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Category Archives: 1 Peter

Witness Without Words – 1 Peter 3:1-2


1 Peter 3:1-2 (ESV)
1  Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

In an intimate relationship like marriage, actions often speak louder than words. Words get preachy, but actions demonstrate reality.

Words can create division, but loving action builds trust. Words lay out propositional truth—the information about salvation—but actions show the living Christ in the believer’s heart and life.

Did Peter forbid a spouse to witness? Obviously not. Words built on trust and love can transform a life.

Does Peter downplay street preaching, testimonies, sermons, and personal witnessing? Truly not. He was advising married partners how to treat unbelieving spouses.

If your husband is a nonbeliever, you can strengthen your marriage not by preaching, but by living, loving, and letting God provide the opportunity for you to witness.

Under the circumstances, the wives’ best approach would be witnessing by their behavior. Their attitude should reflect loving service: They should show their husbands the kind of self-giving love that Christ showed the church.

Their lives should reflect both purity and reverence. “Purity” refers to behavior that is free from moral defilement. The wives should be pure for their husbands’ sakes, yet they would have to disobey should their husbands ask them to do something morally wrong or to participate in pagan practices.

“Reverence” is the same word translated as “respect” in 2:18 (phobos), referring to healthy fear. The wives had no protection from violence (other than murder) under the law. So these wives should not do anything to incur the displeasure of their husbands. By being exemplary wives, they would please their husbands.

At the very least, the men would then allow these wives to continue practicing their “strange” religion. At best, their husbands would join them and become Christians too.

A changed life speaks loudly and clearly and is often the most effective way to influence a family member. Peter instructs Christian wives to develop inner beauty rather than being overly concerned about their outward appearance. Their husbands will be won over by their love rather than by their looks.

This does not mean that Christian women should be dowdy and frumpy; it is good to be cheerful and attractive. But their priorities should be virtue and moderation. Live your Christian faith quietly and consistently in your home, and your family will see Christ in you.

 

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2019 in 1 Peter, Marriage

 

Understanding and Honoring Your Wife – 1 Peter 3:7


I read a fictional story called “Johnny Lingo’s Eight‑Cow Wife” (by Patricia McGerr, Reader’s Digest [2/88], pp. 138‑141) that is a parable on our text. It took place on a primitive Pacific island, where a man paid the dowry for his wife in cows. Two or three cows could buy a decent wife, four or five a very nice one. But Johnny Lingo had offered an unheard of eight cows for Sarita, a girl whom everyone in her home village thought rather plain looking. The local folks all made fun of Johnny, who they thought was crazy to pay so much for a wife.

But when the teller of the story finally sees Johnny Lingo’s wife, she is stunned by her beauty. She asks him how this could be the same woman—how can she be so different? Johnny’s reply shows that he’s nobody’s fool:

“Do you ever think,” he asked, “what it must mean to a woman to know that her husband has settled on the lowest price for which she can be bought? And then later, when the women talk, they boast of what their husbands paid for them. One says four cows, another maybe six. How does she feel, the woman who was sold for one or two? This could not happen to my Sarita.”

“Then you did this just to make your wife happy?”

“I wanted Sarita to be happy, yes. But I wanted more than that. You say she is different. This is true. Many things can change a woman. Things that happen inside, things that happen outside. But the thing that matters most is what she thinks about herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. Now she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands.”

“Then you wanted—”

“I wanted to marry Sarita. I loved her and no other woman.”

“But‑‑” I was close to understanding.

“But,” he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”

People tend to live up—or down—to how we treat them. If we offer repeated praise and affirmation, the person responds by living up to it. If we run the person down, they oblige us by meeting our negative expectations. Peter tells husbands that, like Johnny Lingo, they should treat their mates as eight-cow wives. Husbands should understand and honor their wives.

The reason Peter gives this command may startle you, if you aren’t overly familiar with the verse. We are not to treat our wives well so that we will have happy marriages, although that will be one result. Rather, we are to treat our wives properly so that our prayers will not be hindered! Isn’t that startling—that there is an undeniable connection between how you treat your wife and your prayer life! Since effective prayer is at the heart of a walk with God, this means that if a man mistreats his wife, I don’t care what he claims, he cannot be enjoying close communion with God.

Husbands are to understand and honor their wives so that they will have an effective prayer life.

Although it is only a single verse, it is brimming with profound truth that will transform every marriage if we husbands will work at applying its principles. I would translate it freely like this: “Also, husbands should dwell together with their wives according to knowledge, assigning to them a place of honor as to a delicate instrument, namely, a feminine one, as a fellow‑heir of the gracious gift of eternal life, so that a roadblock will not cut off your prayers.” There are two commands and one result: (1) Live with your wife according to knowledge; (2) Grant her honor as a fellow‑heir of the grace of life (= salvation); (3) The result: So that your prayers will not be hindered.

1. Husbands are to understand their wives.

We all have a deep-seated longing to be understood by at least one other person who cares for us and accepts us for who we are. We all enter marriage with high hopes for a deepening understanding to be built between us and our mate. And yet, all too often, a couple grows increasingly callused toward one another.

In American culture, for some reason, men are often inept at understanding their wives on a deep level. So there are disappointments and hurt feelings that never get resolved. The husband shrugs his shoulders, ignores his wife whom he doesn’t understand, and pours himself into his job, which seems to be something he can handle. She shares her feelings with women friends and gets caught up in the frenzy of raising children and running a household. And then the nest starts emptying and the wife starts thinking about going back to school and getting a fulfilling job at about the same time the husband realizes that he isn’t fulfilled through his job and what he really wants is intimacy with his distant wife (or with a younger version who excites him more). It’s no surprise that the divorce curve shoots up at this point in life.

A. Understanding your wife involves developing and maintaining togetherness in your marriage.

Peter says that you should “live with” your wife. You say, “I’ve got that down! We both live at the same address and share the same bed and eat many meals together.” But the Greek word means more than just sharing living quarters. It is used only here in the New Testament, but in the Greek Old Testament it is used several times to refer to the sexual relationship in marriage. Peter uses it to refer to the aspect of togetherness. A husband is to promote a spirit of emotional, spiritual, and physical closeness that is only possible in the commitment of marriage.

It’s significant that Peter puts the responsibility for togetherness on the husband, not on the wife. In our culture, women are often the relational ones. Men aren’t real communicative; they just sort of grunt. But the Bible puts the burden for intimacy in marriage primarily on the husband, not on the wife. If there is a drift in your marriage, men, you are to take the initiative to bring things back together. This doesn’t mean that a wife can’t act first if she notices a distance in the relationship. But it does mean that as men we are to be active, not passive, in developing and maintaining a close relationship with our wives.

It may sound perfectly obvious, but one way to develop and maintain togetherness in your marriage is to do things together. So many couples live in their own separate worlds. Men, help your wife with the dishes sometimes, not just because she needs the help, but to be together. Take walks together, go shopping together when you can. If you can’t tolerate shopping, at least drive her there sometimes and sit in the mall and watch the people or read a book. The idea is, to be together so that you intertwine your lives. As Simone Signoret observed, “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.”

B. Understanding your wife involves knowing her well.

“Dwell together with your wives according to knowledge.” This comes partly through spending time together. The Greek word means to grasp the full reality and nature of the object, based upon experience and evaluation. It is the apprehension of truth, especially (in the N. T.) of spiritual truth (see point C). But here it refers not just to spiritual knowledge, but also to a knowledge of your wife based on careful observation.

Every husband needs to become an avid student of his wife. You need to know her personality, her likes and dislikes, her needs, her strengths, her weaknesses, her fears, her hopes, her joys. Such knowledge is a personal trust to be guarded with great care. You should never bring up a vulnerable point as artillery in a disagreement.

C. Understanding your wife involves knowing God and His truth well.

To dwell with your wife “according to knowledge” means knowing her well. But also it has the nuance of knowing spiritual truth well. This is implicit in the phrase, “as fellow‑heirs of the grace of life.” This points to the vast spiritual riches that are ours equally as men and women through faith in Christ (1 Pet. 1:4, 13). As a husband leads his wife spiritually into a fuller knowledge of all that God has prepared for those who love Him, they will grow together in a depth of intimacy the world can’t know. In knowing God and His Word, we will come to know ourselves and our wives and thus be able to relate to them more adequately.

This means, men, that if you’re spiritually passive, you’re not being obedient to what God wants you to be doing as a husband. A lot of men feel inadequate spiritually. Their wives spend time going to Bible studies so that they know more about spiritual things than their husbands do. Many men leave early for work and come home late, too exhausted to spend time alone with God. I know it’s tough. But you can do what you want to do, and if growing and leading your family spiritually is a priority, you can do it.

Thus our first responsibility is to understand our wives, which means developing togetherness, knowing her well, and knowing God and His truth well.

2. Husbands are to honor their wives.

The word “grant” means to assign or apportion that which is due. A wife deserves honor (the Greek word has the nuance of value or worth). Grammatically, the phrase “as a delicate instrument, namely, a feminine one” can go either with “dwell together according to knowledge” or with “assigning her a place of honor.” I take it with the latter, the sense being, rather than take advantage of your wife because she is physically weaker, you should treat her carefully as you would a valuable instrument. A doctor would never think of taking an expensive, delicate instrument and using it to pound a nail. He would “honor” that instrument by treating it well.

In my opinion, if Christian husbands had practiced this well, we wouldn’t have the backlash of the so-called “evangelical feminist” movement. Notice the fine balance that Peter lays out: On the one hand, the wife is the “weaker vessel,” who should submit to her husband (3:1) for the protection and care she needs. On the other hand, she is a fellow-heir of the grace of life, which means that she is not inferior personally or spiritually. Her husband is not to dominate her, but rather to assign to her a place of honor. Thus the Bible maintains a distinctive role for the sexes, but it does not put down women as second-class citizens.

A major part of honoring your wife involves how you speak to her and about her. There is no room for jokes or sarcasm that put down your wife. Also, if you have children, it is your job as head of the household to make sure that they honor their mother. You model it by treating her with honor, but you enforce it by disciplining them for disrespect toward her. You should join the husband of the virtuous woman (Prov. 31:10‑31) in singing her praises. One of the things I often say to Marla and about her behind her back is that she makes our home a refuge for me. She serves you as a church by doing that, so that I get recharged for the ministry by being at home with her.

So the two commands are, Understand your wife; and, honor your wife. The result is:

3. The result of understanding and honoring your wife will be an effective prayer life.

As I said, this is a somewhat startling conclusion. I would think that Peter would have said, “so that you will have a happy marriage,” or “so that God will be glorified.” Both will be true, of course. But Peter is calling attention to something we often forget or deny: That there is always a correlation between your relationship with your wife and your relationship with God (Matt. 5:23-24; 6:14-15). If you don’t want a roadblock thrown up in your prayer life, then you must understand and honor your wife. It’s also interesting that if the Greek word translated “dwell together” has a sexual connotation, then both here and in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, Scripture brings together that which we invariably separate, namely, sex and prayer. (I’ll let you explore the theological implications of that!)

But please note: If your prayers are not effective, your life is not effective in the ultimate sense. Prayer is at the very center of life, since it is our link with the living God. Everything else in life hinges on having an effective prayer life. Yet, sadly, many Christian couples never pray together. If you don’t pray with your wife, men, why not swallow your pride or fear and begin?

Conclusion

Husbands, your work is cut out for you: To make your wife an “eight-cow” wife! You are to understand her and honor her so that your prayers will not be hindered.

The late Bible teacher Harry Ironside once had a super-spiritual young man come to him and say, “Dr. Ironside, I have a spiritual problem. I love my wife too much!” He probably thought that Ironside would commend him for his great dedication to God. But instead, Ironside wisely asked him, “Do you love her as much as Christ loved the church?” When the young man stammered, “Well, no, I don’t love her that much,” Ironside said, “Then go get on with it, because that’s the command.”

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2019 in 1 Peter

 

Living With A Difficult Husband – 1 Peter 3:1-6


1 Peter 3:1-6 (ESV)
1  Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
2  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
3  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—
4  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
5  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,
6  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

These verses are tough to explain and apply in light of our modern culture. It’s tough enough to teach about the submission of wives to godly husbands. But to teach that wives should submit even to husbands who are ungodly seems cruel and insensitive.

Wife abuse is widespread…even among Christians. Furthermore, we live in a society that values individual rights, especially of those who are pushed down by the system (such as women). We’re constantly encouraged to stand up for our rights and to fight back when we’re wronged.

Self-fulfillment is a supreme virtue in America, and those who are unfulfilled because of a difficult marriage are encouraged to do what they have to do to seek personal happiness. Submission to one’s difficult husband is not usually one of the action points!

To understand our text, we must see that Peter’s theme (which began at 2:11) is still Christian witness in an alien world. Peter didn’t want to compound the problem with a wife’s defiant behavior. So he gives instruction on how Christian women could live with their unbelieving mates in a way that would bear witness for Christ.

We need to understand several things in approaching this text. First, the qualities Peter encourages these women to adopt apply to all Christians, both men and women. We all are to develop a submissive spirit, to be chaste, reverent, gentle and quiet, with an emphasis on the inner person rather than on outward appearance.

Second, Peter’s comments do not encourage a Christian to enter a marriage with an unbelieving mate. Scripture is clear that believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14; Exod. 34:12‑16; Ezra 9:1‑4). Also, the Apostle Paul clearly states that if an unbelieving mate consents to live with a believer, the believer must not initiate a divorce (1 Cor. 7:12‑13).

What do these verses NOT say?

  • Do not leave.
  • Do not lead.
  • Do not nag him to death.

Rather, the believing wife should follow the principles Peter sets forth here, namely, that …

A Christian wife should live with a difficult husband so that he is attracted to Christ by her behavior.

Peter’s point is that godly conduct is a powerful witness, much more powerful than words without conduct. He does not mean that verbal witness is not important. In the proper context, words are essential to communicate the content of the gospel. Peter’s point is that disobedient husbands are more likely to be won by godly practice than by preaching from their wives. They will notice attractive behavior and through it be drawn to the source of that behavior—a relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to look at seven aspects of such attractive behavior and then answer three practical questions that arise.

1. Attractive behavior involves submission.

Paul recognizes a sense in Christian marriage in which each partner submits to the other under Christ, but he also goes on to state that the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church. There is a sense in which Christ submits Himself to the church in self‑ sacrificing service, but at the same time, clearly He is in authority over the church.

Two things about authority and submission. First, the purpose of authority is to protect and bless those under authority, not to benefit the one in authority. Because of sin, those in authority commonly abuse it and God will hold them accountable.

Second, God never tells husbands to get their wives to submit to them. All the commands to submit are directed to wives. A husband who focuses on his authority is out of line. His responsibilities are to love his wife sacrificially (Eph. 5:25) and to live with her in an understanding way, granting her honor (1 Pet. 3:7).

What, then, does submission mean? The Greek word is a military term meaning to place in rank under someone. But the biblical spirit of submission involves far more than just grudgingly going along with orders (as often happens in the military). Rather, submission is the attitude and action of willingly yielding to and obeying the authority of another to please the Lord.

Attitude is crucial. A disobedient little boy was told to sit in the corner. He said, “I may be sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside.” That’s defiance, not submission.

Submission involves an attitude of respect and a recognition of the responsibility of the one in authority. Rather than trying to thwart his will through manipulation or scheming, a submissive wife will seek to discover what her husband wants and do it to please him, as long as it doesn’t involve disobedience to God.

The source of many marital problems is that the wife is seeking to control the husband to meet what she perceives as her needs and the husband is seeking to dominate the wife to meet what he perceives as his needs. So you have a constant tug of war going on. That’s not the biblical pattern for husbands or wives.

2. Attractive behavior involves purity.

This means that a wife who wants to win her husband to Christ must live in obedience to God. She will be morally pure. Her husband won’t distrust her because she’s a flirt with other men. She won’t use deception or dishonesty to try to get her own way. She will learn to handle anger in a biblical way. Her hope will be in God (3:5) so that she will have a sweet spirit, even toward a difficult husband. He will see Christlikeness in her.

3. Attractive behavior involves reverence.

The idea is that a godly wife will live in the fear of God, aware that He sees all that is going on (“in the sight of God,” 3:4). To live in the fear of God means that we recognize His holiness and wrath against all sin and therefore live obediently, even when it’s hard.

4. Attractive behavior involves not nagging.

Nothing will drive a man further from the Lord than a nagging wife. Solomon said it 3,000 years ago, and it’s still true, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Prov. 21:9). And, “the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (Prov. 19:13b). Nagging will drive your husband crazy, but it won’t drive him to Christ.

Nagging will do one of two things to men: Either it will make him resist and become obstinate, or he will give in to keep the peace.

Either response is not good for the wife. If the husband becomes more obstinate, he can become abusive. This creates distance in the relationship. If he gives in to keep the peace, he becomes passive and the wife is put in the role of the decision maker, out from under the covering of blessing and protection that God designed proper authority to be.

Thus attractive behavior involves submission, purity, reverence toward God, and not nagging.

5. Attractive behavior involves a gentle and quiet spirit.

 “Quiet” does not mean mute, but rather tranquil or calm, not combative. A quiet woman exudes a confidence in her role and giftedness. She is not out to prove anything, because she is secure in who she is in the Lord. She may be “quiet” and yet be articulate and persuasive in presenting her point of view.

6. Attractive behavior involves doing what is right.

You have become Sarah’s children “if you do what is right.” Peter emphasizes this concept (2:12, 14, 15, 20; 3:6, 11, 13, 16, 17; 4:19). It always occurs in the context of others doing wrong toward us and points to the fact that our behavior shouldn’t be determined by how others treat us. We’re so prone to react to wrong treatment with more wrong treatment and then to blame our sin on the other person’s sin. But God wants us to be prepared to respond to wrongs against us by doing what is right.

7. Attractive behavior involves an emphasis on the inner person over outward appearance.

The point of 3:3‑4 is not that a woman should neglect her outward appearance, but rather that her emphasis should be on the inner person. He is not forbidding all braiding of hair or wearing of jewelry, or else he’s also forbidding wearing dresses!

A young officer who was blinded during a war met and later married one of the nurses who took care of him in the hospital. One day he overheard someone say, “It was lucky for her that he was blind, since no one who could see would marry such a homely woman.” He walked toward the voice and said, “I overheard what you said, and I thank God from the depths of my heart for blindness of eyes that might have kept me from seeing the marvelous worth of the soul of this woman who is my wife. She is the most noble character I have ever known; if the conformation of her features is such that it might have masked her inward beauty to my soul then I am the great gainer by having lost my sight.” (Donald Barnhouse, Let Me Illustrate [Revell], p. 156.)

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2019 in 1 Peter

 

I’m Not From Around Here #2 – Christian Citizenship – 1 Peter 2:13-17


We’re working from the theme of Peter’s words in verse 11: Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world…”

As Christians, our focus in primarily on our future heavenly home, so we understand the idea that “I am not from around here.”

We are responsible for many things in our life, but it all revolves around the fact that we are Christians first! And our behavior is everything to us, since it is the way friends and family see Christ in us.

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.

The concept of “behavior” is used 10 times in this letter to Christians in Peter’s day.

The Roman historian Tacitus: “These are a class hated for their abominations, for incest, and cannibalism.” (choosing to label “love your one another” and “communion around the body of Christ” in false ways).

For centuries, the Christian’s relationship to civil government has been a matter of critical importance. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel spent 400 years under Egyptian rule.

Later God gave the Jews over to Gentile rule as a consequence of their rebellion against Him.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the people of Israel, directing them to submit to Nebuchadnezzar and to Babylonian rule. They were to serve the king of Babylon and live.

The false prophets, however, promised the people that God would quickly deliver them from their bondage (see Jeremiah 27). As a result, over a period of time through a sequence of rebellions and defeats at the hands of the Babylonians, almost the entire population of those dwelling in Jerusalem and the territory of Judah were taken as captives to Babylon.

This same spirit of rebellion against foreign domination, even though divinely imposed, was evident in the Jews of Jesus’ day. Contrast their words with those of Nehemiah: Nehemiah 9:36 (NIV) “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.”

John 8:31-33 (NIV) 31  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  32  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33  They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

In the New Testament, the Jews were once again subject to foreign rule though they refused to acknowledge their sin or their subjection. This rebellious attitude posed a danger for the Jews of Jerusalem and a danger for New Testament churches such as those to whom Peter had written.

As Peter has indicated, Christianity is the fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises (1 Peter 1:10-12).

The problem was that Rome had become increasingly displeased with Jews and Judaism (see Acts 18:2, 14-17), and the Jews were persistently resisting Roman control. This led to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus just as our Lord forewarned (see Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 19:41-44).

Since Rome viewed Judaism and Christianity as closely related, the church might be falsely accused of opposing Rome. Church history provides much evidence that Rome did eventually begin to accuse the church of crimes against the state.

Peter’s words in our text are meant to avoid any unnecessary charges against the church and to arm the church with attitudes and actions which would show these charges to be false.

We Americans live in a country that was founded on a revolution and in which defiance of government authority is viewed as a basic constitutional right.

Those to whom Peter wrote lived with a government and society that was not favorable toward the Christian faith. Both Peter and Paul were executed at the hands of the Roman tyrant Nero. It was not until the fourth century, under Constantine, that Christianity was afforded official legitimacy and protection by the government.

It would have been easy for his readers to conclude that we therefore have no civic responsibility here on earth. Perhaps they would have concluded that they could disregard and disobey human government, since they were citizens of heaven, not of this earth. So Peter anticipates and counters this wrong conclusion by showing how Christian citizens must live.

13  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority…

Christians must live as good citizens by submitting to human government.

“Submit” is a favorite with Peter. In fact, it dominates much of the rest of this epistle. It is a military word, meaning to put oneself under another in rank. Submission is an attitude of respect that results in obedience to authority and positive good deeds.

  1. The purpose of human government: To promote justice and peace in society.

The government should promote justice and peace by upholding law and order and by maintaining reasonable national defense.

14  or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

This points to the power of the state to bring about justice for all.

The government does this (in part) by legislating morality. Don’t let anybody sell you the idea that we shouldn’t legislate morality. Laws against murder and theft are moral and biblical. Laws against racial discrimination reflect the biblical teaching that God is no respecter of persons. Laws should protect citizens from sin (for example, pornography and prostitution laws, drug laws, etc.). The fact that something is illegal will restrain many who otherwise may be tempted to engage in the particular activity.

The real debate is, which morality should we legislate? We can work to legislate many biblical standards which have broad social value and can be argued for apart from an appeal to the Bible. Laws against abortion, laws protecting the handicapped and the elderly, laws against pornography and child abuse, and many other such issues, can be argued for on the grounds of basic human rights, apart from Christianity.

Most unbelievers recognize the inherent “rightness” of the Golden Rule. We can use this biblical ethical standard as the basis for legislating proper morality in our democratic, pluralistic country.

What does it mean to submit to human government? Peter includes three elements:

SUBMISSION MEANS OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS OF THE STATE.

The basic meaning of the word “submit” is “obey.” Christians must obey the laws of their government unless those laws force them to disobey God. “Kings” we can apply to federal laws; “governors” we can apply to state and local laws.

SUBMISSION MEANS SHOWING RESPECT TO GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES.

You can’t obey with a rotten attitude. Peter says that we are to “honor all men,” and specifies, “Honor the king” (2:17). Since God ordained government authority, to despise such authority is to despise God Himself.

SUBMISSION MEANS POSITIVE GOOD DEEDS.

15  For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.

Peter is not referring to the government leaders as “foolish men,” but rather to the willfully ignorant who slander Christians as evildoers (2:12). “To silence” means, literally, to muzzle. The idea is that by our active good deeds, we take away the basis for criticism of Christianity from those who oppose it.

When Christians live like that in the midst of a pagan culture, it is a powerful testimony. On the other hand, when professing Christians disrespect authority, when they disobey the law, or when they just withdraw from society and live unto themselves without doing good deeds, it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who are prone to criticize Christianity.

When Israel was sent into exile in Babylon, their situation was parallel to that of Christians today, in that they were strangers and aliens in a foreign land, looking to be restored to their promised land.

God told Jeremiah (29:5-6) to “tell the exiles to build houses there, plant gardens, take wives and raise children. Then He added, “And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have peace”.

That’s good counsel for Christians who are exiled as strangers and aliens in this wicked world: Build houses, live in them, plant gardens, raise families, seek and pray for the welfare of the cities where we live. Buy property, work to improve the schools, help out in community projects, be good citizens. Submitting to government means that we obey the law, respect authorities, and do good deeds in our communities.

  1. The reason for submission to government: For the Lord’s sake.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake” (2:13). There are at least two ideas inherent in this phrase.

SINCE GOD ORDAINS CIVIL GOVERNMENT, BY SUBMITTING TO IT, WE SUBMIT TO HIM.

Both Paul and Peter wrote when the debauched, godless Nero was on the throne. Daniel lived under the ruthless Nebuchadnezzar. Since both rulers obviously fell far short of the ideal, we must conclude that we cannot make exceptions to the biblical principle of obedience to government authority based on how bad the ruler may be.

Peter knew that his readers (including us!) would not inherently gravitate toward the idea of being submissive to pagan rulers. He could hear us object, “But we’re free in Christ! We don’t have to obey a pagan tyrant!”

16  Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

17  Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 

SINCE CHRISTIANS ARE IDENTIFIED WITH GOD, OUR SUBMISSION TO GOVERNMENT BEARS WITNESS FOR GOD.

Peter singles out our love for the Christian brotherhood because if Christians fight among themselves, the watching world shrugs its shoulders and says, “Why become a Christian? They’re no different than anyone else.” The same is true if we do not show proper honor to all men, including those in civil authority.

Our love for fellow Christians and our submission and honor toward government officials is a powerful witness. Thus we submit “for the Lord’s sake.”

  1. The limits of submission to government: When honoring the government violates the fear of God.

Peter differentiates between God and the king: “Fear God, honor the king.” The emperor deserves appropriate honor, but he is not on the same level with God.

There is a fine balance that Christians must maintain, between respecting the man and his office, but not respecting him more than God. If it comes to a tug of war between God and government, we must follow God.

If the government forces us to disobey God, we first appeal to the government, if possible. If we have opportunity, we confront the government with its wrong. But if all that fails, we disobey the government and submit to our punishment.

Conclusion

J. I. Packer wrote, “It is a paradox of the Christian life that the more profoundly one is concerned about heaven, the more deeply one cares about God’s will being done on Earth.”

Christian citizens should be good citizens. The main way we do that is by submitting to our human government.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2019 in 1 Peter

 

I’m Not From Around Here #1 – Get Into the Word 1 Peter 2:1-3


“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles…”

Have you ever relied on the expression “I’m not from around here?” It’s something I’ve said quite often when someone stops me wanting information or directions when I am visiting another city, state, or country. They understand and are quite comfortable “moving on” to find someone who can help them.

Our subject is the pilgrim life (sojourners/exiles) – the fact that we are just passing through this life, journeying toward heaven. We are on this earth only for a short while and we should feel as settled in this world as we would feel if we were traveling in Mongolia. It may be a fascinating place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to sink down roots there.

Being a pilgrim just isn’t the dominant model of the Christian life for our times. Our view of Christianity is often geared to the here and now: What will it do for my marriage? How will it help me raise my kids? Will it help me succeed in my career? Will it help me overcome personal problems?  Will it help me feel fulfilled as a person?

For some, heaven is thrown in as a nice benefit at the end of the ride. But heaven is not our focus. We want to enjoy life now and cling to it as long as we’re able. We don’t view death as the gateway to everything we’ve been living for. We see it as something to be postponed and avoided at all costs. We often don’t view ourselves as pilgrims.

There’s nothing wrong and everything right about enjoying God and the blessings He freely bestows on us in this life. But if we don’t hold the things of this life loosely and aren’t focused on God Himself and on being in heaven with Him as our goal, we are holding to a shallow form of Christianity.

If we’re just living for the good life that being a Christian gives now, we won’t last very long under persecution. We wouldn’t endure much suffering. Nor would we withstand the many temptations to indulge in fleshly desires. The only thing that can steel us to endure suffering and to seek holiness in this wicked world is to live as pilgrims, bound for heaven.

Part #1: Getting Into The Word (1 Peter 2:2-3)

In his book, A Quest for Godliness J. I. Packer reports that a Puritan preacher named Laurence Chaderton once apologized to his congregation for preaching for two hours. They responded, “Sir, Go on, go on!” Ah! Every preacher’s dream! At 82, after preaching for 50 years, Chaderton decided to retire. He received letters from 40 clergy begging him not to, testifying that they owed their conversion to his ministry of the Word (p. 57).

Packer states (p. 98): Puritanism was, above all else, a Bible movement. To the Puritan the Bible was in truth the most precious possession that this world affords. His deepest conviction was that reverence for God means reverence for Scripture, and serving God means obeying Scripture. To his mind, therefore, no greater insult could be offered to the Creator than to neglect his written word; and, conversely, there could be no truer act of homage to him than to prize it and pore over it, and then to live out and give out its teaching. Intense veneration for Scripture, as the living word of the living God, and a devoted concern to know and do all that it prescribes, was Puritanism’s hallmark.” (at a seminar at Harding University, we were told that Martyn Lloyd-Jones spend MANY years teaching just from the book of Romans.)

I assure you that I won’t preach for even 35 minutes this morning. But I this will be my feeble attempt to motivate each of us to get into God’s Word consistently. More than the food we eat, we must have God’s Word!

We must have God’s Word to grow in our salvation. 1 Peter 2:2 (ESV)

2  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—

God’s Word not only imparts life to us, it nurtures and sustains it. Apart from God’s Word, we shrivel and die like a starving child whose mother’s milk has dried up and who has no other source of food. Therefore, we must have God’s Word.

What the Word is like: The word is pure (2:2).

The Greek word means, literally, not deceitful. It means unadulterated, not watered down. Dishonest merchants in that day would add water to their milk to make more profit. This was “deceitful” milk. Peter tells us to long for the pure, not-deceitful milk.

This means that the Bible, if you take it straight, tells you the honest truth about yourself. It exposes the very thoughts and motives of your heart so that you have no where to hide.

It is not uncommon, after I preach, to have someone come up to me and ask, “Did anyone tell you about what I went through this past week?” When I assure them that no one told me anything, they say, “It seemed like you knew everything and you were aiming that sermon directly at me.” It isn’t me; it’s the Bible!

We tend to deceive and flatter ourselves. But the Word of God cuts through the deception and lays out the honest truth so that we can deal with our problems.

That’s like going to a doctor who doesn’t talk about sickness, but who gives his patients sugar-coated pills that make them feel good without dealing with the root cause of their problems.

The Bible declares that the root cause of our problems is our sin. By confronting our sin and presenting God’s remedy for it, the Bible brings lasting healing.

The word is rational.

The literal translation of verse 2 is that we should long for “the pure, spiritual milk.” The word “spiritual” also means “rational” (Greek = “logikos,” from “logos”). The only other time it occurs in the Bible is in Romans 12:1, where Paul says that presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God is our “spiritual (or rational) service of worship.”

He means that it is a spiritual thing to do, since we don’t do it literally (as a burnt offering), but rather spiritually by yielding ourselves to the will of God. And, it is the reasonable thing to do in light of God’s great mercies to us.

This spiritual milk is rational–it is grasped with the mind.

Thus Christianity is essentially rational, but not rational in the worldly sense, but rational in a spiritual sense. Human reason must be subject to the written revelation God has given of Himself in the Bible. But you cannot know God without using your mind, since He has revealed Himself in the propositional revelation of the written Word.

This balance would correct many of the excesses of our day. Some Christians who are heavily subjective. They operate on a feeling level, devoid of solid theological content. Others emphasize theological content, but they’re afraid of emotions. The Word of God ought to fill our minds with the knowledge of God and move our hearts with His majesty and love.

The word is nourishing.

Peter is referring to a mother’s milk, as the analogy of newborn babes makes clear. He isn’t contrasting the milk of God’s Word with meat, as Paul does (1 Cor. 3:2). We are always to be feeding on this nourishing milk. It is simple enough for the youngest infant in the faith, but solid enough for the most mature saints.

God has designed a mother’s milk as the perfect food for newborn babies. It will immunize her baby from many illnesses and nourish her baby for growth. God’s Word will protect Christians from the many spiritual diseases which abound and nourish them to grow in the Lord.

A mother’s milk will make her baby grow for months without any other food. God’s Word will nourish Christians so that they “grow toward salvation” (2:2). Peter means salvation in its ultimate sense, which includes everything that God has provided for us who are His children. We never reach a place in this life where we can stop growing.

One thing about kids is that they’re excited about growing. Just about every home with children has a growth chart. Every few months you measure your kids and say, “Wow, look how much you’ve grown since last time!”

That’s what the Word of God is like: It’s pure; it’s rational; it’s nourishing milk that will make you grow toward salvation.

I didn’t understand this analogy until we had children of our own. Newborn babies have an intense craving for their mother’s milk! It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 a.m. If they’re hungry, they let you know about it and don’t stop letting you know about it until they get what they’re after! You can stick your finger in their mouth and they’ll suck on it for a minute (and what powerful cheek muscles they have!).

How do you get that kind of motivation for the Word of God?

NEGATIVELY, PUT OFF RELATIONAL SINS THAT HINDER THE WORD’S EFFECT IN YOUR LIFE (2:1).

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

   In the context, it is clear that these relational sins (2:1) will hinder your motivation for the Word (2:2). To “put off” means to cast aside like you take off dirty clothes. They are standard operating procedure for many people in the world, especially when they get into a tough situation. But Peter says that they are opposed to spiritual growth and they must be discarded like dirty clothes.

Let me quickly go over the list:

“Malice” is a general word for wickedness of every kind, but especially having it in for someone.

“Guile” originally meant “bait” or “snare,” thus came to mean deceit. It means to tell someone something that isn’t true, so that you trick or mislead them. It involves having ulterior motives in your communication.

“Hypocrisies” (plural) comes from a word meaning to wear a mask and refers to the many ways we can project a false image to people. If we are inconsistent between how we behave at church and how we behave at home or at work, we are engaging in hypocrisies.

“Envyings” refers to the attitude behind much deceit and hypocrisy. It means being jealous of another person or their things. It was the motive behind the crucifixion of Jesus: the religious leaders were envious of His popularity (Mark 15:10).

Envy often works itself out in all sorts of “slanderings.” This word means to speak against someone. The slanderer says nice things to the person’s face but disparaging things behind his back, with the motive of making himself look good in everyone else’s eyes.

POSITIVELY, FOCUS ON THE KINDNESS OF THE LORD (2:3). …if {since} indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Since this is a quote from Psalm 34:8 (LXX), it shows that Peter believed Christ to be God (“Yahweh” for the psalmist).

Psalm 34 must have been Peter’s favorite–he quotes from it again in 3:10-12. Also, the theme of Psalm 34 is roughly the same as that of 1 Peter.

Peter here is referring especially to the Lord’s kindness or grace that was shown to us when we trusted Him as Savior and Lord and followed faith that takes us to a burial in water (immersion) in order to have our sins forgiven.

If you’re saved, you have tasted of the Lord’s kindness, because you know that though you deserved His judgment, He showed you mercy.

The cross of Christ, where a holy God made provision for me, the sinner, so that I could experience His forgiveness and receive eternal life as a free gift, ought to be the focus of every Christian every day.

If you don’t have a craving for God’s Word, there could be several reasons. Maybe you’ve never tasted the Lord’s kindness in salvation. You need to believe that He died for your sins and that He offers His salvation to you as a free gift. Take it! And start feeding on the Bible.

You may not have a craving for God’s Word because of sin in your life. Someone has said that God’s Word will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from God’s Word. Confess and forsake it! And get back into the Bible.

You may have ruined your appetite by feeding on the junk food of this world. Read your Bible! Hunger for God’s truth. Drink it in like a nursing infant. You’ve got to have it above all else if you want to grow in your salvation.

The result?

4  As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
5  you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6  For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
8  and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

He closes this first major section of his letter by showing that our salvation must be lived out by being built upon Christ, in Christian community, with witness to the world: God’s people must keep God central, be built together as His people, and proclaim His excellencies to others.

Peter portrays the church as a living, spiritual house, with Christ as the foundation and cornerstone and each believer as a valuable element.

Paul portrays the church as a body, with Christ as the head and each believer as a contributing member. Both pictures emphasize community.

One stone is not a temple or even a wall; one body part is useless without the others.

When God calls us to a task, remember that he is also calling others to work with us. Together our individual efforts will be multiplied.

Look for those people and join with them to build a beautiful house for God.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2019 in 1 Peter, Sermon

 

Resurrection Hope -1 Peter 1:1-7


Image may contain: sky and text1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 

2  according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
5  who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Peter reveals the tremendous depth and scope of God’s plan. God chooses, destines, cleanses, and covers those who believe. All three members of the Trinity—God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—work together to take us to our final destination. What amazing teamwork and strategy.

With God’s strength, we can try harder to do more at greater risk without fear. We can face trials knowing that the final victory belongs to God.

Despite the growing threat of organized persecution, he reminded the Christians that they were and would remain God’s selected and loved people who, although strangers in this world and often persecuted by it, would eventually find their eternal rest and home with Christ.

This letter continues to encourage Christians facing trials. Two-thirds of believers around the world live under governments more repressive than the Roman Empire of the first century.

Christians everywhere face misunderstanding, ridicule, and even harassment by unbelieving friends, employers, teachers, and family members.

In some countries, converting to Christianity is punishable by death. No one is exempt from catastrophe, pain, illness, and death—trials that, like persecution, make us lean heavily on God.

The first verses of the first chapter show the perspective we should have in trials. We are chosen, but we must live as resident aliens. We know that we belong to the triune God rather than to this world. For today’s readers, as well as for Peter’s original audience, the themes of this letter are hope and assurance in Jesus Christ.

When Peter says “Grace and peace,” he’s saying much more than “Have a nice day!” Grace describes God’s character. It’s a theological statement of immense importance. The heart behind the universe is a gracious heart of love. Although he is the center of all power, God cares for you as a person.

The meaning of peace goes far beyond merely the cessation of hostilities. Peace between you and God settles your biggest problem—sin.

When God saves us, he removes all our rebellion and indifference to him. Peace with God gives you the base for solving your second tier of problems—relationships with everyone else in the world. With your relationship with God made right, you have the energy and insight to work on your human relationships. All this comes at a price you could not pay yourself; it was prepaid by Jesus on the cross.

By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.NRSV We find God’s mercy always at the center of any discussion of salvation. Only God’s mercy would allow him to have compassion for sinful and rebellious people.

Salvation is all completely from God; we can do nothing to earn it. Salvation is given to us because of God’s great mercy alone.

Christ Jesus has given us hope of eternal life. Our hope is not only for the future; it is “living.” Eternal life begins when we trust Christ and join God’s family. Regardless of our pain and trials, we know that this life is not all there is. Eventually we will live with Christ forever.

We have hope based on our conviction that God will keep his promises. We base our hope in a future resurrection on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

By rising from the dead, Christ made the necessary power available for our resurrection. Christ’s resurrection makes us certain that we too will be raised from the dead.

We shouldn’t be discouraged by earthly trials, for we have the Resurrection to be our backup.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the crucial and non-negotiable doctrines of the Bible. Here are just a few reasons why this is true:

  • Jesus declared that His resurrection would serve as His final sign, which would demonstrate that His claims and teachings are true (Matthew 12:38-40; Romans 1:4).
  • The resurrection is an inseparable part of the gospel, which must be believed (1 Corinthians 15; Romans 10:9f,).
  • The resurrection is one of the ways the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth of the gospel, convincing men that Jesus has been raised from the dead because His grave is empty and we see Him no more (John 16:8-11; note especially verse 10).
  • The resurrection is a powerful warning to those who reject Jesus as Savior because there will be a future judgment with eternal consequences. In short, the unsaved dead will be raised to life, to live forever away from the presence of God (Daniel 12:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 20:11-15).
  • In the Book of Acts, it was the apostles’ proclamation that Jesus had risen from the dead that the Jewish religious leaders found intolerable and sought to suppress (Acts 1:22; 2:31; 4:2, 33; 23:6-8).

But by the time we reach Peter’s epistles, we find Peter defending the very suffering he had avoided.

Indeed, we find him declaring suffering for Christ’s sake not only to be the will of God but the cause for rejoicing:

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (1 Peter 1:6,7).

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2019 in 1 Peter

 
 
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