1 Peter 2:4-12 – Building a spiritual house

BUILDING A SPIRITUAL HOUSE

 

1 Peter 2:4 – 12.

                   PART 1.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

As humans we are very good at slotting people we meet into little boxes = we have various social strata = we have different personality types = we judge people by the kind of jobs they do = how they dress = where they live = level of education = etc…..

On a broader scale we have divisions on the basis of language, skin colour, ethnic background, nationality, etc…

These divisions are not always negative but of course they can be.

 

In the passage before us Peter shows that from God’s perspective there are simply two groups = and this division is based on the relationship people have with the ‘Living Stone’ who is Jesus Christ.

Two issues Peter deals with    1) the twofold response to Christ

reject/accept

2) the spiritual nature of the Church

 

So far …. Peter has written about the great joy of salvation [1v3-12] and then shown how this salvation is the basis for the lifestyle the Christian should be living. In this passage before us he is now showing why it is so importance to be ‘connected to’ the foundation-/cornerstone.

 

This imagery of the stone is not new = the Jews would have understood this clearly from the OT Prophet of Isaiah [28:1-37:38] and from the Psalms.

 

The context of the quote from Isaiah concern the sovereign rule of God over history in spite of what the situation on the ground may look like. The leaders of Israel had been given great promises = these are symbolised by a stone laid in Zion [ Zion may refer to Jerusalem itself, or to the Promises may to King David and his descendent or to God’s ‘presence in the City of Zion]

Problem = the people choose disobedience, apathy and self-indulgence = the foundation of Israel/ the City are founded on the promises of God BUT the people do not trust in God.

 

 

They did not take seriously the warning from the Prophets that the judgement of God would come if they continued in their disobedience and self-indulgence. They thought they were safe simply because they lived in Jerusalem – “ God will never destroy his city!!”

 

Isaiah 28:14-18

14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem.

15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death,

with the grave we have made an agreement.

When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us,

for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding-place.”

16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:         “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,

a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

17 I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb-line;

hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding-place.

18 Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand.

When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. (NIV)

 

BUT the very foundation of their faith / the foundation on which Zion was founded was the covenant of God which they were breaking. [Often the picture of God in the OT is of God the Rock – only in relationship with this GOD are the people secure and safe]  And far from it being a secure place from the disobedience it would be the instrument of judgment.

 

Peter picks up on this imagery because as the OT unfolds the ‘Stone’ takes on significance for the coming Messiah.

In the building technique of the day the cornerstone of the foundation would be the first to be put in place = the stone would need to be square and true and very large = from it the level and angles of the walls would be set = such stones were carefully chosen and quite rare thus were very precious. The cornerstone in Solomon’s Temple was enormous = so the people had a visual aid before them.

 

This ‘Living Stone’ laid by God is clearly a ref. to Jesus = he is the one upon whom the People of God are founded.

As Peter writes this he must have in mind the Parable Jesus told about the wicked Tenants [the master who sends servants to collect rent but the tenants beat them = then he sends his son and the kill him = then Jesus quotes from Ps.118v22 “The stone the builders rejected has become the corner/capstone”]

 

 

1. THE ‘LIVING STONE’ REJECTED.

          => by people

In the OT the Stone is God who causes his people to stumble and fall injudgement when they refuse to place their trust in Him. Peter finds the responds of unbelievers to Christ to be just the same = he becomes a source of judgement instead of salvation.

 

Jesus came to his people – the Jews – and for the most part they rejected him …

John 1:11 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (NIV)

The Jewish leaders of Jesus day sought to establish their our salvation by following the written law/code [Rom.10:1-13].

BUT salvation is not in following rules BUT it is in a person, Christ = this Peter boldly declared to the same Jewish leaders after Pentecost = he confronts the very builders who rejected the stone declaring Acts 4:11-12 11 He is

” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (NIV)

 

Those who crucified Jesus had accomplished God’s purposes in spite of themselves and had served to put God’s stone in place.

 

This ‘Living Stone’ is not only rejected by the Jewish leaders of Jesus day but “rejected by men / people” [2v4] Acts 4:27 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. (NIV)

 

=> rejecting the ‘Cornerstone’ results in

                   stumbling/falling through disobedience.

The consequences of rejecting Christ are applied not just to the Jewish leaders but to all people everywhere.

Paul in Athens to the Greeks …. Acts 17:30-31 30 …… now he [God] commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (NIV)

 

The imagery of the Stone is clear. Christ is either the one in whom salvation is found OR he is the one over whom people fall by refusing to trust Him and thus he becomes not their Saviour but their Judge.

Salvation is in Christ alone = there isn’t another Saviour = there is no other cross  or resurrection =  = in rejecting Jesus unbelievers face judgement

 

1 Peter 2:8 8 and,

“A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message — which is also what they were destined for. (NIV)

 

People are not destine for God’s judgement without a choice = like Israel of old  they have the option to obey God and receive his salvation. God takes no delight in punishing people rather his desire is that all are saved ……….

1 Timothy 2:3-4 3 ….. God our Saviour, 4 … wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NIV)

 

No one is destined for judgement willy-nilly = Rather those who through disobedience stumble and fall over God’s ‘Living Stone’ are destine for judgement.

 

APPLICATION:   “Is Jesus Christ your Lord?”

“Have you repented and believed in Christ?”

“True salvation doesn’t allow for a religious veneer over a life

that say ‘I’ll do it my own way!’

Q> “Does God’s truth govern and affect EVERY part of my life or are there still some ‘no-go’ areas?”

 

2. THE ‘LIVING STONE’ ACCEPTED.

 

The stone that the people rejected is the stone that God has chosen.

Remember that Peter was probably at Jesus’ baptism when the voice of God from Heaven said “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” – he was definitely there on the Mt. of Transfiguration when God said “This is my Son whom I love listen to him!”

 

The OT leaves no doubt as to the value that God attaches to the coming Messiah – the NT identifies this Messiah as Jesus = how precious he is to God the Father is beyond question = we will never comprehend the intimacy and depth of love the Father has for the Son = we are told he has been given the highest place of honour in the universe.

He is God’s chosen and precious foundation -/ corner stone

 

          => accepting the ‘Corner Stone’ results in …

                   becoming living stones through obedience.

Jesus is not only precious to God but he also becomes precious to those who trust in him by faith.

 

The wonder of this is that Jesus is the  ‘living cornerstone/foundation’ of God’s ‘temple’ [ not a physical building but a spiritual one] AND that we [Christians] are also ‘living stones’ in the house of God.

He is the ‘Living stone’ but we too are ‘living stones’ because we are born again by his resurrection life.

 

ILLUS.: As a commoner and member of the public I have no access to the queen – however, if through circumstances I happened to become friendly with Prince Andrew and was taken by him to visit the Queen I would be given the opportunity to be in the presence of the Queen.

 

This would only be possible because of my attachment to Prince Andrew {Unlikely}

 

That is a feeble illustration of our relationship to God = we can only become ‘living stones’ part of God’s house by our attachment to Christ by faith. Until we come to Christ for salvation we are dead spiritually [Eph.2 – dead in trespasses and sins] BUT through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ was are made spiritually alive and become members of God’s household.

 

God is busy building a spiritual house – a temple for his glory.

Each Christian is a separate stone = each stone is specially quarried = each has to be shaped individually so that it will fit into God’s plan [ for the individual ‘stone’ and for the building as a whole] = sometimes the shaping can take a long time, in fact a life time = this shaping process can be painful for the believer as the rough edges are knocked off his/her personality [this is the sanctifying work of the H/Spirit [to make us holy] .

 

Each Christian is being made to fit into God building = you can imagine how much chiseling the Master Mason has to do to make each stone fit exactly the place planned for him/her.

 

NB God doesn’t used bricks = they tend to be mass produced and are all from the same mold having the same dimensions = all look the same

When God planned to build his Church he decided to use individual stones hand picked by him and then shaped to fit into an exact and unique place in his building [ the church].

 

No-one comes to Christ in exactly the same way = God’s children are not mass produced = nor are we all expected to fulfill the same roles and tasks in the Church of God = each has a distinct and unique role =

HOWEVER Each is selected and shaped to blend together with the ‘Chief Corner Stone’  and with all the other stones to form the chosen called out people of God, the Church.

 

 

          => built into a spiritual house.

 

In the OT the Tabernacle / tent and later the Temple was a picture of the Presence of God among his people, Israel [ the cloud filled the Temple as a reminder that He was their God and they were his people = in the NT no longer is God’s presence symbolised in a physical building BUT God is present in his people = the living stones that are part of Christ’s body, the Church.

 

It is true that each believer has the Spirit of God living in him/her BUT it is a mistake to think that one can live a Christian life in isolation from fellow believers.

 

Peter’s language here is not individual but corporate.

As westerner we tend to think far more individualistically than Peter’s reader would ever have thought.

 

They would not have thought first of themselves and then of the group to which they belonged [church, synagogue, family, nation …] = what they thought about themselves and what they did was in relation to the group.

The question they would ask in getting to know some would not have been, like ours, “What do you do?” BUT “To whom are you related?”

 

We talk about the Church as a community = that word has been used much in society = probably over used = we have had ‘Care in the Community’ for elderly, disabled etc… the problem is that in many/most cases the community does not care.

 

We talk of the community in which we live BUT do we know the people of the community = community is a group of people who are somehow related [not blood related necessarily] and who relate to each other  NOT JUST A COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS.

 

As Christians we are called by God to live as community = we are blood related = we are united by the blood of Christ through his death [ shedding his blood] that we are related to him and thus to each other.

 

 

We are not just a collection of individual Christians who happen to attend the same Church service on a Sunday = God calls us to:-

  • love one another [deeply from the heart]
  • care for one another
  • bear each others burden
  • be hospitable to each other
  • accept on another
  • forgive one another

 

So that        *together we can grow to be more mature Christians

*we can worship God together

*we can witness to the world around us in the hope that they too               will join us in the community of God’s people  = become living                      stones too.

 

Next week Part 2!!!!

1 Peter 2:4-12  (Part 2)

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

WHAT IS THE CHURCH TO DO?

 

(The Status and Ministry of the Church)

 

ILLUS.: Growing up in RSA as I did it was compulsory to do National Service. After school I was drafted into the Engineers Corps (Sappers) and was trained in the use of explosives, landmine detection and disarming, water purification and bridge building among other things. I was just a soldier / Private (Sapper).

Initial period of training was 1-2 years and then 1-3 month camps every year for the next 12 years.

After I finished my Theological training I was invited into the Chaplians Corps to be a Padre. This carries a high rank in the SA Army; in fact it carries the rank of Colonel. So I jumped from being a Private – which in the army is a nobody – to being a Colonel which is only one or two places below a General!!

 

To say that I had a change in status would be an understatement – As a Pvt I queued for my meals which were slopped on to stainless steel trays – “varkpanne” {pig pans} – and were usually cold by the time you got to eat it. As a Col. is sat in the Officers Mess with white table clothes and was served 3 course meals.

 

1. BECOMING THE PEOPLE OF GOD INVOLVES A CHANGE OF

    STATUS. [2v10]

 

The Christians of Peter’s day = and us today = enjoyed a huge change in status in terms of their relationship to God.

1 Peter 2:10 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (NIV)

= this came about because they had responded to God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ.

 

Peter is drawing heavily on the teaching of the OT.

God had called and chosen Israel to be his people – the 4 terms used in v.9 are drawn directly from the OT [Ex. & Dt] = chosen Race/people; Royal Priesthood; Holy Nation; God’s Possession =  BUT as time went by Israel broke God covenant = they had promised to serve him and serve him alone BUT they defiled themselves with immorality and idolatry.

God warned, through the prophets, of impending judgement but the majority continued in their own way.

In a dramatic object lesson to the people God tells the prophet Hosea to marry a an adultress [Gomer] – possibly a cult prostitute – to show how the nation of Israel had prostituted themselves in idolatry. God had remained faithful to Israel but they had proved unfaithful to him.

Gomer = Hosea’s adultress wife = had a number of children whose names had significance for the nation.

A son, Lo-Ammi [ not my people]

A Daughter, Lo-Ruhamah [not received mercy / not loved]

A gloomy prospect for Israel = to be disowned and unloved = BUT in Hos.2 God give a wonderful promise of restoration. God’s threat of judgement is always balanced with an offer of mercy … I will … make the Valley of Achor [Trouble] a door of hope.

There is always hope with God as long as people repent and acknowledge his sovereignty = God’s offer to Israel was always “… return to me and I will return to you…”

The message of the prophets always contained hope of restoration BUT not only would the remnant of Israel come to worship God but so too people from the nations of the world.

 

Isaiah 19:24-25 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. 25 The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (NIV)

 

God’s salvation and covenant blessing was to shared among the nations of the world.

It is this whole picture that Peter is referring to = in the OT the People of God were Israel although Gentiles could join the Nation BUT could not enter the Temple = Peter is saying the new Temple is made up of people from all nations = in fact the NT Temple is no a Building but the people themselves = a spiritual temple made up of believers whom Christ gathers from all nations.

 

If Israel through sin had become “NOT A PEOPLE” and had lost the right to the covenant promise THEN the grace that can restore Israel to their forfieted inheritance can equally bring unbelieving Gentiles into the intimacy of Fellowship with God.

 

Hosea had foretold this …

Hosea 2:23

23…… ….  I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one’.

I will say to those called ‘Not my people’, ‘You are my people’;

and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ” (NIV)

 

Before Christ Gentiles were excluded from entering the Temple in Jerusalem = but now in Christ things are very different …

 

Ephesians 2:19-22

19 …. you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (NIV)

 

As Christians therefore we have been changed = our status before God has changed from being ‘nobodies’ [ those who were the object of God’s anger] to being God’s treasured possession.

Now our worship is no longer coming with ritual sacrifices and ceremonies to a Temple of Physical stones.

We come now to a ‘Living Stones’ appointed by God  = it is not a physical approach to an earthly edifice BUT it is a spiritual appraoch of Faith in Christ….

1 Peter 2:4-5        4 As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him — 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (NIV)

 

2. GOD’S DESCRIPTIONS OF HIS CHURCH. [2v9a]

[Chosen People/Race = Royal Priesthood = Holy Nation = God’s Possession]

 

Each of these terms is taken from the OT = each is a study on its own

  • CHOSEN RACE / PEOPLEGod’s people is the temple made of ‘living Stones’ = God chooses to dwell in his temple /his people = we sometimes struggle with the teaching of God electing = partly because we see it too individualistically and also because we tend to divorce it from its scriptural context = It can only be received by faith and to receive it one must confess that God is God.                                          OT Israel was chosen NOT because they were better than others BUT simply because God choose them = they are a CHOOSEN people not a CHOICE people == so to us!!
  • ROYAL PRIESTHOOD  – the impact of this is somewhat lost on us who live in a democracy = for the Jews Royalty had untold privilege and to be a priest was not possible unless you were born into the Tribe of Levi = both Royalty and priesthood were unattainable ==if for the ordinary Jews then how much more for the Gentile == YET Peter writing to mainly Gentiles says they have attained this position through faith in Christ — so too us!!    == The task of offering spiritual sacrifices to God is one of the duties and privileges of God’s people. The Church is called to serve and worship the King of kings.
  • HOLY NATION – Holy does not mean super-spiritual, holier-than-thou == most nations could not claim to be holy = most behave pretty badlt at times advancing their our interests at the expense of others == YET God called Israel ‘holy’ becasue they were to be different / distinct from the nations around them because they were God’s people.                                 Peter is saying the same thing abot the Church == she is to be distinct from the world [not isolated from the world]  set aside for works of service for the glory of God.
  • PEOPLE BELONGING TO GOD. – God’s treasure possession {Mal.3:17} == think of your most tresured possession and how you care for it ==== better still think of how you tresure your children/ spouse/ etc and then think how much God tresures us by comparison.

 

What do we notice about these term – esp. the second word?

They are all collective!!

As mentioned last week one of our problems in the Western Church is that we are too individualistic = we tend to think in terms of “me” before “we”.

 

It is true to say “Jesus loved me and died to save me!!” And yes the Church is made up of individuals BUT we can’t claim to be born again into the Family/ household of God and then behave as though we were spiritual orphans. We have been born again into a family – the people of God.

 

Something that doesn’t help our individualistic view of the Christian life is the English language. Most languages have a pl. for the second person BUT in English ‘you’ can mean one person or many people = THUS we often interpret individually what the biblical writers intended corporately

 

ILLUS.: Ephesians 5:18 18 ….., be filled with the Spirit. (NIV)

We tend to apply this personally – individual spirituality yet the context is the congregation = speaking to one another = worshipping together and giving thanks to God  = and submitting to one another = these are the criterea for determining the fullness of the Spirit not some second-blessing emotional experience.

 

We are God’s people / household [v.5 spiritual house or household / family …

 

Mike Griffiths “The congregation is the family of God. We are menat to be able to relax, take our shoes off and let our hair down. Yet so often we dress up and feel very stiff and formal in Church, and some feel that is is only proper and reverent for it to be so!  We have made ‘going to Church’ more like a public occasion with pomp and circumstance instead of a family gathering. The family meets to feast and have fun, to relax and to open their hearts to eavh other. Even the Lord’s supper has tended to degenerste into a formal ceremonial and lost its quality of being a family feast. We may have businessmen’s banquets and missionary breakfasts but oh that there were more opportunity for Christians to eat and drink together before the lord as a congregation!”

 

Christians in other cultures are much more open to this kind of Church family life than we are.

 

ILLUS:. Our experience in Africa amongst Black and Indian congregations

-in Portugal

– in France ==== much more emphasis on fellowship – eating together =

 

The question is “How are we going to realize the goal of making this congregation into and effective community / family of God?”

Some of you may be groaning inwardly at the thought of more gatherings at the Church building —

Is it reasonable to expect folk to increase the number of congregational meetings they attend in the course of a week.

Young couples with children find it difficult to attand evening meeting as one must always be with the children.

Those who commute far to work find eveninf meetings difficult.

Is it realistic to expect the whole church to meet together a few times a week – improving the quality of the meetings may help – a little!!

 

Q> Does the congregation exist only when it meets together?

Q> Is the Church in cold storage from Monday to Saturday?

 

The church is not the building [in some respects building are a hinderance]

The church is the people and it exists whether gathered for worship or scattered for work and home life. === We tend to divide our lives into compartments = church = work = home etc.

Paul in Ephesians – the section we looked at about  [5:18] 18 ….., be filled with the Spirit . -and how it is in the context of congregational life == Paul goes on still about the life of the congregation to talk about relationships in the home, work place, society in general …

 

IN Peter’s letter before us he does the same == following this passage he goes on to write about life in relationship to civil authorities; husbands and wives; life in society in general  = and encouraging the church to be the church in these situations NOT only when they gather!!

 

This is what Jesus meant when he talked about being Salt and light!! [Salt is not only salt in the salt cellar BUT also when scattered.

 

What I am arguing for is that we don’t divorce our church life from the rest of life BUT realise that when we are not gathered but scattered we are still the Church – how we live = relate = what we do = has an effect both on our fellow believers and the world in which we live and their perception of God’s church.

 

Many don’t have much free time = the people of Peter’s day didn’t , many would have been slaves or paid servants few were rich = the plea is that we used the time we have well in developing fellowship/ worship with others in the congregation = one to one; in 3’s and 4’s; in house groups, as families sharing meals togther [include the children – or is all children see formal service in church most of which is over their heads and to them boring!!]

 

And yes of course when we meet together as a congregation on Sundays or whenever – and we need to work hard at making these times meaningful and relavant – all of us not just the preacher!!

 

Christians who isolate themselves by choice will find no support for that in the Bible – the church is a body / family and by whole eharted involvement and love for that family benefits the the Family/Church = enhances the individuals spiritual vitality and brings glory to God!

 

We have focussed on corporate spiritual life  BUT the whole is only as spiritual as its parts = so we are not saying personal spiritual life is less important == so let us remind ourselves of this with the words of Wesley’s great hymn  “And can it be

It reminds us that God loves ME = but remember “Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” [Eph5…]

 

 

1 Peter 2:4-12 (Part 3)

 

OFFERING SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES

AND DECLARING GOD’S PRAISES

 

(Being a Purpose-Driven Church =

= Fellowship = Discipleship = Service = Evangelism = Worship)

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Each family should have recieved new church directory. The 5 purposes outlined on the first page are drawn from a book called “The Purpose-Driven Church” by Rick Warren. [It is a very helpful/challenging book and I recommend it to all who take seriously their responsibilities as Christains and as members of Christ’s Church]

It doesn’t take much to realise that Rick Warren did not dream up these 5 purposes but that arise directly from scripture.  E.G. at the end of Acts 2      [2v42-47] we read that the infant Church ……

  • met together daily for fellowship;
  • they cared for each other – service;
  • they devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching – learning from the apostles – discipleship;
  • others saw and heard their witness – evangelism;
  • they praised God together – worship.

 

In 1 Peter 2 – the passage before us – Peter has been emphasing similar issues = we saw last week the emphasis on community – fellowship; inherent in the concept of Priesthood [v9] is worship and service – offering spiritual sacrifices [v5] has a similar meaning; declaring his praises can included both worship and witness; and clearly the thrust of v11-12 are that Christians will live honest and godly lives before unbeleivers that they will be drawn to Christ – evangelism.

 

Purpose 1. FELLOWSHIP.

 

As Christians we are called to belong, not just to believe. God wants all His children to be vital members in the local Church.

 

In the kind of society in which we live one of the greatest needs in people’s lives is a desire to belong. With the fragmentation of families – more single parent and single person households now than ever before – people often feel lonely and unloved. What is it that draws people to clubs and pub – it is the deep human need and desire to be with others – to belong. You only have to read the newspapers ‘Lonely Hearts’ column to this heart cry to belong and be loved.

 

ILLUS.: Some weeks ago I was watching BBC2 – a programme about a study done by the London School of Ecomonics = It was about health and life expectency

  • In UK the health and life expectency was highest in the 1940’s = Was it just the simple wholsome food eaten during the war/post-war years? NOT entirely – there was also a very strong sense of purpose and  community as people from all walks of life and social classes worked alongside each other.
  • In Romania people were healthier and lived longer under communist rule than when they began to experience more freedom – Life was hard but there was a strong sense of community and helping each other
  • An Italian community is USA – a life long study by one Doctor – they had a fairly unhealthy diet – very fatty – cooked everything in dripping – yet had a longer life expectency than the rest of the USA in general – they had very strong family and community bonding.

The reseachers’ conclusion was simply yet profound – people need people!! As communities/nations become more prosperous they become more isolating and selfish and more unhealthy.

 

The Bible has been saying this for centuries – God created us as relational beings and when we are isolated from other people we suffer as a result!!!

 

Feelowship is essential for a healthy Church – it is also to be a witness to the world …

John 13:34-35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

 

 

Purpose 2. DISCIPLESHIP.

 

Discipleship is the process of growing to spiritual maturity by learning to obey everything Jesus commanded.

God wants all His children to grow to become like Christ.

 

Put simply a disciple is a follower…….

ILLUS.: I expect that children today still play – as we did – ‘follow my leader’ = the purpose of the game is of course to copy /follow the leader – very simple .

 

Matthew 11:29 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (NIV)

 

John 14:15  15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. (NIV)

 

Matthew 28:19-20 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

 

NB what Jesus said = not just teach them = the church can be guilty of thinking that if we simply put converts through a 6-10 week discipleship course they graduate as disciples == NB that Jesus says ‘teach them to obey’ = this is not just a head knowledge but a knowing that changes lifestyle, attitude and touches at the heart and soul of the individual.

teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. -As we look through Matthew’s gospel and the other gospels we see Jesus teaching by word and example – what the kingdom of God is like, the values and attitudes of those in the kingdom etc…

 

Peter who was with Jesus for those years now writes, passing on what he had learned = bcoming a disciple by trusting Christ for Salvation [the Living stone] and learing to have attitudes and action in keeping with that salvation == that is what this letter of Peter’s is about.

 

As Christians we are not only called upon to believe but to be disciples – by a combination of obedience to God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer we are becoming more and more like Christ = that is the goal.

As already in 1 Peter 2 – Be holy for I am holy

 

It is the responsiblity of individual Christians to become disciples AND it is the responsibility of those who are beoming disciples to help others to also become disciples = BE DISCIPLERS!!!

 

 

Purpose 3. SERVICE.

 

God has given each believer spiritual gifts for ministry.

It is His purpose that all His Children demonstrate love by serving others using the gifts He has given to them.

 

There has been so much controversy about the gifts of the Spirit in the Church in recent times = very sad really. When spiritual gifts are seen as my personal possession to be used for my personal gratification and my personal status  THEN they are misunderstood and misused. Sadly this has been the case and is always a temptation.

 

Paul makes it abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians that the gifts are for the good of the whole body = we are to use the gifts and talents and time God has given to be ‘spiritual sacrifices’ to God. God no longer wants dead animals burned on ceremonial altars = he wants the lives of his people dedicated to serving others and thus glorifying his name!!

Jesus said ‘I didn’t come to be served but to serve…’ = as disciples this should be our aim too.

 

1 Peter 4:10 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (NIV)

 

 

Purpose 4. OUTREACH.

 

God wants each of His children to be involved in missions.

He wants us to fulfil His Great Commission locally and to the ends of the earth.

 

What is missions?

Peter has captured the essence of missions in v9 = that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light = he could be talking about worship and that is no doubt included but in the light of the contents of the rest of the letter it seems that Peter has evangelistic outreach in mind.

We need to understand that God’s great purpose and design is to bring people to know him so that they can praise him. To that end God sends his Holy Spirit to convict and convert.

Evangelism has at its centre God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ [1 Peter 1] his life/teachings/death/resurrection.

Evangelism  takes people beyond belief in God, to trust in the cross of Christ and his resurrection.

Without this basic Christian theology there is no basis for evangelism = without the cross and the resurrection we have no message of salvation and no ultimate hope in God!!

 

BUT how is this message communicated to the people of the world?

Clearly not by Christians being condemnatory of unbelievers or by taking the moral high ground. NOR by isolation from the world and then going on evangelistic forays into so called ‘enemy-territory to get a few scalps’.

NOR trying to force people to believe as has been in the Churches past == how many people have been put off the gospel because of having had to sit through boring school chapel period year after year???

 

Peter develops how we are to go about this in his letter 1) First understand what salvation is ==  2) Second live upright godly lives even in difficult circumstances 1 Peter 2:11-12

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (NIV)

3)Third, Out of the context of a godly living then talk about the gospel as you have opportunity …. 1 Peter 3:15 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (NIV)

 

All surveys show that 70-90% of people become Christians through the friendship of a Christian =  “Christian doyou have friends who are not yet Christians who you *enjoy being with and doing things with

* pray for regularly

* care for

* talk to about Jesus when the opportunity arises without                                     being obnoxious and arrogant.

 

The church has often expected unbelievers to come into meeting/missions at the Church [building] put up a banner outside / adverts in the local press and the people will flock in !!! NO! [maybe in the past but not anymore]

 

ILLUS.>  One of the elders inteview a member some time ago – one who is very gifted at talking to and befriending all kinds of people – When the subject of missions and evengelism was raised this member responded “Well if you want to do outreach then you must go out!!”

 

As individuals and as a Church if we are going to fulfil this command of Christ to “.. make disciples of all nations …” it is going to take time and effort and sacrifice == should it take any less when we consider at what cost Christ came to save us and bring salvation to the world!!

 

NB the “..make disciples ..” includes “.. all nations ..” and so our concern for outreach must be local and global.

Christ’s concern is for the world – as his followers ours must be too.

  • Pray for it – be aware of what is happening in the world  – NEWS.
  • FOCUS on one or two specific areas – E.G. as we have as a church -the Smalls in Paris = the Stanford in Bukina Faso = etc…

 

Church is to be Christ’s witness locally and globally …

Acts 1:8 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)

 

To claim to have the gift of the Spirit given to all Christians at conversion and then to fail to be concerned and committed to outreach is to abuse and to disobey the Spirit – The Spirit is given to empower God’s people to be witnesses for Him.

 

Purpose 5. WORSHIP.

 

God wants each of His children to magnify His Name in corporate and personal worship and by living for His glory daily.

 

“ offering spiritual sacrifices..” [ v5] and  “..declaring his praises..” [v9]  is also the language of worship.

 

Boardly speaking everything in the life of a Christian and the Church should be worship because ALL aspects of our lives are supposed to glorify God.

BUT in a narrower use it refers to coming into God’s presence and consciously adoring him in our hearts, praising him with our voices and speaking about him so others may near… Colossians 3:16 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (NIV)

 

One of the main reasons why God calls the Church to gather together is so we might worship him.

 

We don’t have time to look at worship in depth ==

God’s purpose is that the whole creation will praise and honour and glorify his name = all the heavenly beings worship him constantly = God all promisedin the OT that someday a great assembly, not just Israel, but from all nations would worship him before his throne .. Isaiah 2:2-4

2 In the last days

the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established

as chief among the mountains;

it will be raised above the hills,

and all nations will stream to it.

3 Many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

to the house of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us his ways,

so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion,

the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 He will judge between the nations

and will settle disputes for many peoples.

They will beat their swords into ploughshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not take up sword against nation,

nor will they train for war any more. (NIV)

 

In the NT, in Revalation, John as a vision of what the end of time will be like … Revelation 7:9-12

9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing round the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:

“Amen!

Praise and glory

and wisdom and thanks and honour

and power and strength

be to our God for ever and ever.

Amen!” (NIV)

 

Reverent corporate, then, worship is not an optional for the church of God … Rahther, it brings to expression the very being of the church. It manifests on earth the reality of the heavenly assembly” .. [Edmund Clowney]

 

To quote the Westminister Confession our ulitimate purpose is “.. to glorify God and enjoy hom forever”

Paul says a similar thing in …. Ephesians 1:12 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (NIV)

 

As individuals we are called to worship God daily in all we think and say and do = also in specail times of private prayer and scipture reading and worship — no reason why you can’t sing on your won – use song/hymn books in your private devotion = BUT we MUST meet for corprate worship to sing, prayer, study the Bible, celebrate communion TOGETHER.

 

CONCLUSION.

These five pupsoe are not neatly packaged separate compartments of the Christian life – they all overlap.

As we sevre others we have fellowship and learn from each other == in worshipping together we have fellowship and grow in maturity etc….

 

Each Christian has a responsibility to keep these five in balance == as a church we must work hard at all these areas to be a healthy, well functioning body [not just well structured and organised]

 

God wants us to –

  • belong to him and to eath other
  • to grow to be like Jesus
  • to use our talants, time and energy to serve others
  • to show and tell the world
  • to praise and worship him

 

 

THE REJECTED-ACCEPTED ‘LIVING STONE’

 

1 Peter 2:4-12.

 

‘THE LIVING STONE’

          Rejected                                      Chosen

             by people                                     by God

                                                                       (and precious)

              (Matthew 21-33-42)                                    (Matthew 16:13-18)

 

Those who reject …                           Those who accept .

                                     < RESULT >

 

– Stumble / Fall                                     – become ‘living stones’

 through disobedience                        through obedience

 (judgement)                                           built into a spiritual house

                                                 

– Chosen People

– Royal Priesthood

– Holy Nation

– God’s possession

 

       to:-

        offer spiritual sacrifices

        declare God’s praises

 

 

LET’S BE A PURPOSE-DRIVEN CHURCH

 

Purpose 1. FELLOWSHIP.

As Christians we are called to belong, not just to believe.

God wants all His children to be vital members in the local Church.

 

Purpose 2. DISCIPLESHIP.

Discipleship is the process of growing to spiritual maturity by learning to obey everything Jesus commanded.

God wants all His children to grow to become like Christ.

 

Purpose 3. SERVICE.

God has given each believer spiritual gifts for ministry.

It is His purpose that all His Children demonstrate love by serving others using the gifts He has given to them.

 

Purpose 4. OUTREACH.

God wants each of His children to be involved in missions.

He wants us to fulfil His Great Commission locally and to the ends of the earth.

 

Purpose 5. WORSHIP.

God wants each of His children to magnify His Name in corporate and personal worship and by living for His glory daily.

1 Peter 1:13-16 – “Be holy, because I am holy”

“Be holy, because I am holy”

 

1 Peter 1:13-16.

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.” (NIV)

 

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

This is the first Sunday of 1999. What are your hopes and dreams and plans for the year ahead? Do you have any or do you simply expect the next year to be more of the same?

If you had a blank cheque from the Bank of Life what would you choose to fill in? Wealth? Success? Happiness? Health? …….

 

How would you rate the following three things in order of preference?

Being happy.

Being healthy

Being holy.

 

If the Apostle Peter were here today he would make a strong appeal to us as he did to his original readers – a plea concerning our lifestyle.

 

His appeal would be to ‘Holiness’ for a very simple reason; because the One who called us is Holy. This was not Peter’s idea but God’s. It is a quote from the OT book of Leviticus – a book full of rules and regulations about how Israel was supposed to live, after God rescued them from slavery in Egypt.

 

Leviticus 11:45 I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy because I am holy.

 

God adopted Israel to be his people and took them to the Promised Land. Basically God was saying to Israel, “Now listen, I rescued you and I am holy, and now you belong to me. I have chosen you to be mine and therefore I have some expectations of you. They can be summarised like this, ‘Because I am holy you are to live holy lives’.”

 

Peter takes this OT picture and applies it to Christians. In the same way that God rescued Israel from Egypt, God has rescued us, saved us from slavery to sin and brought us into his kingdom and he now expects you and me to be holy.

 

ILLUS.: I remember as a child in SS being told a story – some of you will know it – about a little boy who made a sailing boat and one day while playing with it the wind took it out of his reach and it was gone. Weeks later he saw it displayed in a toyshop. He went rushing in and told the owner who was not inclined to return it. He went home and raided his moneybox and with some financial assistance from Dad returned to the shop and bought the Sailing boat. As he left the shop with his dad he said, ‘This is my boat twice. I made it and I bought it’.

 

In a similar way God sees us. He made us but the winds and currents of sin caused us to drift away. He wanted to get back what he had made so at great cost Jesus paid the price to set us free so that we could belong to him.

 

Everything belongs to God but those who have been redeemed – those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ – are God’s special and precious possession. And he says to us “You are mine twice!” He wants us to belong to him and to be like him – holy.

We may well choose to be happy and healthy above being holy but God clearly calls us to be holy. This is not because God is in anyway unconcerned about our health or happiness but because holiness is far more important.

  • Health is at best temporary, as we will all die.
  • Happiness is very fragile, as our feelings are fickle and vulnerable.
  • Holiness is eternal.

 

So what then is Peter trying to tell us?

 

  1. 1.     REDEMPTION / RESCUE – What God Provides.

 

We have seen that redemption means ‘to rescue’ or ‘to deliver from’. The question that comes to mind is, “Rescued / redeemed from what?”

 

1.1.         Rescued from:

 

Peter spells out some of the things we are rescued from ……. V18 “… you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you by your forefathers.”

 

Is it true that we often unthinkingly and uncritically emulate the people who have gone before us?

 

ILLUS.: A story of a newly married woman who was cooking a ham. When she cut off both ends before placing it in the pot her husband asked why. “That’s the way my mother did it!”

Curious about why he asked his mother-in-law, “That is the way my mother did it!” was the response. When he saw the grandmother some time later he asked her, “Do you cut both ends off the ham before you boil it?”

“Yes, I do” she answered. “But why? He asked/

“Because the pot is too small!!”

 

It is easy to do what has been done before simply on the basis that “It has always been done that way” what often the reason why it was done that way is long gone.

 

ILLUS.: Many churches held morning service at 11:00 am long after the reason why it was at that time no longer existed. Some still do! The reason was that in the days when most people lived on the land they needed time to get the cows milked and animals fed before coming to Church.

 

Empty lifestyles; Misguided Traditions. Peter adds evil / sinful desires that are the result of ignorance in verse 14… “..do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”

Are there things in our individual or corporate lives that are empty or done in ignorance or as a result of misguided traditions or spring from sinful desires?

We are not usually very good at recognising these things in our own lives – and we are probably making a mental list of all the other people they apply to.

If we are honest we will recognise things in our lives that are sinful, misguided and empty.

The good news is, of course, that this is what God came to rescue us from.

 

1.2.         Rescued by:

 

In addition to being rescued / redeemed from…. We are rescued by God who is merciful and kind.    1v3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth [ spiritual birth] ……”

 

The only reason we can be reconciled to God is because he is merciful. Without God’s initiative it would never have been done.

Peter explains that this rescue / redemption is not achieved through payment of gold or silver but by the blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:18-19 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were ………19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (NIV)

 

The blood of Christ points to the cross where Jesus died in our place to rescue us from eternal separation from God.

 

I am redeemed from something and I am redeemed by someone but what am I redeemed for?

 

1.3.         Rescued for:

 

Verse 17 tells us that God is our father. This suggests that when we come to God we come into a family. We are rescued for Family life with God as Father. We find a new identity and new relationship within that context.

This is what we have been redeemed for.

In this family we have been born again into a living hope [1:3] We have been given an inheritance that can never perish [1:4] and all this adds up to the salvation of our souls [1:9].

 

It is then this Redeemer God who calls us to live a holy life.

 

  1. REQUIREMENTS – What God Expects.

 

2.1. Why should we live holy lives?

Is God being unreasonable when he requires that we live holy lives? NO!

We didn’t invite ourselves but God invited us to have a relationship with.

 

ILLUS.: If you join the army you are given a uniform and you wear it proudly. If you were to wear the uniform of the enemy you would be considered a traitor.

 

If one whom God has redeemed continues to live by principles contrary to God’s requirements we could say that such a one is committing spiritual treason!

 

He who called us is holy and he expects us to wear that uniform.

 

Also he has called us to be holy. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 1:2

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, ……

 

The very character of a Christian’s life should be holiness.

 

ILLUS.: 17½  years ago Janet and I stood before a Minster and a congregation and said “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”. We promised not only to take each other BUT to keep ourselves “only for each other”. We could see all the benefits of marriage stretching out before us, but there was also a great limitation too.

But for the marriage to be real it had to go beyond vows. There had to be no abandoning in sickness; no giving up if poverty took over riches etc. Status is one thing; behaviour related to that status is another.

 

Having become married we had to show commitment to be married.

The same is true in the spiritual dimension – we are called to be what we have already become.

Rescued in Christ Jesus – status. This leads on to “called to be holy” – behaviour

 

2.2. How should we live holy lives?

1:13 Therefore prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

 

Some people have the idea that holiness is something you put on for Church on a Sunday. Others think it the exclusive possession of those who live in monasteries.

The whole point of holiness is that it is to be an integral part of everyday living. So we need to speak about holiness, not in an abstract ethereal way, but in a very down-to-earth, nitty-gritty way.

Precisely what Peter does in verse 13.

He talks about having:-

  • a well ordered mind
  • a well disciplined lifestyle
  • a well focussed goal

 

A well ordered mind.

Prepare your minds for action – “Gird up the loins of your mind” [KJV] Just as a Middle Eastern man would pull up his robes and tuck them into his belt so he could run or work unhindered so we are to keep our minds uncluttered.

How will this work? As obedient Children do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance [v.14]

God has now enlightened our minds – brought us into relationship with himself and he expects us to be obedient to him as a Heavenly Father.

“Oh, I thought God was loving and kind – What is all this about discipline and obedience?”  He is a Father to us but look at v.17 “… a Father who judges …”

God is not a soft touch. We must never drive a wedge between God’s holiness on the one hand and his Fatherhood on the other.

A well-ordered mind involves discipline and obedience.

 

We need to develop a godly mindset. Recognising that God’s ways are not the ways of the world. Understanding that if we seeking to follow God our lifestyle will clash with our culture which often condones and encourages behaviour that is contrary to a holy lifestyle.  I may feel like a misfit – so be it if that is what it takes to develop a holy lifestyle.

 

One of the reasons the church often fails to change our society is that it refuses to be a critic of the culture and becomes too assimilate into it.

 

A well disciplined lifestyle.

Be self-controlled.

It is so easy to focus on the negative – Don’t do this – Don’t do that.

Control your temper – your drinking habits – your sexual appetites – your determination to get what you want …….

All these are true and necessary.

BUT God doesn’t simply say “Don’t do this or that because I say so!”

Rather he gives a reason – he gives us the positive-  1 Peter 2:12 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (NIV)

 

While some people will be irritated and critical of you, they will be confronted by the sheer goodness of your lifestyle and the blessing the flows from your life. They will not all give God the glory, but many will.  It is tough being a misfit – the odd-one-out, BUT it is great being a life changing agent!

 

A well focussed goal.

1:13 Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed

There is a day coming when Jesus Christ will return to establish his eternal kingdom. Maybe in 1999!!

Our goal – our orientation must be there, not here. It is so easy for us to be more concerned about NOW instead of THEN. About HERE instead of THERE. About ME instead of HIM.

We need to examine our relationships and our lifestyle in terms of Christ’s eternal kingdom.

How would this habit I have fit in God’s kingdom? Would I be comfortable doing this or that if I were in Jesus’ presence?

Remember that we are in his presence!!!

We don’t need to worry that life is meaningless or wasted IF our goal is to please him at his coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. 3.     RESPONSIBILITIES – What we accept.

 

3.1. Making the right decisions.

 

When God put the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden he wasn’t being devious. He wanted us to know one of the distinctives of our humanity – the ability to choose.

There is much emphasis in modern society that humans are the victims of forces outside themselves – although more often these days it is attributed to our genes. Of course, there is true in these statements, BUT these do not cancel our ability to make choices nor our accountability to make right choices. It has even crept into Christian thinking – IF our lifestyle includes things that are incompatible with holy living then we must make the necessary decisions to put matters right.

 

3.2. Establishing the necessary disciplines.

 

Unless an alcoholic takes the decision to stop drinking he won’t stop. Decision is not enough. He must take some practical steps. Pour his liquor cabinet down the drain. Don’t take a job as a barman. Join an accountability group.

A Pornography addict may recognise that it is wrong and must stop. Decision is not enough. Discipline need to be built in. Don’t buy Newspapers or magazines that contain porn. Sell the video machine. Avoid beaches where topless bathing is allowed.

These are extreme examples but the principles apply to all manner of situations and the actions needed will be different for each individual.

The point is that if we recognise that a certain behaviour or attitude is inconsistent with Holy living then we need to set disciplines to rectify the situation.

That is the negative side. “What we need to give up.”

 

Here is the positive.

 

3.3. Encouraging Proper Desires.

 

Computer people tell us  – GIGO – “Garbage in, garbage out!”

The Bible tells us the same thing. If the input into a life is contrary to holiness the output will not be a holy lifestyle.

“What we need to start up.”

 

If we fail to feed into our lives those things that are required for a holy lifestyle we will be the poorer.

Without the regular disciplines of Prayer and Bible study, our fellowship with other Christians, of prayer with God’s family, of worship with the Church, of witness to unbelievers, ……. We will never begin to be what God wants us to be and what He knows will bring us the greatest fulfilment and sense of purpose.

 

I know life is not easy – it wasn’t easy for Peter’s readers – it is never easy – BUT God requires that we live holy lives NOW – in the present world – in the humdrum, nitty-gritty of daily living:-

  • raising children,
  • financial pressures,
  • job frustration
  • strain family relationships
  • fellow Christians who irritate and hurt us ……………

 

We can have great plans for our careers, our families, our church BUT if we fail to pursue holiness and seek first God’s kingdom we will fail!

 

It takes time and effort BUT the rewards are out of this world!!

 

Our closing hymn captures the themes of what we have focussed on:-

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord,

Abide in him always, and feed on his word.

Make friends of God’s children,

help those who are weak;

Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

 

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;

Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.

By looking to Jesus like Him thou shalt be;

Thy friends, in thy conduct,

His likeness shall see.

 

Take time to holy, let Him be thy guide:

And run not before Him whatever betide:

In joy and in sorrow still follow thy Lord,

And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His word.

 

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul;

Each thought and each temper

beneath His control.

Thus led by His Spirit and filled with His love,

Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

 

William Dunn Longstaff (1822-1894)

Hymns of Faith #444

 

“Be holy, because I am holy”

 

1 Peter 1

 

1.       REDEMPTION / RESCUE –

What God provides.

 

Rescued from:

      empty lifestyles – v.18

      misguided traditions – v.18

      sinful desires – v.14

      spiritual ignorance – v.14

 

Rescued by: 

      merciful Father – v.3

      blood of Christ – v.18-19

 

Rescued for:

      God’s family – v.17

      living hope – v.3

      secure inheritance – v.4

      salvation of our souls – v.9

 

 2.       REQUIREMENTS – What God expects.

 

Why should we live holy lives?

      because He who called is holy – v.15

      because the call is to holiness – 1 Thess.4:7

 

How should we live holy lives?

      a well ordered mind

      a well disciplined lifestyle

      a well focussed goal

 

 

3.       RESPONSIBILITIES – What we accept.

                                                          (if we are to be holy)

 

making right decisions

establishing necessary disciplines

encouraging proper desires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3 – “So What Difference Does Salvation Make Anyway?”

“So What Difference Does Salvation Make Anyway?”

 

1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: BBC Radio 4 – this past Wednesday [3/6/98] introducing “The Moral Maze” – The economies of East Asia are on the verge of collapse; Two Asian nations are on the brink of nuclear war: The Russian economy is only a heart beat away from collapse – Yeltsin’s heartbeat at that; over 3000 killed in another earthquake in Afgahnistan —- And we are living in Britian at a time when this nation is richer and more educated than at any other time in its history YET the two stories that have dominated the press this week have been Ginger Spice and Gazza – a minor, with not a lot of talent, who is the product of a massive marketing drive and a has-been footballer who stays up all night eating kebabs and drinking lager but can’t last 90 minute on the pitch!!

 

What has become of our society – are we driven by the tabloid press??

I missed the programme but have listened to them in the past – — a panel of “experts” – usually a university professor, a newspaper columnist, a religious leader, a politician etc…  — seldom is there ever agreement among the panelists  and hardly ever are there definitive answers.

 

Talk shows on radio and TV are many — Kilroy, Vanessa, Esther, Jerry Springer, Orprah, and on & on…. GMTV with its “experts” on relationships, health, and any others subject you can think of ,

 

The subject range from vandalism and victims (Kilroy this week) to Toy boys (Vanessa this week) to “I hate my mother” (Jerry Springer) … gay and lesbian issues, cohabitation vs. marriage, confronting your boss, the topics are endless.

 

Invariably they deal with some ethical/moral issue — what is interesting is how they get from the moral dilemma to a fixed view/stance without giving any foundation as to how they arrived at such a position.

You will often hear the line “If it doesn’t hurt anyone …”  or “It seems to be doing the community good…”

If anyone makes an appeal to some authority like the Qur’an or the Bible the cameras quickly move away or an accusation of fundementalism is suggested!!

 

They are trying to find answers to some of life’s most complex problems and to satisfy the sense of right and wrong in themselves and their audience BUT provide no foundation on which to secure such answers…

 

It seemsatdeep in the heart of the media is a belief in the essential goodness of people – “If we try hard enough we will find we are capable of making our world better!”  If we have enough money, enough education, enough good housing etc then we will succeed. BUT such views are shatterd by a Dunblane, or a teenager on a shooting rampage in a US highschool, or a motorist killing another motorist because he was driving too slowly ….  AND the theroy about humans being inherently good becomes about as believeable as the Easter bunny.

So where do these Talk Show Hosts get their moral values – remember that they are but representatives of society.

Answer: — It is based on the consensus of what makes sense to most rational people!!  — There is no suggestion that there might be any moral absolutes.

Q> “Whose consensus?”

You can have a whole room full of ‘rational’ people yet they will disagree on issues like abortion, criminal justice system, foreign policy, education, healthcare,  etc, etc…

 

ILLUS.: there was agreement that Dunblane was wrong BUT no agreement about the sale of handguns –

We can agree that smoking is bad for your health BUT who will ban it? — that would break down a person’s freedom of choice!!

 

I have little faith in the ability of human rationality to come up with moral boundaries that are both morally sensible and respect human freedom!!

 

The idea that popular consensus is enough to develop a moral code is fatally flawed –because we know that people don’t agree. How then can we arrive at a moral and ethical code that is binding on ALL.

 

EITHER we remain awash in the sea of Relativity —

to quote Dominic Crossan  (From the book “Truth is stranger than it used to be” by Middleton and Walsh) “There is no lighthouse keeper. There is no light house. There is no dry land. There are only people living on rafts made from their own imaginations. And there is sea.”

Does this not link with Peter’s observation about the …

1 Peter 1:18 18 ………….. the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, (NIV)

 

OR — we are driven  towards a revealing God.

 

When it comes to ethical and moral foundation we live in a society that has no anchor – everyone hasa view / an opinion BUT there is no one to say who is right — indeed is there such a thing as Right??

 

Unlike the opinion makers of our day Peter [ and the Bible in general] does not start with a belief in the essential goodness of humans — exactly the opposite

 

VERY GOOD PAL – KEEP GOING!!!!!!!!!

 

Peter says that we needs to be redeemed from these empty traditions [1v18] – that we need new life and a living hope [1v3-5] that we need to be morally and ethically purufied.

 

The human condition is in need of deliverence from hopelessness and from a moral and ethical vacuum!!

 

The ground for morality and ethics is NOT in alleged human goodness BUT in the gift of new life in Christ —

the foundation on which we need to build our behavioural beliefs and practice is on the belief in the goodness and justice of God, the sinfulness of humans, the need for divine revelatn and salvation.

To quote C S Lewis … “What is the use of telling ships how to steer so as to avoid collision if in fact they are such crazy old tubs that they can not be steered at all?” … “You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society. That is why we must go on to think of the second thing: of morality inside the individual.”

 

Peter tells us therefore that if we want to be able to make correct ethical and moral decision they MUST be based on the nature of God and the Word of God.

 

1v3-12 Peter has painted a wonderful picture of salvation then in v13 “therefore…” —— becuase of your salvation you ought to be different in how you live!!

 

What comes in these following verses is what we are called to be and do in the light of the salvation received…

 

WE ARE CALLED TO…

1. HOPE … because of God’s future. [1v13]

 

Because we have been given hope we are called to live in it.

1 Peter 1:13      ……..; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

… is the main verb – a command  – has more than future implications.

 

This hope is not just for the future when Jesus returns BUT has present ramifications – . . prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled;

When a person becomes a Christian the way he/she perceives life changes or should. Christians should be at the forefront of thinking about life and its problems —

The image is of someone tucking in their loose garment to enable them to work — “roll up the sleeves of your mind” and get stuck in. Too often Christians are unwilling to grapple with the issues of life — we must be ready to do mental work so we can understand God’s thinking.

AND we need to be self-controlled – remember it is a fruit of the Spirit- if we are hope-filled christians we can not live mindless lives seeking self-indulgence and pleasure.

Christians must be ready to do mental work and be totally focussed [self-controlled inlife’s desires] on God’s plans.

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

2. HOLINESS …because of God’s character. [1v14-16]

Peter’s call is first negative – turning away from the lifestyle we had prior to salvation. Now as a Christian you must think and act in a way that is in keeping with the character of God

Peter clearly has in mind here the relationship between parents and children – as a rule children grow up to have the chararcteristics of the parents – for better or worse. So God’s children should reflect the character of God as their father.

The mark of a Child of God is obedience…

The idea of obedience is not a popular one in a society like ourselves where respect for authority is not as highly valued as it once was.

This is reflected in the church as well where doing what makes me feel good and meets my needs takes precedence over obedience and my Christian duty!!

Yet when we look at the life of Jesus we see that for him obedience to his father was paramount. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me!”  We tend to equate  the power of the gospel with the specatular. Yet in the life of Jesus who was able to perform the spectaular — his many miracles — we see his greatest demonstration of power in his willingness to obey his Father “Not my will but your be done!”

 

If we desire to be like God – holy – his children then obedience is the key!!

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

3. FEAR OF GOD … because of God’s judgement. [1v17-21]

1 Peter 1:17-21 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (NIV)

 

God as judge of all people — a fair and impartial judge who can’t be hoodwinked because ALL the FACTS and MOTIVES are know to him should have a profound effect on our behaviour.

We are redeemed not only from a hopeless future but also from a defficient and defective past. We may think that that is not true of us because we have a christian heritage unlike Peter’s reader who had a clearly pagen past ….. to a dgree it is true our heritage is influence by Christianity BUT we must appreciate that it has also been tainted by human philosophies that are contrary to the gospel.

EG – the Period of the enlighment in Europe — human reason is enough to have an ethical moral society. Which has resulted with many in the west saying a Christian is a loving and good person THEREFORE a loving and good person is a Christian.

BUT God will judge us not on the basis of our human reason BUT rather on the basis of his holy character and his revelation in Scripture and in Christ!!

Therefore for the Christian since we know that we have been redeem NOT with perishable things like silver and gold but with the blood of Christ we shouldbe grateful to God for our new family and live in fear and holiness before him.

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

4. LOVE ONE ANOTHER … because of God’s love [1v22-25]

 

This call to love one another is also based on the foundation of the salvation received —

NB how it is still linked so directly to holiness [purify] and obedience — The result of obeying the truth — the truth is ultimately Christ — by responding to his offer of salvation and then obeying his teaching  ushers us into the realm of brotherly love.

 

1 Peter 1:22

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (NIV)

 

God’s love is not phony / sentimentality but it is genuine, sincere love.

deeply, from the heart – speaks of love that requires effort.  — used in 1 Peter 4:8 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (NIV)

It is a word that is often used to refer to the characteristics of prayer —Luke 22:44 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly [deeply], and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (NIV)

Acts 12:5 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly [deeply] praying to God for him.

 

so a love that requires fervency, constancy and effort —

Peter expects the Church to be filled with people who try to understand each other, who give the other the benefit of the doubt, and who reach out to other in the same love…

******* How do we practically do this? {ASK FOR RESPONSE!!!}

******* What is the main ingredient required in order to love like this – [need to be Christians and have the love of God internally] – BUT what is needed at a practical level?  —– TIME with each other!!!!!

*** Requires intimacy, understanding, practical tasks, etc BUT all require TIME!!

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

5. DESIRE THE WORD … because it’s God’s Truth [2v1-3]

1 Peter 2:1-3     1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (NIV)

 

The desire for the Word is an essential ingredient if we are going to life moral/ethical lives in this world… it is God’s word that will give us the direction we need to live godly.

What Peter is emphasizing here is not so much the activity of studying the Bible — e.g. home groups, Sunday services, personal study, college courses, all of which are helpful — BUT what is being stressed is the desire for such study.

He doesn’t want Christains to simply go through the mechanics of study but to have a deep desire / a spiritual craving for the Word of God.

He is not addressing baby Christian but using a bay’s craving for its mother’s milk as an example of how strongly as Christians we should desire the Word of God.

For a feeding infant the mother’s milk is not a fringe benefit it is an absolute necessity. So for the Christian the Word of God is essential for our spiritual health.

AND it must not be a wishy-washy, watered down version of the truth but the PURE milk of the word – unadulterated — get rid of envy, hypocrisy, deceit and so on …… The gospel is unique in its richness and simplicity — and the milk that Peter recommends is the whole will of God.

 

CONCLUSION.

Peter is urging us to work our salvation by building our behaviour and attitudes [ethics/morality] based on the holy and loving Character of God who gave us salvation.

Our behaviour [ethics] is not therefore something added to what we believe if we so desire BUT is part and parcel of what we believe [ our theology].

If our ethical and moral decisions and actions and attitudes are not grounded in Christian theology then they are simply more opinions blown about on the winds of pluralism.

 

Maybe you are still confused — how do these five have practical outworking in the present life of a Christian — let us take  HOPE in the future as an example.

It assures us that their will be vengence and justice and so when we don’t see it or experience it now we don’t get bitter and twisted because we know it will come.

Because we know that God’s is the final judge and we live in hope of final salvation — this shoul have an effect on all our behaviour.. Because every step we take and every move we make should be in the light of what God thinks of what we are doing.

The motivation should be a desire to please and obey God –

 

This hope in the future should shape our attitude towards materialism – we live in a society of unprecendented wealth when compared to places in Africa etc…   This does not mean that we have to live in a cardboard box BUT don’t we need special grace from God to be able to see beyond the material and pleasure seeking world to the glorious future hope and maybe tone down our purchases and rearrange our schedules so that first things are first — from God perspective!!

 

When we stop to think that we serve a Holy God who requires absolute obedience to his Word, which he commands us to desire, …that we are to love each other deeply and that one day we will all stand before this holy, impartial all-knowing judge who will require that we give account for what we said and thought and did or didn’t do.

This should cause us to carefully consider how we think — behaviour — so that our belief and our morality is firmly based on our salvation — “So what difference does salvation make ahyway?” — it should make a huge difference to our attitudes and actions!!

 

 

“SO  WHAT  DIFFERENCE  DOES SALVATION  MAKE  ANYWAY?”

 

1 Peter 1:13 – 2:3.

 

SALVATION:-    {a new birth

      (1:3-12)           {a living hope

                           {an assured inheritance

 

WE ARE CALLED TO …

       HOPE

            … because of God’s future. [1v13]

 

       HOLINESS

            …because of God’s character. [1v14-16]

 

       FEAR OF GOD

            … because of God’s judgement. [1v17-21]

 

       LOVE ONE ANOTHER

            … because of God’s love. [1v22-25]

 

       DESIRE THE WORD

            … because it’s God’s Truth. [2v1-3]

 

 

1 Peter 1:3-12 – An inheritance and hope that’s out of this world!

AN INHERITANCE AND A HOPE THAT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD!

 

1 Peter 1:3-12.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: Every week, twice a week, millions of people in the UK pay £1 – 2  for a piece of paper with a few numbers on it. With those numbers they hope against the odds, about 6million:1,  to win a jackpot of millions of pounds- a small/vain hope.

 

Fortune/treasure – the thing many hope for – it is the possibility of these being attained that keeps people going.

 

Peter assures us that Christians have both of these – certain hope and certain inheritance.

ILLUSTR: Jean Paul Sartre- French Philosopher – profound influence on Western thought – esp its rejection of Christianity and God.

          Play “NO EXIT” gives his own version of hell

                   1 Man & 2 Women – doomed to a room that seems to hold no

                   torment BUT must be in the same room together forever with no

                   sleep and without eyelids.

                   MAN – pretends to be a hero of the revolution – in reality he was

                   killed in a train crash after betraying his comrades.

                   WOMEN – even more sordid lives

                   In the forced intimacy of the room all their hidden secrets wrung

                   out.  Nothing can be hidden / nothing can be changed.

                   Prepares us for his famous line – HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE.

                   BUT Moral of play is one of doom – YOU ARE YOUR LIFE AND NOTHING ELSE.

 

Sartre destroys hope – makes us think.  Imagine if “All I could ever hope to be is what I have been rather than what I’m meant to be or hope to be!.

 

Sartre’s image falls short of God’s judgement and we are exposed not just to the lidless eyes of other sinners BUT to the all-seeing gaze of God.

 

Sartre reminds us how desperately we need hope!

 

The passage before us VV. 3-12 One long sentence. Peter praising God for his salvation. New birth is a gift – majestic hope of final salvation – joy in spite of suffering because of the final expectation – privileged to see what the ancients longed to see but couldn’t.

 

1.       GOD ESTABLISHES OUR HOPE IN CHRIST  V.3

 

We speak of ‘cherished hopes’ or ‘fond hope’: “Where there is life there is hope”!

BUT these hopes/dreams we have are often so fragile/so often short-lived.

 

ILLUSTR: Peter a good example of short-lived hopes. When Jesus dies on the cross his hope was lost. His dream of a conquering Messiah in tatters. His denials & crowing rooster a constant reminder of his hopelessness.

 

BUT Jesus did not stay dead- Peters dead hope became a living hope – his hope was reborn when he saw the living Christ.

 

SO Peter’s hope – is not a HOPE SO – he has seen the resurrected Chris                               – it is sure    –   a SURE HOPE , a hope that holds the future

in the present because it is anchored in the past .(Clowney)

 

Implications for us:-  – Christ lives : we live IF we are united to him in new birth.

– when Christ rose we rose!

– Christians hope is as sure as Christ’s resurrection.

– Jesus didn’t only make salvation possible : He made it

sure!

Resurrection of Christ – historically more evidence for this than any other ancient event of time.

SO we have this sure/certain HOPE/EXPECTATION.

 

HOW CAN WE BE SO SURE?

* Our hope is anchored in the past : Jesus rose!

*  Our hope remains in the present : Jesus lives!

* Our hope is completed in the future : Jesus is coming!

 

2.       GOD MAINTAINS OUR HOPE ; OUR INHERITANCE  V.4-5
ILLUSTR:   Picture the scene – Multimillionaire has died- reading of the will is called and all concerned are gathered. All expecting to receive part of the fortune.

-What a shock IF at reading it is discovered that in fact he was bankrupt – inheritance hoped for is gone!

-What if a beneficiary hears that she has been left £100,000 and shock of it causes heart attack and she dies too.

 

Our spiritual inheritance NOT so tenuous.

Our heavenly inheritance is kept for us AND we are kept for it!

 

Peter had heard Jesus teach about ‘storing up treasure in heaven where moths didn’t eat, rust didn’t corrode and thieves didn’t steal’.

* also understood OT – people of Israel – as strangers in Egypt/wanderers in the wilderness still had sure promise of “promised Land” as if they held the title deeds.

* We have title deeds to our heavenly property. We , like Israel of Old, are pilgrims – strangers/aliens en route to Promised Land.

*Title deeds- promise of Jesus – “ I am going to prepare a place for you.”

– Gift of Spirit – “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance

(Eph1:14)

 

NB. v5. “Ready” God’s gift of salvation is complete – it doesn’t need finishing touches.

ILLUS.: It is not a self-assemble salvation that comes in a flat-pack from MFI or Ikea….. it doesn’t need sanding and varnishing.

It is complete – we don’t need to add anything..

As we study this it becomes clear that “our inheritance” is not some material possession or physical place BUT God himself.

 

OT – God to the Priests.

Numbers 18:20

20 The LORD said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. (NIV)

As OT unfolds it becomes clear that this is true not only of the priest but of all true Israel.

NB that Christians are now “priests” – “… a royal priesthood ….” 2v9.

If we have Christ — we have everything!!!!!

Romans 8:32 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (NIV)

 

WE ARE KEPT FOR OUR INHERITANCE.

Not only is our inheritance kept for us BUT we are kept for our inheritance.

NB that it is kept “… through faith…”

 

God keeps his finished salvation for us and us for our salvation BUT not against our will. We are not chained up or locked in a cage. It is through Faith – a faith which is a gift from God – because it is not our achievement but God’s. Nevertheless we have to exercise that faith by obedience.

 

3. JOY THROUGH TRIALS IN CHRIST OUR HOPE. v6-9.

 

The Christians to whom Peter was writing were suffering because they were Christians – it was an insulting nickname in those days!! It was a new sect – outsiders were suspicious – they were accused of being cannibals -(eating the body and body of the Lord – communion) – they didn’t celebrate the pagan festivals or worship the Roman /Greek gods or the emperor – for these and other reasons they were persecuted.

 

Over and above the persecution they also suffered the normal trials and difficulties of life that are the common lot of all humans.

 

Few if any Christians in the West are persecuted for being Christian – we are protected by the democracies under which we live. That is not true for Christians in other counties – Islamic, China etc…..

 

We may not suffer the kind of persecution that Peter’s readers faced BUT as a general principle those who are faithfully obedient to the claims and commands of Jesus Christ in the midst of an unbelieving world will find opposition to their ideas and their practice.

This raises the question??…. Is the lack of opposition / suffering that we enjoy, due, at least in part, to a lack of nerve on the part of the church to challenge our contemporary world with the message of Jesus.

 

Peter’s readers suffered because they had the results of salvation in their lives — their Christian living grated against their contemporary culture.

I am not saying that we should go out of our way to invite suffering — but maybe it should and would be more part of our lives than it is IF we were bolder in our Christian living.

Because we don’t face physical persecution it doesn’t mean that we can’t face opposition ….

 

ILLUS.: may in business or politics a Christian will be opposed or sidelined because of their strong Christian stand.

 

Standing for Christian principles and values on a personal level may bring opposition at another level.

 

ILLUS.: A footballer, who is a Christian, and whose team-mates seem more intent on getting drunk and womenising rather than playing football may well find himself being ostracized because he doesn’t enter into their activities.

(being careful not to be judgemental and holier-than-thou!!!!)

 

The two central themes of this passage are Salvation and Suffering and Peter links them very carefully. The Christians suffered because their message and lifestyle gave complete and sole allegiance to Christ as Saviour.

 

The Christian message is offensive – it was in Peter’s day – it is today!!

The world in which we live is pluralistic – Pluralism, simplistically, is that all beliefs (religious or otherwise) are equally valid and no one has the right to claim that their belief is exclusively the right one let alone that others are wrong.

We must be tolerant of everyone’s viewpoint and consider them to be equally valid.

Therefore there is no need for salvation – we will all get there in the end –

[ wherever there may be!!!]

 

It is so easy therefore for the Church to become involved in socially significant ministries – because that is comfortable – and neglect the centrality of salvation which is not popular.

 

ILLUS.: Think of salvation as the hub of a wheel and all the ministries of the church as the spokes reaching out to society which is the rim — children’s clubs, youth, homeless, counselling, care of the elderly,……… the moment these ministries (spokes) become dislodged from the hub the life of salvation can no longer flow to our society.

 

It is much easier for us to talk about the Church’s activities – people accept that the church is there to provide clubs for children and the elderly, to provide a wedding and funeral service- to help the disadvantaged ….. BUT it takes nerve and backbone to talk about the need of salvation –

We are afraid of what other will think – we worry about whether or not the message will be palatable – we fret about our acceptance — often these things are more important that the gospel we claim to believe!!!

 

We settle for the comfortable way — the path of least resistance.

Somehow as Christians we have this idea that God is there to make is comfort and bless us — we forget, or don’t even know that suffering and trouble and opposition is part of being a Christian. We want to experience the benefits of salvation, the resurrection power without experiencing  the cross….

 

Don’t we read the scriptures..

Matthew 5:10-11

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (NIV)

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

 

We so easily claim verses like  …..

Philippians 3:10 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection …………

….we like the idea of experiences the resurrection power in our lives but we are prone to forget the second half of the verse….

…..and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (NIV)

 

ILLUS.: Fraser’s e-mail d/d 2/5/98 … “ … some of the MEDAIR team here still find it hard to deal with the death of one of the  girls last May ( she drown at Loki). I reckon it is in these times when life sucks and the world deals us a bad hand, that the reality of our relationship with Jesus comes through. I sense more and more that if I want to experience the resurrection power of Jesus in my life, that I am going to have to go through some ‘crucifixion’ experiences. Our culture (even our Christian culture) seems to prize comfort and blessing, and does all it can to save us from hardships and pain. I am slowly learning through some of the painful time to crawl up into the father’s arms and pour out my heart to him.”

 

Do we want to know Christ? Do we want to know the kind of power in our lives that raised Christ from the dead??

Q> Are we prepared to go the way of the cross or do we always choose the easy comfortable path!!

 

ILLUS.: Song by Chris and Laura Christensen – about God calling Abraham – for a purpose – to build a people for himself – Christians are by faith children of Abraham and God has called us to give our lives to bring others into the family of God …

Why should we his servants

leave our comfort zones

Take up our cross

Lay down our lives for others

Because we’ve seen a vision

Of God’s great family

And we must find our sisters and our brothers.

Have we grasped this vision of what God is doing in the world – and what he wants to do in us and through us?

OR as AD said a few weeks back are we content to just believe! Salvation is not about having a ticket to heaven!! It is about being a disciple – submitting to the Lordship of Christ – following his agenda. AND that agenda will always grate against the culture in which we live. If life for the church is plain sailing then it is likely that she has assimilated too much of the prevailing culture!!  It is tough to stand out as different to the contemporary lifestyle and philosophies of the day.

 

ILLUS.: young people at school, college and university – pluralistic philosophy is accepted as the norm – no one believe that we are accountable to God and need to be saved!!!!! We are simply the products of Evolutionary Determinism – “I am the way I am because of my genes // Behavioural determinism – “I am the way I am because of the way I was brought up — it is my parents fault” // environmental Determinism – “I am the way I am because of the environment in which I live – if I have more, a better job and lived in a better area I would be a better person

It is extremely difficult to hold Christian beliefs under such circumstances!!!

 

Trials / suffering / difficulties are part and parcel of the Christian’s life!!

BUT Peter says we are to rejoice …. in the suffering?? NO!! in the salvation that is ours

 

“In this..” or “in WHOM” — i.e. in Christ – our salvation is wrapped up in him!!

Yes we may suffer – we will suffer!! BUT  there is reason to rejoice……

  • our hope in Christ points us beyond the trials. Our troubles last only for a little while; our hope in Christ is forever.
  • our joy is strengthen through the very suffering that we endure. Peter says that God keeps us for glory by faith. Our faith must continue through to the end of life’s pilgrimage. IF our faith is going to last it must be purified and stress-tested. Gold must go through the furnace. (v.7). Trials and suffering should not surprise us or cause us to doubt God BUT rather God sends/allows trials to strengthen our trust in him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our confidence in SELF and drive us to Jesus. Fire does not destroy gold it only removes the impurities – that what God wants to do in our lives!!
  • when Jesus comes he will bring more than an end to suffering; he will bring his reward of blessing. Our trials are never forgotten by God…

Psalm 56:8

8 you record my wanderings: you put my tears into your bottle: are they not in your book? (nKJV)

2 Corinthians 4:17 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (NIV)

Romans 8:18

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (NIV)

  • a supreme  reason  for rejoicing in spite of suffering is not the glory that we will receive BUT rather that we will share in Christ’s glory. our sufferings don’t earn us the glory we will be given. The praise glory and honour v.7  may well be what God receives from our proven faith rather than what we receive. In any case IF we receive any crowns of glory it will be our joy to cast them at the Saviour’s feet.

Revelation 4:10 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: (NIV)

 

4. GOD’S PROMISES OF HOPE ARE FULFILLED IN CHRIST. v10-12

 

OT foretold the coming of the suffering conquering Messiah – they had a blurred picture of his first and second coming. BUT it becomes clear that he must first suffer and then enter his glory.

NB that is it is the Spirit of Christ v.11 who instructs the prophets – he is not simply that one of whom the prophets speak BUT he is the one who speaks through the prophets about himself.

 

A strong principle of suffering and glory comes through in the NT. The Messiah had to suffer and then enter his glory. That pattern has profound meaning for the church.

 

Our suffering is not a sign that Christ has betrayed us or that he is no longer Lord … rather it is a sign of our fellowship with the risen Lord who first suffered for us.

 

CONCLUSION.

Don’t think that the joy of salvation is only future and that it is all suffering now — NO! Peter whole point is that we can know the joy of salvation inspite of the trials — but the future joy will be even more glorious.

BUT we can have fulness of joy NOW …..

1 Peter 1:8 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (NIV)

are filled    present tense.

 

Jesus has come – the Holy Spirit has been given – the kingdom of God has already come. Our hope is realised – we know Christ. BUT because Jesus is coming again the Kingdom of God is yet to come – the goal of our faith is still future.

 

God’s salvation is full and complete – although there is a greater fullness to come – there is more than enough to fill us with inexpressible joy now.

 

We need to accept / trust / by faith to enjoy the fullness of God’s gift …

 

ILLUS.: man from working class back ground won world cruise – after few week and many wonderful ports and sight struck up a conversation with another passenger, who remarked, “I haven’t seen you before – I see most people in the dining room”. REPLY “Oh I can’t afford to eat in the diningroom – I have some crackers and cheese and a few biscuits and eat in my cabin!”

Response from the fellow passenger “But don’t you realize the food is included!”

 

Are we enjoying the fullness of all God wants to give us / do through us and in OR are we content with biscuits and cheese alone in our small corner!!

 

God grant us the faith to receive from him all he wants to give us!! hope and joy in the present — inheritance in the future!!

 

 

AN INHERITANCE AND A HOPE …… THAT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD!

 

1 Peter 1:3 – 12.

 

1. GOD ESTABLISHES OUR HOPE IN CHRIST. v3.

 

      –  Our hope is anchored in the past: Jesus rose!

      – Our hope remains in the present: Jesus lives!

      –  Our hope is completed in the future: Jesus is coming again!

 

2. GOD MAINTAINS OUR HOPE: OUR

     INHERITANCE. v4-5.

 

      –  Our inheritance is kept for us.

            “…an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you…”

      –  We are kept for our inheritance.

            “…who through faith are shielded by God’s power …”

 

3. JOY THROUGH TRIALS IN CHRIST OUR HOPE. v6-9.

       –  Trials / suffering are part and parcel of the Christian life. Matthew 5:10-11; John 16:33.

      –  Knowing resurrection power comes via the cross.  Philippians 3:10.

      –  We can rejoice in our salvation despite trials:..

  • Our struggles are always temporary.
  • Our hope in Christ points beyond trials.
  • Our joy is strengthened through the very sufferings we endure.
  • Jesus’ return will bring more than an end to suffering; it will bring his reward of blessing.
  • We will share Christ’s glory.

 4. GOD’S PROMISES OF HOPE ARE

    FULFILLED IN CHRIST. v10-12.

The OT prophets spoke of Christ AND he was the one who spoke through the prophets about himself.

      –  Suffering / glory principle runs through scripture.

           “…Messiah had to suffer AND THEN enter his glory …”

      –  Our sufferings/ trials are NOT a sign of betrayal BUT a mark of fellowship with our risen Lord.

 

We can rejoice in our salvation NOW,

despite struggles, in the knowledge

that the best is yet to come!

1 Peter – “Suffering Saints”: An Introduction and Overview

1 Peter  “SUFFERING SAINTS”

An Introduction and Overview.

 

The major themes of 1 Peter are SALVATION (including future/eternal/certain hope) and SUFFERING (specifically for being a Christian).

 

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

[Sunday 26th April 1998 – after not preaching since 18th January due to illness]

 

  • Thanks – Prayers // cards and letters // meals // visits (being ill for extended period is a very isolating experience so really appreciate those who have come and chatted about everyday things in the world  – time is a great gift to give each other).
  • Thanks – to those who have taken on extra responsibilities to keep things running smoothly – esp. the elders and deacons.

 

Some Lessons:

What have I learned during these 3 months – or rather what am I learning? I would be lying if I said it had not been difficult.

Share some thoughts in the hope that it will help others who are in difficult circumstances. So often we come to Church week after week and our hearts are breaking // or we are facing real doubts and struggles BUT we wear masks and pretend all is well and we never deal honestly with our feelings with other people, with ourselves and with God.

Some think that because I am a pastor I have some extra ability to trust God through difficulty that is not available to other Christians – assure you this is not so!

Times in last few years and esp. last 3 months that I have been so angry with God that if had been sitting next to me I would have punched him on the nose!! Maybe that shocks some of you!! Times when I have ‘shouted’ at him! Times when I have told him I don’t like and don’t agree with what he is doing! Times when I couldn’t and didn’t want to pray or read my Bible – sometimes for weeks!!

 

I have learned that God has broad shoulders – he doesn’t zap us with bolts of lightening when we express our deepest feelings. We think we can’t tell God how we feel when we are angry with him or arguing with him –and we feel guilty and hide from him.

When we go through these periods – “dark nights of the soul”  – as some have called them God does not abandon us. We are in a relationship // he doesn’t get in a huff and go away when we express anger or frustration.

 

David in the Psalms told God how he felt ..

Psalm 13:1-3

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; (NIV)

 

We can so easily lose the force of David’s cry by dressing it up in ‘churchy jargon’ – David’s cry is “God, talk to me – say something – say anything – why have you abandon me!”

 

BUT God is there – slowly, reluctantly I would again reach for my Bible and the Holy Spirit would have been at work all the time – sustaining – — lying in hospital wondering whether the treatment would be effective etc… the words of Ps. 54v4 leapt off the page at me “But God is my helper. He is the one who keeps me alive!” [NLT]

When all is said and done it is God that we have to deal with – he calls us to himself – he is at work in us and through us in the ‘ups and downs’ of life.

The Challenge / responsibility that God calls his people to is to live for him // holy and godly lives // in the midst of life’s circumstances whatever those circumstances might be!!

 

Peter is doing this / encouraging and challenging his readers, the Christians of Asia to live for Christ in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances. He doesn’t for a moment minimizes or trivialize the suffering they face.

The question that Peter is dealing with in his letter is “How do Christians live in difficult circumstances and keep their faith and hope in God?”

 

INTRODUCTION.

The circumstances that Peter’s readers faced are very different to ours – they were being persecuted for being Christians. None of us will face that kind of suffering in the Western world (in others parts of the world certainly) – we might face mocking and rejection but none of our lives are at risk because we are Christians.

 

The fundamental question that Peter is addressing is “How is the Church  (whether persecuted or not) to relate to the world of its day?” There is always going to be opposition.

 

So the letter is about SALVATION – CHURCH – CHRISTIAN LIFE.

 

Today we are going to look at 1v1-2 and dip into other parts of the letter to get a feel for the overall theme and challenge of 1 Peter.

 

1 Peter 1:1-2

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (NIV)

 

 

1. THE GOD OF SALVATION.

 

These verses gives us a wonderful picture of God – of how the Trinity is involved in the rescue plan (salvation).

Believers – those in Asia to whom Peter is writing and us too – are who we are, not by chance but according to the foreknowledge of God, through the sanctifying work (making holy) of the Holy Spirit, for the obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.

 

What does all that mean??

 

1.1. Father – chose you.

The teaching of scripture that God chooses // elects us can be a reason for great assurance and contentment for Christians. The fact that the love grace and salvation of God to us is not dependent on our ability to earn it and hold on to it. It is secure in his sovereign power and will.

 

However this teaching of God’s election / foreknowledge has also severely shaken many Christians in their faith (some even to the point of abandonment).

Reason – preacher and teacher have often plucked it out of its context and studied it in sterile isolation — it then becomes insensitive and can be very damaging to the gospel and the Christian experience.

 

ILLUS.:  Bolt without nut.

 

When election is taken out of its biblical context and divorced from human responsibility it is misunderstood and the gospel message is perverted.

God never ‘forces’ unbelievers to believe against their will.

It is true that God chooses but it is never a despotic, insensitive coercion — the bible always understands humans as participating and responding to God in freedom and choice.

When election becomes a violent abuse of the human will it is no longer biblically accurate.

 

Beautifully expressed in the words of  a hymn “.. He drew me, and I followed on.”  (Happy day! Happy day!)

 

1.2. Spirit – changed you.

Sanctification – The work of the Spirit in the life of the believer to make him/her like Christ ..

1 Peter 1:15-16 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (NIV)

 

After seen as what happens in a believers life after conversion BUT the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work is at every stage of the believers life.

  • initially to bring us to Christ.
  • throughout life to help us grow in Christ – cooperation required on our part.
  • at the end to make us perfectly like Christ when we seen him.

 

1.3. Son – cleansed you and commanded you.

“sprinkling by his blood.” – Peter is using the imagery from the OT when the People of Israel agreed to obey the words and laws of the Lord ..

Exodus 24:3-8

3 When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” 4 Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.

He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”

8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (NIV)

 

In the NT the new covenant is seal by the blood of Jesus by which believers are sprinkled, figuratively speaking, to cleanse from sin.

 

NB how in the OT and here this ‘sprinkling by blood’  – is linked to obedience.

Believers are never to be passive in this act of salvation – Yes it is God’s work but we must respond with obedience {both are necessary — like a nut and bolt!!}

1 Peter 1:14&22 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance………. 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (NIV)

 

2. THE PEOPLE OF SALVATION.

 

Who are the recipients of this salvation??

 

2.1. Strangers.

Peter calls them “Strangers in the world” – it is quite likely that his readers were in fact strangers physically – people who had been moved around because of the Roman authorities – this being the case they would have been socially and politically disenfranchised – strangers and aliens in the communities in which they lived.

Peter uses this imagery to describe their spiritual state as well.

1 Peter 1:17

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. (NIV)

1 Peter 2:11

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (NIV)

 

This thought is picked up in a number of places in the Scriptures – the idea that God’s people are pilgrims on a journey.

Abraham – looking for a City whose builder and maker is God.

The Nation of Israel – with the hope of the promised land.

Jesus – with the promise of going to prepare a place for his disciples.

Paul – heavenly citizenship

Peter – strangers and aliens in this world.

 

Old song  “.. this world is not my home, I’m just a’passing through…”

 

This has always caused Christians tension – as believers we are citizen of God’s kingdom / of another world YET we are at the same time called to live “Holy and godly lives” in this world! Christians are not at liberty to withdraw from the world and live in holy huddles NOR are we at liberty to conform to the world and sacrifice our call to holy living.

Peter addresses this tension in his letter – come back to this in weeks to come!!

 

2.2. Sufferers.

 

A major theme of this letter is addressing the fact that these Christians are suffering because they are Christians. Not all suffering is because they are Christians. Not all sufferings that Christians endure is because they are Christians.

There is suffering that is simply the common lot of many people.

There is suffering as a result of our own fault and foolishness. [4v15]

There is suffering as a direct result of being a Christian. This is what Peter is addressing in this letter. — come back to this on the weeks ahead!! — as there are vital principles we can learn regarding the hard circumstances of life and how we as Christians are to respond!!

 

2.3. Saints.

 

“God’s elect..” – belong to God, his people, his community

1 Peter 2:9

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, ..

 

Peter doesn’t use the word CHURCH but clearly that is what he is referring to.

 

To God’s elect, [COMMUNITY – CHURCH]  strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, (NIV)

 

Paul talks of being “In Christ – in Ephesus — in Corinth etc…”

“Saints” – in the NT is always pl. – no concept in the NT of Christians in isolation – always in community. We are called to the community of God’s people – this becomes our primary relationship, the family of God, the Church.

 

In 1v3-12 Peter outlines the glory of salvation – anchored in the death and resurrection of Christ it is sure and certain – sustained in the present by the power of the Spirit – assured of an eternal future glory, an inheritance that can not be lost or damaged ——- in v13 he says “Therefore …” and spells out the practical outworking of this glorious salvation .

 

The “therefore” is the obedience part of the salvation.

In relation ——–

  • to God – “Be holy for he is holy”
  • to church – spiritual family – he spells out how we are to relate to each other. The church is to be God’s witness to the world around – By what it says – YES — but also by what it is. This is to be seen in how we treat each other – demonstrate community – show hospitality — love each other — It is easy to look at the Church and see all the weaknesses — of course they are there! Easy to look at each other and be critical …….. BUT what we need to do is look at these things Peter says and see them as a challenge and vision of what we can be if we commit to God and the community of His people.               REMEMBER that all human institutions and organisation are confined to this world and will come to an end  BUT the Church will last forever – she is Christ’s bride – Does it not make both spiritual and practical sense to commit ourselves wholehearted to that which Christ died for.!!
  • to family – husbands and wives – family life.
  • to colleagues – employers and employee – work environment.
  • to society in general.

 

Why is it important how we as Christians relate to each other and all these other groups of people?

1 Peter 2:9        9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

We are to live godly lives right in the midst of a society that for the most part rejects/ ignores God, always ready to give an answer for why we are what we are.

1 Peter 3:15 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (NIV)

 

1 Peter 2:12 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (NIV)

 

CONCLUSION.

 

Being the people of God – having received his salvation – we are called to live it out in this world despite all the possible difficulties and opposition – and there will be.

BUT Peter reminds us through the letter that

 

 

 

 

1 PETER

AN INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW.

 

1. THE GOD OF SALVATION.

      ² Father   – chose you

      ² Spirit    – changed you

      ² Son       – cleansed / commanded you

 

2. THE PEOPLE OF SALVATION.

      ² Strangers

      ² Sufferers

      ² Saints

                   – in relation to:

                        –  God – Father; Son; Spirit

                        –  Church – community of saints

                        –  Family – husbands/wives

                        –  Colleagues – work environment

                        –  Society – local community

                   – purpose:

                        –  to witness by godly conduct and conversation

                        –  so that God’s glory is shown

 

Salvation

 – based on the sure work of Christ on the cross

 – lived out in the present with the sure promise of the Spirit’s help

 – guaranteeing a living, eternal, certain, glorious, future hope