August 11, 2019
Genesis 1:1, Revelation 21:6a
Back to Basics
Pastor Bryan Watson
Good morning. Before we begin our sermon time, let’s look to the Lord for guidance.
Our Precious Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word this morning. Please open our hearts and ears to hear and understand Your message to us this morning. Thank You for the privilege that I have of speaking this message to Your people this morning. Please guide me as I share. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.
Over the past 3 Sundays as we have been working through 1 Peter, the topic has been “suffering, suffering, and more suffering.” So, we have decided to take a 1-week break from 1 Peter. As such, I felt led to preach a sermon that takes us “Back to Basics”. Our text for today’s message is Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 21:6a. Let’s read those now.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
"It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 21:6)
In my research for this message, I was led several times to a work from the Answers in Genesis ministry called, “The Seven C’s of History.” So, with a hat-tip to Answers in Genesis, I’m going to use this work as one of the foundations for my sermon this morning.
Our first C is the Creation of everything. When we think of Creation, we think of God’s power, and we think of beauty and purity and this perfect state of everything just being the way it’s supposed to be.
When we think of Creation, we think of the following verses from the Bible:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3). In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
We read through the Genesis account that on Day 1, God said “Let there be light.” And there was light. On day 2, God created the Heavens, or the sky. On day 3, God created the land and the plants, and it was good. On day 4, God created the sun, moon, and stars… everything we can see and are still discovering in space. And God said it was good.
Did you notice that the plants were created before God made the sun? Don’t plants need light? But they HAD light, didn’t they? God made the light on day 1, but He didn’t make the sun and moon until day 4. This completely flies in the face of evolutionary teaching, and clearly shows that God has the power over creation! So then what WAS the source of light in the first 3 days? I believe it was God’s glory. Park that for now, and remember it, because we will come back to that a bit later.
On day 5, God made the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. And it was good.
And on day 6, God made the creatures of the earth, the beasts and the creeping things. And it was good.
And later that same day, God made His greatest creation. Man. Let’s pick it up in Genesis 1:26-27. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And what did God say about this new development? It was VERY good. Not just good. VERY good.
And so on the seventh day, God rested. And this was the way it was supposed to be from the beginning. Beautiful. Holy. Peaceful. Glorious.
Oh, if only things had just stayed that way! But we couldn’t be content with that, and so we come to our second C: Corruption.
It didn’t take long for us to corrupt ourselves. It started with pride, as sin usually does. Both Ezekiel and Isaiah call this out clearly when they describe how Lucifer, the smartest and most beautiful angel that God created, turned against God because he wanted to be like God. You can read about this in Ezekiel chapter 28 and Isaiah chapter 14. It truly is a fascinating read.
But Lucifer could not be like God, and as a result, lost his position in Heaven. He became the one we now know as Satan, or the Devil. Because he could not be like God, he tried to get vengeance against God by corrupting the thing which was nearest and dearest to God’s heart: man. He knew how much God loved man, and if he could just get man to rebel against God, then he could separate man from God forever! It would be the ultimate vengeance against God.
Satan accomplished this by meeting Eve in the Garden of Eden, in the form of a serpent. He didn’t get her to commit some outrageously obvious sin, but rather, he started his ploy by getting her to doubt God’s word. You see, God had commanded Adam and Eve NOT to eat the fruit from a particular tree, or else they would die. Satan planted the seeds of doubt in her mind by saying, “Did God really say….?”
It’s a common tactic used today. A slight variation on Scripture, followed by the question, “Did God really say?” and suddenly, we’ve applied a whole new meaning to a scripture passage, putting words in God’s mouth that He did not say, or removing altogether things that He did say. The result is a permissive society with little to no regard for God’s holiness. Like in the time of the Judges, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
So, Satan first got Eve to doubt what God said, and then he appealed to her pride by saying, “You will be like God if you eat this.” Eve made her choice, and ate the fruit, in full disobedience of God. And where was Adam while all this was going on? He was right there, watching it all happen, not saying a word to defend his wife, and then affirming her sin by eating some of the fruit himself.
And in that moment, the perfect became imperfect. Immediately, they suffered a spiritual death, and all of their descendants, including you and me, would be born with a sinful nature. A lot of people think that people are inherently good, but that is not Biblical. Romans 5:19 says that by one man’s sin, all were made sinners. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
But, as crafty as Satan is, he is no match for God. Never, ever think that God can be surprised by anything, or that God can ever be caught without a plan. As God is announcing the sentence for this rebellion, He turns to Satan and says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). This is a clear prophecy that God would send a Saviour through the woman, One who would be able to restore the relationship between God and man. But it just wasn’t going to be THAT particular day.
Which brings us to our third C: Catastrophe.
In time, Adam and Eve had children. It started with Cain and Abel and the first murder. Over the course of multiple generations, people continued to grow more wicked. In Genesis 6:5-7, we read the following sad verses. The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth-men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air-for I am grieved that I have made them."
God used a worldwide flood to wipe out creation, except for faithful Noah and his family, and the various kinds of animals and birds that He preserved through the flood on the ark. And wouldn’t you know it, there are some today who try to cast doubt on this by saying that it was a local flood, not a global flood. “Did God really say?” Where have we heard that before? Well, I just read for you what God really said, and God affirmed it through the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 2:5, when He said, “if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;” Folks, don’t let anybody deceive you. It was a global flood. Otherwise, if I was a giraffe or something, I’d just look over and say, “Hey, Mac… let’s go over there to that dry land…”
When the flood was over, and God’s will was accomplished, He placed His rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His judgment for sin, and a promise that He would never again destroy the world by a flood. That was the first appearance of a rainbow in history. I’m so glad that the rainbow belongs to God as a sign of His promise.
Our fourth C is Confusion.
In the immediate aftermath of the flood, God gave a specific command to Noah and his descendants: “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). But Noah’s descendants, as they grew in number, rebelled against God’s directive. In Genesis 11:4, they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” This, of course, is the Tower of Babel.
There are two problems with what they did. First, they attempted to build a city so that they would not be scattered, in direct rebellion of God’s command to fill the earth. Second, they did it “so that they may make a name for themselves.” So they acted out of pride.
But as we know, neither man nor devil can thwart God’s plan. As we continue reading in Genesis 11:7-8, God says, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
With the miraculous introduction of new languages, the people were suddenly unable to understand each other. People divided into groups of like languages, and dispersed from there into the rest of the world. This is how we ended up with the different people groups around the world. Sometimes they are mistakenly referred to as different races, but this is not correct. There is only one race of humans: the human race! There are different ethnicities, but only one race. Throughout history, people have used this as a misguided excuse for racism and evolutionary thinking, but the reality is that your colour and language has no effect on your standing with God. All are made in the image of God, and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Period.
As the people dispersed within their languages and groups, the pages of history continued to unfold. There were powerful kingdoms and dynasties like the Egyptians and the Chinese, the Babylonians and the Assyrians, the Greeks and the Romans, Hebrews, Persians, Barbarians, and others whose empires rose and fell and disappeared into the sands of time. Through it all, as kingdoms came and went and the descendants of Noah continued to diversify, sinful man remained sinful man, and every human being who ever lived became a victim of the original sin, when we were cursed with death.
But through it all, God never forgot His promise from Genesis 3:15, when He promised to send a seed of the woman to defeat Satan and save His people from their sins.
This brings us to that most glorious of events… our 5th C – Christ!
Yes, God most certainly remembered His promise to send a Saviour, and He did it in a way that nobody really expected. Reading from Galatians 4, verses 4 and 5…
And when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
The Bible says in Matthew 1:21-23, She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
In order to redeem His people, God’s Chosen One had to be perfect. He had to be the seed of a woman in order to fulfill prophecy. By sending His Son, Jesus Christ, Who was fully God and fully Man, God was able to provide the One who would actually be able to pay for our sin debt. If Christ had His own sin, then His death would be His just reward. But because He had no sin, He was able to pay for OUR sin debt.
You see, throughout the course of His life, Jesus was tempted as we were, yet He knew no sin.
Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus felt our pain at the loss of loved ones. He felt the sting of betrayal, and false accusations, and injustice. And through all this, He did not sin.
And this brings us to our sixth C: The Cross!
Do you remember that prophecy from Genesis 3:15? God told Satan that He would one day send the seed of the woman to crush Satan’s head, even though Satan would strike His heel. Well, the Cross is the fulfillment of that prophecy.
Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Christ Jesus … who, being in the form of God … , was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”
In the process of the crucifixion, Satan struck Jesus’ heel. Not literally, but there were physical wounds inflicted that resulted in a physical death. It amounted to nothing more than a figurative heel-strike, however, because death couldn’t hold Jesus!
On the flip side, Let me read for you Matthew 28:1-6. Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”
And in this Resurrection, Satan’s head was crushed by Jesus. Death died that day. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 says, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
This is the power of what Christ has done for us. Listen to the word of Jesus from John 5:24. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
And this promise of eternal life brings us to our 7th and final C: Consummation.
This Consummation refers to the event at the end of history that we refer to as the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It is the event where Christ returns for His Bride, the Church.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Rev 21:1)
"It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 21:6)
When God first created the world back in Genesis chapter 1, He had declared it Very Good. It was perfect. But with Adam’s sin leading to Corruption, Catastrophe, and Confusion, the world has been broken ever since. The Bible says in Romans 8:22 that “… the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
In Revelation 22:3, God promises to put an end to the curse. And do you remember how said I believe that the light that existed before the sun was made was actually God’s glory? Well, Revelation 21:23 says that “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
He will make a new heaven and a new earth one day—one which we can’t even begin to imagine. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” In this new place there will be no death, no crying, no pain. No corruption. No catastrophe. No confusion. Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Maybe you are sitting here today, and you’ve heard this message a hundred times before, but for whatever reason, today is the day that you hear God’s voice calling to you.
Or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard the Gospel message put this this way, and you want to find out more.
Whatever it is, if you feel like you want to talk with somebody or pray with somebody today, can I encourage you to meet me here at the front after the service is over? Don’t let the sun go down today without deciding to have your name written in the Book of Life.
Amen. Let’s pray.
August 25, 2019
I Peter 5:6-14
It’s Hard To Be Humble
(But a Roaring Lion Helps)
Pastor Bryan Watson
Today, we come to the end of our journey through the book of 1 Peter. Last week, Pastor Dennis spoke on 1 Peter 5:1-5, in his message titled, “Good Leadership in Tough Times”. Our text for THIS message is from 1 Peter 5:6-14. For the sake of continuity, however, I want to read right from the beginning of chapter 5, because that will help us to understand the context of today’s message. So, reading from 1 Peter 5:1-14…
1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:
2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;
3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
(And now this is where we pick it up for today’s message…)
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.
13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.
14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Heavenly Father, I want to thank You again for the incredible privilege I have of standing before Your people and delivering Your message. Father, I pray that the words I say today will be only the words that You put into my mouth. Let every thought and every phrase be taken captive unto You, Lord. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, submitting this sermon to You, Amen.
Last week, Pastor Dennis taught us that good leadership in tough times is leadership that comes from a servant’s heart. It comes from a genuine sense of love for those who are being led. Leadership that is eager and willing to serve, not for selfish gain, but because of a genuine concern for another’s welfare, like a shepherd tends his sheep.
The passage ends with a command for young men to submit to older, more experienced Christians, and for all Christians to act with humility toward one another. “God opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble,” says Peter. The common theme weaving through last week’s message, and carrying into this week, is to be humble. That’s the first of several instructions that Peter gives throughout the remainder of this letter. That is why I’ve called this message, “It’s Hard To Be Humble (But a Roaring Lion Helps)” as we will see in a moment.
How many of you are familiar with this song...
Oh, it’s hard to be humble When you’re perfect in every way.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror. I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me. I must be a heck of a man.
Oh, it’s hard to be humble But I’m doing the best that I can.
I’m fairly certain that most of us know the words to that old song. We laugh at it, but the reality is that this describes our basic sin nature more adequately than almost any other paragraph put together. Who knew that the song writer was a such a great philosopher? I really didn’t think much of it until I came to 1 Peter 5:6. Once again, Peter implores us to be humble. “Humble yourselves, therefore…” Peter says.
The word “therefore” connects this statement to Peter’s previous statements about humility. What have we heard so far? Citizens, humble yourselves to your government. Slaves, humble yourselves to your masters. Wives, humble yourselves to your husbands. Young men, humble yourselves to your elders. And now, he sums all that up with a general “Humble yourselves” statement. “Humble yourselves under God,” Peter says, “that He may lift you up in due time.”
Why does Peter remind us over and over and over again to be humble? Because by our nature, we AREN’T humble. Not at all. We want what WE want, and if that flies in the face of what YOU want, well, too bad, so sad. In times of duress like the recipients of this letter were going through, it is even more likely to manifest itself in a desire for self-preservation.
And if I have to step on YOU to make it better for ME, then so be it. And what is that called? What is the opposite of humility? Pride. And what does God say about pride? He HATES it. God HATES the sin of pride. The Bible says in Proverbs 8:13, “I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”
It was pride that led to Lucifer becoming Satan and losing his standing in Heaven. Isaiah 14:13-14 says, “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
It was pride that led to man’s downfall in the first place. Eve wanted to be like God, and so she disobeyed Him.
Is it any wonder that God hates pride? Pride has separated God’s most beautiful creations from Him. Pride is so far from God’s nature that when we are prideful is when we are least like Him, yet we were created in His image.
God, in His grace, demonstrated through Jesus Christ what being humble is all about so that we could understand it:
Born to a peasant virgin-girl, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a feeding trough for oxen and cattle. It doesn’t get much more humble than that.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. This was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Back in verse 5, Peter said to “clothe yourself with humility.” This gives us the imagery of putting on humility as one puts on an apron and ties it on to himself or herself. Jesus Himself demonstrated this idea by wrapping a towel around Himself and washing the feet of His disciples, like a servant. We read about this in John 13:4-5. “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” And in verses 14 and 15 of the same chapter, Jesus says, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
Are we prepared to wash each other’s feet? Are we prepared to serve each other in this way? Are we prepared to clothe ourselves in humility and humble ourselves under God’s hand? Because humbling ourselves before God comes with a promise: God will lift us up in due time. The problem with that promise is that He lifts us up IN DUE TIME. I want to be lifted up NOW! But God is going to use our humility experiences to shape us and refine us. He wants us to learn patience and trust, like Job. The truth be told, I want Job’s patience but I am not interested in having Job’s suffering.
Remember Christ’s teaching about places of honor in Luke 14:10-11. “But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
We spend so much time and effort jockeying for position, and yet God promises to lift us up in due time, which is typically when our suffering has completed it’s work in us. Hopefully on this side of Heaven, but if not, then we at least have the promise of being exalted in Heaven. Either way, our suffering is temporary.
You see, we don’t have to spend all this time and effort jockeying for position and pecking order, because Peter tells us that God is going to take care of us. “Cast all your anxiety on Him,” Peter says in verse 7, “Because He cares for you.” He CARES for you. For YOU. You can tell God anything, and then You can let it go, trusting that He cares for you.
Second, Peter tells us that we need to Be Watchful. Now, what causes anxiety for us? Well, a lot of things… sometimes circumstances. The people that Peter was writing to had some circumstances that were almost too difficult for us to comprehend here in a free Canada. But, there is another thing in particular that causes anxiety, and Peter is getting right to it, and that is our adversary, our enemy, the devil, walking around like a roaring lion, seeking somebody to devour! Now, I don’t know about you, but if I knew there was a man-eating lion walking around somewhere on my farm looking to eat me, I might have a little anxiety about that.
I can tell YOU that nobody would have to tell ME to be sober and vigilant! You bet I’d be vigilant! But Peter tells us to do just that, because we have a tendency to sleepwalk through the world while our enemy is on the prowl. The imagery of the lion in this passage goes to show how vicious and dangerous Satan is. He wants to destroy you! He’s not playing games! He’s playing for keeps!
And as Christians, we need to be aware that that is EXACTLY what is going on.
Listen to this passage from Job 1:6-7 - One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord , and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord , "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
The fact is, we have an enemy who is really out there stalking us, seeking some way to attack us… through our decisions, through temptation, through our families… you name it, and Satan wants to attack us there.
But besides a dangerous, roaring lion, there’s another creature that Satan is associated with elsewhere in the Bible. What is it? A serpent. What personality trait is associated with serpents? Shrewdness. Slyness. You see, if I was outside on my farm, and if I did happen to see a vicious animal out there somewhere, a bear, or a wolf, or a LION, I’d probably go inside and take shelter. That would be obvious! But I may not even be AWARE of a serpent slithering up to me.
Satan is a deceiver. He is a liar. And even the best and strongest and most faithful among us can be deceived. King David didn’t get up one day and say to himself, “You know, I feel like committing adultery with my faithful soldier’s wife today. I’m going to get her pregnant, and them I’m going to try to get HIM drunk in order to cover up the pregnancy, and if THAT doesn’t work, then I’m going to arrange for his MURDER!”
Do you think David got up that morning with that on his heart? No! Of course not! David was a man after God’s own heart! But David made one simple error… he stayed home when he should have been out with his troops, and he let his guard down. He wasn’t sober-minded. He wasn’t vigilant. And that wandering, roaming, consuming lion… that shifty serpent… the devil… saw his opportunity and deceived David. And then David tried to deceive everybody, and it all became a big mess.
It doesn’t matter who you are. If you aren’t vigilant and keeping watch, you will be preyed upon, ESPECIALLY if you are adding value to God’s kingdom. I’m not immune. Pastor Dennis is not immune. Just because we’re pastors doesn’t mean we have some kind of special “pastor protection.” In fact, it might be quite the opposite. Christ is mocked when pastors are brought down because of indiscretion.
And you’re not immune, either. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” Many faithful Christians have been taken down by the devil because they let their guard down.
SO BE SOBER-MINDED AND WATCHFUL, says Peter. AVOID the situations that you need to AVOID! If you have a propensity to drink too much, then avoid situations where alcohol is present. “You can handle it,” is a common phrase that rolls off the tongue of the devil. If you have to tell yourself that you can handle it, THEN YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT!
Avoid being in compromising situations where accusations can be made, or worse. THAT is why in this church there is so much effort being put into getting the protection program right. It is ROARING LION INSURANCE!!!
Peter tells us exactly what to do when we encounter the roaring lion. We are to resist him, standing firm in our faith. Resist him! James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Submit to Who? God! And do what with the devil? Resist him. Don’t negotiate with him. Don’t compromise with him. DON’T ENTER INTO A CONVERSATION WITH HIM! Resist him! I like the way the King James Version says it in Daniel 1:8. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” He purposed in his heart! He decided ahead of time what he would NOT do. Then, when the situation came up, he had already won the battle in his heart! And if you’ve got that down, the devil isn’t going to stick around where he’s going to fail! He’s going to flee!
Third, Peter says that we are to Be Hopeful. Now I want to go back and talk for a bit here about this business of “standing firm in our faith.” How do we do that? How do we stand firm in our faith? Well, what is faith?
What does our summer memory program tell us? “Faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurance about what we do not see.” And “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe, that He exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
That’s what Peter is telling us to stand firm in. Stand firm in the belief that God exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. What an amazing promise to hold onto when you are going through persecution and temptation… especially for those persecution early Christians that Peter was writing this letter to.
And although I’m not going to get into it out of respect for time, Paul gives us some great instruction in the techniques of standing firm in our faith when he describes the Armor of God for us in Ephesians 6. You can read about that for homework this week.
Peter moves on to remind us that whatever we are going through, we aren’t going through alone. Believers around the world are going through the same things, and together, we can strengthen each other.
Peter then gives a benediction to his readers, reminding them that their suffering is temporary, and that Christ will perfect them, establish them, strengthen them, and settle them. And he ends his instructions with a statement of worship, To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.
Finally, Peter closes the letter by introducing Silvanus, who many scholars believe to be Silas, who was a companion of Paul. He sends greetings from “she who is in Babylon.” It’s not totally clear who he is referring to, but most scholars believe Peter is actually referring to the church in Rome, using Babylon as a code word so as to not further expose the Christians in Rome. He also sends greetings from Mark, his “son” in the faith. This is John Mark, the young man who, at one time, was weak enough in his faith that Paul did not want to take him on his journeys, and yet later on, Paul found so helpful that he sent for him directly. This is the Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark, and it is commonly believed that he wrote this Gospel with dictation from Peter.
Peter signs off asking his readers to greet each other with kisses of love. I’m good with a handshake and a side hug. But that was the culture.
And Peter’s final words, Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus, Amen.
Summary of 1 Peter
So, now that we’ve come to the end of our study in 1 Peter, I’d like to do a brief recap of the things we’ve learned in the book.
On the screen, you will see the outline that we worked through.
In the grand scheme of the book, there was one major question that needed to be answered: How should Christians live in a world that is hostile to them? Remember that Peter was writing to a group of people who were either being severely persecuted, or would be soon. So how should they live?
Peter answers this question in three ways:
First, “Be Holy.” Be Holy as I am Holy, God said. 1 Peter 1:15
If you recall in Pastor Dennis’ introduction, Peter introduces this idea through the use of the Greek word “anastrophe”, which means “way of life, conduct, or behavior.”
So, we are to live differently. Live right. Be in the world, but not of the world.
Second, we are to live lives characterized by submission: citizens to the government, slaves to masters, wives to husbands, and Christians to each other.
Peter used the Greek word “hypotasso” to describe this concept. Our society identifies submission as a sign of weakness. Peter says that for believers, it is a sign of spiritual strength.
Third, we are to be ready and willing to embrace suffering, especially for doing good. Suffering for doing wrong is simply reaping what you sow. But suffering because of your faith, is something different altogether.
Peter used the Greek word “pascho” to describe suffering. It means to suffer, or endure. Either way, it’s not pleasant, and we must be prepared to suffer for the name of Christ.
But the real overarching key to all of this is the idea that we are aliens in this world. Our citizenship is not here! We are citizens of Heaven. And whatever suffering or submission we go through here out of obedience to Christ is only temporary, and we will be rewarded so much more in Heaven because of it. We must keep our eye on the prize, because we will be rewarded.
Amen. Let’s pray.