Flemingsburg Baptist Church Youth Group

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Category: 1 Peter

Suffer Joyfully in Accord with God’s Will (1 Peter 4:12-19)


As the letter draws to a close, Peter reminds his readers that they should not be astonished when they suffer.  God is using the suffering to purify the church; therefore, they should unreservedly give themselves to God in their sufferings.

Peter also reminds us again that sufferings are for the purpose of testing and refining our faith.  Therefore, we ought not to conceive of our suffering as something strange or unexpected.  Instead, Peter declares that believers are to rejoice in the test that suffering brings for being members of God’s household.  Suffering for Christ in this world characterizes believers as strangers, with heaven as their future place of eternal residence.

Here in verse 12, we see that Suffering is the norm for Christians, not a surprising exception.  Why does Peter remind us that suffering is the norm for Christians?  This is because if we are astonished at the suffering that occurs, we might become over whelmed.  We might even misinterpret sufferings as God not loving us.  An advance warning of suffering helps us to be prepared for suffering, so that our faith is not threatened when difficulties arise.

Why is suffering the norm for Christians?  God uses suffering as the means to purify His house.  Sufferings are not a sign of God’s absence, but His purifying presence.  God uses sufferings to make us more and more like Christ.  Just as silver is heated up to remove impurities, so are God’s children, so that we to can become more pure and stronger.

Verse 13 is in contrast to verse 12.  Instead of being shocked that we go through suffering, we should rejoice at the privilege to the degree that they participate in the sufferings of Christ.  So what does it mean to rejoice in suffering?  Does it mean that when someone hurts us because we are a believer that we says “yes! Give us some more of that”?  No, of course not, we get insight on what God is calling us to do when He tells us to rejoice in suffering in verse 14.

Verse 14 emphasizes that believers are blessed by God if they are insulted because of their allegiance to Jesus Christ.  So the first reason that we rejoice in suffering is because we are blessed by God because His Spirit and glory will rest upon us.  So when we go through suffering, God promises to draw closer to us.  The second reason we rejoice in suffering is because it gives us assurance that we are truly believers.  The beatitudes in Matthew 5 guarantees to us that all that follow after Jesus will be persecuted in Jesus’ name.  So when it happens we gain assurance that we are on the right path.  The third reason that we can rejoice in suffering is because of our hope in the Lord that loves us, we trust that our temporary situation will not consume us.  Therefore, although we may be insulted by human beings, we are blessed by God himself.  We Christians may be reproached by human beings, but we are blessed by God.

Verses 15-16 explains that believers’ joy and blessing is conditioned upon truly suffering as Christians.  Not all suffering qualifies one for God’s blessing and joy, for human beings also suffer when they do what is evil.  Peter encourages us to live in such a way that our sufferings were caused by our devotion to Christ and not by evil acts.  Basically, suffering for Christ is a cause for joy, but being mistreated because of one’s own sin is nothing to brag about.  So in other words, it is good to suffer for Christ, but not good to suffer because you’re a jerk.

Peter also realized that most Christians will not be guilty of obvious sins like murder and stealing, and so he concluded by encouraging believers to even refrain from annoying others.  If believers act like busybodies, they would be considered to be pests who deserve isolation and mistreatment.

The question can be asked, why would anyone be a Christian if all they are promised is suffering?  The simple answer can be found in verses 17 and 18.  If even believers in Christ will be judged, then what terrible punishment must surely await unbelievers, who pay no attention to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Basically, we all will suffer, so it is better to do it temporarily here on earth for the glory of God, than for an eternity in Hell.  The Christians worse day on earth will be infinitely better than a sinner’s best day in Hell.

God saves his people by refining and purifying them through suffering.  It is implied here that salvation is eschatological, a gift that believers will receive after enduring suffering.  If the godly are saved through the purification of suffering, then the judgment of the ungoldly and sinner must be horrific indeed.  Suffering may be difficult now, but by participating in the pain of following Christ believers escape the condemnation coming upon the wicked.

Verse 19 gives us the conclusion to this passage.  Those who suffer according to God’s will are those who share in Christ’s sufferings, who are insulated in Christ’s name, and who suffer as Christians rather than for doing something evil.  The way believers will reveal that they are trusting in God is by continuing to do good.

Therefore, those who belong to God should entrust their lives to their faithful Creator, just as Jesus entrusted his life to God when he suffered.  God is faithful, and so he will see to it that the suffering does not exceed what we can bear.  We should persist in doing good, for entrusting ourselves to God always manifests itself in a changed life, in the pursuit of goodness.  (Schreiner, 2003)

In conclusion, I believe that there are six reasons to keep on rejoicing.

1.)    Suffering is not a surprise but a plan. (v.12)

  1. We keep on rejoicing because the suffering in not a surprise, but a plan.
  2. It is not strange.  It is not absurd.  It is not meaningless.
  3. It is purposeful.  It is for our testing.  It proves and strengthens real faith.

2.)    Suffering is evidence of Union with Christ (v. 13a)

  1. We keep on rejoicing because our suffering as a Christian is an evidence of our union with Christ.
  2. We keep on rejoicing because our sufferings as a Christian are not merely ours but Christ’s and they give evidence of our union with Him.

3.)    Suffering is a means to attaining greater joy in glory. (v. 13b)

  1. We keep on rejoicing because this joy will strengthen our assurance that when Christ comes in glory, we will rejoice forever with Him.
  2. If we become embittered at life and the pain it deals us, we are not preparing to rejoice at the revelation of Christ’s glory.  Keep on rejoicing now in suffering in order that you might rejoice with exultation at the revelation of His glory.

4.)    During suffering the Spirit of Glory and of God will rest upon us. (v.14)

  1. We keep on rejoicing in suffering because then the Spirit of glory and of God will rest upon us.
  2. We seek to be holy; we seek to bring truth, we seek to bear witness; and do not turn aside from risk.  And sooner or later you will experience the Spirit of glory and of God resting on you in suffering.

5.)    Suffering helps us in glorifying God.  (v.16)

  1. We keep on rejoicing in suffering because this glorifies God.

6.)    Suffering shows God’s faithfulness to care for our Soul. (v.19)

  1. We keep on rejoicing because our Creator is faithful to care for our soul.
  2. We keep on rejoicing because suffering helps display where are treasure is- in heaven or on earth.  (Piper, 1994)

Preparing to Suffer Like Christ (1 Peter 4:1-6) Sermon Given at Christian Church 2/20/2013

This week marks the second week of Lent.  Lent is the time of year when we as Christians devote ourselves in prayer and self-control in order to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Easter.  Lent is not just about giving something up or keeping traditions; Lent is first and foremost about the gospel making its way deeper into our lives.  Lent is 40 days because Christ prepared himself for ministry 40 days in the wilderness and we prepare ourselves for 40 days for the great celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead to defeat our sins.

Lent prepares us to celebrate the wonder and promise of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Jesus trampled down sin and death, defeating the Devil (Heb. 2:14-15).  After a season of depravation, highlighting the grim reality of our broken creation, Jesus’ resurrection floods our grief with life and light.  In other words, Lent prepares us to join the disciples in their joy and bewilderment on that strange morning long ago (Mt. 28:8; Mk. 16:8; Lk. 24:12).  Our Easter worship is a dress rehearsal for our Lord Jesus’ return when he comes to unite heaven and earth, making all things new (Eph. 1:10; Rev. 21:1-8).

So the question might be asked, why would we intentionally cause ourselves to suffer by giving up something for lent, when sometimes what we are giving up is  something God created for good?  The answers lies in Luke 9:23: And Jesus said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  See whether or not we celebrate lent is unimportant, but the daily pattern of giving up some things we feel like doing is immensely important for the disciples of Jesus Christ.

You see that the importance of self-control is essential in living the Christian life.  In Galatians 5:23 we see that if you are a true Christian that we will know you by the fruits of the Spirit and one of those fruits is self-control.  In Titus 1:8 we see that if you desire to be a leader in the church that you must be known for your self-control.

In 1 Corinthians 9:25, we see that Paul compares our self-control with that of an athlete.  Every athlete exercises self-control.  Paul had very little trust in the desires his body threw at him daily.  In verse 27, he says that I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

This is normal, daily, Christian warfare.  Only saints delight in the law of God at their depths.  This is because they know that God’s law is not there to be a burden to them but to be a marker for how we are to get the most joy out of life.  It is kind of like the game of baseball.

If there were no rules in baseball, it would be total chaos, with people running around with bats and throwing balls.  However, we have rules to get the most joy out of the game of baseball, just like we have commandments to get the most joy out of life.

Now is this shocking to you all that God uses illustrations of athletes and warriors in his word to us to describe how he wants us to live our lives?  What images come to your mind when you think of what it looks like to be a ChristianDo images of warriors, wrestlers, runners, and boxers cross your mind?  They should because that is the image that God uses in His Word to describe the life of a believer.  We should be preparing to suffer like Christ as a warrior prepares for battle, as a wrestler prepares for a match, as a boxer prepares for a fight, and as a runner prepares for a marathon.

God uses these images in the Bible to describe the life of a believer because He wants to remind us that fulfilling the Great Commission is not a passive effort.  Christianity is not a spectator sport.  It is something in which we become totally involved.  And we know this to be true, we do not become better at basketball by sitting on the sidelines watching the game, we get better by training and participating.

Passivity is one of the main enemies of biblical masculinity and it is most obvious where it is needed most.  It is a pattern of waiting on the sidelines until you are specifically asked to step in.  Even worse than that, it can be a pattern of trying to duck out of responsibilities or to run away from challenges.  Men who think conflict should be avoided, or who refuse to engage with those who would harm the body of Christ or their family, not only model passivity but also fail in their responsibilities as protectors.  If our sinful desires are allowed to run wild, then it will ultimately destroy human lives, not only yours, but also those around you.  (Stinson & Dumas, 2011)

Therefore, let us look at God’s Word to gain insight on how we should use Lent as a tool to help us live a life of self-control.  Our main text for today comes from 1 Peter 4:1-6.  In this passage, we see that since Jesus Christ suffered in the flesh, so will believers.  Therefore, we should prepare ourselves to suffer, for the decision to suffer indicates that we have ceased to let sin have power over us.  Let us use Lent as a tool to do what this passage encourages us to do… to become more like Christ.

(Verse 1) Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

Here in verse 1, we get the main point of the passage.  We are to arm ourselves with the intention to suffer.  The term arm yourselves has military connotations, and is in other passages as well, for example Ephesians 6:11-17.

[11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. [16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; [17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

This passage is calling us to arm ourselves with the attitude that suffering is unavoidable.  Like soldiers preparing for battle, we believers should prepare ourselves for suffering.  And that is why we study a passage like this and a book like first Peter, in order to prepare you all for suffering.  It would be easy for me to turn to a book like Deuteronomy and give you all the promises that God gives.  However, I want to prepare you for when your life gets hard.

If you have a false theology that believes that if you will have just enough faith or do the right things that God will make you healthy and wealthy then you will fall when hardships come.  I want to prepare you all to be able to not only handle persecution, but to glorify God amidst suffering in persecution in order to fulfill the Great Commission.  Your efforts to bring good news of everlasting life will be met with joy in some and anger with others and I want you all to be prepared for when it comes.  Just like how a solider is prepared.

Again in verse 1 we see that “He who has suffered” refers to believers and relates back to the command to prepare themselves for suffering.  Peter explained why they should prepare themselves to suffer, seeing the commitment to suffer as evidence that they have broken with a life of sin.

The point is not that believers who suffer have attained sinless perfection, as if they do not sin at all after suffering.  What Peter is stressing is that those who commit themselves to suffer, those who willingly endure scorn and mockery for their faith, show that they have won the battle over sin.  They have broken with sin because they have ceased to participate in the lawless activities of unbelievers and endured the criticisms that have come from such a decision.  The commitment to suffer reveals a passion for a new way of life, a life that is not yet perfect but remarkably different from the lives of unbelievers in the Greco-Roman world and today living for Christ will also be remarkably different in our culture as well.  (Schreiner, 2003)

However, it is important to point out that God did not call us to spiritual warfare and then dropped us off at the battlefield unequipped.  No, we were already in a spiritual war for our souls and when we repented of our sins and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior, and Treasure, he equips us with invincible weapons to subdue the flesh.  These weapons are God’s Word and the Holy Spirit working inside of us.

This is one my main frustrations with my brothers and sisters and Christ, many do not understand the power that has been given to them.  They complain and worry and stress, just like the rest of the world sometimes.  Do you not know that if you are truly a believer that you have the presence of God living inside of you and his Word speaking to you through the Bible?  So if you have an important decision, stop looking for a sign and start looking for a verse.  If you are struggling with temptation, stop trying to defeat it out of your own willpower, and start focusing your affections to the one that is all powerful.  Take courage that the God of all creation, the God of the universe that has created the billions of stars, sends his presence to you and he promises good for you because he Loves you.

And how do we know that he loves us?  Because he sent only son into this world to die for your sins.  While you were still enemies of God, he died for you.  God loves you so much that it looks like he hates his only begotten son.  So if God did the hardest thing to adopt you into his heavenly family, what is a light bill or a deadly disease?

Therefore, in this passage we see that although we will still sin after becoming a Christian, we are longer controlled by them, the battle has been won.  Jesus Christ sets us free from the bondage of sin.  Therefore persecution for being a believer is a sign that you have broken free from our flesh and what the world desires and have full confidence in Jesus Christ as your Lord, Savior, and Treasure.

(Verse 2) so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

In verse 2, we see that Christians should arm themselves with the intention to suffer, so that they live the remainder of their lives in carrying out God’s will instead of fulfilling the human lusts that dominated their lives before conversion.  Jesus Christ did not come to this earth to help satisfy your already given desires, but to give you new ones.  Jesus did not come to be useful in the fulfillment of your desires, but to change your desires into God glorifying ones.  Believers are summoned to suffer in the sense that they are called to do God’s will and to turn away from a life of sin.

In other words, choose suffering for righteousness because if you do not, you will choose sin.  But if you do choose suffering, you will prove that your bondage to sin has been broken.  When you suffer for what is right, it is a sign that you have renounced sinful human desires and embraced the will of God as a higher value. (Piper, 1994)

To overcome the desires of flesh we must fight fire with fire.  We fight fire with fire by replacing one passionate desire with another one.  Therefore, when we feel temptation coming then we quickly turn towards our burning passion to display God’s glory and to relish in his eternal worth and satisfaction.  We do this by not just preferring righteousness, but pursuing it.  John Owen confirmed this when he said, “be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”

The imagery of fire is appropriate here because we know that fire contained in a fireplace or a fire pit can be both beautiful and serve a function.  However, when fire is not contained it can wreck and destroy anything in its path as we see every year with forest fires out west.

ILLUSTRATION OF FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE

Fight Fire with Fire!  Conquer your physical addictions with spiritual addictions.  No other way will bear long-term fruit.  Drive the demon of gluttony out the front door and seven more will come in the back, unless you fill your house with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was full from the start and no demon ever had a toehold in his marvelous life of discipline.  (Piper, 1984)

We live out this verse by demonstrating to everyone that we are no longer slaves to our fleshly desires, but slaves to the almighty God.  We will all be slaves to something, we will either be slaves to our flesh, that leaves us craving for more, or we will be slaves to God, who promises to fulfill us when we hunger and thirst after him.  I encourage you to submit to the good master, rather than the one that tries to get as much as possible out of you.

For an extreme example take a drug addict, what happens when you become a slave to drugs?  You want more drugs.  And then you build a tolerance and have to take even more drugs to get the same high that got you addicted in the first place.  Drugs promise to make you feel better, but what they actually do is wage war against your body demanding more and more from you, until your body finally collapses.

On the other hand, what does Christ promise for those that seek after Him in Matthew 5 verse 6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Jesus promises that instead of being an empty hole like sin, that we will be satisfied.  In other words, the more we hunger and thirst for the true living God, the more satisfied we will become.  So Why would God make us satisfied instead of wanting us to seek more and more after him like a drug?  Because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

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

In verse 3, we see a list of what it will look like for you to be serving your flesh rather than God.  We also see that your past sinning is enough.  So whether you are a 8 year old child and have very little to repent of or more likely a 50,60,70 year old that has had decades of sinning to repent of, your past sinning is enough, you can stop now.  Let this be the moment that you are set free from the bondage of sin.

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

And that same list in verse 3 is also a list of the darkness that will try to persecute you.  In verse 4, we see that those people that practice these things will insult you.  They will try to make you look like a fool.  Of course our unsaved neighbors will not understand why we abandon the seemingly fun sins that they still commit, but one day they will be judged for them.  They will not understand that we have been given new passions.

ILLUSTRATION OF WHY THE WORLD WONT UNDERSTAND

That we no longer settle for the short-term pleasures of the flesh, but long for the eternal joy that comes from being a follower of Christ.  It is better to embrace suffering like Jesus did, if it is God’s will, than to choose to go back to sin just because your friends mock you.

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

In verse 5, we see that the main point of this verse is that believers should not succumb to the temptation to renounce their faith so they can enjoy the praise of society.  Such approval is short-lived, and those who mistreat believers now will be judged in the future.

See our enemies are not the only ones that will be judged though.  We all will be judged.  I like to look at it like this: It is like being in a courtroom and you are on trial and you know that you are guilty and you know that you are before a just and holy judge.  Satan the prosecutor gets up and rips you telling the judge all that you have done wrong in your life and accuses you of even the good that you have done was out of the wrong motivations.  You are at your lowest because you know that you are guilty because Romans 3 tells us that there is no one righteous, not one.  All looks dark for you.

But then, Jesus stands up on your behalf and he doesn’t say a word.  He approaches the seat of the Holy judge and reaches out his two nail pierced hands and points to the hole in his side and the crown of thorns.  And the judge rules INNOCENT, not because he is unjust, not because you deserve it, but because the punishment has been paid for.

Now here is the good news.  God the holy and just judge is not mad that he had to let you off, he is not like well I have to because the penalty is paid for.  No, he is the one that provided a way for you to be able to come to him and have fellowship with him because he loves you.  We could have never had come to the father unless he had prepared a way for us to be able to stand blameless in front of him.

(Verse 6) For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

The point of verse 6 is to encourage us that even though there is a judgment coming beyond the grave, and even though all of us die, nevertheless those who hear and believe the Gospel will live in the spirit according to the will of God.

So why would anyone persecute of insult someone that is trying to do good?  There are different reasons, a few of the main ones is because darkness hates light.  Someone that is in darkness hates when light is brought in because it reveals what they are doing is wrong.

Another reason is because misery enjoys company.  They would rather pressure you into doing wrong with them because it makes them feel less convicted.  And the final reason is because living a Christian life will call you to live a different life that is counter cultural.  And because you are different, people will look at you with a great deal of suspicion.

One of the reasons that Peter was writing this letter was to encourage believers that were being mocked by Romans.  These non-believers were saying, “Ha, you say that you have such good news.  You say that you escape judgment.  You say your God is great and saves you and gives you joy.  Well, all we have got to say is: you are missing a lot of parties and you die like everybody else.  So if you die and go to the worms, and we die and go to the worms, we say, Eat, Drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

Did the Romans have a point?  Do people today say or at least act the same way?  However, we know that the Gospel was not preached to dead Christians in vain.  The reason the Gospel was preached to those who have died is so that even though it looks like they have been judged like everybody else, they have not.  They are alive in the spirit.  They are with the Lord.  And the sufferings that they experienced here are not worthy to be compared to the glory that has been revealed to them. (Piper, 1994)

Therefore, we can summarize this passage into 5 pieces:

1. Verse 1: Christ, the one we love and follow suffered.

2. Verses 2: When we suffer, we make a clean break with sin.

3. Verses 3-4: Any amount of past sinning is sufficient.  It is enough.

4. Verse 5: Our enemies will be brought to justice.

5. Verse 6: We who embrace the Gospel will triumph over death.

So in closing, Why does the Bible encourage us to be self-controlled as athletes and warriorsSimple: Greater Joy.  Every athlete exercises self-control to win a prize, every solider exercises self-control to win the battle, we Christians exercise self-control to get not only the most joy out of this life, but the next.  Therefore, let us use this season of Lent to make ourselves more disciplined for the glory of the Lord and to heighten our joy for Easter.

Living in Light of the End (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Last time we saw that verses 5 and 6 conclude with a reference of the final judgment, and Peter repeated that theme in verse 7 with a reminder that the end is near.  Remember the main theme of this book of the Bible is that since the end is near that believers should live according to God’s will.  Therefore, as verse 7 shows us we should be alert and sober minded for prayer, that we should live in sacrificial love that includes hospitality, and that we should use our gifts whether speaking or serving, to help others.  Their aim and motivation in all they do is to see God glorified through Jesus Christ. (Schreiner, 2003)

In this passage we see that as the end times grow closer that we will be needing to use prayer to prepare us to suffer like Jesus Christ.  John Piper encourages to use prayer like a wartime walkie-talkie to call in backup to help us remained self-controlled and sober-minded.  However, so many of us use prayer as a domestic intercom to call down the butler for a more comfortable pillow.  When we use God to make us comfortable instead of as a tool for spiritual warfare, our prayer malfunctions.

What does Peter mean when he says, the end of all things is near?  Does he mean that Jesus is coming back soon?  No, because this book was written in 65 A.D. so since the Bible is God’s Word without error, then we know that Peter does not expect the end time to be very soon, because no one would consider almost 2000 years soon.

Did Peter mean, that all things are fulfilled so Jesus could come back at any minute?  No, because Peter was there when Jesus predicted that the temple would be destroyed.  That does not happen for another 5 years in 70 A.D. In addition, we know that as far as we know that the man of lawlessness has not arrived nor has the Great Commission been fulfilled.  So we can assume that it cannot happen any second.

Therefore, What does Peter mean when he says, the end of all things is near?  I believe that Peter means that the end is near, that things that are promised to happen are happening and just as we were told in the previous passage that we should prepare like Jesus for suffering, we should prepare for the struggles during the end times.  And we do that by being self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of our prayers so that we will not fall victim to the lies of the man of lawlessness or to the fear of persecution.

Should we try to predict when Jesus is coming back or listen to those who think they know the date?  No, because no one knows the date except for our father in heaven.  Since we know the world is ending should we consume ourselves with signs and look into the sky, hoping that Jesus will return soon?  No, we are to be doing our father’s business.  We have work to do and knowing that then end is near should drive us to make our lives count, not wasting time looking at the sky.  Jesus promised the fulfilling of the Great Commission; therefore, He is not coming back until it is fulfilled so we need to be working towards fulfilling the Great Commission, not staring at the sky and looking for signs of His coming.  Because He is going to come like a thief in the night.

Now in verse 8, we see that the imminence of the end should also provoke believers to love.  Enduring love for others testifies that a person is living in light of the future.  True love covers a multitude of other people’s sins (Prov. 10:12).  Where love abounds, offenses are frequently overlooked and quickly forgotten.  Love is important because in the end times love will be scarce.

In addition, we all know that love covers a multitude of sins.  If you know that someone loves you and they do something that hurts you, you are able to forgive quicker than you would a stranger because you know that they did not do it on purpose.  Therefore, people in our lives should know how much we care about them so that when we mess up, they know that it was not on purpose.

Love is important for a Christian because love central in the Christian life.  Jesus himself warned that love is apt to grow cold at the end of the age in Matthew 24:12.  Love is paramount, and it will be needed all the more as the end draws near.  Why?  Because the pressures and stresses and tribulations of the last days will put relationships under tremendous stress.  If you need an example you only have to look at what happened after hurricane Katrina.

Were people taking care of each other, no, you heard of people raiding the local stores, carrying out big screen tv’s, you heard of rape and theft from the superdome where it was housing so many people placed without homes.  Why, because when things go bad there is a temptation to only think of yourself.  However, that is the opposite of what Christians should be doing.  During these days the world will be watching to see if we are real.  Will we cover and bear and endure each others’ faults, or will anger rule our hearts.  So if we wonder how we should live our lives in light of the ending of the world, Peter here encourages us to live a life with a priority of love.

There is often confusion on what the word love especially Biblical love means.  And it stems from the fact that many of us do not have a good understanding of what love is supposed to be.  Many of us grow up thinking that love is making much of me.  You fall in love with people that make much of you.  You fall in love with activities that make much of you.  However, that is not what a Biblical love is.

A Biblical love is a love that makes much of others by helping them make much of God.  It has nothing to do with how they respond to you, because they may kill you for your love as the disciples and many missionaries have discovered.  Jesus Christ loved us so much that He died on the cross for our sins in order to eliminate the barrier that keeps us from making much of our loving God.

Now a practical example is in marriage.  Will my marriage be loving if I am always saying to Kaley make much of me.  Or will our marriage display the Gospel more clearly if I set the standard of helping Kaley make much of God?  So if I am sacrificially loving my wife in a way that will lead her to being able to know and worship God more clearly, guess what, that in turns frees her up to love me as well.  Because if I am constantly putting demands on her to love me she will resent me, but if I help her worship the one that is worthy of her love then she is better able to love all those around her.

Therefore, God’s love is to be admired not because the world is so big and includes 7 billion people, but because the world is so bad.  A Holy and just God sent His one and only perfect son into the world to be crushed for a sinful world.  God so loves the world that it looks like He hates his Son in comparison of His love to the world.

Now in verse 9, the theme of love continues.  This time we see how hospitality can be used to display the love of Christ.  Hospitality was one of the marks of the Christian community.  Our homes need to be open, because our hearts are open.  And our hearts are open because God’s heart is open to us.  The words without grumbling acknowledge that those who open their homes may grow tired of the service.  Therefore, they are encouraged to be hospitable gladly, not caving into the temptation to begrudge their charity to others.

In verse 10, we now see that the theme of ministering to others continues.  However, in this verse the emphasis shifts to gifts believers have received by God’s Grace.  What are the purpose of gifts?  Gifts are given to serve others.  Are some gifts better than others?  No, no one should be prideful about their gifts because each gift was a gracious gift from God so that you may serve others.  Therefore, no Christian is unimportant because each gift helps complete the body of Christ.

Here in verse 11, we see that these gifts can be divided into two categories, speaking and serving.  Therefore, we can conclude that all our gifts are for the purpose of serving and edifying others.  Gifts like apostleship, prophecy, teaching, tongues, and exhortation fall under speaking gifts, whereas gifts like giving, leading, mercy, helps, healing, and miracles fall under serving.

Peter encourages us not to use these gifts in our own strength because when we speak well out of our own strength then we get the glory, but if we speak well about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then God gets the glory.  Likewise, those called to serve should not serve out of their own strength, but by the strength, that God provides them.  We should have great faith in God and because of our great faith, we should attempt Great things for God.

Now in conclusion, let us look at some closing applications.  First, to everyone.  If you belong to Christ, if you have by faith received his saving hospitality, which he paid for with his own blood, then extend this hospitality to others.  Romans 15:7: “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” You live on free grace every day.  Be a good steward of it in hospitality.

Second, to High Schoolers. Plan that your hospitality include middle schoolers.  And don’t make a big deal out of it.  Just be natural.  Think like a Christian.  This is your family, more deeply and more eternally than your kinfolk.

Third, to Middle Schoolers.  Show hospitality to other Middle schoolers and to High schoolers. Perhaps it seems odd.  But should it?  Would it not be a mark of unusual maturity and stability?  Would it not be a mark of God’s grace in your life?

I pray that the Lord would do this beautiful work among us—all of us.  The end of all things is at hand.  Let us be sober for our prayers.  Let us love each other.  Let us be good stewards of the varied grace of God, and let us show hospitality without grumbling.  “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” (Piper, 2007)

Preparing to Suffer Like Christ (1 Peter 4:1-6)

What images come to your mind when you think of what it looks like to be a ChristianDo images of warriors, wrestlers, runners, and boxers cross your mind?  They should because that are the words that God uses in His Word, the Bible, to describe the life of a believer.  We should be preparing to suffer like Christ as a warrior prepares for battle, as a wrestler prepares for a match, as a boxer prepares for a fight, and as a runner prepares for a marathon.  God uses these images in the Bible to describe the life of a believer because He wants to remind us that fulfilling the Great Commission is not a passive effort.  Christianity is not a spectator sport.  It is something in which we become totally involved.  And we know this to be true, we do not become better at basketball by sitting on the sidelines watching the game, we get better by training and participating.

Passivity is one of the main enemies of biblical masculinity and it is most obvious where it is needed most.  It is a pattern of waiting on the sidelines until you are specifically asked to step in.  Even worse than that, it can be a pattern of trying to duck out of responsibilities or to run away from challenges.  Men who think conflict should be avoided, or who refuse to engage with those who would harm the body of Christ or their family, not only model passivity but also fail in their responsibilities as protectors.  If our sinful desires are allowed to run wild, then it will ultimately destroy human beings, not only yours, but also those around you.  (Stinson & Dumas, 2011)

In our passage today, we see that since Jesus Christ suffered in the flesh, so will believers.  Therefore, we should prepare ourselves to suffer for the decision to suffer indicates that we have ceased to let sin have power over us.  Here in verse 1, we get the main point of the passage.  We are to arm ourselves with the intention to suffer.  The term arm yourselves has military connotations, and is in other tests as well, for example Ephesians 6:11-17.

[11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. [16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; [17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

This passage is calling us to arm ourselves with the attitude that suffering is inevitable.  Like soldiers preparing for battle, we believers should prepare ourselves for suffering.  And that is why we study a passage like this and a book like first Peter, in order to prepare you all for suffering.  It would be easy for me to turn to a book like Deuteronomy and give you all the promises that God gives.  However, I want to prepare you for when your life gets hard.

If you have a false theology that believes that if you will have just enough faith or do the right things that God will make you healthy and wealthy then you will fall when hardships come.  I want to prepare you all to be able to not only handle persecution, but to glorify God amidst suffering in persecution in order to fulfill the Great Commission.  Your efforts to bring good news of everlasting life will be met with joy in some and anger with others and I want you all to be prepared for when it comes.  Just like how a solider is prepared.

Our passage today starts in Chapter four verse one.  Here in this verse we see that “He who has suffered” refers to believers and relates back to the command to prepare themselves for suffering.  Peter explained why they should prepare themselves to suffer, seeing the commitment to suffer as evidence that they have broken with a life of sin.

The point is not that believers who suffer have attained sinless perfection, as if they do not sin at all after suffering.  What Peter emphasized was that those who commit themselves to suffer, those who willingly endure scorn and mockery for their faith, show that they have triumphed over sin.  They have broken with sin because they have ceased to participate in the lawless activities of unbelievers and endured the criticisms that have come from such a decision.  The commitment to suffer reveals a passion for a new way of life, a life that is not yet perfect but remarkably different from the lives of unbelievers in the Greco-Roman world and today living for Christ will also be remarkable different in our culture as well.  (Schreiner, 2003)

In verse 2, we see that Christians should arm themselves with the intention to suffer, so that they live the remainder of their lives in carrying out God’s will instead of fulfilling the human lusts that dominated their lives before conversion.  Believers are summoned to suffer in the sense that they are called to do God’s will and to turn away from a life of sin.

In other words, choose suffering for righteousness because if you do not, you will choose sin.  But if you do choose suffering, you will prove that your bondage to sin has been broken.  When you suffer for what is right, it is a sign that you have renounced sinful human desires and embraced the will of God as a higher value. (Piper, 1994)

We live out this verse by demonstrating to everyone that we are no longer slaves to our fleshly desires, but slaves to the almighty God.  We will all be slaves to something, we will either be slaves to our flesh, that leaves us craving for more, or we will be slaves to God, who promises to fulfill us when we hunger and thirst after him.  I encourage you to submit to the good master, rather than the one that tries to get as much as possible out of you.

For an extreme example take a drug addict, what happens when you become a slave to drugs?  You want more drugs.  And then you build a tolerance and have to take even more drugs to get the same high that got you addicted in the first place.  Drugs promise to make you feel better, but what they actually do is wage war against your body demanding more and more from you, until your body finally collapses.  On the other hand, what does Christ promise for those that seek after Him in Matthew 5 verse 6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Jesus promises that instead of being an empty hole like sin, that we will be satisfied.  In other words, the more we hunger and thirst for the true living God, the more satisfied we will become.

In verse 3, we see a list of what it will look like for you to be serving your flesh rather than God, and that same list is also a list of the darkness that will try to persecute you.  In verse 4, we see that those people that practice these things will insult you.  The will try to make you look like a fool.  Better to embrace suffering like Jesus did, if it is God’s will, than to choose sin.

In verse 5, we see that the main point of this verse is that believers should not succumb to the temptation to renounce their faith so they can enjoy the praise of society.  Such approval is short-lived, and those who mistreat believers now will be judged in the future.

The point of verse 6 is to encourage us that even though there is a judgment coming beyond the grave, and even though all of us die, nevertheless those who hear and believe the Gospel will live in the spirit according to the will of God.

So why would anyone persecute of insult someone that is trying to do good?  There are different reasons, a few of the main ones is because darkness hates light.  Someone that is in darkness hates when light is brought in because it reveals what they are doing is wrong.  Another reason is because misery enjoys company.  They would rather pressure you into doing wrong with them because it makes them feel less convicted.  And the final reason is because living a Christian life will call you to live a different life that is counter cultural.  And because you are different, people will look at you with a great deal of suspicion.

One of the reasons that Peter was writing this letter was to encourage believers that were being mocked by Romans.  These non-believers were saying, “Ha, you say that you have such good news.  You say that you escape judgment.  You say your God is great and saves you and gives you joy.  Well, all we have got to say is: you are missing a lot of parties and you die like everybody else.  So if you die and go to the worms, and we die and go to the worms, we say, Eat, Drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

Did the Romans have a point?  Do people today say or at least at the same way?  However, we know that the Gospel was not preached to dead Christians in vain.  The reason the Gospel was preached to those who have died is so that even though it looks like they have been judged like everybody else, they have not.  They are alive in the spirit.  They are with the Lord.  And the sufferings that they experienced here are not worthy to be compared to the glory that has been revealed to them. (Piper, 1994)

Therefore, we can summarize this passage into 5 pieces:

1. Verse 1: Christ, the one we love and follow suffered.

2. Verses 1-2: When we suffer, we make a clean break with sin.

3. Verses 3-4: Any amount of past sinning is sufficient.  It is enough.

4. Verse 5: Our enemies will be brought to justice.

5. Verse 6: We who embrace the Gospel will triumph over death.

Arm Yourselves with the Faith to Suffer for the Sake of Christ and his Kingdom(1 Peter 3:18-22)

In this passage, Peter emphasizes that believers are blessed by God if they suffer for doing what is right (3:13-17).  The sufferings of believers’ leads Peter to the topic of Christ’s suffering.  The suffering of Christ was the pathway to glory and the means by which He triumphed over evil powers.  Peter implied that the same pattern is true in the life of believers.  Our suffering is the prelude to eschatological glory.  But in the interval between suffering and glory believers must prepare themselves to suffer and to make a clean break with sin.  They will be rewarded in the last day if they do so.  Finally, they are to live daily in light of the eschatological hope, which means that they must pursue a life devoted to prayer, vigilance, and ministering to others.

In verses 13-17, believers are to be full of confidence and refrain from fear because of the promise of their eschatological inheritance.  In our passage today we see that God wants to answer the question, Why it is sometimes God’s will for us to suffer for doing what is right?  Verse 18 starts answering this question by first pointing us to Jesus.  Our Lord suffered; therefore, we will follow him in suffering.  The first great encouragement to prepare ourselves for suffering for doing what is right is that this is what happened to Jesus the greatest, most loving, caring, truthful, holy man, that ever lived.  (Piper, 1994)

Naturally, someone might ask, “Why would anyone become a Christian if what you could offer them was that things in this world would probably go worse for them and that their lives would be at risk?”  The answer is that the greatest human needs are not to live long on the earth and be comfortable.  The biggest human needs are how to have our sins forgiven and overcome our separation from God and live forever with happiness in his presence instead of living forever in misery in hell.  That is ten thousand times more important than living long on the earth and being comfortable for a zillionth percentage of your existence.

This is what the death of Jesus accomplishes.  Verse 18: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.”  Notice four things.

First, Christ died “for sins.”  This is what separates me from God.  This is my biggest need.  These are my biggest enemy—not Satan. Isaiah 59:2, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.”  This is vastly more terrifying than suffering for righteousness’ sake—suffering the wrath of God because my sins have not been forgiven.  But Jesus died “for sins.”  This is the greatest thing in the world.  I do not have to die in my sins. There is forgiveness.  This is why people would believe on Jesus even if it cost them their lives.

Second, Christ died “the just for the unjust.”  His death was by substitution.  He took my place.  He stood under the wrath and penalty that I deserved and bore it for me.  His death was utterly innocent.  It was all for others’ sins, and not his own.

I like to look at it like this: It is like being in a courtroom and you are on trial and you know that you are guilty and you know that you are before a just and holy judge.  Satan the prosecutor gets up and rips you telling the judge all that you have done wrong in your life and accuses you of even the good that you have done was out of the wrong motivations.  You are at your lowest because you know that you are guilty because Romans 3 tells us that there is no one righteous, not one.  All looks dark for you.

But then, Jesus stands up on your behalf and he doesn’t say a word.  He approaches the seat of the Holy judge and reaches out his two nail pierced hands and points to the hole in his side and the crown of thorns.  And the judge rules INNOCENT, not because he is unjust, not because you deserve it, but because the punishment has been paid for.  Now here is the good news.  God the holy and just judge is not mad that he had to let you off, he is not like well I have to because the penalty is paid for.  No, he is the one that provided a way for you to be able to come to him and have fellowship with him because he loves you.  We could have never had come to the father unless he had prepared a way for us to be able to stand blameless in front of him.

Third, Christ died “once for all”—that is, his death was final and all-sufficient to accomplish the forgiveness of all who believe on him.  He does not have to ever offer another sacrifice.  It was finished.  It was all that was necessary to take away the guilt of my sins.  The debt is paid in full.

Fourth, All of this brings me to God. “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God.”

In verses 19-20, we get Jesus Christ’s proclamation of victory and judgment over the evil angels.  We read about just how evil these spirits were in Genesis 6 verses 1 through 8.

[Increasing Corruption on Earth]

[6:1] When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, [2] the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. [3] Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” [4] The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

            [5] The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. [6] And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. [7] So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” [8] But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Here in this passage we see history at its most corrupt time in history, God reminds us of a time when it was tragically bad to show us that He is powerful enough to handle any circumstance.  The demons of Noah’s day were running riot through the earth, filling the world with their wicked, vile, anti-God activity, including sexual sin.  The world had become so corrupt that God looked down on the earth and only saw one man that he was pleased in, and that man was Noah.

The world was so corrupt that even 120 years of Noah’s preaching, while the ark was being built, could not convince any of the human race beyond the eight people in Noah’s family to believe in God.  Therefore, God bound these demons permanently in the abyss until their final sentencing.  The point of the passage, then, is not that Christ descended into hell, but that he delivered a message to these evil angels.  The message that Christ proclaimed is almost certainly one of triumph, after having been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”. (Schreiner, 2003)

We can apply this strange passage to our lives by realizing that we too are foreigners on this earth, a small community beset by opponents who mistreated them.  They should not be discouraged by the smallness of their numbers but must remember that God now extends his patience to all, but the day of judgment is coming in which their opponents will be ashamed and they will be vindicated.  Hence, the appeal to Noah and God’s patience reminds them to persevere.  If God preserved Noah when he stood in opposition to the whole world, he will also save his people, even though they are now being persecuted.  (Schreiner, 2003)

In verse 21, a comparison is drawn between salvation in the ark and baptism.  In both instances, believers are saved through the waters of judgment, since baptism portrays salvation through judgment.  The mere mechanical act of baptism does not save, for Peter explicitly says, “not as a removal of dirt from the body,” meaning that the passing of water over the body does not cleanse anyone.

Baptism saves you because it represents inward faith, as evidenced by one’s appeal to God for the forgiveness of one’s sins (for a good conscience).  Furthermore, baptism “saves” only insofar as it is grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Baptism is a visual representation of the fact that Christians are clothed with Christ (cf. Gal. 3:27), and in union with Christ they share his victory over sin.

For example, baptism is like my wedding band.  It is an outward sign of a commitment that I have made.  If I were to take off my wedding band then that would not make me any less married, but if I never wear my wedding band then you have to wonder about my level of commitment to my marriage.

So the question can be asked, what does suffering have to do with Baptism?  Why is this short explanation of Baptism surrounded by a passage on Suffering?  Basically, Peter shows us that Baptism is there to strengthen us for suffering with Christ.  So how does this happen?

Like this: When we have come through the water of baptism, we have passed through death and judgment.  We have been buried with Christ and we have risen with him.  We have passed from death to life.  Judgment is past.  The suffering we are experiencing cannot be the condemnation of God.  That has already been experienced for us by Christ.  We have received that by faith and we have expressed our faith by baptism.  It stands as a constant reminder that the worst suffering has been averted.  Christ took it for us.  We will never have to come into judgment.  There is now no condemnation.  We have already died that death in Christ and been raised in him.  Therefore, our present suffering is not the wrath of God but the loving discipline of our Father and the preparation for glory.

Now in verse 22, Peter realizes how confusing the past couple of verses could have been, so he reminds us of the main point of the passage.  The central truth of vv. 18–22 is that Christ has triumphed over his enemies.  He is now ascended to the right hand of God, and all angels and demonic powers are subjected to him since he is Lord and Christ.  Christians can therefore rejoice in their sufferings, knowing that Christ has triumphed.

So the main point of these verses is to help us get ready to suffer with Jesus for doing what is right, not for doing what is wrong.  For all the puzzling things in these verses we must not forget this main point—Peter’s intention in this text is to help us arm ourselves with the faith to suffer for the sake of Christ and his kingdom. (Piper, 1994)

Therefore, as believers we have no need to fear that suffering is the last word, for we share the same destiny as our Lord, who is similar to Noah.  We are a small-embattled minority in a hostile world, but we can be sure that, like Noah, our future is secure when the judgment comes.  The basis of our assurance is our baptism, for in baptism we have appealed to God to give us a good conscience of the basis of the crucified (v.18) and risen (v.21) work of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Schreiner, 2003)

In conclusion let us sum up 5 ways that this passage prepares us for suffering.

1. Remember That Christ Suffered (v.17-18).

2. Christ Has Triumphed and Brought Us Safe to God (v.18)

3. Remember the Days of Noah (v. 19-20)

4. Know the Meaning of Baptism (v. 21)

5. 5. Look to Christ at God’s Right Hand, Ruling over All (v. 22)

Live a Godly Life (1 Peter 3:8-12)

This passage is a conclusion of what was discussed in verses 2:11 through 3:7.  In these passages Peter was teaching us what it looks like for a Christian to live a life visible to the outside world.  Knowing that the original letters were written in order to encourage congregations and they did not have the technology to mass produce these letters, these letters were read out loud to all of the congregations.  Therefore, to help them remember what he wanted them to remember, Peter summarizes the main points here to repeat them.  Therefore, if a theme is repeated then we know that it is something that Peter was really waning us to get.

In verse 8, we see that Peter gives a summary of what it should look like if you are truly a believer in Jesus Christ.  They should be displaying unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  These things can only come from the Lord, so if we want to know if we are in fellowship with fellow believers we should be displaying these characteristics.  Therefore, this Bible study, if it is truly made up of true believers should be displaying these characteristics, because if Christ lives inside of all of us, then He would manifest himself in these ways.  How do we stack up against these characteristics?

In verse 9, we see that Peter addresses how believers respond to those who inflict evil upon them.  They are not to respond by inflicting evil in return but by praying that God will bless their tormentors.  Again, we see that God is calling us to do something that the world would see as strange.  The world would say if someone does something evil to then get them back so that they will be afraid to do it again.  Or, at the very least if the person hurts you try to avoid them.  However, this verse is telling us to return evil with good.  If someone wrongs us, we are to turn around and bless them.

This at first might seem a little extreme, but is that not what Christ did for us.  It is because of our sins that Christ had to go to the cross.  He was beaten, abused and murdered for our sins.  People mocked him and spit on him, but did He make threats or curse them.  No, he went to the cross for them and died for their sins.  Therefore, if Jesus can take the ultimate evil and turn around and bless us.  Then how much more should we be better prepared to do the same for others when we understand how much we have been forgiven?

Now here if verses 10-12, Peter tells us how we can get the most joy out of life.  He tells us that if any of us desire to love life and see good days then we will keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking deceit.  That we will turn away from evil and do good, we will seek after peace and then pursue it.  Peter also goes on to say that when we do these things that Lord will hear our prayers and if we do not do the things then the Lord will be against us.

This is exactly what we would expect since we all know that God has given us the Bible so that we can get the most joy out of life.  You all have heard me use the example of how God’s law is like the rules in the game of baseball.  If you want to get the most joy out of baseball you have to play by the rules, or else it would be total chaos.  So basically what Peter is saying in these verses is, “if you want to love life and get the most joy out of days on earth, do these things.”  Peter starts by telling us in verse 10 to keep our tongues from evil.  How do we keep our tongues from evil?

First of all, by keeping your heart pure.  Because what is in your heart comes out your mouth.  Therefore, if you desire evil things in your heart then evil things will come out your mouth.  If you harbor hateful thoughts about someone, then hateful words will come out your mouth about that person.  If you harbor perverse things in your heart, then perverted things will come out your mouth.  However, if harbor pure and Godly desires in your heart, then good will be on your tongue.

In verse 11, Peter tells us to turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  How does turning away from evil lead to the pursuit of peace?  We get the answer in verse 12.  When we are doing good, the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers.  Therefore, we know that the God of all the universe sees and hears what we are going through and he promises that he will not only use it for our good, but for his glory.

However, it also leads to peace, because if we were to do evil, then the face of God would be opposing us.  Why is God so upset with people that do evil?  This is because doing evil is trying to fulfill your life in your own way.  Therefore, lying is attractive to a person because it gets them out of the immediate trouble, but it does not lead to peace it leads to even more lies.  And keeping up with even more lies, leads to even more stress.  Therefore, God wants to speak truth because it leads to a more peaceful and joyful life.  When we lie we are basically saying that we could be a better god than God can be.  We say we know how to get out of this situation better than God knows how to.

For a Christian to do evil we would expect our loving father to punish us in hopes that we will return and do good.  A good father does not allow a child to do whatever he wants because that child does not always know what is best for him.  So a good father punishes a child so that they do not keep doing things that will evidentially lead them to harm.  We too are tempted to pursue things that lead to short-term pleasures, but God does not want us to settle for short-term pleasures that are fleeting and leads desiring more.  God wants us to pursue everlasting joy that leads to peace and a relationship with God that results in Him hearing your prayers.

So in others words, Peter closes out this section of scripture by saying, if you want to get the most joy and peace out of your life, even amidst suffering, do what I just told you referring to the government, those that God has placed over you, and in your marriage.

Peter Addresses Husbands and Wives (1 Peter 3:1-7)

In the passage, Husbands are to be the leaders in their homes (cf. Eph. 5:22–33Col. 3:18–19), and wives are to be subject to (cf. 1 Pet. 3:5–6) and follow their leadership.  If a wife has an unbelieving husband who is disobedient to God’s Holy Word, she should not try to pressure him into converting.  Instead, her godly conduct will testify without a word to the truth of the gospel.

Scripture never says that women in general are to be subject to men in general, but it does affirm male headship in the home.  We see that Peter hoped that submission and godly behavior would become the means by which unbelieving husbands would be converted to the Christian faith.  However, this type of submission is different from the submission of citizens to the government and slaves to their masters.  Voluntary submission is in view here.  Husbands do not have the responsibility to ensure that wives submit to them, like the government and masters do.

However, it is similar in certain ways because just as slaves are to submit to morally bankrupt masters, so Christian wives are called on to submit to unbelieving husbands.  Peter’s main point is that the good conduct of wives should stem from their relationship with God.  Wives do not submit in order to satisfy a husband’s vanity or to promote his reputation.  Neither do they submit to show how godly they are, nor to avoid conflict, nor to impress the neighbors, nor to manipulate their husbands, and not even because she thinks he is wise.  She submits because of her relationship with and trust in God.

In verses 3 and 4, peter gives us advice that was quite typical for during this time-period.  In these verses, we see that wives should reject expensive attire and flashy and expensive hairstyles and necklaces and earrings.  God desires inner beauty consisting of a gentle and quiet spirit.  What matters to God is not what people look like on the outside, but their godly character.  In other words, what a person is on the inside does not remain hidden, but manifests itself in the way wives behave in everyday life.  In particular, women should strive for a gentle and quiet spirit.  Physical beauty and clothes will fade away, but a woman of God is more precious than gold.

In verses 5 and 6, we see that Peter makes an appeal to godly women of the Old Testament era.  Such women obeyed and respected their husbands and focused on inner beauty.  The most important comment in this verse is that these women “put their hope in God.”  This comment is instructive, for it informs us that these women did not submit to their husbands because they believed their husbands were superior to them intellectually or spiritually.  They submitted to their husbands because they were confident that God would reward all those who put their trust in Him.

This has been a major them in the book of 1 Peter.  It is the hope in the return of Jesus Christ that brings consolation in persecution, and believers are to set their hop completely on the future revelation of Jesus Christ.  Such hope characterized the lives of the women of old, for they continued to hope in God during the vicissitudes of human existence.  These women were known for their inner beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit, not for their external beauty. (Schreiner, 2003)

In verse 6, we get a specific example of an Old Testament woman that displayed both a gentle and quiet spirit.  Sarah obeyed Abraham.  Peter describes Sarah’s submission in terms of obedience.  Such obedience does not mean the relationship between husbands and wives is like that of parents and children, but it does show that a wife is to follow her husband’s direction and leadership.  In the culture of her day, Sarah expressed her submission by respectfully referring to Abraham as lord (see Gen. 18:12).  Do not fear.  Peter calls on wives to model themselves after such godly women, not fearing that harm will come to them, but trusting God as Sarah did.

Why is it important for both teenage boy and girls to study this passage?

Are men and women equal?

Scripture also affirms the equality of man and woman as being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27; cf. 1 Pet. 3:7).

Is there any exceptions for a wife’s submission to her husband?

We can also conclude from this that the submission of wives is not absolute.  If husbands require wives to disobey moral norms or follow another religion, then wives should disobey.

In verse 7, Peter now turns his attention away from the wives and now to the husbands.  Peter tells men to show honor to their wives as the weaker vessel.  What is he saying?  What he is not saying is that your wife is of lesser value.  This is clear, because he says for you to show her honor.  She is not of lesser value and she is not morally or spiritually weaker than you.  What we believe Peter has in mind here is just sheer physical weakness compared to the strength of a man.

We all know this to be generally true, of course there is some exceptions, like women that train for the power lifting in the Olympics, obviously they are the exceptions.  For example, if Kaley and I are lying in bed at night and we hear a noise, I do not say to Kaley, hey will you go check that out.  You all would mock me relentlessly if I did that and for good cause, because you naturally know that it is the man’s job to protect the house.

Therefore, how do you honor her as a weaker vessel?  Well, you do not take advantage of your strength.  You treat her with care.  You do not lay hands on her to hurt her, nor do you use your mere physical presence to intimidate her.  You might be stronger than her physically, but Peter says treat her with honor.

For example growing up we had two kinds of plates cheap durable plastic ones and the ones that were on display in the cabinet in the dining room.  The plastic ones you could do anything with.  In fact, on days that we would eat outside by the pool the plates often doubled as bases for a baseball game.  If one was to break it was no big deal you just threw it away and got another one.

However, the plates that were on display in the dining room cabinet, you better not even go within touching distance of them.  They were weak and we treated them with care.  We do not even use them.  Not because they are of lesser value, it is because they are of greater value.  We treat these plates with more care, not less.  We honor their value by treating them with special care and not being negligent.

Too many men treat their wives as one of the boys, durable and able to handle a lot of wear and tear.  But your future wife is not one of the boys.  You will need to honor here by treating her as a weaker vessel.  By not taking advantage of your greater physical strength, but giving her special care and attention.  Husbands are urged to treat their wives with knowledge, according to the will of God.  Women are physically weaker, and the wise husband considers the biological difference between his wife and him in the relationship.

Husbands should honor their wives because they are coheirs of the heavenly destiny.  The seriousness of giving honor upon one’s wife is evident, in that husbands who refuse to do so will find that their prayers are hindered, which means that God will refuse to answer their prayers.  God does not bless with his favor those who are in positions of authority and abuse those who are under them by mistreating them.

So what is the big deal about not getting your prayers answered?  Does that not just mean I will not get that bass boat I have been wanting?  What it means is God is cutting of communication from you.  That means you will no longer feel God’s presence or have him working in your life.  God is going to treat you like an unbeliever until you come back into repentance.  (Stinson & Dumas, 2011)

Slave, Submit to Masters (1 Peter 2:18-25)

So far in our study of 1 Peter, we have learned how the Christian is to act personally, we also have learned how the Christian is to act with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and last week we looked at how Christians are to act towards the government.  Today we will continue to look at what it looks like for a Christian to be living in the world.  Today we will look specifically at what it looks like for a Christian slave to work for a worldly master.

Now with this passage we have to be careful with not imposing our historical experience of American slavery onto to what is going on in this passage.  There are some clear differences in the New Testament slavery and what happened in America just a few hundred years back.  For example, slavery in Rome was not based on race, but because they were captured in wars or because they faced economic hardships and sold themselves into slavery.

Another big difference between Roman slavery and American is that it would not be unusual for a slave to be better educated than the master.  In Rome, slaves served as doctors, teachers, managers, musicians, artisans, and many other positions.  Unlike that of America which served mainly as labors.

Therefore, as we read this passage we should not be thinking of images of what it was like for an American slave to obey his master, but how we should apply this passage to our relationship with our teachers and coaches, and one day how are we going to apply this passage to our work situation.

Starting in verse 18, Peter instructs slaves to submit to their masters, even if the masters are wicked people.  God is more glorified with our lives when we live in a way that is contrary to what the world would expect.  The world expects for slaves of bad masters to rebel.  However, Peter instructs slaves to go over the top in their service for their masters because they are ultimately working for the Lord, not the evil master.

However, Peter is not saying that Christian slaves should participate in evil or follow a corrupt master in an evil course of action.  If the slave is commanded to violate God’s will, then slaves are obligated to disobey, even if they suffer because of their disobedience.  Ordinarily, however, believing slaves will do what their masters dictate.

Peter’s point in this passage is that slaves cannot exempt themselves from doing what a master says, even if the master is wicked.  How does this relate to you all today?  One example is that a football player cannot refuse to run a certain play for a coach simply because the coach is a bad coach.  Refusal to run the play would be defensible only if the contents of the play was designed to injure or cheat.

In verse 19, we get what motivated Peter to instruct slaves on how to act.  This reason is because those who endure suffering from masters while doing what is good will be rewarded by God.  However, those that are punished while doing wrong have no reason to congratulate themselves since they are simply receiving what they deserve.  On the other hand, those who suffer while doing good and who endure such mistreatment will receive a reward from God.

So what is the main point Peter is trying to communicate?  Peter is saying that slaves who endure unjust suffering because of their relationship with God will be rewarded by God.  Therefore, we can apply this to our lives that if we have a bad teacher or coach we should go out of our way to do what they say, so that others in the classroom might see that there is something different about us.

Jesus in Luke argued that if people give love only on their friends, they are no different from unbelievers.  What distinguishes believers from others is their love for enemies and sinners.  Anyone can love someone that loves them back, but Christians are called to love those that the world sees as unlovable.  Similarly, Peter insisted that suffering for doing wrong deserves no credit, but if one suffers for doing what is right, a reward is fitting.  If we are to rebel against the bad teaching or coaching like is natural our punishment is what we deserve.  However, if we are still punished for doing what is good, then God promises us a reward.

Verse 20 explains what Peter means in verse 19 in more detail.  Those slaves who endure punishment because they have sinned will not receive any approval from God.  Only those who do what is good and experience suffering will be rewarded by God.

Peter begins verse 21 by reminding believers that they have been called to suffer, and he immediately turned to Christ as an example to be imitated.  Why are believers called to suffer in order to receive their final reward?  The answer is given in this verse.  It is because Christ also suffered for you.  Therefore, the logic of this verse is that since Christ suffered for you, you will now suffer for him.

This might sound a little radical, but when we understand fully what Christ achieved for us on the cross, we see that any amount of suffering that we face will not ever equal what Christ faced on the cross.  Jesus Christ was sinless, yet died a death of a criminal so that we can be forgiven of our sins forever.  We understand the value of Christ’s sacrifice then we are able to suffer unjustly too, so that the glory and value of our savior can be displayed.

Therefore, the suffering of believers may be like Christ’s in that it will lead some unbelievers to repentance and conversion.  Just as Christ’s suffering led to the salvation of others, so too the unjust suffering of believers will draw some to faith in Christ.  Believers are to suffer just as Christ also suffered.  Therefore, the short answer to the question, Why are believers called to suffer in order to receive their final reward?  Is so that others might come to faith in Christ, or so that others can see how valuable God is.

According to verses 22-23, Christ did not suffer for wrongdoing since He was sinless.  When he was criticized and threatened, he did not retaliate but entrusted himself and the whole situation into God’s hands.

Verses 24-25 advance the argument in that they focus on the unique character of Christ’s suffering.  His death was on behalf of his people so that He bore their sins on the cross.  The purpose was to free people from sin so that they were wandering from God like errant sheep, but now, by virtue of Christ’s death as the suffering servant, they have returned to him as their shepherd and overseer.  And Peter reminds us that our ruler is not the government, teacher, or coaches, but the Lord.  So we are to do everything for His glory, whether or not we have a good

Submit to the Government (1 Peter 2:13-17)

In this first major section of how believers are to act towards the outside world, we see that believers please God by living in a way that makes the Gospel attractive in their everyday lives.  Christians demonstrate a godly lifestyle by submitting to those in authority.  Believers should submit to government authorities, slaves should submit to masters, and wives should submit to husbands.  The goal in every instance is to live in such a way that unbelievers will glorify God and repent and believe; therefore, these sections flesh out verse 11 and 12 that we studied last week.  Christ’s suffering is the supreme example to imitate, for his own suffering was the means by which human beings returned to God.

Another theme is this section is that a godly life is necessary to receive an eternal reward.  In the summary 3:8-12, Peter called on his readers to live in a way that pleases God so that they will obtain life on the last day.

The theme of this passage can be found in the first word of our passage today.  Our theme is to submit.  What are examples of people that you have to submit to on an almost daily basisHow does it glorify God for us to submit to the government that rules over usIf we are aliens in this world would we not expect to be able to live by our own rules?

First of all, God is all powerful and has placed those authorities over you.  Sometimes it is good and in other times, God can get more glory by allowing corrupt leaders or teachers so that his people will stand out more.  So we submit to the government because we are submitting to the leaders that God has placed over us.  Second, normally government is there to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  Therefore, normally we want to be in the group that the government is praising for doing good, not evil.

Third and probably most important reason, is so that we can silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Such ignorance that we see on TV about Christians is not innocent but blameworthy, rooted in the foolishness of unbelievers.  To refer to unbelievers as foolish is no belittling of their intellectual capacities.  Because we did not come to faith because we are smarter than everyone else.  But is a reference to the use of fool in Proverbs, where the foolish are morally debased, those without a future hope.  They are foolish because they do not fear the Lord and walk in his ways.  These ignorant and foolish people are silenced by the good deeds of Christians.

My fear is that more people know what Christians are against than what we are for.  Ignorant and foolish people watch the news and hear that Christians are against abortion, so they assume we are against women’s rights.  Well, Christians are not against women’s rights, we are “for” the rights of every human being, even those that have not been born yet.  Ignorant and foolish people watch the news and hear that Christians are against gay rights, and they assume that we are against love or people being happy just because they are different from us.  However, Christians are not against being happy and in love, we are “for” how God created us to be ultimately happy and in love.

When these ignorant and foolish people meet real Christians they should come to realize that Christians are not angry hatful people, but are loving people.  So here is a hard question that many struggle with today, if Christians are about loving people why would they not allow them to live lives that make them happy?  This is because Christians want people to be ultimately happy, not just achieve short-term happiness.

If someone was on the train tracks and did not hear a train coming, it would be unloving for you not to tell them.  Therefore, if someone is on the path to eternal punishment, we need to tell them.  We need to tell them that yes, an abortion might help you from going through some financial hardships now, but it is not worth losing your soul for eternity and the guilt that you will carry for the rest of your life.  We need to tell them yes, marriage is good, but only the way that God designed it to be.

What is at stakeWhy is this important?  What is at stake is the Gospel.  The Gospel tells us that we all are sinners that are on our way to Hell because we deserve God’s wrath because we all have sinned against Him.  We all have stolen and we all have lied.  However, there is one that came and took away our sins, so that we might have a right relationship with God.  So whoever believes in Jesus and repents of their sins, is now forgiven and brought back into a right relationship with God.  Therefore, if the government starts telling everyone that they are OK and for them to pursue what makes them happy, then why would they need a savior if they do not understand what they need saving from.

In verse 16, we see that Peter was not merely concerned about the outward actions of believers but also the motivations that inform their submission.  God cares more about what is in your heart than if you are just a good moral person.  Worldly sinners can be moral.  In the Bible we see that the Pharisees were good moral people on the outside, but what does Jesus say about them?  He says they are like white washed tombs.  They are clean on the outside, but on the inside lays decay.  God wants to know what is in your heart.  Peter gives three phrases explaining the standpoint from which Christians should operate in submitting themselves to governing authorities.

First, Peter reminds us that we are free people.  Therefore, submission of believers is never out of weakness.  Second, as free people we are not to use our freedom as an excuse to indulge in evil.  Genuine freedom liberates believers to do what is good.  Those who use freedom as license for evil reveal that they are not truly free since a life of wickedness is the very definition of slavery.  Christians should never respond to the dictates of government slavishly, but they should obey out of strength and because of their freedom.

Third, believers should submit as slaves of God.  Believers do not enjoy unrestricted freedom.  Their freedom is exercised under God’s authority.  In fact, genuine freedom is experienced only by those who are God’s slaves.  One is either a slave of sin or a slave of God.  True liberty, according to the New Testament, means that there is freedom to do what is right.  Therefore, only those who are slaves of God are genuinely free.  Believers are called upon to live under God’s lordship, obeying the government as God’s slaves.

Is there ever a time in which we do not submit to the government?  Yes, if the government ever calls you to do something that is against God’s law.  For example, in Daniel 3 we see that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faithful servants of God and the King.  However, the king passed a law that at certain points of the day that people must stop what they are doing and bow down and worship the god that he had made out of gold.  Therefore, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused and were thrown into a furnace.  Although God delivered them to be able to show His power to the world, when and if we stand up against the government, we must be ready to accept the punishment that the government has for us.

What are examples of things that if the government tried to force us to do that we would have to respectfully refuse?

However, we can all agree that these cases are usually not the norm, and that we should be living lives that honor everyone, love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to fear God, and to honor our government.

The Christian Life as a Battle and Witness (1 Peter 2:11-12)

The Christian Life as a Battle and Witness

III. Living as aliens to bring glory to God in a hostile world (2:11-4:11).

  1. The Christian Life as a Battle and Witness (2:11-12).

So far in 1 Peter, we have looked at how Christians should act as individuals, we have looked at how Christians should be acting towards fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Now we will start a new section where we will be looking at how Christians should be acting towards the world.

The main point of our passage today is that believers should live as aliens in this world so that unbelievers will observe their godly lives and glorify God by coming to faith in Christ.  Christians must live exemplary lives with the kinds of good deeds that will make unbelievers take notice.  Living like everyone else in the world is not an option for a true believer.

It is like if I was to come in here late to Bible study and I said sorry for being so late, but I was headed to the Bible study and decided to check my mailbox before I left and was not paying attention and got hit by a huge southern states truck.  I got up and had to go change clothes because I had gotten them dirty from the concrete.

Now if I was to tell you all that, you know that I would be lying, right?  It would be impossible for me to be hit by a truck that big and not be physically changed.

Now how are some of you today going to tell me that you have accepted the Lord of all creation, the God that created the Grand Canyon, the God that created the mountains, and the seas, that you have accepted Him into your heart, but that you have remained unchanged?  That to me is more unbelievable than if I was to get hit by a truck and walked in here unchanged.

The main purpose of this passage said simply is that Peter is calling all Christians to the mission field.  Sharing our faith is not just for super-Christians.  It is for all Christians.  Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all the nations.  So what assurance can we have in our own salvation if we are not moved by the Holy Spirit to share with others the change that occurred in our life, the source of our joy, the source of our hope?

I would argue that we can have no assurance, because 1 John tells us that Jesus said that if you love me you will keep my commandments.  So if we are ignoring his command to go and make disciples, what hope do we have if you are not keeping this commandment?  A true Christian will be producing fruit and it is not always just fruits of the spirit.  What do fruits do?  They carry seeds to be sown, so that something new grows.  So when you are producing fruit you should be reproducing your faith.

You cannot place all your hope in a prayer you prayed, nor can you put your hope in being dunked under water at church.  If change did not come in your life that drove you to want to tell others about what Christ did for you then, I have no choice, but to question your salvation.

And as we prepare ourselves for the mission field we need to be preparing ourselves for war with the discipline of a solider.  This is because Peter makes it clear that we are in a war, “the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”  The Christian life is certainly not depicted as passive in which believers simply “let go and let God.”

Christianity is not a spectator sport.  It is something in which we become totally involved.  And we know this to be true, we do not become better at football by sitting on the sidelines watching the game, we get better by training and participating.

Passivity is one of the main enemies of biblical masculinity and it is most obvious where it is needed most.  It is a pattern of waiting on the sidelines until you are specifically asked to step in.  Even worse than that, it can be a pattern of trying to duck out of responsibilities or to run away from challenges.  Men who think conflict should be avoided, or who refuse to engage with those who would harm the body of Christ or their family, not only model passivity but also fail in their responsibilities as protectors.  If our sinful desires are allowed to run wild, then it will ultimately destroy human beings.  Not only yours, but also those around you as we will see in our next verse.  (Stinson & Dumas, 2011)

So far I have resisted from going on a Chick-fi-la rant, because I want to make it clear that what we study during Bible study is what God says, not what Joe wants to rant about for this week.  However, as I came across this passage this week in preparation I knew I was going to have to address it because it is a way to help you relate to what the original listeners of this book was going through.

The Christians of the first century were being persecuted for their faith.  That is why Peter opens up this letter telling his listeners that this world is not our home and that our hope lies in an almighty God that loves us, not with what this world has to offer.  However, the world viewed Christians with suspicion and hostility because they did not conform to their way of life (4:3-4).  Since believers did not honor the typical gods of the community, they were naturally viewed as rebellious and evil in that social context.

Does that sound familiarDid the president of Chick-fi-la come out and bash gays?  No, he simply stated his support for the traditional form of marriage and Biblical principles.  This was taken to the extreme because to those in the world that believe people should do whatever makes them happy and worship the idols of lust and freedom thought his statements were evil.

So how does Peter tell us that we should respond to these attacksBy a verbal campaign of self-defenseThe writing of articles to defend our moralityNo, Peter summons us to pursue virtue and goodness, so that their goodness would be apparent to all in society.  The evident transformation of their behavior will contradict false allegations circulating in society.  Peter’s hope is that unbelievers will glorify God because they see our good deeds.

In other words, when people in the media that have an agenda start making false claims about Christians, it should not make sense to people that know Christians, that have friends and classmates that are Christians.  When they hear reports about how Christians are gay haters and old-fashioned law pushers, they should say to themselves, I know Joe and Kaley and Stuart and Brady and JD, they are Christians and they are the opposite of these things.  Either the media is lying or there is something different about them, I wonder how they feel about all this?  Our testimony of love should overcome the false testimonies of the world.

Peter’s hope was that unbelievers will be compelled to admit that the lifestyle of believers is morally beautiful, and this admission will bring them to saving faith so that God will be glorified on the day of judgment.  Remember that God’s law is not there to be burdensome, but to be like the rules in baseball and help us get the most joy out of life.  And that is how we most glorify God with our lives.  God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

We see in this passage that the good works of believers are intended for missions.  Peter realized that not all will be saved when they observe the lives of believers.  Nevertheless, he summoned believers to holiness with the confidence that some unbelievers will be brought to faith as they see the transformed lives of believers.

We know now that unbelievers will revile against Christians, if they will do it to Chick-fi-la and can get away with it they are only going to continue to do it.  However, as they notice the goodness in our lives, some will repent and be saved, and as a result of their salvation God will be glorified.  Therefore, as we learned in the first chapter that suffering will come, but we have hope in a God that loves us and that He will use it not only for His glory, but also for our good.

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