PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Peter 3:17-18; Grow in Grace, Knowledge, Glorify Jesus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100328_2peter3_17-18.mp3

03/28 2 Peter 3:17-18 Grow in Grace and Knowledge and Glorify Jesus

Today we conclude our study through the New Testament letters of 1 & 2 Peter. Jesus, when he appeared on the shores of the lake after his resurrection, told Peter to ‘feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep’ (Jn.21:15-17). Peter was faithful, and now we hold in our hands among the books of the New Testament, these two God saturated grace filled truth packed letters from the pen of the apostle Peter. We’ve spent some time unpacking what Peter has given us by way of instruction and warning and encouragement, and as we come to the end, I’d like to look back over some of the highlights of these weighty documents.

Peter wrote his first letter to churches who were suffering fiery trials and persecution from those outside. He writes the second letter because these churches are being attacked by scoffers from within who question the return of Christ and undermine the need for moral integrity.

Peter says:

3:1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

So Peter wrote primarily to stir us up by way of reminder. As believers we all know some things about God and his grace toward sinners. Peter assumes that we know some things. Peter’s stated purpose in both his letters is to stir us up by way of reminder. The truth of God’s word can settle out at the bottom of our hearts and minds and we can go on and live as if it were not there at all. Peter aims to agitate our hearts and minds to bring the truth that we know up to where we will do something about it and live in light of it. In his first letter, he reminds us of our identity as elect or chosen by God, but aliens or strangers in this world (1:1). He prays for us that grace and peace would be multiplied to us (1:2) and then his heart erupts in worship God who is rich in mercy (1:3). Peter spends the beginning paragraphs of his letter unfolding the truth of God’s gracious purposes toward us in salvation (1:3-12), and then he exhorts us to set our hope fully on God’s grace that is still to come (1:13) as transforming power for holy life. Our life is to be a life lived in light of the facts of who God is and what he’s done for us (1:17-19). We are to live life in light of the cross. And we are to live lives that put God on display. The purpose of our existence is to ‘proclaim the excellencies of him who called you’ (2:9). Our lives are to be such that ‘they may see your good deeds and glorify God’ (2:12). Peter has given us practical instruction on how to glorify God by our conduct in relation to gossips, to government, to evil employers, and to unbelieving spouses (2:12-3:7). He encourages us when we find ourselves suffering unjustly, because this is grace in God’s sight, and we are called to put God on display through how we face suffering (2:20-21). Jesus is the ultimate example of redemptive suffering – through his suffering in our place, we have been brought near to God (3:18) and through our suffering, we have an opportunity to display the good news of the total sufficiency of God for hopeless sinners. 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). God is ‘the God of all grace’ (5:10), and he ‘will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you’ so that all power is seen to be his (5:11). Peter concludes that ‘this is the true grace of God’ and he tells us to ‘stand firm in it’ (5:12)

Throughout the letter, he points us to Jesus, Jesus who sprinkles us with his blood (1:2); Jesus who gives us a living hope through his resurrection (1:3); Jesus who will reward us at his coming (1:7). The Old Testament prophets pointed to the sufferings and glories of Jesus (1:11). The precious blood of Jesus is our ransom (1:19); Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree (2:24); Jesus suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (3:18). This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it (5:12).

In his second letter, Peter tells us that we have obtained faith as a gift by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (1:1). He asks that grace and peace be multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (1:2). He reminds us of his divine power that has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us (1:3) and he wants us to be effective and fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:8). He wants us to be diligent to make our calling and election sure by growing in godly qualities so that we will be given entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:11). Peter knows his death will be soon, so he is making every effort to leave a permanent written reminder to stir us up and establish us in the truth (1:12-15). He warns us of the danger of those who secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them (2:1). These false teachers are characterized by arrogance, sensuality and greed, and he warns that it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness then to have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then later to become entangled in them again (2:20-21). Peter re-interprets the perceived delay in the fulfillment of God’s promises as the abundant mercy of God toward sinners, patiently giving them multiplied opportunities to repent. But Peter’s warning is clear – judgment is coming and the ungodly will be destroyed. He implores us to diligence – to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace. And he concludes the letter this way:

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

This is the fourth time Peter addresses us as his ‘beloved’. He deeply cares about the flock of God and wants to prepare us and protect us from the dangers at hand.

The ‘you’ in this verse is personal and it is emphatic; ‘you therefore – you!’ You, in contrast to the ignorant and unstable who twist the scriptures to their own destruction.

You, knowing this beforehand. Knowing that scripture twisters would come, knowing that it was predicted that scoffers would come following their own lusts; knowing that the judgment of God is coming and all the works done on the earth will be laid bare, knowing that God is

Exodus 34:6 … “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Because we know this beforehand, take care. Be on guard. Watch out! This is the first of two imperatives that Peter gives to keep us from falling. Watch out!

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

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

You! Do not think you are exempt from this! Most people do not say ‘I think today I will embrace a destructive heresy and deny the Master who bought me’. It is a gradual, almost imperceptible slide down a slippery slope.

When Paul had to confront Peter publicly about his actions that were inconsistent with his beliefs, he says:

Galatians 2:13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. This is that same word that is used here – carried away. Enormous social pressure is often applied to individuals. Even Barnabas was carried away. Barnabas, the son of encouragement, who introduced the newly converted Paul to the rest of the Apostles who were afraid (Acts 9:27); Barnabas, who was a trusted messenger sent on several important assignments in the early church; Barnabas, who accompanied Paul on much of his missionary work, even Barnabas, who had the guts to stand up to Paul in their dispute over taking John Mark along on another missionary journey, this Barnabas lost his own stability and was carried away by the hypocrisy of the Jews in undermining justification by faith alone with his actions.

Peter knew first hand what this was like. Peter bowed to the social pressure of the Jews from James who came to Antioch. Peter, who told Jesus he would die with him (Lk.22:33; Mt.26:33,35), even after he was warned that Satan desired to sift him like wheat (Lk.22:31); even after Jesus told him to watch and pray that he might not enter temptation (Mk.14:37); even after Jesus explicitly predicted that he would fail three times, when he was asked by a servant girl, he denied three times with oaths that he even knew Jesus (Lk.22:55-61).

We are all in danger of losing our own stability. In 1 Peter 5:6-9, he cautions us toward humility and sober-minded watchfulness, because ‘Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.’ And he tells us to ‘resist him, firm in your faith, knowing …’ We gain the victory through humility – not thinking we can handle it, but knowing that we can’t and depending on the God of all grace, who will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter’s second imperative to keep us from being carried away ultimately to our own destruction is to grow. Grow in grace. Grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Grow!

But how do we grow? Growth seems to be something that happens to us, yet here Peter commands us to grow and he expects us to heed the warning and obey. How do we grow? Peter told us in his first letter.

1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation– 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Plants grow and produce fruit. Babies grow. Growth is natural, almost a passive process. But for growth to happen, the proper nutrients need to be ingested. When Hannah was born at 2lbs 15oz, she needed to grow. They put a tube through her nose into her stomach, and we would pour nutrient rich milk down that tube, and she grew. When I hold Isaiah, he opens his mouth and grunts and roots around looking for food. Then he gets mad and cries because he can’t find what he’s looking for. He has an insatiable appetite for milk. Peter tells us that we are to be like that – with spiritual milk – the pure milk of the word. The milk of the word is the God-given means for growth. And ultimately it is God who produces the growth:

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

But how do we grow in grace if grace is an undeserved gift? Peter told us this in his first letter too – God gives grace to the humble. We grow in grace by acknowledging our dependence on God for everything. Jesus invited us to become like little children – ask, seek, knock. Ask.

Peter has prayed for us in both letters that grace would be multiplied to us. He told us that all things necessary for our life and godliness have been given to us by God’s divine power. God’s precious and very great promises have been given to us. We are to appropriate and enjoy the benefits of God’s favor toward us. We must grow in God’s free gift of grace.

We are also to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Peter’s prayer, we see that grace and peace are multiplied to us ‘in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’ (1:2). And Peter told us that God’s supernatural power gives to us everything we need for life and godliness ‘through the knowledge of him who called us’ (1:3). This knowledge of Jesus we are commanded to grow in, but this knowledge is also a gift.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We grow by coming to him needy and hungry and thirsty and we ask. We use the God-appointed means for getting to know him – God’s word. We know Jesus as our King and our Redeemer, our one Authority that must be obeyed, and our Rescuer. Our Lord and Savior

17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

And as we grow as recipients of more and more grace, and as we grow in our knowledge and appreciation of who Jesus is and what he does for us, the natural expression will be doxology – an outpouring of praise to him. To him be glory. To Jesus be all the glory. God said:

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

And Jesus said:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Peter started this letter out by pointing to the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our God and he is our Savior. And as God, he alone deserves to be glorified as God. Most New Testament doxologies attribute glory to God the Father (Rom.16:25-27; Phil.4:20-23; 1 Pet.5:10-14; Jude 24-25) , but there are a few (2Tim.4:18; Heb.13:21; Rev.1:5-6) like this one, that give the glory to Jesus. To Jesus be glory now. The false teachers were denying the Master who bought them. The antidote for this is to become recipients of his grace and grow in his knowledge and overflow with praise to him. Knowledge that does not result in worship and love will only puff up and destroy. Knowledge here is not information but an ever deepening relationship with a person. The Christian life must be defined as continual movement toward Jesus through the means he has given us to know him. That is Jesus’ description of what eternal life consists in:

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Experiencing his grace, increasing in intimacy, exploding with worship. Glory belongs to Jesus right now. Right now from us today! And glory belongs to Jesus to the day of eternity. When we receive his grace and grow in our relationship with him, we will never throughout eternity tire of giving him our adoration and affection and admiration and worship and honor and praise.

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

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March 28, 2010 Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Is Jesus?

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090628_who_is_jesus.mp3

Who is Jesus? I want to ask the question this morning because the answer to this question is absolutely central and has eternal implications. The identity of Jesus is not peripheral. What we think of Jesus will determine whether we admire him and delight in his presence for all eternity or whether we suffer under his wrath for all eternity. Jesus himself said:

John 8:23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am [he] you will die in your sins.”.

Everyone has an opinion about Jesus. Some think he was just a good man, a great moral teacher, or a prophet. Some think he was crazy, his life was a failure and his death was a tragedy. Some think he was a blasphemer and the worst of criminals, deserving the punishment he received. Some even think he was demon possessed. Some think wasn’t really human, but only appeared to be human. Some think he was an angel. Some think he was one of God’s many spirit children. Jesus claims that what you think about his identity will impact your eternal destiny. Today we will focus not on the opinions of men but on the testimony of God concerning Jesus, on Jesus’ own testimony about himself, on the testimonies of those who walked with him and knew him. Jesus said ‘I am from above… I am not of this world …unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins’. A few verses later he says:

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We must know the truth about him. Jesus warned his followers:

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (cf. Mark 13:22)

Paul expressed the same concern this way:

2Corinthians 11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Today we’re going to take a birds eye view of the biblical Jesus. We’ll move quickly over what should be most familiar; we’ll linger on those aspects that may be less familiar to us. We’ll see Jesus as God the eternal Son; the humble servant; the sinless substitute; our present mediator; the promised messiah; the conquering king and wrathful avenger of the righteous honor of God’s holy name. Any one facet of who he is without the whole picture is less than who he really is.

The goal of this sermon is not to fill your head with information, although that can be good and helpful. The goal is to fill our hearts with worship and admiration of Jesus in all the complexity and beauty of his nature and character. Seeing Jesus for who he is and savoring the beauty of his characteristics will be our pleasure for all eternity. Now we have only a short hour, so think of this as a table of contents or a rough outline pointing the direction of who we will enjoy for all eternity.

We’ll start with Jesus as God the eternal Son, equal with the Father. The Gospel of John starts by saying:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John affirms that the Word was with God in the beginning. He is eternal. And he identifies the Word as God – the Word was God. He identifies the Word as the Creator – everything was made through him. And he identifies the Word as the self-existent one or YHWH; the one who is, the one who has life in himself. Then, in verse 14, he makes it expressly clear who he is referring to:

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.

Jesus is the Word, the self-existent creator God YHWH, the all-glorious only Son from the Father. Look at John 8; Jesus said:

John 8:56-59 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Jesus claimed to be a contemporary of Abraham – in fact to predate Abraham. But he changes the normal grammar – he doesn’t say ‘I was before Abraham; he says ‘I am’ – and the Jews understood what he was claiming – he was claiming to be the God of Abraham – the one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3:14 –tell the people ‘I AM’ has sent you – the self-existent one. Then in John 10 Jesus said:

John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”

The Jews take great pains to make sure we get our theology straight. If Jesus’ words weren’t clear enough on their own, the Jews reaction shows exactly how Jesus was to be understood.

.John 10:31-33 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

They accused him of blasphemy because he was claiming to be God. Now look at Jesus prayer in John 17:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Jesus in his prayer to the Father is claiming that he was with the Father before the world existed, and he is claiming that he possessed God’s glory – the magnificent display of the divine nature and character was his. Let’s look at Isaiah 42:8 so we don’t miss the significance of what Jesus is saying:

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

YHWH is a jealous God who does not share his glory with another. Jesus is asking the Father to again put his nature and character as God on display so that he will be honored and worshiped as God. This is an audacious request unless his statement that he is one with the Father is also true.

Paul says:

Philippians 2:5-6 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

He says that Jesus existed in the form of God. Jesus’ being is the very being of God. Equality with God would be something any created being could only unsuccessfully grasp at, but Jesus possessed it by nature and by right.

So Jesus is the self-existent YHWH, the all-glorious Creator-God who breathed the universe into existence, equal to and one with the Father. Paul goes on; he:

Philippians 2:6 …did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus, as God’s eternal Son, also became the humble servant. The creator of the universe entered into his creation as a helpless baby. God without ceasing to be God for a moment, took on an additional nature – he took upon himself a human nature. God who is spirit, took on a mortal body of flesh. Jesus made himself nothing!

And as the humble servant, he became our sinless substitute.

Philippians 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

…12 …because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

1Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, …

1Peter 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,

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

Not only is he the sinless substitute, but he is our present mediator.

1Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Jesus is the one who goes between God and man to work reconciliation. The author of Hebrews points to his better priesthood:

Hebrews 7:24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for us:

John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,…

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus prayed for us then, but the bible tells us he is still praying for us now. ‘he always lives to make intercession for them.’

Romans 8:34…Christ Jesus is the one who died––more than that, who was raised––who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Think of that – Jesus, right now is seated at the right hand of the Father and is constantly interceding for us, praying for us, mediating for us. At the cross, the work of redemption was finished, but Jesus continually applies his finished work to us in the presence of the Father. Jude 24-25 says:

Jude 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.

Jesus can keep us from stumbling because he is right now talking to the Father on our behalf.
Jesus is the promised Messiah, the coming King. The wise men from the east came:

Matthew 2:2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well:

John 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

In Acts, Apollos:

Acts 18:28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

After the his resurrection, his disciples asked him:

Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus answered that it was not for them to know the times or seasons

that the Father has fixed by his own authority. So Jesus is the coming King, but what will he be like when he comes again? Jesus is the wrathful avenger of the righteous honor of God’s holy name.

We tend to have this Sunday school flannel graph image of Jesus, meek and mild. Long blond hair and blue eyes with fair complexion, slight build, wearing a long white dress and turning the other cheek. If that’s what we think of Jesus, we will be shocked when we read the gospels.

John 2:14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money–changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money–changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

We will be even more shocked when we see him as John saw him in his revelation; John hears a loud voice like a trumpet behind him:

Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two–edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Later in Revelation he is described again:

Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

This is who Isaiah is talking about when he says

Isaiah 63:3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.

Jesus is who the unbelievers fear when they say:

Revelation 6:16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

The wrath of the Lamb; this is Jesus:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

This is Jesus; God the eternal Son; the humble servant; our sinless substitute; our present mediator; the promised messiah; the conquering king and wrathful avenger of the righteous honor of God’s holy name. And the appropriate response is worship. We get a glimpse of the white hot holy affection for the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenlies in:

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

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

June 28, 2009 Posted by | occasional, 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 1:3-5

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20080914_1peter_1_3-5.mp3

9/14 1 Peter 1:3-5 praise God for new birth and the guarding of my faith

1: 1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

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.

1:3 euloghtov o yeov kai pathr tou kuriou hmwn ihsou cristou o kata to polu autou eleov anagennhsav hmav eiv elpida zwsan di anastasewv ihsou cristou ek nekrwn 4 eiv klhronomian afyarton kai amianton kai amaranton tethrhmenhn en ouranoiv eiv umav 5 touv en dunamei yeou frouroumenouv dia pistewv eiv swthrian etoimhn apokalufyhnai en kairw escatw

Peter is writing to encourage the suffering saints scattered across Asia Minor to stand firm in the true grace of God.

5:12 …I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

He points them first to their position as Christians in tension; they are the elected rejected; the chosen outcasts. And he points them to the work of the trinity in securing this position for them. The Father had foreknown them; the Spirit sets them apart; they are destined for obedience to the gospel and washing with Jesus’ blood. He points them to the origin, the experience and the destiny of their elect standing with God.

Next, and flowing out of the trinitarian work of election, he leads the suffering church in worship. This teaches us some things about worship: worship is appropriate even in hard times. Peter’s readers may have read this and responded ‘but we don’t feel like blessing God. Peter, we want you to lobby the government about our situation. Get some good lawyers to change the political landscape. Raise some funds to give us some relief from our difficult circumstances.’ But Peter starts by turning their attention away from their situation and toward God. They need to look up and have God in his awesome majesty consume their entire field of vision before they can look rightly at their own circumstances.

Another thing we learn about worship: worship is substantive. Worship is not merely a feeling or experience. It is that, but it is more. It is a feeling or experience based on and coming out of solid biblical truth. We will see what Peter points to as a foundation for their worship.

This text is a worship text. So I pray that as we study it together and learn what it says, our response is that of worship. I hope that a deep heartfelt sense of gratitude wells up inside each one of us. So after his profoundly deep theological greeting, He starts with the words ‘Blessed be’ or ‘praise be’. The word is ‘ euloghtov eulogetos‘ and it’s where we get our English word ‘eulogy’. When I think of an eulogy, I think of all the nice things someone says that may or may not be true of the person in the casket. Their strong points are exaggerated; their weaknesses are forgotten. They are painted larger than life. But when our eulogy, our praise is directed toward God, we are seeking to express what is true about him, to give him the honor and praise that is his due. That is what worship is – declaring the worth of God, speaking to him and to ourselves and to those within earshot of how truly awesome he really is.

Our worship is directed to God. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not just addressing any god. Peter specifies – this is the God that Jesus worshiped and prayed to. Jesus connected us with the God who revealed himself in the Old Testament scriptures as YHWH, the self existent creator of all things, who would send his only Son to suffer and die for our sins. This is the God and the Father of Jesus. Jesus described his relationship with God the Father in terms of the relation of a loving father to his son, and he said this was true even before the foundation of the world:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is described as ‘our Lord’; our master, our sovereign, our ruler, our king, the one we submit to as our absolute authority. And he is the Christ – the fulfillment of all messianic hope and expectation. Our worship is directed to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And then the grounds for worship are given. Why are we worshiping? Because of who God is and what he has done. Before he explains the main subject of his praise, Peter gives a descriptive phrase about the character of God: ‘according to his great mercy’. This is the origin of what follows. Just as God’s foreknowledge was the source or origin of our election in verses 1-2, now God’s great mercy is the source of his action toward us. God is a merciful God. So let’s define mercy:

mer·cy \ˈmər-sē\ noun 1 a: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment <begged for mercy> b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder (taken from m-w.com)

Mercy is forbearance shown to an offender; not giving the guilty party the full punishment that their crime deserves; clemency.

When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God said:

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Part of God’s glory is his authority and freedom to show mercy to whom he wills. And when God declared his nature and character to Moses, he started with mercy:

Exodus 34:5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

The distinction between mercy and grace is that mercy is negative and grace is positive. Mercy is the ‘slow to anger’; grace is the ‘abounding in steadfast love’. God’s mercy is his not giving us the punishment we deserve; grace is giving us blessings we didn’t earn. From our point of view, mercy is not getting what we do deserve; grace is getting what we don’t deserve. And Peter praises God because God has ‘much mercy’. One way to encourage persecuted Christians is to remind them of what they deserve but have been spared of. These Christians might fear the emperor; if they don’t bow and worship him as a god, they might even be put to death. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

We have committed hight treason against the King of kings. We refuse to bend our knee. We think and feel and act as if we were more important than the king. We walk into his presence and expect Him to bow to us and do what we demand! If we contemplate who we are and what our sins deserve, this is grounds for worship! Praise God that he is more than just and righteous! Praise God that he has ‘much mercy’!

Peter tells us here that God’s mercy is the source of our new birth. It is according to the muchness of his mercy that he has caused us to be born again. This is the same metaphor that Jesus used with Nicodemus to describe the work of the Spirit. I want you to think for a moment about being born. I trust all of you in this room have been born, so we share that common experience. Reflect back on your conception and birth. What was your part in it? Could you in any way say that you caused your conception and birth or was it something that happened to you? You can thank God for it or you can complain to God about it, but you can’t take credit for it. That’s what Nicodemus struggles with when Jesus tells him that he must be born again. How can I do that? What do I have to do? I can’t very well get back inside my mother’s womb. Being born isn’t something you do, it’s something that happens to you. Jesus pointed to the fact that rebirth is the work of the Holy Spirit. Peter here points us to the truth that our new birth is a merciful act caused by God. And when you’re born, you’re born into something. We were all born into this cold cruel world. I was born into my family. Peter tells us that we were born again into a living hope. Jesus said:

John 10:10 …I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

And when we were conceived spiritually by the Father, that new life was created in us. We were dead, but God in his mercy made us alive.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ––by grace you have been saved––

Peter is writing to scattered aliens in a hostile community. People will treat us badly. They might make fun of us. They might take our stuff. They might even harm us or kill us. And Peter tells them that they have an unquenchable life force inside of them that gives an unshakable hope in the future. When the gun is at the head of the Christian we can say with joy:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

And that’s the new life inside of us speaking. This new life comes ‘through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ We might think, since we’re talking about the Father and new birth that it would say ‘through the incarnation in the manger at Bethlehem’. But never is our new birth tied to the incarnation. The new life we have is resurrection life.

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Ephesians 1:18 …that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

And that is the power that is at work in us as a result of our new birth. And this resurrection power is securing for us our inheritance. By the Father’s great mercy he has given us new birth and since we are born into his family, we are born into his inheritance:

4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

Here’s where language fails us and disappoints. Peter doesn’t tell us what the inheritance is. All he can tell us is what it’s not. Your inheritance is so !!!! There’s no words to express it. So think of the best earthly inheritance you can think of and I’ll tell you how it’s different. Peter tells us the inheritance we have is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is free from death and decay; it is free from uncleanness or moral impurity; it is free from the natural ravages of time. And it is not kept in the stock market which can plummet on any given day. It is kept in heaven for you. Just as Jesus said:

Matthew 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

So your inheritance is incredible beyond words. It is free from all the negative implications that an inheritance might have here. The inheritance is safe. Nobody can get to it. But that may raise the question: will you be able to get to it? Is it so safe that you will not be able to access it? It is kept safe for you, but in the end will it be kept safe from you? It is safe in heaven, but what if I can’t make it safe to heaven to claim it? What if I fail along the way? Will I make it? What if I throw in the towel; give up; what if I stop believing? So Peter turns his attention from the inheritance to you, the elected rejected:

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

So God’s resurrection power produced the new life in you, and God is keeping the inheritance safe for you, and now God’s sovereign power is keeping you for the inheritance. The word ‘guarded’ is a military term that can mean both ‘kept from escaping’ and ‘protected from attack’ [Grudem, p.58]. The issue clearly is salvation; our future final salvation. We are being guarded for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. We are not being guarded until the salvation is made ready – Jesus work is finished and perfect. The salvation is ready and waiting for the right time to be revealed. The implication is that if we were not being guarded by the power of God we might not be saved. So from what are we being guarded and how are we being guarded? Peter is going to warn us in chapter 5 to:

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

So we could say that we are being guarded from the devil. But in what way is Satan seeking to devour us? We could say he is seeking to kill us. But if that is what we are being protected from, then God’s power to guard has failed Peter and countless other Christian martyrs. If Satan succeeds in killing a believer, he has only sped them on their way to heaven – remember, to die is gain! So the guarding can’t mean that they are protected physically. The only way the devil could devour a believer is to cause him to walk away from Jesus and stop clinging to Jesus. Paul warns about the potential of believing in vain:

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you––unless you believed in vain.

Jesus used the image of a branch being connected to the vine and drawing its life from the vine, and he warned:

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

So if we don’t hold fast to the gospel we will have believed in vain, and we will not be saved, and if we walk away from Jesus we will be destroyed and Satan will have won. So being guarded by the power of God must mean that God is guarding our faith. God is using his power to keep us believing. I think the context makes it clear that we are on the right track. Peter says in verse:

7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith––…––may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

And in this verse he says:

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

So God is not guarding us in spite of whether we keep on believing or not. He is guarding us through our faith. He has caused us to be born again, and he will nurture that life of faith so that we are indeed saved in the end. I think this was especially personal and precious to Peter. Before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus said to Peter:

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.”

Jesus was going to allow an intense trial in Peter’s life to sift him, so that the chaff would blow away and only the wheat would remain. The danger of this is that if Satan is allowed to sift you, there might prove to be nothing left. And Jesus says ‘but I have prayed for you’ and what was his prayer? ‘that your faith may not fail’. Jesus was sustaining Peter’s faith. And Jesus wasn’t wondering what the outcome would be. I wonder if Peter will make it. When Jesus sustains your faith, your faith will not fail. And Jesus is praying for us too:

1 John 2:1 … we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

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

Jesus looked right through the trial to the other side and said ‘and when (not if but when) you have turned again, strengthen your brothers’. Peter was sifted like wheat. He denied Jesus three times. And he went out and wept bitterly. Those tears were produced by God in answer to Jesus’ prayer. And Peter is now strengthening his brothers scattered across Asia Minor and strengthening us by reminding us that God’s power is guarding us by keeping us believing so that we will obtain the inheritance in the end. All the resources of sovereign omnipotence are fighting for your faith. God is at work in you to keep you believing. And this is a reason to worship God. God’s great mercy has caused us to be born again and God’s great power is guarding us so that our faith does not fail and we do obtain the promised inheritance.

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.

September 14, 2008 Posted by | 1 Peter | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment