Tag: Evangelism

Called to Suffer

1 Peter 2:18-23 

Need to guard against imposing 21st century stereotypes on terms Peter uses – servant and master. 1st century Roman culture structured differently from ours today, weren’t all the same categories. In Peter’s day, for most part were either servant/slave or master… either had slaves or were a slave. Either had someone to do your work for you or you did it for yourself.

“it must be remembered that 1st-century slaves were generally well-treated and were not only unskilled laborers but often managers, overseers, and trained members of the various professions (doctors, nurses, teachers, musicians, skilled artisans). There was extensive Roman legislation regulating the treatment of slaves. They were normally paid for their services and could expect eventually to purchase their freedom.” [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1 Peter; Grudem, 124]

Now, in the church, many of those distinctions removed… in some cases reversing the cultural order of things. Slave with gifts and calling to be teacher or pastor in local church could easily have opportunity to instruct his master! Most often slaves, household servants [οἰκέτης (household servant), not δοῦλος (bondslave) or θεράπων (servant)] had pagan masters, some of whom were good and gently, others were not.

Peter’s exhortation to readers: have a servant heart even when that means you are called to suffer as Jesus did. Keep in mind also, suffering Peter is talking about does not always involve physical discomfort. Are other kinds of suffering often harder to bear than physical pain. Primarily in view here slave / master relationship, closest parallel today the employee / employer one. Not limited only to that, applies to every situation where we are charged with meeting expectations of another.

A. servants are to submit  v.18-20

proper attitude

there’s that word again… submit – is kind of attitude that positions well so as to perform well – hard to do good job when attitude toward supervisor/manager stinks

right attitude doesn’t depend on circumstances – Jesus’ example and expectations are enough reason to have / maintain right spirit

not stated but surely is implied, attitude should not be on roller coaster – will be exceptions, but even during those times attitude toward master should be one that pleases God

proper work habits

something fewer and fewer in our present cultural setting understand – how to work, how to learn skill and use it well, show up on time/work all shift, performing to limit of ability

“doing good” is what God expects – can take that two ways, doing task well, doing what is for good of another person

first thing is to carry out task to best of ability, doing it well, gaining rep for good workmanship and producing high quality results

rest of it: doing task in such a way that it produces good for others incl. master – make widgets efficiently and well so co. profits

proper response

will be times you do best possible, meet or exceed expectations, still get criticized / penalized in some way – take it patiently

less obvious, exceed all performance goals for six months, should receive nice pay increase, get nothing – need to maintain performance, not work down to what you think wage is worth

what about assigned task that violates conscience – preparing for or participating in worship of idol, doing what is unethical or illegal – do what is right in God’s eyes

similar scenario – do what is right in God’s eyes but not master’s: singing hymns, carrying Bible, witnessing – are treated unjustly… is commendable, finds favor with God

proper motivation

told twice: if you suffer unjustly (wrongfully) is commendable; do good and suffer, take it patiently, commendable before God

all this master / servant stuff playing out on world stage before audience… that includes God… and is his “well done” you want

what you do does not define who you are, nor does place you work – any number of occupations incl. retired, places incl. home, important thing is working for God and his approval

B. servants are called to suffer  v.21

don’t be surprised

suffering comes with the calling… to follow Christ – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matt. 16:24 

the cross is in Jesus’ statement for a reason – Christianity not for sissies, not for those afraid of hardship, will include suffering

best help for enduring well is to be prepared – know who to trust (God), what resources (Bible and believers), the goal (heaven)

Christ suffered

since the Forerunner, the one we are following suffered, should expect we will probably suffer also… plus he said so

we think of Jesus’ suffering occurring Thursday night thru Sunday morning – forget his entire earthly existence one of suffering

Isa. 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

we are to follow him

purposely left example for us: ὑπογραμμὸν – under-writing; penmanship examples, dotted patterns; Family Circus, trail kid followed

has left enough of his footprints in Gospels to know where path goes – is not really optional, Jesus expects us to follow

is by following Jesus’ footprints that we can be certain of reaching our destination – when we get off track, look to him, he picks us up and puts us on path again

C. the Servant’s example of suffering  v.22-23

all his suffering was unjust

some suffering is justified, Peter hinted at that in v.20 – “what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults”

Pilate was more right than he probably knew – “I find no fault in this Man” (Luk. 23:4) – there was none to be found

did not respond to evil with more evil

certainly had plenty of opportunity to give people dose of own medicine – and had the power to make it happen if he chose

didn’t do so himself, told his followers to not go down that road, fixed damage they caused when they did (Malchus’ ear)

did not exercise his rights

think about who Jesus really was – “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” 

had a right as Creator, as God the Son to whatever he wanted – instead “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

example he left us is one of humble service, suffering whatever indignities, disrespect, hardship sinful men sent his way

even when another might have told those who crucified him and bartered for his belongings “I’ll get you back for this”, he prayed for their forgiveness

did trust God

his last words before death, “Father, it’s all in your hands”…and he left it there – knew he could trust his Father with his present and his future

same God can be counted on for our present and future – if God really is in charge of it, can be certain none of the suffering that comes our way is excessive, unnecessary, outside God’s perfect plan

When suffering comes our way, need to do as Peter did – not get all wrapped up in how much we are suffering, how much we have to endure, how unjust it all is. Instead look for Jesus and the footprints he left behind for us to follow in.

Strength in Submission

1 Peter 2:13-17  

Remember audience and setting: many cases second-class citizens living in brutal pagan culture that glorified immoral behavior. Unwanted babies routinely abandoned and left to die. Sexual relationships of all kinds welcomed and affirmed privately and publicly throughout all levels of society. Entertainment was live and often barbaric, nearly anything could be bought for a price. Human life had little intrinsic value, among upper classes suicide often considered the honorable solution. Was well-developed system of laws, many of its basic principles still in practice today around the world.

Were substantial differences between then and now; at same time many parallels. Peter’s instructions just as important for us to understand and follow as initial readers among the Dispersion. Peter has laid foundation for the Pilgrim Life, here he begins to give more detail in particular spheres of life – civic arena and citizenship issues (2:13); the workplace and relationships with employees/employers (2:18); family life and husband/wife relations (3:1,5); finally, social relationships in general (5:5).

For each of these spheres/topics Peter uses same word, one we like when applied to someone else way more than when is expected of us: submit/submission. What Peter has in mind is voluntary, not compulsory submission. Involves both way of thinking and way of behaving. A primary reason for living in this way: silence those who would find fault with us for being followers of Christ.

Starts right out with how we should relate to that institution often seen as necessary evil… government. Doesn’t stop there, even in this short paragraph. Wraps up with summary that addresses relationships with everyone, fellow believers, God himself and government leaders.

A. good citizens  v.13-14

law-keepers

matters not where citizenship is, are expected to follow laws of place where you are – true when traveling around world, equally true for us as pilgrims in this world

Peter expects voluntary willing law-keeping, to greatest extent possible – only when civil authority forbids obedience to God or requires disobedience of God is civil disobedience justified

for the Lord’s sake

he gets to practical motivators… but they are not first – is more important reason, loyalty to and love for Christ coupled with desire to please Him in all things

lawlessness of any kind is destructive… of relationships, property, societies, nations, even life itself – all that the opposite of God’s design for man and the world

at all levels

expectation of submission to authority not limited to the one at the top – all of civil government ordained by God for purpose

when it pays strict attention to God’s intent – punish evildoers, encourage righteous – civil authority good for a society… when they are generally law-abiding citizens

with loving accountability

true for all but especially so when have civil freedoms/responsibilities like ours – can have a part in electoral and legislative process

can submit to civil authority and at same time do all we can to encourage that authority to act according to God’s plan for it

submission does not equal silence, it does shape how we speak and act – when gov’t gets off track, work to get it back on track

B. good deeds  v.15-16

doing the right thing – doing good

too often Christians known for what they are against – drinking, dancing, movies, gays, drugs, abortion, Communists, endless list

Peter tells us is God’s will that we be known for “doing good” – Paul agrees… does not say overcome evil with tougher laws, fewer guns, different President, says “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21)

in the right way – as free

submission to authority / expectation to do good not intended by God to be burdensome – designed to be a guide to freedom

Christ-followers freed from bondage to sin and death are freest people of all… regardless of any other details of circumstances

with the right motive – to serve God

no one has absolute freedom, in fact everyone is a slave – Rom. 6:16 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

we should do what is right and pleasing to God because he is our Master and he has freed us from slavery in sin to serve him, iow, b/c we love him

expecting right results – and silence critics

this kind of behavior – submitting to authority and doing good – foolish, wrong-headed, doomed to failure, laughable, many other ridiculous things… according to world and culture

yet God guarantees it will successfully carry out plan he has designed and intends – no such assurance for all the other ways

C. good relationships  v.17

neighbors – all

not a case of honor the king, tolerate everyone else; love the brotherhood, put up with the rest of the world… not how Jesus did it, not how he expects us to live either

honor everyone, treat everyone as having value – they do, we all do; no matter how terribly defaced it is, all people bear image of God and have value

whether we like their lifestyle, approve choices, agree with what they support or not, are to be honored as people of value to God

believers – the brotherhood

higher standard for fellow-Christians – are to put their interests and well-being ahead of our own in way that can be observed

remember what Jesus said: John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

God

“Fear of God is a combination of affectionate love and deep respect, joined to an awareness of majesty.” Maoz

put it all together – love, respect, awe – is what should motivate / encourage service to God, obedience to his commands

government – the king

no escape clauses – honor the office, honor if this or if not that – also means we should look for those things about the “king” that are worthy of honor and make sure we honor him

btw, we show love/honor/respect for the King we cannot see by properly honoring the king we can see

Sending mixed messages – God’s word commands to submit and yet often most visible/vocal action is resistance of some kind. Encouraged to call Chris/Senator Collins, tell her to vote against…; march in parade against…; stand on sidewalk and protest against… Might ask “what else can we do, issues and problems too big for a few to make much difference”.

One example: Maine statistics: churchangel.com – 1499 churches;  abort73.com/abortion_facts/states/ – 2017: 1,959 abortions

What if, instead of trying to make it harder to take life of unborn, we worked to make it easier to rescue unwanted children? …and then worked to do just that (with or without gov’t help), rescuing babies from death and their mothers from condemnation and misery? If one family from each church in Maine adopted one unwanted child, maybe others  encouraged and helped the other 460 mothers to keep their babies, would that not do good?

Easy or hard, popular or not, God’s will for us is that we use the strength he provides us in submission to his will in order to do good and silence our critics. iow, regardless of circumstances, Living for Jesus.

The Pilgrim Life

1 Peter 2:11-12

 Up to this point in letter, Peter has laid foundation for what comes next in more detail… some of the nuts and bolts of living counter-culturally. If primary privileges of Christians living in our kind of world are worship and witness, what does that look like? What principles give structure to that kind of living? And what is purpose / reason why God would have us to live that way?

If God is truly sovereign over all his creation, then certain things follow: time and place of your birth were by God’s appointment. Same is true for all details of life until now. Including where you live, work and play, who neighbors and co-workers are… family too! And all for a purpose: your good and God’s glory…which includes the good of many around us.

Think about needs we observe in people – families are in crisis, relationships in total confusion, honesty/integrity/work ethic foreign concepts, and on it goes. Courage House opening soon on School Street – men living there had all kinds of opportunities to see life done wrong. If they are to become good citizens, need examples to follow. If are to become citizens of Christ’s kingdom, need to hear God’s truth and see it in action. Same is true for people in all walks of life with all sorts of histories and circumstances. Is where we come in, our text sets out basic principles to equip for that task.

A. a mindset to adopt

sojourners

temporary residents – are just here on tourist visa, visiting, not putting down roots – don’t despise good things of life, but… things we value most highly ought to be ones that endure to next life

interact with culture but do not become part of it – make sure things of world don’t become part of us… values, worldview, priorities – in too many cases world has changed the church, should be other way round

checked bags, not a moving van – content with necessities, blessed if we have more, quick to share / give away

pilgrims

travelers, appreciating sights and experiences – still is much good, beautiful in world that testifies to God’s creative power and grace

looking at sights going by as tourist, not commuter – seeing/enjoying with fresh eyes, recognizing God’s fingerprints

have not reached final destination – is true in all respects… as good as it gets, this life still far less than what awaits us

always mindful of end goal – heaven, yes, but what else in addition? conformed to his image, see him as he is, no more death/sorrow/crying/pain/sin

making regular movement toward goal… not content to stagnate, stay in one place

“…if we don’t hold the things of this life loosely and aren’t focused on God Himself and on being in heaven with Him as our goal, we are holding to a shallow form of Christianity. If we’re just living for the good life that being a Christian gives now, we wouldn’t last a minute under persecution. We wouldn’t endure much suffering. Nor would we withstand the many temptations to indulge in fleshly desires. The only thing that can steel us to endure suffering and to seek holiness in this wicked world is to live as pilgrims, bound for heaven.” [Steven Cole]

B. a war to fight

a campaign, not a battle

ongoing series of engagements – crafty enemy who never gives up, constantly changing to keep off balance, always deceptive

requires constant vigilance – may be return of same temptation… or different one – enemy continually probing to find weak spot

decisive (and final) battle fought and won by Christ – end is certain, he will prevail over all his and our enemies… when this age ends, not before – no opportunity to relax in this life

spiritual, not psychological

weapons used against us appeal to senses/desires – Gen. 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (taste), that it was pleasant to the eyes (sight), and a tree desirable to make one wise (mind), she took of its fruit and ate.”

target not simply mind and body but soul – cost Eve her life, will cost us in other ways… encourage to pursue temporal more than eternal things that feed/strengthen soul

cannot take away (eternal) life, can surely stunt growth – things that satisfy fleshly desires do not promote growth in godliness

is war we must fight with spiritual weapons – immersed in God’s word, depending wholly on God’s Spirit; world’s weapons only address symptoms, not cause

C. a lifestyle to maintain

excellence

good conduct – an honorable way of life, good neighbor / citizen / worker / parent, kind of person other “good” people want around

how you react to things at work, talk about friends, treat family, treat your stuff and what belongs to others

good deeds – things that promote happiness / well-being of others whether acknowledged by them or not – “let your light shine…” darker it is, easier to see light

good reputation – all this will rightly lead to a good reputation… but some from envy / hostility toward God may slander

influence

observed by others – will be “seen”, noticed by some… one of reasons why proper lifestyle is important – when people watch, need to see what is good and right and honorable

they change their opinion – should be significant motivator, that as unbelievers watch our lives they eventually give glory to God

may even come to faith – this what we pray for ultimately, that God would be merciful and change their opinion about Him

our influence should be such that those who speak against us have no evidence to prove their case, will bring them to faith if God so ordains

D. a day to remember

God will be glorified in mercy

not if but when – must not forget / lose sight of that Day, live in light of it – mindset and lifestyle should be consistent with belief that Jesus is coming back

many will receive mercy because of our conduct – encouragement to live well when is difficult/unpopular, will bring greater glory to God as others add their voices

all depends on God but… must be doing all in our power to encourage lost people to come to Christ, by both deed and word

God will be glorified in justice

many will persist in speaking against Christians – even when facts say otherwise, will still be those who malign, persecute

live the right way regardless – whether lost people come to faith ultimately up to God, he will receive glory when we live pleasing to him and… he will take care of his own

be encouraged, perfect justice will be served – regardless of outcome, God’s justice will not fail… just penalty for all sin will be paid, either at Calvary or in condemnation of lost

When we are living as faithful pilgrims in obedience to Christ, can count on his help and his commendation. That is what we really want, the Father’s “well done”. Everything else will come out right according to God’s plan when we do our part. Not because we are so great, because God and his grace are so great. 

What About My Rights?

1 Peter 2:4-10 

 Hear a lot about rights these days – civil rights, nonhuman rights, woman’s right to her body. Rights and freedoms and liberties certainly important, have their rightful place. While important, they are not of first importance to the follower of Christ. In Christ’s kingdom according to our text, is about privileges not rights.

Is important to keep distinctions straight:

members of armed forces we remember gave lives to secure and protect certain fundamental liberties… both for Americans and others

Lord Jesus gave his life to secure certain privileges… for all those who trust in him regardless of country of origin; privileges begin in this life, continue for all eternity

Is incumbent on all men everywhere to pursue and promote justice for all. But keep this in mind: Christ has his people, not only here in our fair land, but also among those living in most repressive and unjust places on earth. Christ’s kingdom knows no earthly boundaries, extends over all his domain. And… he encourages us to exercise our privileges faithfully and joyfully in all our circumstances.

Begins with coming to Christ, both the source of our life and the necessary focus of life. It is Christ who shows his people favor… reserved only for them. It is Christ who grants privileges and expects us to exercise them.

A. Christ is both source and focus

coming to Him (4)

a living stone – cornerstone gives life to entire building – of first importance, coming to Christ: coming to church / fellowship / faith, good but of little value apart from Christ and saving relationship with him

need life that Christ gives, foundation and orientation that Christ supplies as cornerstone – living person, not simply idea

rejected by men – here’s where it gets obviously counter-cultural: those outside of Christ set him aside, take from the rest; we take Christ, set all others aside (Lowe’s, HomeDepot)

chosen by God – we’re on same page as the Father, esteeming Christ as precious: cherished, beyond value, “my beloved Son…”

sacrifice to Him (5)

spiritual sacrifices – even more involved than OT lamb: not an event, is a way of life… continual devotion of all our being to Christ’s service, all we say / think / do

acceptable to God – not all roads lead to God… only sacrifices offered to God through Christ will he receive, deem acceptable

founded on Him (6-8)

the chief cornerstone – Paul boldly declared: “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

priceless – no possible substitute, trusted as the foundation… we don’t go searching for another, don’t find fault with him

an offensive obstacle – just as we are destined to be made like Christ, those who die in their sins destined to trip over Christ

in sharing Gospel, Bible truth, people may / will respond badly… find Christ offensive, hard (even impossible) to accept

B. we are privileged

built up a spiritual house (5)

made of living stones – not mass produced like cement blocks or lumber… individually shaped to fit in particular place, function

particularly placed – remember who the Builder is, not just commanding it to be done but fashioning according to eternal plan

in a unified structure – our perspective, multiple churches/denominations; God’s perspective, a single house devoted to him

given honor (6)

world seeks to dishonor / discredit / dismiss – because they stumble over Christ, try to make his people appear insignificant, unimportant, to be ignored / avoided

cornerstone gives honor to entire building – especially true given who this cornerstone is, more precious than entire building

ultimately honor displayed before entire world – will share in Jesus’ ultimate victory over all enemies and glory given to conqueror

his own possession (9)

he chose us – those who are Christ’s have been picked out of the crowd, individually selected for different destiny – no boasting, is by grace alone

he bought us – mantra today among many: “my body, my choice” – Bible says we don’t belong to ourselves but to him

do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

he called us – were in darkness, unable to find own way out, not desiring to (men loved darkness…), only in the light by his call

have an identity (9a, 10a)

people of God – sin and Satan set people against one another, God brings together into a people, his people, his family

whether we know/want to admit personal family tree or not, are given a name/family/heritage that is honorable

fellow stones – no longer isolated/alone, have intimate connection with rest of family/building – are one people in union with one another and most importantly with Christ

chosen and holy royalty – not by own doing, is a position we were born again into… one of honor because of who the King is

have obtained mercy (10b)

not what we have earned – not anything that can be earned, is what comes to us from God because of who he is, because we are his by his free choice

not what we deserve – actually deserve condemnation… just like everyone else – “There is no other reason why the Lord counts us his people, except that he, having mercy on us, graciously adopts us.” Calvin

not what everyone else will receive – all apart from Christ receive exactly what they have earned / deserve… God’s perfect justice

C. and we have privileges

worship (5)  —  love God

blessed by the Spirit – a spiritual house – remember what Paul said, “body a temple of the Holy Spirit” – Spirit present here when God’s people are here, working to bless and equip as we worship

equipped to serve – a holy priesthood – primary focus of priesthood: service to God on behalf of others, a privilege not burden

given a privilege – offer up sacrifice – is God who established conditions of access to him… we worship him on his terms, not ours

when we, his people, come to him in the way he has established, have assurance he will receive us and accept our worship

witness (9)  —  love neighbor

dedicated… so that – chosen by God for a purpose, given privilege of working alongside God as he uses us to push forward his eternal plan of saving sinners

experienced… called out… into – all know what it was like to be in the dark, bound in sin, estranged from God, then brought into the light and freedom

may not know what slavery to food, extreme sports, drugs, pornography is like from personal experience – do know what more serious slavery… to sin… is like, can relate to those still in it

sent… proclaim his praise – God’s primary purpose for us in this life… to be his ambassadors, proclaiming “the excellencies of him who called” us out of darkness

shouldn’t need much help to know what to say – what is it about Christ that makes him precious to you, what is praiseworthy, what is excellent about Christ, tell the world about it

God has given great privileges to his people. They all come to us through Christ and him alone, and only in connection with him. Can’t come to Christ, tank up on supplies, then go off on our own and expect to please him. Must come “to him as to a living stone” and stay there, standing on the solid rock in the company of other living stones doing the same. We will never lack for things to praise him for when that is where we take our stand.

Grow Up!

1 Peter 2:1-3 

Peter continues exhortation to believers as Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally – previously made plain are to live differently… loving one another fervently from purified hearts. Since those who have genuine saving faith are different, their different inside should be obvious on the outside. Change at conversion is to be immediate, but that change not fully developed at the beginning. Is expected to grow, develop as God uses his Word, Spirit, and our circumstances to shape / conform us to image of Christ.

Here Peter gets into specifics about what will hold back or even stop growth, what we should have and what we should do to experience kind of development God expects. Are some parallels between spiritual and physical development – both require avoiding what is harmful, maintaining proper diet, and engaging in right kinds of exercise and activity. And remember: God is way better than any fitness coach. God supplies everything we need for good health and growth moment by moment, every hour of the day and night as we depend on him.

A. growth stoppers  v.1

growth is expected

nowhere in Bible do we find example or instruction that being a Christian starts with sprint up first hill, then coasting all the way to finish

growth can be stunted

are harmful things that will stunt physical growth, cigarettes and alcohol for example – are also things that will do same for spiritual growth

Heb. 12:1 “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

things listed: Satan/world’s ways of getting ahead, opposite of “fruit of the Spirit” – all ultimately destructive… of self or others and relationships

growth should be encouraged

lay aside / put away / get rid of – describes intentional action to eliminate certain things from life, refuse to allow them room for influence

Peter’s focus: striving for excellence in Christ’s kingdom, not survival techniques in a hostile culture – is truly either/or, two ways completely incompatible with one another

NICU staff doing all in their power to encourage growth in twins we have been praying for – want them to grow, expect them to grow… greatly rejoice when they do grow

B. proper diet  v.2

right degree – incessant craving

actually a desire for something that feeds two ways: feeds spiritual need, feeds desire for more… of both written and living Word – not desire that can ever be fully satisfied in this life

newborn may be satisfied for little while, comes back demanding more – is by God’s design, what he wants is what is best for health/growth

right desire – the word

main ingredient in diet must be Word of God, must be primary object of believer’s desire – manner of delivery is important but not #1

we have easy access to overabundance of spiritual resources – makes too easy to become dependent on something less than Word of God

right outcome – growth

God’s word was given with expected results in view – Isa. 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Word important because reveals truth, principles for daily godly living, hope for future – by far most important… reveals God himself to us

Psa 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! — Psa 119:103 How sweet are Your words to my taste

C. proper exercise  v.3

take it

remember who is giving it – is God the Father who loves his children from birth onward, has their absolute best at heart, can be trusted to give only what is good

he makes it available, doesn’t force-feed… must expend at least basic effort to actually take it in – Home Town Buffet, no value until eaten

Bible sitting on night stand cannot change you – God’s word heard only as background noise provides no good benefit – must be taken up and taken in and processed

taste it

don’t gulp w/o tasting – not like medicine that does its thing as long as it’s swallowed – to get full benefit must chew on it, meditate, get to know its texture and flavor

don’t spit out – a habit too many have… spitting out what they don’t like the taste of – cannot cherry pick, take what looks/tastes good, reject the rest because doesn’t fit desires or worldview and expect to grow

savor it – learn to enjoy both the taste and the effect, experience gracious goodness of God – talk about acquired taste for food, especially strong flavored… may be parts of God’s word like that

use it

must put nutrition to work in order to grow stronger, not simply larger – regularly eating all right food but never leaving the couch  good health

remember Jesus’ example: Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

intellectual, physical, spiritual, social development – intended to be lifelong activity to grow and maintain… requires constant attention

among Christians, spiritual growth and development probably one that gets least attention – should be at top of list b/c is foundation for rest of life… and next life

Peter here encouraging sustained growth fueled by desire for word of God. Big picture: desire for God’s word when gratified will increase desire for more of it. More important: will fuel desire for more intimacy with Lord Jesus, greater likeness to him. Encouraging / pursuing growth something we should do because we love God and want to please him, is what he desires for us.

But… need to know this: more like Lord Jesus you/we become, less like the world will be. Farther away from God and biblical principles our culture moves, more obvious will be that we are different. Being different, growing up will come at cost – economic, relational, perhaps more. Remember how Peter ends his sentence:

you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

Closer you are to Christ, more you feed on Christ and his Word, more like Christ you become, more of his grace and goodness you will experience. Nothing can compare with that.

 

Born Again to Love

1 Peter 1:22-25 

Apostle Peter the author of our text, this letter to those dispersed throughout Asia. Should not be surprised by his exhortation to “love one another”. Think back in Peter’s life to perhaps most memorable evening, time when he said would follow Jesus anywhere, even die for Jesus. Jesus warned Peter… right after Jesus had said:

Joh 13.35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Soon after, Jesus & Peter at the seashore… do you love me… feed my lambs. Here Peter following Jesus’ command, showing love for Jesus and his lambs by encouraging and feeding them. Just like Jesus said, if Christians are supposed to stand out in the crowd, it should be because of their love. We are Born Again to Love, an essential resource for the Christian is the Word of God. Peter had something to say about that, too. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus taught his followers about the cost of discipleship, many unwilling to pay so they quit. Turned to Twelve, “do you want to bail out, too?”

Joh 6:68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Peter connects those two ideas: are to be known by our love, know what that means from God’s word.

A. purified by the Word  v.22  freed to love – purified from selfish desires

the truth, God’s word, both purifies and guides

facebook meme – fellow on knees praying “God please talk to me”, hand thru clouds holding out Bible… primary way God does talk to us

tells us who we are, who we ought to be… way we ought to think… what we ought to want…. how we ought to live and love

only absolutely reliable source of truth, makes it plain we are not center of our universe – should desire what God wants, what is best for others

the truth must be applied by the Spirit

to know with certainty what God’s word means / how it should apply, we need help… which God graciously supplies at all times

God’s word when applied by God’s Spirit will accomplish his purpose, both to bring us to conversion and then help us live holy

truth applied by the Spirit overflows in love

love is first is list of things that describe evidence of Spirit’s presence: “fruit of the Spirit is love…” – love for God, for his truth, for what is right, for others

B. born again through the Word  v.23  ability to love – dead people cannot love

brought to life

Eph. 2:1-2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world

prior to conversion, had no “spiritual pulse” – no ability to grasp spiritual truths and apply them, no desire to know or follow truth

true, unconverted can act with kindness / compassion / etc – not from same motivation, not up to same standard as Christian

a new kind of life

principle repeated throughout Bible – the one who is converted is truly different, not to have same way of life as before

not a temporary motivation – God’s eternal enduring unchanging word that is primary instrument of (permanent) change

one who is truly different will wear that difference on outside – and… difference is to be enduring, not flash in pan thing of the moment to be replaced by different “fad”

love to be character of life now and forever

much we experience is for this life only, for some of it are very thankful – love is not only for this life, it endures along with some relationships into next life

how we express love in next life will be different in some ways from now… not sure about the details, do know will not be diminished by any kind of sin then

C. taught by the Word  v.25a  ways to love – by example and precept found in the Word

need to know how to love

God’s word just as relevant now as ever has been or will be – don’t need to look for another source of truth / help

are born with natural ability to love self, need to learn how to love others as we ought – why Jesus, foot washing: see what I did, now you go do the same

also why God graciously included direct instruction – e.g. 1 Cor. 13, portions of 1 John – don’t have to do trial and error

given examples… like Jesus… and others

Jesus of course the ultimate one – not only that he died for us, he lived for us also – demonstrating love for others in all he did

put needs of others before his own; helped those who could never pay him back; patiently trained for service those who gave him fits

Jochebed (took risks) – loved God, loved her son, risked her own life to save his – trusted God to keep son safe from crocodiles, loved enough to give him up to Pharaoh’s daughter

Hannah (gave her son) – didn’t have fertility treatments then, begged God for a son, even promised to give him back if she could enjoy for little while

plus all the “one another” places

many explicit places, others implied – all the ways we are to look after one another are ways of demonstrating love

then John says since God loved us the way he did, we ought to show the same kind of love toward one another (1 John 4:11)

shouldn’t be something we have to think about – since God is love and has taken up residence within us, loving others should become our default way of living

D. evangelized by the Word  v.25b  purpose of love – if you love them, you will tell them the Gospel

word, life, Gospel, love all go together

faith (and life) comes by hearing the word, is where we find details of the Gospel… greatest demonstration of love possible

love for word and Gospel = life that shows love for others

talking here about love for more than just facts, knowledge, details – love for God and his word and what it truly means shows in relationship with both God and others

strong enough connection John said “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

greatest acts of love… lead others to Gospel, build up others’ Gospel living

apart from the Gospel, friends/loved ones/neighbors living under a deception – cannot do better than share truth with them, live as genuine Christ-follower for them to see

Naomi (shared her faith) – had lost everything: husband, sons, home, personal wealth, one daughter-in-law; yet other one was different, came to different commitment

notice how Ruth put it: But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

not YHWH, or God of Abraham, but your God – Naomi and her faith had made profound impression on Ruth, could not have shown more love than that

Many of us had mothers like Jochebed, Hannah, Naomi – prayed for children, taught children to love God by word and deed. We all can follow that example, in fact are called to be God’s people, showing to all around we are not our own but belong to God. Are called to live counter-culturally even / especially when it is difficult and costly. Have all necessary resources to do so – Word and Spirit, one another, Heavenly Father’s wise and gracious providence, what more could we ask for!!

Living Reverently

1 Peter 1:17-21 

Living as God expects requires being different – sober, hopeful, obedient, holy. Marked contrast with culture around, hence Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally. So what is incentive / motivation / reward for living that way? For Peter’s first audience, immediate reward would be more persecution, more hardship. Would be absolutely no cultural benefit for living counter-culturally, rather many disadvantages. By no means does should that convince there are no rewards to living reverently. Quite the opposite is true – are reasons for Christian to Be Different, Live Different… and are substantial rewards for doing so.

Peter continues to give encouragements to holy living: if you call on him as Father, if he is your Father and you his child, then live this way. Show your reverence for your Father as you live out your life in front of him.

conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (v.17) “you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during this time of temporary residence” CSB

Show by your conduct in every setting that you love and worship and reverence your Heavenly Father… having his approval is #1 for you. For those who might question why that is such a big deal, Peter helpfully gives reasons… to encourage us and answer others when they ask why we are/act the way we are/do.

A. because he is our Father  v.17

relationship matters

what sets tone for following teaching is Father / child relationship – not master/slave, ruler/subject, owner/property – those all truly describe God vs. people, not where emphasis is here

points us toward major part of motivation for holy living: we can rightly call God Father only because redeemed and adopted

what we see modeled in human relationships: healthy father / child relationship, child (esp. boy) wants to be just like dad, have dad’s approval… avoid dad’s disapproval

so does character

God’s love for his children designed / intended to generate response of love in them – true love shows: God demonstrated love…

unlike human systems of justice, we know with certainty God is impartial.. doesn’t have favorites – will reward our efforts at obedience according to just and gracious character

and performance – Matt. 25:24-28 

our actions matter, not to earn points w/God but to warrant his pleasure – God’s goal for us is perfection, he graciously accepts our best efforts… but need to be making effort

all regulate how we show reverence

better we know Father, more will understand how best to respond to his loving care, conduct self in way that meets w/approval

must respect his Word, follow what it says – do not have liberty to invent new ways to show love, reverence, worship of God

B. because we are redeemed  v.18

trapped in an empty way of life

think about life goals unbelievers have, ones you may have shared – how much substance, purpose do they really have… even for this life, much less next life

when we were living it, were completely powerless to get out of it – could maybe make it less empty, could never make it full

bought out of slavery

one tragedy of life in other places, India e.g., debt slavery – agree to work for lender to pay off loan, except can never earn enough to satisfy the debt… even for generations

not simply helped with payments, debt restructured, not simply written off – debt has been satisfied in full, no possibility of default, no way to ever incur that debt again

brought into a new way of life

have been ransomed from bondage to not only sin but also former patterns of life – no longer bound by old priorities, principles, desires, goals… given new ones to replace old

God didn’t adopt out of old family just so could bring bad behaviors and habits into new family – expects we will conform to expectations that apply to new family

C. because our redemption is priceless  v.19-20a

our Redeemer paid more than king’s ransom for us – the life of Son of God himself, could not be matched by any other means

a perfect payment

perfectly satisfied the obligation with nothing held back – Jesus didn’t say anything but death, anything but that kind of death, I’ll do this much.. get rest from them

“tetelestai”, John 19:30 – translated “It is finished” – had related use but with slightly different connotation in 1st century: used in commerce, signified “the debt is paid in full”, equivalent to rubber stamp “PAID”

a pure payer

absolutely no opportunity for question re: quality of payment – nothing hiding out in Jesus’ past could be brought against him

is beyond our ability and resources to come up with sufficient payment of required purity to satisfy our debt… yet is exactly what God did, freely, for us.. because it pleased him to do so

planned from eternity

not a last-minute reaction to crisis, was fully planned before creation began – even before man existed, God committed to himself paying ultimate price to redeem his people

not only our redemption itself planned, God’s intended outcome planned also – greater the value of gift, greater our desire to treat gift well and show appreciation

D. because our faith and hope are in God  v.20b-21

was revealed for us

we have teaching of OT, example of OT people of God, and now have life/death/burial/resurrection/ascension/ministry of Jesus

amazing privileges granted to us – should encourage to greater holy living, greater endurance of trials/persecution, greater confidence in our future destiny

raised from the dead for us

talk about faith in Christ, necessary for salvation, is right… but not all – ultimately scope of belief must include God… in three Persons… each with essential part in our redemption

given glory for us

Jesus not simply raised from dead to live forever in that condition in this world – was raised all the way to position of glory he held before creation (John 17:5)

just as Jesus held nothing back in his payment of our ransom, so the Father has held nothing back in raising/restoring him to glory.. a glory we will one day share in

so that faith and hope have the right object

God’s intended result of this work of redemption is that we would have faith and hope in God, not anyone or anything less

also intended as we more and more grasp greatness of our redemption, would be reflected in how we live

An effect of fellowship around Lord’s Table to remind us that Christ died for us. Also to remind us just how great and magnificent and glorious is what God has done for us, is doing in us, has planned for us. Cannot redeem ourselves, cannot live up to God’s expectations by ourselves either. Faith and hope must have right object, so also must our dependence. Must be leaning on / depending on God and his strength, his grace to enable us to live pleasing to him.