RSS

Category Archives: 1 Peter

Join the Resistance

A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign nation through either the use of physical force, or nonviolence. During WWII, there were resistance movements in France, Serbia, Italy, and other countries. The resistance movement has been popularized in the most recent Star Wars movies.

As the apostle Peter closes his first letter (1 Peter 5:5-14), he encourages his readers to join the resistance. He encourages us to resist pride and to resist the enemy. We resist pride by placing ourselves under God’s authority. We resist the enemy by standing firm our faith. When we place ourselves under God’s caring authority, we can stand firm against the enemy.

Resist pride by placing yourself under God’s caring authority (5-7). Peter begins verse five with the word, “likewise.” In doing so, he links his current instruction with his previous one. In verses 1-4, he focused on church leaders. Now, he is focusing on church members. Just as elders submit to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus, so church members should submit to their leaders.

Just in case we think we are exempt from this command, Peter instructs all people to clothe themselves with the garments of humility. There’s a good chance he is thinking of when Christ put on the apron of a servant and washed the feet of the disciples. Peter strongly believes that humility is an essential part of one’s wardrobe.

By putting on humility, we resist our natural tendency towards pride. Peter quotes from the psalms when he says that God stands against the proud but take delight in the humble. By acting with humility, we place ourselves under the authority of our leaders and especially under God’s authority. And we wait for him to promote us.

Another way we demonstrate humility is by giving our cares and concerns to God. When Peter says, “casting all our cares on him,” we tend to think of a fisherman. We cast our cares, and if we don’t catch what we want, we reel it back in. However, when Peter says, “casting,” he means “to abandon.” We give our cares to God and leave them there, knowing that he is a caring God.

Hudson Taylor said, “Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God’s] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about.”

Resist the enemy by standing firm in your faith (8-11). When it comes to Satan, we tend to go to one of two extremes. We either laugh about him or we ignore him completely. We are either overly concerned and consumed or we deny his existence and power. In contrast, Peter wants us to be alert and aware.

Peter uses several key words to help us recognize our enemy for who he is. “Your” means he is a personal enemy. “Adversary” reminds us he is our opponent. “Devil” is a word that means “slanderer,” who is one of his chief strategies. “Prowls around” tells us that he is seeking prey. “Roaring lion” warns us that he is ravenously hungry. “Devour” tells us that he is focused on our complete annihilation.

We are to resist the devil by standing firm our faith. This speaks of our confidence in God and his word. It points out the need for a solid foundation of sound doctrine.

When suffering comes, we tend to feel isolated and alone. However, Peter explains that believers all over the world and going through the same trials. He also points out that suffering is brief, but glory is eternal. Peter also encourages us that the God who called us will give us strength. He will restore—mending and repairing; confirm—making solid; strengthen—fill with strength; and establish—set on a firm foundation. Since nothing is wasted in God’s will, he will use our suffering to help grow and shape our character.

Peter closes this section with a doxology of praise. The one who planned and promised is the one who has the power to make it happen.

Stand firm in the grace of God (12-14). Peter ends his letter with the encouragement to stand firm in the grace of God. He explains the letter had a two-fold purpose—to encourage and to tell of God’s grace.

Join the Resistance. Resist pride. Resist the enemy. When we place ourselves under God’s caring authority, we can stand firm against the enemy.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 26, 2018. It is the final message in a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Stand, Run, or Resist

When should we resist temptation and when should we flee? When should we stand firm in our faith and when should we run away from the enemy? Those are perplexing questions when it comes to dealing with temptation and resisting Satan.

Dr. Tom Constable has put together a helpful chart that guides us as to what to do and when to do it. It provides insight into what actions are appropriate and when to implement them. (The chart is taken from his notes on 1 Peter.)

The Christian’s Three-Fold Enemy

Problem

Solution

The World

(1 John 2:15-17)

Lust of the flesh

Lust of the eyes

Pride of life

Flee

(1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:2)

The Flesh

(Romans 7:18-24)

Deny

(Romans 6:12-13; 8:13)

The Devil

(1 Peter 5:8)

Resist

(1 Peter 5:9)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 23, 2018 in 1 Peter, Tom Constable

 

What’s a Leader to Do?

One of the greatest leaders during the 20th Century was Sir Winston Churchill. He led Great Britain during the dark days of World War II. Among his more memorable quotes were, “Never, never, never give up,” and “If you are going to go through hell, keep going.”

In his first letter, the apostle Peter warns his readers that persecution is coming. In 3:14, he states, “If you should suffer for righteousness …” In 4:17, he points out, “It is time for judgment to being at the household of God …” During times like this, people look to their leaders for comfort and guidance. It is no surprise that in 1 Peter 5:1-4, Peter explains the role and task of the church leaders. He explains that shepherd elders willingly serve as models as they lead and care for the people God has entrusted to them.

Peter’s Qualifications (1). Peter was an apostle. He was part of Jesus Christ’s inner circle. He was a leader of the church in Jerusalem. However, Peter doesn’t play those trump cards. Instead, he writes with humility and describes himself as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s suffering, and one who will share in the glory to come.

The Task of the Leader (2a). The New Testament uses three different terms to refer to the same church leaders. The words are used interchangeably in Acts 20:17, 28, and 1 Peter 5:1-2.

Greek word

English word Focus
“poimen” Pastor/Shepherd

Attitude of the leader

“presbuteros”

Elder Character of the leader
“episcopos” Overseer/Bishop

Task of the leader

Rather than provide a detailed job description for church leaders, Peter focuses more on the HOW rather than the WHAT of shepherding. We have to turn to other passages of Scripture to get a fuller idea of the task of pastors and elders. Their task includes:

  • Protecting the flock (Acts 20:28-31)
  • Feeding the flock (Acts 2:42; 6:1-7)
  • Leading the flock (Acts 11:29-30)
  • Caring for the flock (Matthew 18:15-18; Acts 6:1-7; James 5:14)
  • Shared leadership

The Manner of the Leader (2b-3). Peter spends more time addressing the manner in which leaders are to lead, and especially what they need to guard against.

 

Avoid this – “Not”

Do this – “But” Guard against
Reason Have to Want to

Laziness

Motive

Greedy Serving Self-indulgence
Style Dictator Model

Hunger for power

The Reward of the Leader (4). Peter explains that there will be a day of reckoning. Those who lead and shepherd well will receive a crown of glory.

As church leaders, we need to ask ourselves difficult questions. Am I fulfilling my responsibility? What’s my reason? What’s my motive? What’s my style or manner?

As members of the congregation, we should pray for our leaders. We should submit to their authority in order to make their task easier. We should choose leaders based on their character.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 19, 2018. It is part of an ongoing series in the book of 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

I’m Done With Sin!

Someone once asked C. S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?” “Why not?” he replied. “They’re the only ones who can take it.”

Most of us want to avoid suffering at all costs. We long for a comfortable, risk free, ease filled life. And yet Scripture teaches that there are benefits to suffering. One of which is that suffering teaches us to withstand temptation. Suffering also teaches us to live for Christ in the present because God will judge sin in the future. These principles are found in 1 Peter 4:1-6.

The noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers. So he chose three and asked them this question, “What are you doing?” The first replied, “I’m cutting stone for 10 shillings a day.” The second answered, “I’m putting in 10 hours a day on this job.” The third said, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London’s greatest cathedrals.”

Change your mind about suffering (1). In 1 Peter 3:13-17, Peter explained that it is better to suffer to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong. In 3:18-22, he showed that Christ provided the ultimate example of one who suffered for being righteous. Now in 4:1, Peter says that we need to embrace suffering by following the example of Jesus. Like a soldier putting on his armor before a battle, so we are to change how we think about suffering. In the same way that Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:7-8), so suffering helps us break free from sin. A proper attitude towards suffering can act like armor protecting us from temptation.

Live for the will of God (2). Our culture tells us to live for ourselves. We even coined the word, “selfie,” to express the desire to be the star of our own show. In contrast, Peter says that God’s will should be the compass by which we navigate our lives.

Break completely from your old habits (3). Peter tells us that we have had more than enough time to live a lifestyle of sin. It’s time to break free and stop sinning.

A catalog of sin

Sensuality

Unrestrained pleasure Sexual sins

Individual sins

Passions

Lust; evil desires

Drunkenness

Habitual nature of sin

 

Excessive drinking

Orgies

Carousing; drinking party that leads to sex

 

 

Group sins

Drinking parties

Lawless idolatry

Idol worship; bringing the world into worship

Misdirected worship

Don’t be surprised when the world acts like the world (4). If you take a stand for Christ, you may get quizzical looks. Your old friends won’t understand why you don’t want to go bar hopping with them. They may even accuse you of being “too holy.”

No one will escape the final judgment (5). God will hold everyone accountable for their actions.

Because God will judge, the gospel must be preached (6). We need to be active in sharing the gospel with those who desperately need it. Those who believe the message will have a reason and a purpose for living.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 29, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

The Triumph of the Cross

Some passages of Scripture are straightforward and easy to understand. Others are more difficult.

In our study of 1 Peter, we encounter both varieties. The commands in 1:16, “You shall be holy” and 2:11, “abstain from the passions of the flesh” may be difficult to practice, but are clear in their instructions.

1 Peter 3:18-22 is of the latter variety. These verses are a bit more confusing and challenging to understand. During the Reformation, Martin Luther commented, “This is a strange text and certainly a more obscure passage than any other passage in the New Testament. I still do not know for sure what the apostle meant.”

If we don’t handle this passage carefully, we can easily wind up with the heresy of universalism or salvation by works. If you misinterpret 3:19, “he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,” you could conclude that people have a second chance to believe after death. This would lead to universalism, the idea that everyone will eventually be saved. If you misinterpret 3:21, “Baptism … now saves you,” you can conclude that grace is not enough, that baptism is necessary for salvation. This results in the mistaken doctrine of baptismal regeneration.

When we study difficult passages of Scripture, we must remember the rules of interpretation. (1) Look for the main idea of the passage. If you spend all your time chasing cross references, you can lose the forest for the trees. (2) Study the circles of context. A verse is part of a paragraph which is part of the book which is written by an author. There should be a consistent use of a word throughout. (3) Seek the plain sense unless it doesn’t make sense. Interpret Scripture in a literal manner, taking into account figures of speech. (4) Seek agreement with orthodox theology. One verse or passage should not contradict another portion of theology. (5) Don’t build your theology on isolated and obscure passages of Scripture.

Putting these rules into practice, the main idea of 1 Peter 3:18-22 is … When you suffer for doing right, remember that Jesus died for you. Jesus’ death resulted in triumph over sin and the spirit world.

Christ died for our sins (18). Verse 18 provides the reason for Peter’s claim in verse 17 that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. Peter provides an example of what he means.

Verse 18 is one of the shortest, simplest, and richest summaries of the meaning of the cross of Christ. In a short series of statements, Peter points out that Christ’s death is all that is necessary to provide for our salvation, the ultimate purpose of Christ’s death was to bring us to God, and that the resurrection secures and guarantees the results of Christ’s death.

Christ proclaimed victory over the spirit world (19-21). In these three verses, Peter gives two vivid illustrations to reassure us of Christ’s victory and our security. It reinforces what Peter said in the previous section (13-17) about not fearing persecution.

Illustration #1 speaks of the imprisonment and judgment of disobedient spirits or angels (19-20a). These verses raise several questions and some possible answers. Who are the spirits? (1) Unbelievers from Noah’s time; (2) Old Testament believers; (3) Fallen angels. When did Christ make his proclamation? (1) During the days of Noah—pre-incarnate Christ preaching through Noah; (2) Between his death and resurrection. What did he proclaim? (1) Salvation; (2) Victory

Looking at the various options, here are the three main views of this passage. (1) Many of the church fathers believed that between Christ’s death and resurrection, Jesus preached to the dead in Hades, the realm of the dead. (2) Many of the Reformers held to the view that Christ preached through Noah to the people in Noah’s day. (3) Most scholars today believe that before or (more likely) after his resurrection, Jesus proclaimed triumph over the fallen angels.

In Illustration #2, Peter talks about the salvation of Noah & his family. However, he is really talking about baptism. The phrase, “Baptism now saves you,” does not refer to salvation by works. Rather, it is an act of obedience that demonstrates an inner change.

As the resurrected and ascended Lord, everyone and everything is subject to Jesus (22). Christ has broken the power of evil. He now sits in an exalted position of royal authority and dignity alongside God the Father. Christ’s sovereign authority over all spiritual forces is an assurance to believers facing persecution.

Implications for Today (Adapted from 1 Peter: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, by Wayne Grudem. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988, p. 160-161):

  • Noah and his family were a minority surrounded by hostile unbelievers; so are we (3:13-14; 4:4, 12-13).
  • Noah lived a righteous life in the midst of a wicked world. Peter encourages us to live the same type of life (3:13-14, 16-17; 4:3-4).
  • Noah witnessed boldly to those around him by believing God and building the ark. We are to live good lives and be prepared to answer the questions of unbelievers (3:14-17).
  • Noah realized that judgment was soon to come upon the world. Peter reminds us that God’s judgment is certainly coming, perhaps soon (4:5, 7).
  • At the time of Noah, God patiently waited for repentance from unbelievers before he brought judgment. God is still patient today.
  • Noah was finally saved with only a few others. Though we may be few, we can have the confidence that we will be saved, for Christ has triumphed and has all things subject to him (3:22; 4:13, 19; 5:10).

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 22, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Doing Good Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

It is a difficult day to be a good person. Good people are targeted for scams and shootings. Good people are taken advantage of. We wonder, what good is it to be good?

Life in a fallen world brings suffering. There is the suffering that is common to all people—disease, death, sorrow, distress, weariness, to name a few. There are also times when we suffer for our faith. This suffering or persecution can be overt, like the Romans throwing Christians to the lions or a church being burned, or subtle like being passed over for promotion because of your Christian characters and witness.

As a Christ follower, how are we to respond to suffering? In 1 Peter 3:13-17, the apostle Peter explains that when Christ is Lord of our lives, we can face suffering with confidence, knowing that every crisis is an opportunity to witness.

When you suffer for doing right (13-14a, 17). Generally speaking, when we do right, we are rewarded. When we do wrong, we are punished. However, we live in a fallen world where Christians are persecuted for doing right. If we have a choice, it is much better to suffer for doing right than for doing evil, because those who suffer for doing right are highly favored by God. Those who suffer receive God’s blessings.

Face it with confidence (14). Because the natural temptation is to bail out and run away from suffering or persecution, Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:12-13. The historical context is that the Assyrian army is invading Israel and Ahaz, the king of Judah, is tempted to form a political alliance with the kings of Israel and Syria. Isaiah warns the king to fear God, not the enemy. Peter uses the quote to encourage his readers not to be intimidated or afraid. Because we know that persecution brings blessing, we have no reason to be afraid.

Live under Christ’s authority (15a). When we fear, we allow our enemies to take control. Instead, we are to honor Christ as Lord. Since the heart is the sanctuary where Christ prefers to be worshipped, we are to place all the areas of our lives under his authority. We are to fear displeasing Christ rather than fear what people can do to us.

Share your testimony convincingly, yet graciously (15b-16). If you want to enjoy corn on the cob in the summer, you have to plant the seeds in the spring. If you want to share your faith tomorrow, you need to be preparing your testimony today. We should have a ready answer whenever anyone asks us what we believe and/or why we believe it. We need to keep in mind, however, that we are witnesses, not prosecutors. The goal is not to win an argument. The goal is to win lost people to Christ. Thus, we need to witness with grace.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 8, 2018. It is part of a series of messages on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Will you retaliate or be a blessing?

Scripture indicates that there are different ways to respond to the events of life. Start at the bottom of the chart and work your way up.

Event

Response Scripture

Characteristic

Evil Good 1 Peter 3:9 – “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

Matthew 5:44 – “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Mercy
Good Good Matthew 5:38 – “You have heard it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’” Justice
Evil Evil
Good Evil Proverbs 17:13 – “If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.” Evil

How will you choose to respond? Will you choose to retaliate or be a blessing?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 2, 2018 in 1 Peter, Scripture