Tag: Obedience

What’s So Great About Salvation?

1 Peter 1:10-12 

If someone asked you “What’s so great…”, how would you answer? Where to begin? What to focus on? How big a deal it has been for you? How great a selfless act of sacrifice it was for Jesus? How great you think it will be for the person asking? Peter didn’t take any of those approaches. He came at an answer from perspective of those involved in announcing the Gospel – prophets, angels, even God himself.

Writing to those deep in suffering, at risk of being overwhelmed, facing discouraging future, Peter gives message of real encouragement… one with genuine substance… no fluff or fantasy. It is “the end of [their] faith, the salvation of [their] souls that represents their hope. Yes, way to get there may very well include suffering and persecution… but it is great enough hope, promise to keep people of God focused on / moving toward it.

And btw, if we’re living so people are encouraged to ask about our faith, will need an answer for the question.

A. it’s about our souls  v.9b

bodies are not unimportant

made good to start – Creator’s assessment of handiwork at completion: all very good, including physical bodies in 2 genders

necessary for full human existence – are sensate beings by design, how we primarily interact with surroundings and one another

intentionally included in God’s redemptive plan – Paul labors point about bodily resurrection, that complete salvation requires it

bodies are not most important

are not sum total of who/what we are – not biological machines, hoping somehow technology will take us to next level

“Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”

no matter what else you believe, bodies are finite / temporary – have duty to treat properly as “temple of the Holy Spirit” but…

bodies must be remade, souls can be purified – universal testimony of Bible is bodies must be given new qualities either through resurrection process or “on the fly” at Jesus’ return

souls warrant attention and investment

have greater “value” and significance than bodies – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)

can be entrusted to God’s keeping – equivalent to entrusting whole person incl. the real us to God

can and will exist apart from body – separating soul and body causes death of body but not soul – when/if we distinguish, must not ignore or neglect our person

Salvation of our souls is bigger deal than just salvation of our bodies – if bodies kept going indefinitely but souls still stuck in sin… no reason for hope! God’s plan includes it all.

B. it mattered to the prophets  v.10-11

investigated carefully

knew what they were to say/write – were not unthinking stenographers… were involved/invested in writing Scripture, understood words being used even when they made up new ones

struggled to know all it meant – lacked frame of reference / experience  for concepts, especially those connected to salvation

don’t be too hard on them, was more than the Twelve could grasp – were not able to put puzzle together until after was done, even then was a process / group effort

understood was way bigger than they could fully grasp… yet they tried anyway – diligent, persistent dogged effort to add to their understanding, pursuing every lead

prophesied broadly

told everyone they could – frequently got into trouble with listeners because of bold proclamation… no undercover agents in prophet’s service – put it all out there for all to hear, sometimes to see

wrote for broader “exposure” – didn’t expect word of mouth to do it all, knew others not yet born would need to hear message

held nothing back, not even life: Heb. 11:32-34 “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

is their “living hope” and ours

had already experienced God’s grace – believed God’s plan of salvation was big / great enough to include them and us – was their confidence in it that motivated

recognized greater grace would come – tried to determine when God would move his plan to include suffering Messiah, knew it was future

were confident of its success – lot of “hope”, less confidence in Beresheet, Israeli mission to moon, ended in hard landing; not so God’s mission… would achieve its goal with certainty

C. it’s important to God  v.11-12a

given intentionally and graciously

theme from beginning of epistle: God acts purposely – elect/chosen according to foreknowledge… for a purpose, full salvation

God has both means / end in view… from before beginning – knew what wanted to achieve, what was necessary, how he’d do it

so great could not be earned/merited: had to be gracious gift – like many gifts, addressed to recipients… because he wanted to

sent prophets and preachers

too great to be discovered / understood w/o help – God had to make first move, reveal his plan, equip his servants to explain

sent Gospel message by the Spirit… in both OT and NT – no less a Helper than Spirit could deliver that message, make it effectual

 communicated truth by messengers in comprehensible way… for all generations – God intentionally used right means to make good news of salvation relevant to all people in all time

willingly suffered to gain greater glory

so great no one less than God could accomplish it – disciples, Emmaus road, (Luke 24:26-27), necessary for Christ to suffer

message entrusted to men, purchasing action reserved for God alone – so great a need, so great a salvation man can add nothing

notice even Jesus’ path to glory was through suffering – didn’t become man to make suffering unnecessary, sanctified it instead

D. not even angels get it  v.12b

great enough they want to get it

have no personal experience – by God’s design angels never sin, demons never redeemed; no sin, no need/opportunity for salvation

strong desire, not idle curiosity – same kind of emotion Jesus expressed: Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;” (Luke 22:15)

even regular contact with God not enough – had heard what God said, seen what God did, result in saints marching to heaven, angels still wanted more

glory of salvation exceeds perfection of angels

“this afternoon …heaven gained its newest angel. [Mom] walked through those pearly gates to join all the other family members who have gone before her.”

as glorious as angels in presence of God are, glorified saints will outshine them – is glory we share with Christ because of salvation

Jesus become one of us, not one of them

Heb. 12:1-2 “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” – joy of what he would receive as his own reward… inseparably linked with what he accomplished for us in our great salvation. What Lord Jesus accomplished is fully sufficient for all who respond in faith to Gospel call. Will be enough blessing and glory to go around no matter how full heaven is. God still calling sinners from all walks of life, all corners of earth to share in his great salvation, will use us to carry that call to others: 

Joy from the Pits

1 Peter 1:6-9

 Right up front: suffering comes in variety of forms – things that test our faith and cause pain can be intellectual, emotional, physical or some combination of the three. Can fall anywhere on the pain scale, suffering may be obvious to other people or it may not. Suffering that the Christian experiences is real, we need to be prepared for it, we need to understand what the Bible teaches about it.

Particular setting Peter was writing from, his readers living in – suffering primarily from persecution. By no means the only occasion for Christian to suffer. Principles Peter gives us apply to all forms of suffering except what we bring on ourselves because of sin. And he assures us we can and should rejoice while experiencing these trials.

If we are to live in the world, before the world in way that encourages them to ask about our hope, need to take what Peter says seriously. More important: must do so if we are to love God and love our neighbor as we ought… and not be overcome by trials. This not a “grin and bear it” kind of rejoicing, grit your teeth and endure it, hoping will be over soon. Is real joy… supplied by joy-giver… while we’re in the pits. Peter calls believers to compare our hope in the future with circumstances in the present, then rejoice in our hope.

A. Every Christian has reason to rejoice.

in this – in what?… identifies basis / reason for rejoicing, is big deal to know what “this” is – refers back to what Peter has just described

God’s action in the past  v.3

Peter’s exclusive focus v.3-5 on what God has done, is doing, will do for his people – nothing depends on us, or our circumstances

God has already chosen his people, made all necessary provisions for them, acted to give new life, along the way raised Jesus

God’s promise for the future  v.4

confidence of future not based on evidence, interpretation of data, expert opinion, performance trends but on promise of God

is God who has set aside / established death-proof, sin-proof, time-proof inheritance that awaits 2nd Coming for us to take full possession of it

God’s power to make it certain  v.5

if any of this hope depended on man’s effort, would be hopeless – no human being has necessary resources to persevere

praise God it is his power that keeps us and our inheritance secure, ensures we have a genuine hope that endures through every circumstance God sends our way

B. Suffering is not accidental.

in this – in what?… also looks forward to what Peter describes next, the characteristics of suffering the believer experiences in this life – unlike what the unbeliever can expect

next life will be incomparably better, more blessed for believer – will be incomparably and indescribably worse for unbeliever

seriously thinking about that, what it means, should cause us to jump for joy rejoice – the kind that doesn’t care who sees us, doesn’t care what they say or think

it is temporary  v.6a

no matter how long it must be endured, does not compare to eternity – may seem like forever but it really isn’t

because God is in charge, suffering lasts only as long as he intends… and he intends only good for his people, never their destruction – is good Father and will not exasperate his children to discourage them (Col. 3:21)

it is necessary  v.6b

according to God’s design, are certain lessons only learned through suffering – cannot be learned another way, other circumstances

suffering not always only for our benefit – God often has others in view when he brings hardship our way, e.g. the benefit God’s provision and our example in suffering is for them

it is painful  v.6c

Peter not writing about abstract concepts – has real pain / suffering / hardship / grief in mind, kind of things that cause us to recoil

is important that we respond to pain the right way – not try to avoid at any cost, rather benefit from it according to God’s purpose

it is purposeful  v.7

one of great struggles for atheist / person w/o Biblical worldview is problem of evil/suffering – how can it possibly have any good purpose? – answer: can only if there is good, wise God who has power to bring about good by those means

fire proves – not especially hard to be “fair weather Christian”… as long as can walk by sight, don’t need genuine faith to look good

what happens when life gets difficult, esp. when it gets hard to be a Christian – false faith will be apparent…. as will genuine

since faith is gift of God, not human manufacture, faith that endures brings praise/honor/glory to God when it endures

fire purifies – hardship / suffering helps sort out what is truly important, essential – God wants us to demonstrate faith in him, not faith+

C. Faith in Christ is the key.

we have not seen him…  v.8a

the essence of faith: confidence in what we cannot see that enables us to live counter-culturally, certain we will see him one day

not seeing does not equal no evidence – every genuine believer knows what Christ has done in and for them, lives in light of that

we love him  v.8b

apostle John says “we love him because he first loved us” (1Jo 4:19) and because he showed his love for us by dying for us while were yet sinners

since our love for him is response to his love for us, love for Christ strong evidence of faith in Christ, indication it is genuine, will enable us to persevere well in suffering

we believe him  v.8c

are many people and things competing for our confidence – we can believe God, we must believe God if we are to have hope

we rejoice in him  v.8d

the object of our love, our faith, our rejoicing is Lord Jesus – is because of who he is, what he has done and will do that we rejoice

we rejoice in God’s love, mercy, grace that makes possible for us to participate in Christ’s glorious victory over all his enemies

we will live with him  v.9

explains why we can rejoice in suffering: we know the one we love will keep his promise, finish the good work he started in our salvation

can and should be absolutely certain saving faith in Christ will reach its goal – our complete salvation, body and soul

Bible presents suffering as normal part of Christian life intended by God for our good and his glory. Can endure suffering/hardship as good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:3) only when are continually depending on God to supply our need.

 

Our Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3-5 

Peter’s audience lived in one of more prosperous regions of 1st-century Roman Empire, yet beginning to show signs of decline. As time went on, fewer restraints on behavior, each event / experience had to be more exciting and elaborate than last. Was pursuit of pleasure by any means without regard for morality or cost. Few believed achieving pleasure would satisfy for more than fleeting moments. Sure, some could acquire position by various kinds of performance or payment, but who knew how long it would last. Corruption was rampant throughout all levels of government, extended outward into society itself.

Those who were less fortunate and had to earn a living for self and family had even fewer options, less hope that tomorrow would be better than today. Add to that the complicating factor of being a Christian, things did not look promising at all. In summer of 64 AD, shortly after Apostle Paul’s death, nearly 3/4 of city of Rome destroyed by fire. According to Roman historian Tacitus:

“…to stop the rumor [that he had set Rome on fire], he [Emperor Nero] falsely charged with guilt, and punished with the most fearful tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were [generally] hated for their enormities. …Accordingly first those were arrested who confessed they were Christians; next on their information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of “hating the human race.”

In their very deaths they were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero offered his own garden players for the spectacle.” Tacitus, Annals 15.44

Clearly not what would consider a hopeful situation. Peter knew if his fellow-Christians were to stay faithful, needed both encouragement and instruction. Especially true since seemed that Lord Jesus was not going to come back and rescue them from circumstances. After initial greeting, Peter immediately turns readers’ attention to the Christian’s hope – how that hope becomes ours, what it consists of, why we can be absolutely certain of it. In every respect, Peter directs our attention to what God has done – Our Living Hope is without question entirely a God-thing.

A. born again to a living hope  v.3

given a new birth

this a concept that gave Nicodemus major headache John 3.4 – how can this be? yet Jesus made clear was absolutely essential

brings out couple important details: no shortcuts to genuine lasting hope – is real, available, only on God’s terms, no other way

Nicodemus right in one respect: experiencing new birth / birth from above humanly impossible… something only God can do

and… two things are inseparable – living hope is result of new birth – everyone who experiences new birth possesses a hope that endures, that has life and gives life

because of the Father’s mercy

Paul made point (Ephesians 1:3-14) of describing how each person of Godhead involved in salvation, Peter here conveys same idea – Father, Son, Spirit each have role in our salvation and resulting hope

the Father’s mercy is particular – doesn’t simply open prison doors, let everyone walk out; opening doors at all is act of mercy, no one deserves to be set free

is abundant mercy, active past/present/future on behalf of those he loves – lets us know, again, our new life and hope not based on merit, nothing we have earned (or can earn)

also means is nothing we can do or need to do to get ready to receive God’s gift – essential piece for hopeless person to hear

by participation in the Son’s resurrection

Paul like Peter links Jesus’ resurrection and the believer’s hope – “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! …If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Cor. 15:17, 19)

If Christ not risen, then no hope of life after death… already know not enough hope in this life to be sure of keeping us going

again, no shortcuts: hope only ours because of what Jesus accomplished and took possession of by his rising from the dead – is through union with Christ we can participate in that hope

through the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit

in conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus distinguished between physical and spiritual life – made sure Nicodemus understood that to be “born from above” meant being “born of the Spirit”

our experience of living hope made possible by life Holy Spirit gives to believer – validated / made certain by his ongoing presence/indwelling

B. born again to an inheritance  v.4

death-proof, sin-proof, and time-proof

imperishable (incorruptible)

promised inheritance not like so many offers… limited lifetime – only good until, lasts until… is a living hope that will never die/end

cannot be destroyed or ever fail to materialize – not like inheritance eaten up by estate costs, unscrupulous managers/trustees

is already set aside (reserved), present in heaven and waiting – can look beyond circumstances, with eye of faith see it waiting

undefiled

is free from any impurity and will never cause impurity – is way better than any earthly inheritance, the way heirs often behave

no shortfall, is reserved in the abundance God intends for each heir – will not diminish as more heirs are added through faith in Christ… and produces exactly what God has designed it to

unfading

flowers, photographs, painted surfaces, hair color all fade with time – its life, brilliance, vigor will not diminish with time, unlike the stuff of this life… including people

bottom line: believer’s inheritance has much the same character as God – makes perfect sense, not only things he supplies but also God himself is our inheritance

C. kept by the power of God  v.5

but… what if… Christian life gets too hard for me, don’t have strength to continue, put in situation like Christians elsewhere?

through faith

ultimately is power of God, not power of you or me that guarantees our salvation – God will preserve all who are his from falling away – inheritance is reserved, God will make sure we actually take possession of it

is God who establishes his garrison, his fort around us to keep/protect from harm Satan and agents would try to do

God works through the instrument of our faith… which he gives to us… and expects us to exercise… in dependence on him

for complete deliverance

our salvation is guaranteed, sealed by down payment of the Holy Spirit; has begun and is in process, moving us toward final result

deliverance from all nasty stuff of sin only part of whole picture – what we will be delivered to that makes our hope so sweet

…but not yet

final inheritance not yet revealed even to saints who have gone on before – full disclosure must wait until Christ has final victory

his victory is absolutely certain… we know that because of the empty tomb – if he could accomplish all that at cross and tomb, he can finish what he started

put together, promise and power of God exercised on our behalf is what gives certainty to our hope, confidence that hardships of this life only for a little while

Grasping our living hope should have results: courage and confidence to endure whatever God brings our way; increasing desire for loved ones and neighbors to share in our inheritance; greater wonder and thankfulness to God for his mercy and grace. Our task: keep focused on our hope, not our circumstances; on the one who keeps us, not our own ability. And more we depend on God for help and direction, then move out in faith, more opportunity will have to see God do some really amazing things, better we will know God. Better we know him, more we will love and worship him.

 

Living with Hope and Holiness in a Hostile World

1 Peter 1:1-2

As Pilgrims Living Counter-Culturally what do we do? How are we to live if we are to carry out Christ’s mandate to love God, love our neighbor, and make disciples? And what should we expect to encounter in the process?

cf. 2 Cor. 3:2-3 “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” NIV

Everybody who is reading that letter in each one of us should read a message of hope, see us as examples of holiness. As world / culture around moves further away from biblical norms, the hopeful and holy Christian becomes easier to spot. Peter’s two letters intended to encourage believers living in 1st century culture with many similarities to our own, one in which Christian is expected to live counter-culturally.

This world is not our home nor is it the source of our hope. Yet we do have a permanent home… waiting for us, and we have a hope that is both “a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (Heb. 6:19)

A. Christians live in a hostile world

ever since the Fall, has been hostility present in world: between serpent and woman, his offspring and hers – will continue until new heaven and new earth

They were and we are pilgrims / exiles.

temporary residents – might turn into permanent resettlement, but no guarantees… given or looked for – hoping to find safety, way to provide for daily needs, worship in peace

not seeking citizenship – probably would not have rejected it, but… apt to come with more liabilities than assets, hindrances than helps – having goals, using methods often contrary to God’s word

not putting down cultural roots – ultimate destiny not here in this world, had little appeal because looking for / investing in better city

They were “of the Dispersion”.

had been scattered because of persecution – life had become uncomfortable enough wherever they were… decided time to move

would be considered displaced persons, scattered (or broadcast) by God’s purpose throughout region with God’s intent they should bring forth fruit / multiply / make disciples there

perhaps from both “Rome” and “Jerusalem” – same word Luke used following Saul’s persecution, group may have included both Jews and Gentiles – either way were in Gentile territory at that time

They were and we are living in hostile territory.

religious hostility – if there were Jewish enclaves in N Turkey, Christians not welcome… either into Jewish church or social circles

not welcome in pagan society because they refused to follow accepted practice, Christians would not want to go to their church

political hostility – emperor-worship increasing so Christian rejection of pagan gods seen as lack of loyalty to / attack on the state… and neither would be tolerated

were free to worship any god they chose as long as they at least burned incense to Caesar – sounding more like our times

B. Christians can live with hope in this hostile world

We can have hope because we have been chosen by God.

purposeful on God’s part – according to his foreknowledge – no part of our hope depends on our genius or ability… is all God’s doing

hostility present in world is not outside God’s divine plan; God’s plan to call us out of kingdom of Satan into kingdom of his dear Son not random act either

chosen with purpose for a purpose – some of most hopeless people in world those who have no sense of purpose, no reason to think there is purpose in anything beyond this life – not so for a Christian

a holy people devoted to obedience – may not know all the details, almost certainly a good thing, do know basic outline: live righteously, soberly, godly in a hostile world

We can have hope because we have been saved by the Triune God.

is all God’s work that completely saves us (obedience is result, not cause) – have been saved and are being saved, all three Persons actively involved in our salvation

selected by the Father – apostle Paul tells us we were “chosen in him before the foundation of the world” – iow, incl. in God’s eternal purpose, not last minute deal to be adopted into God’s family

sprinkled by the Son – sprinkling an essential part of OT sacrifice and purification imagery – Son has redeemed us at cost of his own life, washed away all our uncleannesses and replaced with his righteousness

sanctified by the Spirit – is the mark of the Spirit that distinguishes from mark of the Beast – are set apart, identified and devoted to specific purpose: holiness of life that outwardly reflects Spirit’s presence

We can have hope because we enjoy God’s multiplied grace and peace.

an ongoing supply of grace and peace – continually receiving confirmation of God’s ownership: he keeps giving peace in midst of hostility, grace we need to stay faithful in hard circumstances

an adequate supply – sufficient for us to meet expectations – tempted to ask “Lord, are you sure? You want me to do that?” and he says “Yes, I am sufficient for you”

NOTE: not only can live with hope, we should live that way – we of all people, objects of God’s great blessing, should be able to look past present, have confidence in God and his plan for our future

C. Christians can live with holiness in a hostile world

We are set apart by the Spirit.

for a different purpose – our purpose includes important aspects of this life but is not limited to this life – includes things now that have significance later

with a different motivation – not personal gain, acclaim / affirmation of society; instead, love for God demonstrated by obedience, leaving results to him

using different methods – especially with regard to spiritual matters, our methods determined by what God and Word dictate

We are being empowered by the Spirit to obey.

experience of early church – filled with the Spirit – only after that they got really fired up and effective; when filled, they did!

remember what Paul said – written by the Spirit – letter needs to be readable, not masked / distorted by lots of “world” stuff

and… led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14) – can count on the Spirit to lead us – ask for his help, depend on his help, he will do his part

We are being purified by the work of the Spirit and the blood of Christ.

God loves us while sinners… but doesn’t leave us that way – the more we do our part to follow the Spirit, less like the world we become and more like Lord Jesus

and sinners don’t need a “pre-treatment” to get good enough for God to save them – lost people need to hear that

the blood washes away our past – can never rightly say that are things we’ve done that God can’t forgive – nothing in our past should hold us back, nothing in past should keep lost from coming to faith in Christ

the Spirit works in us in our circumstances to conform and equip – no hint of promise anywhere in Peter’s writing that God would change his peoples’ circumstances – instead he changes us in our circumstances to equip for other circumstances

The worse the world gets around us, more noticeable holy and hopeful Christians will be. Greater opportunities for God to show his power in and through us, use us as instruments of his peace to bring good news of Gospel to others. Are we up for the challenge? God certainly is, will enable us individually and as church family to do his will.

 

Acting Out: Tell-ers

Acts 1:1-11; 4:23, 31; 8:1-4, 14 

Since Paul in his crash course on Missions given to Roman church declared “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17), should expect need for Tell-ers. If there are to be hearers, must be tell-ers, too. Christ’s kingdom will grow only as the good news of salvation and eternal life through faith in Christ is publicly and confidently declared.

Need those who pray… and much need / opportunity for prayer. Need those who bring people to Christ. Also need those who tell others about Jesus. These needs addressed in all kinds of ways – may be same person filling all three roles, may also be two or more involved. Regardless of that, all of us need to be praying for all of us and lost.

So what can we learn about Tell-ers from Luke and the record of what Christ was doing in his church at the beginning?

A. begun  (1:1-2)

doing

is titled Acts of the Apostles, shouldn’t forget who started it and – “Jesus began” implies Jesus continued… through disciples

Peter to Cornelius – “Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

we can participate in that: those who respond in faith to Gospel message will be released from their oppression under sin and Satan… besides acts of compassion and kindness

teaching

things that lead to eternal life must be taught, not simply demonstrated or pictured – have to learn from God’s word what it means to follow Christ

besides, he said to teach disciples to obey everything he commanded… includes teaching them to teach others

delegating

one of commandments he gave – you go and reproduce yourselves – you are disciples, go make more disciples… who make more

crucial aspect of following Christ that has been largely lost in the church – maybe witnessing is everybody’s job, discipling not so much… that’s for pastors and teachers

simply put: never have been or will be enough pastors / teachers / evangelists / missionaries to reach the whole world with the Gospel

B. continued  (1:8, 11)

empowered

Jesus continuing what he started through work of Holy Spirit empowering disciples – don’t even think about trying it on your own

propagating

ripples on a pond… that covers entire world – one ripple leads to next one… our task: to be telling those within reach, people relationally close to us in one way or other

btw, should be intentional about nurturing relationships with people who are physically / geographically close… our neighbors

working

“Why are you standing here, you have work to do.” (the angel) – Jesus gave instructions, expects his followers to be actively obedient

C. described  (4:31; 8:4)

verbal

“spoke the word”, “preaching the word” – where “tell-ing” comes into play – not making it up either… inseparably connected with God’s word and its results in our own lives

notice who tell-ers are: companions of Peter and John (ch. 4), iow the Jerusalem church – “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

continued later with “those who were scattered”, not the apostles who stayed in Jerusalem – Great Commission not given only to the Apostles, through them to professionals in the church

what is described here in early days of NT church: large portion, majority, most everyone involved in some way in taking message of Gospel to others

freely

open, confident sharing of the Gospel will be opposed – was Satan at work through agency of Saul then, uses similar means today… because he hates the Gospel / Christ / Christians

persecution => scattered like seed, intended to take root in new place and produce fruit – went as missionaries, not refugees

“For the moment, Luke gives us a glimpse of the victory God is going to win out of this seeming tragedy: “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (8:4). As Everett Harrison writes, “The people went as missionaries more than as refugees.” He points out that “Luke could have used the general term for scattering but chose instead to use a word [diaspeiro] that means to scatter as seed is scattered on the ground.” This word is connected with the Jewish dispersion. Perhaps Luke is conscious of a new dispersion coming into being. With the benefit of hindsight, Luke sees great significance in these events. In fact, when he describes the preaching of the gospel to Gentiles for the first time outside Palestine, he says that the ones who did this were “those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen” (11:19).” Fernando

“Persecution does to the church what wind does to seed: It scatters it and only produces a greater harvest. The word translated “scattered” (diaspeiro, Acts 8:1, 4) means “to scatter seed.” The believers in Jerusalem were God’s seed, and the persecution was used of God to plant them in new soil so they could bear fruit (Matt. 13:37–38). Some went throughout Judea and Samaria (see Acts 1:8), and others went to more distant fields (Acts 11:19ff.).” Wiersbe

they scattered seed liberally, freely, confidently

evangelizing

“εὐαγγελιζόμενοι”, evangelizing, “proclaiming the message of good news” HCSB – too much of what we hear today is bad news, we have good news to tell and should be about it

“witness is a key word in the book of Acts and is used twenty-nine times” Wiersbe – if we aren’t seeing same things happening now as in 1st century, perhaps (in part) because we aren’t doing the same things

D. assured  (8:14; cf. Matt. 16:18)

heard

preaching, speaking, proclaiming necessary for hearing but does not automatically guarantee hearing – anyone with children can attest to that… effective communication works in two directions

when Christians from Jerusalem scattered to Samaria and beyond, Samaritans “received [welcomed] the word of God”

received

word must be received so it can produce proper response – will happen when Christ by his Spirit works through his followers

don’t put God in a box, do your part and trust God to do his part in his way in his time – too often we have our ideas about how God will work, who will hear… God may have different plan

promised

he will build his church – Christ does have a plan, he is working his plan and we are part of it – if we are working at building Christ’s kingdom, our success is guaranteed when we do his work his way

he will complete good work he has begun (Phil. 1:6) – Jesus began the work… with 12 men; one was a traitor and bailed, his replacement was a converted terrorist; the rest all abandoned him, yet came back

if Christ can use those kinds of instruments, surely he can and will use the likes of us to carry out his promise and build his church

Ordinary people are able to do extraordinary things when the Spirit of God is at work in their lives. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity. …while some of God’s people have a calling to evangelism, all of God’s people are expected to be witnesses and tell the lost about the Savior. Wiersbe

Incentive to get to work: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Acting Out: Bring-ers

John 1:35-51

 

Focus will be on verses 40-51, begin reading at verse 35.  –Setting: John, the forerunner, preparing the way… had declared shortly before who he was not, then who he was, then his prophetic role (John 1:20ff) John calling others to follow after the Messiah, not himself. Some were following John, waiting / anticipating his announcement and identification of the Messiah. John got them started, as soon as they knew who Jesus was they began following Him.

Like John, Jesus and others, we are to be calling people to a person and way of life, not a program or place:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Matt 16:24Luke 14:27

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”  28:19-20

Even Apostle Paul used similar concepts: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1 “Copy me, as I copy Christ.” Moffatt  iow, you copy Jesus, you follow Jesus the way I follow Jesus. Involves bringing others along to follow Jesus who bring others along to follow Jesus… Paul not talking at a pastors’ conference, was writing to dysfunctional church. Work of making disciples / followers gets messy, time-consuming, often frustrating and discouraging. Remember… Jesus who is foundation of the church said he would build it. Method Jesus uses is disciples making disciples – you can try other methods, I’m going with what Jesus said.

A. enthusiastic Andrew and Philip  v.40-42; 43-45

already followers

Andrew a follower of John, heard what John said when he called Jesus “Lamb of God” – seems like was no discussion, just abruptly stopped following John and picked up following Jesus

first thing Andrew and companion did was find out where Jesus was staying – didn’t want to lose track, intended to keep following – showed their commitment, now, to Jesus: he would be their Rabbi

next day: Jesus purposely singled out Philip, probably already acquainted w/one another, calls Philip to leave what he was doing

acted: found

once convinced they were following the right teacher, each went intentionally, found others – Andrew his brother, Philip his friend

each knew other person well enough to gauge response, expect it to be positive – knew Peter and Nathanael already interested in spiritual things

acted: spoke

almost goes w/o saying – had to be lot of expression / excitement in all of body language… words each used gave focus

notice even for all things held in common among these 4 men – language, culture, occupation, heritage – Andrew and Philip said same thing… differently

Andrew and Philip knew what would get Simon and Nathanael’s interest up, pique their curiosity – tailored announcement to have desired effect on hearer

acted: brought / led

simply saying had found the Messiah enough to get Peter on his feet – pretty simple for Andrew to go from there

something different about Andrew, too… easy for people to follow him – boy with lunch (6:8), Greeks looking for Jesus (12:20ff)

Philip had to do more work, encouraging Nathanael to respond – noticeably slower process for Nathanael, required gentle encouragement from Philip

B. inquisitive Simon  v.41-42

already curious

Simon more impetuous, waiting for more information to satisfy his curiosity – already had his radar on, probably had fair OT understanding

Andrew understood what was missing for Simon – had the interest, had the desire, had the curiosity, simply needed information

willing to act on his curiosity

didn’t have to build up foundation, then nurture a desire and encourage to act – was ready to go as soon as he knew direction

acted to satisfy his curiosity

Simon knew what he needed, believed he could get it from the Messiah – first question… is my brother right? is it really Him?

not about to wait around, had to act on his curiosity immediately – are those today in similar position, prepared by God to respond immediately to Gospel truth when presented

C. skeptical Nathanael  v.45-48a

questioned value

Nathanael more laid back, had some pretty decided views about people based on where they came from – prejudice nothing new

had knowledge of OT, incl. prophecies about Messiah – had his own ideas about how religious details ought to work out, didn’t really want to listen to what didn’t fit his prejudices

“follow me and see for yourself”

Philip capitalized on his relationship with Nathanael and Nathanael’s way of thinking – used his credibility to stir up enough curiosity for Nathanael to act

at same time, didn’t rely only on credibility… also didn’t leave Nathanael to make bad call w/o considering the evidence – come w/me, check it out for yourself, reach good conclusion based on facts

doubted what he saw and heard

Nathanael mind / opinion not easily changed – needed more than simple say-so, wanted substantial evidence… perhaps because of previous bad experience

could have been hurt by folks from FBC of Nazareth, still suffering flashbacks, not quite ready to hear they weren’t like all Baptists

D. convinced Nathanael  v.48b-51

was Jesus, not Philip who persuaded Nathanael

Philip didn’t try to change Nathanael’s mind, instead encouraged him to check out the evidence… in this case to check out Jesus

as always, Jesus could do what Philip never could – demonstrated his divine power in a way personally relevant to Nathanael

brought to where he could see and hear Jesus

this where every potential follower needs to be brought – not only to see / hear about Jesus (important preparation) but to see / hear Jesus for himself

didn’t expect Nathanael to be convinced by rational argument, put his faith in that – intended Nathanael to put his faith in Christ

brought to where he would be “discipled”

both Andrew and Philip brought friend/brother to Jesus so they could all follow Jesus together – they wanted to follow Jesus, wanted others to share in their experience / blessings

Notice: each one brought one. Didn’t send other person, said “come with me”. Was someone they already knew, had relationship / credibility, tailored their interaction to needs / desires / interests of other person.

So you bring the one next to you,
And I’ll bring the one next to me;
In all kinds of weather, we’ll all work together,
And see what can be done.
If you’ll bring the one next to you,
And I bring the one next to me,
In no time at all we’ll have them all,
So win them, win them, one by one.

And… the big goal – that Christ would be glorified in our lives, our homes, our church, and beyond. He will be glorified when he works through his disciples to make other disciples.

Lord, Be Glorified

Acting Out: Pray-ers – Part 2

1 Timothy 2:1-8 

Started last week with: need for all kinds of prayer to be made for all kinds of people to the end that we may lead quiet peaceable lives. iow, live happily ever after. Not!  See v.3-4… so that “all men be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. Those other things are important things to include in all kinds of prayer, but they stop short of the ultimate goal

C. to what end  v.2b-4

disciple-making

should be primary focus of earnest prayer by all of us – that we would do our part and God do his part to make disciples

is good and acceptable praying, consistent with God’s desires (v.3-4), means high likelihood God will answer favorably

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

conversion: to be saved – saving faith in Christ essential condition for true discipleship – should be praying people be converted

Rev. 14:6-7 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth; to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people; saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

pray lost people would hear the gospel, that would be explained adequately, they would understand, then respond appropriately

discipleship: come to knowledge – this the ongoing process that takes place in setting of personal relationships and local church

2Pet 3.18  “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Matt. 28:20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”

expected outcome of us discipling others is that disciples would in turn become disciple-makers… leading others to Christ and discipling them

D. by what means  v.5-7

the Gospel (5-6)

normal means of conversion is by power of Gospel heard and applied by Holy Spirit – only one Gospel, one God, one Mediator

need to pray Holy Spirit would accompany the Gospel in power and make it effectual in minds and hearts and lives of hearers

pray the Holy Spirit would give lost people desire to hear God’s truth, ability to understand it, desire to respond in faith

publicly proclaimed (7)

see Eph. 6:18-19 “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,”

Col. 4:3 “meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,”

if Paul needed / wanted others in churches at Ephesus and Colosse praying for him in this way, we ought to pray for those proclaiming the Gospel

and… we must be praying for one another – doors of opportunity, the right words, boldness to speak… and asking them to pray that way for us

E. how: confidently  v.8

expectation is God’s people will pray… individually… corporately… fervently and confidently… everywhere, starting here

and… women’s prayers, mother’s prayers heard and answered by God – yet he wants men to be praying, too… more important as culture becomes more feminized

right life – holy hands

acceptable prayer comes from life that pleases God… and our hands need to be doing the right things, loving God AND neighbor

all this necessary not only for effective / acceptable prayer, essential foundation for effective witness through personal relationships

1Pet. 3:15 “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess” – assumption: you are living in such a way that people ask questions, want what you want

Donna Spiers – a Christian because saw what Nancy Pratt had and wanted same for herself, asked questions, was converted

right attitude – without wrath

peaceable life should flow out of peaceable heart and attitude – besides, when angry with someone, usually want God to do something other than save their sorry soul… not a good place to be

must be praying for their conversion and growth in grace because we see neighbors as Jesus sees them and love them as he does

recognize their need, their lack of genuine hope, an awful future that waits for them, sin-blindness that means they continually do foolish things

Jesus on more than one occasion “saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them” (Matt. 14:14)

right expectations – without doubting

remember bit about kind of good prayer acceptable to God, what “God our savior” desires – if God wants our neighbor converted and intends to use us to do it, he will answer our prayers

in light of that, we should pray expectantly… that he will hear and answer favorably – also pray willingly… willing to be used by God in whatever way he deems best