your joy, even in the middle of suffering, those around you see your fellowship with God as all-satisfying and substantial, outweighing any pain.

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

June 7, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 4:10-11; The End is Near – Use Your Gift

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090531_1peter4_10-11.mp3

05/31 1 Peter 4:10-11 The End is Near: Use Your Gifts to Glorify God

10 ekastov kaywv elaben carisma eiv eautouv auto diakonountev wv kaloi oikonomoi poikilhv caritov yeou 11 ei tiv lalei wv logia yeou ei tiv diakonei wv ex iscuov hv corhgei o yeov ina en pasin doxazhtai o yeov dia ihsou cristou w estin h doxa kai to kratov eiv touv aiwnav twn aiwnwn amhn

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 puts on his sandwich board sign that says ‘the end of all things is at hand’ and because the only thing holding back justice and the final judgment is the mercy of our longsuffering God, because the end could come at any moment, he gives us instruction; four things we should be devoted to in light of the end. The first was prayers – we must keep a level-headed vigilant attitude – we must organize our life and think clearly in order to pray more effectively. Highest on his priority list is love – love for one another – earnest unceasing love – because if we truly love each other the way Jesus loves his church, then we will be able to put up with a lot of things that would otherwise irritate and separate us. We will have the highest good of the other in mind and that will rule all our thoughts and feelings and words and actions. This love must extend to practical acts of generosity and hospitality – and without the complaining that would ordinarily accompany frequent and repeated guests and meals and cleaning and preparation and laundry and all the labor that goes into doing hospitality.

The end of all things is at hand; history is moving toward a fixed goal – the culmination of everything is right around the corner. Because the end is near, we must be disciplined in prayer, earnest in love, cheerful in hospitality, and Peter gives us one last instruction in light of the end; he moves from mutual love to mutual service; he says ‘make use of your gifts to serve one another’.

4:10 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 is talking here about spiritual gifts. This is an essential passage to consider when looking at the gifts of the Spirit. Paul gives extensive lists of spiritual gifts in various places. Peter doesn’t give us a long list of specific gifts – he gives much more generalized instruction concerning the gifts. He gives us the big picture ultimate purpose of the gifts.

The Extent:

He starts by telling us:

4:10 As each has received a gift,

His basic assumption is that every Christian has been gifted by God. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have at least a gift. Every member of Christ’s body has a function and a role. There are no useless members. There is not one of the Lord’s people who has not received some gifts from him that they can use to bring good to their fellow believers and glory and praise to God.

Each has received a gift. The word ‘gift’ is ‘charisma’ [carisma] and the root is ‘charis’ [cariv] ‘grace’. Gifts are exactly that – gifts; gracious undeserved outpourings of God’s goodness as the supreme giver. Free gifts flowing from the undeserved grace of Almighty God.

The Purpose – To Serve

His assumption is that we have all been gifted by God. His admonition is that we use our gifts, and that we use them properly.

4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Our gifts are not for our own benefit. My gift is for your benefit; your gift is for my benefit. God does not give his gifts so that we can boast and gloat and promote and display or draw attention to ourselves – they are gifts that we did nothing to merit. Since all gifts are rooted in the free and sovereign grace of God, there is no room for pride in the one who has received. We must not overvalue ourselves as if we had earned God’s favor; and we must not undervalue our gift and hide it as if it were not important and did not exist. We are to use our gifts. The proper use of our gifts is to serve one another – as Paul puts it ‘for the building up of the body of Christ’

1 Corinthians 14:3-5 … so that the church may be built up.

Ephesians 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Peter calls us stewards – someone who manages the resources of their master. We have been entrusted with a responsibility to manage God’s resources. God’s gifts are a weighty responsibility. We are stewards; we can be good and faithful servants or wicked and slothful servants with what God entrusts to us. In Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25, the unfaithful servant buried his gift and returned the exact amount to his master. We are expected to take inventory of what we have been given and wisely invest and risk and creatively explore ways in which we can utilize our gift in such a way that the return is maximized for the glory of God.

We are to use our gifts as we have received them – ‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another’ – they were graciously and freely given to us out of the abundant generosity of our great God. We ought to use them freely, graciously, and with abundant generosity for the good of those around us.

Categories of Gifts:

We are to be good stewards of God’s varied grace. God’s gracious gifts are multi-faceted and infinitely variable. Paul in several places in his letters lists some of the various gifts (Rom.12:6-8; 1 Cor.12:8-10, 28-30; Eph.4:11). None of the lists is the same, and even within each gift, there are infinite variations and unique manifestations. Our God is a God who can craft each snowflake with an unique and distinct signature and pattern, and he can gift his people with an infinite diversity of degrees and styles and combinations of giftings. Peter here is not interested in specifying any of the different gifts; he lumps them into two broad categories and focuses our attention on the proper use and ultimate purpose of all the gifts.

11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies

His two major categories are speaking gifts and serving gifts. Speaking gifts would probably include apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, exhortation, wisdom, knowledge, tongues and interpretation. Serving gifts would probably include giving, leading, mercy, service, faith, healing, miracles, distinguishing spirits, helping and administration. [see chart]

Means of Using the Gifts

The one who employs a speaking gift is to use it as one who speaks oracles of God. This phrase is used in the LXX to refer to the words of the Lord revealed to the prophet Balaam:

Numbers 24:4,16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered:

It is used in the New Testament to refer to the OT scriptures

Acts 7:38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us.

Romans 3:2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

It is an incredibly serious thing to say ‘thus saith the Lord’.

Ezekiel 13:6-8 They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. 7 Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?”8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD.

God is against the one who claims to speak for him when he has not spoken. James says:

James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

This is a weighty responsibility, not to be taken lightly. Paul says:

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth

Paul tells young Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

He tells Titus:

Titus 2:15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

When the people heard Jesus teach:

Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Luke 4:32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.

We have been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must authoritatively proclaim God’s truth. The authority is not inherent in the messenger, but in the message. In so far as the message is true to God’s word it carries the weight of God’s authority. The noble Bereans were praised as they listened to the apostle because:

Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

God’s word is our authority. We must be faithful to his word.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

The one who serves is to serve not their own strength but in the strength that God supplies. God’s gifts must be operated with God’s strength that he abundantly supplies in order to be fruitful. Jesus said:

John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 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.

Jesus told Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” …

We must own our total inability apart from the power of God at work in us. And we recognize that when God’s power is working:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

When you speak, speak with God’s voice and God’s authority (not your own); when you serve, serve with God’s strength and God’s supply (not your own).

The Goal

What is the goal? The ultimate purpose for our speaking and our serving is

–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

‘When those who speak utter God’s words rather than their own and those who serve do so in God’s strength rather than their own, God through Jesus Christ receives the glory … the provider is always the one who is praised’ (Schreiner, p.215). This must be our motivation for everything we do – that we do it in such a way that it is evident that the words are divine words and the power is divine power so that the glory goes to the divine enabler and not to the channel through which the divine work flows. That’s the only way we can obey what Jesus is telling us in:

Matthew 5:16 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.

This is the ultimate purpose of everything:

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

We exist to bring glory to God. We were created to bring him praise. But we can only bring glory to God through the person of Jesus Christ. We cannot come to God on our own.

Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

We must have a mediator

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Acts 4:12 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.”

Jesus, fully God and fully man, was the only one capable of satisfying the wrath of God against our sin by his death as our substitute.

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

It is through Jesus that we are brought to a place where we can give the glory to God that is his due.

The Doxology

Peter is compelled to worship this great God:

To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

God owns the right to all glory. Whenever we glory in a lesser thing, we commit idolatry and treason and rob God of his due. He alone deserves our praise and he demands our worship.

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.

God’s glory is eternal and his rule will never end. He alone is worthy of our undivided adoration and affection. Let’s give him the glory that he is due.

Romans 12:6-8

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

1 Corinthians 12:28-30

Ephesians 4:11

1 Peter 4:10

apostles

apostles

speaking

prophecy

prophecy

prophets

prophets

evangelists

pastors

teaches

teachers

teachers

exhorts

wisdom

knowledge

tongues

tongues

interpretation

interpret

contributes

serving

leads

mercy

service

faith

healing

healing

miracles

miracles

distinguish spirits

helping

administrating

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

May 31, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

1 Peter 4:1-6; Victory Through Suffering

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090510_1peter4_1-6.mp3

05/10 1 Peter 4:1-6 Victory through Suffering

1 cristou oun payontov sarki kai umeiv thn authn ennoian oplisasye oti o paywn sarki pepautai amartiaiv 2 eiv to mhketi anyrwpwn epiyumiaiv alla yelhmati yeou ton epiloipon en sarki biwsai cronon 3 arketov gar o parelhluywv cronov to boulhma twn eynwn kateirgasyai peporeumenouv en aselgeiaiv epiyumiaiv oinoflugiaiv kwmoiv potoiv kai ayemitoiv eidwlolatriaiv 4 en w xenizontai mh suntrecontwn umwn eiv thn authn thv aswtiav anacusin blasfhmountev 5 oi apodwsousin logon tw etoimwv krinonti zwntav kai nekrouv 6 eiv touto gar kai nekroiv euhggelisyh ina kriywsin men kata anyrwpouv sarki zwsin de kata yeon pneumati

Peter is encouraging suffering believers that it is worth it to suffer for Jesus’ sake. Suffering is the pathway to victory in the Christian life. There is no need to fear, because Jesus also suffered and he was ultimately victorious. He will ensure that we who are suffering for him will be brought victoriously to God. The rescue of Noah and his family illustrates the triumph of Christ and the preservation of his people. We looked at the goal of Jesus in his death as our substitute to bring us to God:

3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, …

And we ended up last time with a view of Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father having conquered every spiritual power by his resurrection from the dead.

21 …through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Peter now goes on to draw practical instruction for us:

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

We are at war. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are at war. You are in a war with sin. Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s how I’m going to tie this passage in with Mother’s Day. My mother recognized the battle that is raging for my soul and she engaged in the war. She wore out a pair of knees praying for me and my siblings. And during some critical years in my life when she saw the spiritual forces of temptation and sin that were seeking to destroy me, she did battle every morning. She would get up before school and fix my breakfast, and then, while I sat to eat, she would take up the Sword of the Spirit and read me a Proverb – whether I liked it or not. This passage deals with how to obtain victory in the war with sin. So, although this would probably not be my first choice of a passage for Mother’s Day, this is where we are in our study of 1 Peter, and I think that it has some important things that we need to know as we wage war for our souls and for the souls of our children.

Peter is drawing instruction from the example of Jesus, and he puts it in military terms.

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

The military metaphor for the Christian life is common in Paul’s letters:

Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

2Corinthians 6:7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;

2Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…

1Thessalonians 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

Here, the weapon we are to take up in our spiritual battle is a mindset, a resolve or intention. Peter has given us a similar idea in:

1Peter 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.

This is something we decisively do. We are to arm ourselves with this way of thinking. That means that we need to study, to ask ‘what was the mindset of Jesus?’, and ‘how practically can I resolve to think the same way?’

Here, the mindset we are to have is the mindset of Jesus toward suffering.

Luke 9:44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”…51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem….53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.

Jesus was resolved to go and suffer.

Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Jesus knew that suffering was a necessity. He had his mind set on the things of God, in contrast to Peter, who was setting his mind on the things of man.

John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour‘? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.

Jesus kept his purpose in mind.

Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Jesus was willing to set aside his own preferences for the will of God.

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus looked past the suffering to the ultimate goal.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

The suffering was once. It had a definite end, and there was a good purpose.

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

We arm ourselves with the resolve to suffer the way Jesus suffered, recognizing the purpose of God in our suffering, knowing that it is the plan of God and it is necessary, knowing that our suffering will be short, that it is the pathway to glory and it will result in victory over sin.

Peter gives us great encouragement here. He tells us that ‘whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin’. Peter is not holding out the possibility of sinless perfection; there are too many clear passages of scripture that rule that out (1Ki.8:46; Pr.20:9; Ecc.7:20; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:8). What he is saying is that someone who has resolved to obey God even when it means physical suffering is engaged in a mindset where obedience is even more important than our desire to avoid pain. We must abhor sin so much that we would willingly suffer for righteousness – like Jesus did. When we come to this place – where there is no more enjoyment left in sin – then we are done with sin. We will no longer live for sin. We will stumble. But we have made a clean break with sin. We live for a higher purpose. Peter draws the contrast in verse 2:

…whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

We are no longer driven by human passions. Peter has already told us:

1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

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

We are no longer motivated by what motivates the rest of humanity. Our fleshly cravings lead us in many different directions to find satisfaction. We now have a single unifying goal. We live for a higher purpose. We live for the will of God. Our driving purpose and passion is what God wants, not what we want. Our desires fall in line with his desires.

…whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

The Psalmist expresses the thought well:

Psalm 119:65 <TETH> You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word. 66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. 68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. 69 The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; 70 their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. 71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. 72 The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Peter goes on to give us reasons for our willingness to suffer for righteousness.

3 The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

Parties, alcohol and sex. A shameless lack of personal self-restraint; trying to satisfy the inward cravings in things that leave you empty. If I become a Christian, will I have to give up _______? I’d like to follow Jesus, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up ______. Stop filling your mouth with gravel and come to the living water and drink, drink, drink. You’ve wasted enough time and energy and life in pursuit of worthless things. Don’t spend any more days building future regret. Social parties, drunkenness and sexual gratification – Peter concludes his list with ‘lawless idolatry’ – worshiping, pursuing, loving something that is not God, pouring out your affections on anything beside God. Stop wasting your life! Wherever you are today, the time that is past was more than enough. Don’t continue in it; don’t look back; don’t go back. It’s all idolatry.

4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;

Your old friends are shocked at the change in you. The community is offended that you no longer participate in the status quo. There has been a clean break from your old lifestyle. You no longer plunge with them into the torrent of pleasure seeking. This is the word that described the prodigal’s living in Luke 15:13. The word is ‘a-sotia’ [aswtiav] – the negative of saving. They plunge into everything that is devoid of any saving quality. When you refuse to join them, they defame you. The word here is literally ‘blaspheme’ – they slander your name, and insofar as you are following Christ, they are blaspheming God himself. No-one slanders God’s holy name and escapes punishment. Peter goes on:

5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Just as Peter has pictured our salvation as ‘ready to be revealed’…

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.

…So the One who is to be the Judge of all mankind stands ready to call all people to give account for every careless word:

Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

The living and the dead is a way to say that no one is excluded. Those who slander and persecute the believers will give account to the Judge. Even the dead cannot escape the final judgment. Peter takes his phrase ‘the living and the dead’ and expands on it to give further encouragement to us to persevere.

5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

Your former friends do not understand the change that has taken place. It is a continual surprise why you no longer join them in their fun. ‘Come party with us!’ From their perspective you are missing out on a great deal of enjoyment and you have nothing to show for it. Christians die just like everybody else and they end up as worm food pushing up dandelions just like everyone else. ‘You say you have received new life. What’s the great advantage of following Jesus? You give up all the fun and have nothing to show for it in the end.’ This is why the good news was preached (past) to those who are dead (present). People who heard the gospel and believed it, are now dead, and according to human judgment – in the flesh – they are just dead; they wasted their life; but according to God – in the spirit – they have real life – eternal life. Those who received the gospel are not just dead – they are the ones who have real life. Even though the immediate result of receiving the good news is condemnation and disapproval in the eyes of the world, the ultimate result is eternal salvation.

-summary

Jesus has suffered for sins once in order to bring us to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. Resurrected, he is now seated at the right hand of God with angels, authorities and powers having been subjected to him. Since he suffered in the flesh and conquered sin once for all, our battle with sin is a battle against a defeated foe. We can fight against sin by taking 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. And we know that our suffering is the pathway to joy and will result in victory over our sins. We no longer live chasing our own desires; we live the rest of our few short days pursuing the will of God. We’ve wasted more than enough time already chasing pleasure in things that don’t satisfy. We are slandered by our old companions who feel condemned when we refuse to join them in wasting life. The judge stands ready and everyone will answer to him for how they spent their life. Believers who have died already and seem to have gotten nothing for their faith have been brought successfully to God and are enjoying their reward. It is worth it to suffer for Jesus’ sake! Life is our reward. Peter has quoted Psalm 34:

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! 10 …those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.’ 11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. [1 Peter 2:3; 3:10-12]

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

May 10, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment