Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 8th - Missions Trip: Earth

Prayer Requests
Channing Preaching
Dave Preaching
Brandon Salvation
Disciple Now
Pastor Aaron/Leon/Mike missions trip results
The Persecuted Church (International Day of Prayer)
McGullion's Comfort in the loss of their grandmother
Cindy's Surgery, doing better
Rebekah feeling better
Emily's Recovery from Appendectomy
James' Karate Test
James' friend Aaron in PA
Mark's Godmother
Jamie's mom

Text – 1 Peter 2:11-17

There were a lot of reasons I chose Peter’s Epistles to go through, I wanted something that talked about Baptism, Angels, Evangelism, quoted the Old Testament a lot, and something that had a difficult to interpret and/or often taken out of context verse. Peter’s Epistles have at least three often misinterpreted passages in them, today we’re going to look at the first one.

This verse, if you weren’t reading it in context would mean something completely different. If you read it out of context, it wouldn’t make what can be learned from it unbiblical and wrong, but when read in context, it means something considerably different. When we get to Second Peter there are some verses that get taken out of context that teach very wrong things.

So what have we been talking about? Mainly the priesthood of believers, that we are being built up on Christ’s foundation to proclaim his excellencies. At the beginning of this letter, what did Peter call Christians who aren’t in Heaven? Exiles/Strangers/Aliens or something along that effect, pretty much visitors who are not at home.

So if we’re preaching on earth, which isn’t our home, what does that make us? We’re missionaries, or the word that I like that Paul calls us is ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Real quick, what is an ambassador? It is someone who represents a country to another country.

Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

So now Peter in the passage we’re about to read is going to tell us how to behave as ambassadors for Christ.

1 Peter 2:11-17 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

What do you think our main job is as Christians on our missionary journey is? It is to rightly represent Jesus Christ to the world, both so that they might be saved, and also so they might not have an excuse on Judgment Day when they try to say they didn’t know. So let’s go verse by verse:

v.11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

The first thing Peter tells us is to abstain from the passions of the flesh, stuff like sex outside of marriage, gossip, anger…well lets read scripture’s list:

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Peter says these things wage against our soul, we’re in a battle for the purity of our minds. We have to actively be looking out for these things and fighting against them. So do we beat ourselves up or hit each other to keep from sinning? Is that the warfare we’re talking about?

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

So part of our reason for being pure is for our sake, but the reason is bigger than that,

v.12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

This way when we are accused of being wrongdoers, we are still blameless. For example, in the First Century, many Christians were accused of being atheists and were executed because they would not recognize Caesar as god, but held that there was only one Living and True God. Other Christians were greatly persecuted for calling their husbands and wives brothers and sisters, they were accused of being incestuous, and likewise when they took communion, they were accused of being cannibals. Today the big lie is that Christians are the main cause of all wars throughout history.

This is patently false; Christianity, even in the totally messed up Catholic sense, has only at best been involved in about 20% of the world’s wars. Atheism on the other hand has been responsible for most major wars in the last century, in which more people were killed than in every prior war combined. More than half of the wars in history didn’t even have religion at the center of them, and that’s every religion.

As far as I know, no Christian was ever burned at the stake, fed to the lions, or beheaded because they were so nice to the poor and never cursed and always paid their taxes. Rather, the official reasons for their executions were sometimes true, denying that the emperor was God, sometimes misunderstandings, incestuous relationships, and sometimes blatantly made up, like child molesters and anarchists.

If you’ve lived an upright life before the unbelievers that saw you, then your testimony will be used against them on Judgment Day, here called the Day of Visitation, when the sky rips open, Christ is revealed riding on his stallion, and everyone comes to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ either through rapture or painful death.

They will not be able to say that they didn’t know better, and the fact that there were Christians who lived uprightly amongst them will be just another proof of their deliberate guilt, added to the testimony of nature that proclaims God, their conscience which proclaims the difference between right and wrong, and the written word which reveals God explicitly and what his requirements are.

v.13-14 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

This verse would drive a lot of Christians crazy from the last fifty years. James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, Jerry Falwell, even one of my personal heroes, D. James Kennedy, and many others devoted their lives to trying to strive against human institutions to make them legislate morality. James Dobson in the last year announced that their efforts have failed in practically every arena in which they have fought. To be truthful, people that fought the government and did all of that lobbying really wasted their lives. We don't want to do likewise. Our duty is not to fight the government, but to represent Jesus Christ to individuals.

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Instead we are to be subject to human institutions, the government is put in place by Jesus Christ to punish evil and praise good. Barack Obama is divine punishment to the United States for abandoning the true gospel and preaching a false gospel of human decision (Compare Romans 10:2-3). But we are told here to be under subjection to every human institution. If the government tells us to do something against God, then we can only answer one way,

Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

v.15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

There are precious few places in the Bible where it tells us precisely what God's will is. The best is 1 Thessalonians 4:3 that says that the will of God is your sanctification. Here we see another part of God's will, that his saints would be upright citizens to bear the light of Christ into the enemy's camp and put to silence their ignorance.

So this is important, Peter is telling us not to attack the government, but to live in subjection to it; but, with individuals we are to stand against their wrongdoings and with our works silence them. Why will this silence them? Paul will tell us in Romans 3.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

This is cool because Peter is definitely quoting this passage, before this time, about AD65, Jesus has been quoted in the Epistles, but the Epistles haven't quoted each other. Here though, Peter has Romans in front of him and is quoting it as authoritatively as he would the Old Testament, the reason I say that is because the next verse is going to talk about how we are not under the law. Peter also is going to tell us about Paul's great letters in 2 Peter 3.

Before we get to Peter quoting the rest of the verse, we see that under the law, every mouth may be stopped. This is amazing, and ultimately I believe it is speaking of Heaven. Dan Brown, one of the more famous atheists operating in the world today, says if God is real, he is going to stand up to him on Judgment Day and tell him "To go to Hell." Under the law, nobody is gonna say anything, the immeasurable weight of their sin is going to render them speechless.

But this verse also talks about this world. When we do good, and tell people why we are being good, because the love of Christ compels us, they are going to realize that they are not good in the eyes of God. Theresa of Avila, better known as Mother Theresa, will not be in Heaven, but she did a lot of good works under the guise of Christianity. I've heard at least two testimonies of people who were saved out of Hinduism looking at the good that she exhibited in the name of Christ, which convicted them and led them to seek out a pastor who could answer their questions.

Do you remember what my response was to "Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words?" It is "Feed starving children at all times, and when necessary use food." This verse says that people will see their condemnation by our works, but they will not see the chance for forgiveness without our proclamation.

So we are not going to war with the citizens of the United States of America with weapons against the flesh, but with spiritual weapons. We only have two, but they are two awesome weapons, our testimony through our works, and the Bible, namely the law contained there-in. So for some real quick review for the Middle-Schoolers, and High-Schoolers I'll give you some things afterwards to make this make total sense, how do we witness to someone using the law? Martin Luther said to use 90% law in your witness encounters, and only 10% grace.

Basically, would you consider yourself to be a good person? Good people go up, bad people go down. Let me give you a quick test, have you ever told a lie, have you ever stolen anything, have you ever taken God's name in vain, have you ever murdered anyone or called them an idiot or a curse-word? You're in trouble, by your own admission, you're a lying thieving blasphemous murderer at heart, and you have to stand before God on Judgment Day, but God, in his great love by which he loved us sent his Son Jesus Christ to pay for our sins on the cross, so if we will repent and believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, then we will be forgiven and go to Heaven on his righteousness.

So according to Paul, the law is for those who are under the law, but Christians are not under the law, we have been redeemed from the curse of the law by Christ becoming a curse for us by hanging on a cross, for as it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree." We're above the law, so really we can do anything, as Paul said, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful." So Peter is going to look at the Christians duty being above the law.

v.16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

You can do anything, because the more you sin, the more grace abounds, but here Peter tells us to live as servants of God, obeying the law not out of compulsion, but out of love, not living as wickedly as possible so that grace will further abound, but using our freedom to love God and love one another. This is how Peter sums up the thought,

v.17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

It says "Honor everyone." Who is that? Is it just people you like, or people that can do things for you, or people that deserve it? Or is this everyone? It is everyone, and we are to honor them. This is the epitome of what Christ did for us, we had no reason to be honored, but check out how Paul says it,

Philippians 2:3-5 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus...

As Romans 5 says, for a nice guy we might consider to die, for a jerk we probably wouldn't die, but for the worst of people, us, Christ did die. So we esteem others as worth more than ourselves, caring about other people more than we care for ourselves, and honoring everyone, in hopes that our witness will lead them to repentance and faith in the only source of salvation, Jesus Christ.

Then we are to "Love the brotherhood." This is the whole Christian church, once again in the church we are to love everyone, regardless of what they can do for us.

James 2:1-5 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

Then we "Fear God." Be more afraid of offending him than offending men, for the cross is offensive, it tells people that they are sinners, aren't God, and need to be reconciled to God. Being more afraid of God than men is bound to make you a great evangelist and do the things which you are supposed to do.

And finally, "Honor the Emperor." This is the toughest one for me, because our emperor is an idiot. I regularly pray Psalm 94 for him, which is asking God to squish him into itty bitty pieces, because he is a very evil and incompetent man. The emperor that Peter is talking about here is Nero, Nero would soon kill Peter's wife, crucify Peter upside down, and cut off Paul's head, so as bad as our emperor is, Peter's was worse.

So how do we honor him? We recognize that he was put in place by God, that it is his job to keep the peace and that he will be judged accordingly by God when he died, Nero would commit suicide not much long after this letter was written. So we should honor the emperor by respecting his authority, paying our taxes, and not doing anything to cause problems except for preaching the gospel. Don't protest, don't shoot abortion doctors, don't blow up buildings of communists, rather preach the gospel and live under the government.

In conclusion, we are missionaries to earth, check out the website, I've put up an awesome short video that talks about this, we are ambassadors of Christ, so we live under the authority of the government that is over us, not fighting the government, but preaching the gospel so that many will be saved. If we save them all, then the government will be Christian and good things will happen, but our goal is to rightly represent Christ's name to the world while we are temporarily away from our home, which is Heaven.