Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31st - Love and Beauty

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Superbowl Missions Trip
Dave and Brooke and Eden
Plumley Daughter on the Way
Costello's Anniversary
Brittany to Haiti
Bruce Teaching Next Week

Text – 1 Peter 3:4-5

We talked about this two weeks ago and didn’t finish. I think that was providential because afterwards when I was praying over the lesson I realized that there is a lot more we can and should talk about in this. This lesson will be largely topical, which means it is a combination of scriptural truths and not from any one passage. We’ll look at 1 Peter 3 though, which is what brought us to this topic, in a bit. Usually I like to teach expositionally, letting the passage speak, but I don’t think I’d be exaggerating when I say this systematic look at scripture will be among the most important lessons I’ve taught.

First I want to talk about an important topic and the reason we’re going to look at this first is because I think it has caused most of the confusion on this topic and the complete godlessness of the current culture. The topic is the topic of love. In America today you can love your family, you can love your boyfriend or girlfriend, you can love God, you can love donuts, love love love…it gets thrown around like crazy and nobody ever defines it. I hope you love your parents in a different way than I love donuts. Some of you have already heard this, but a review never hurt anybody, especially on such an important topic.

There are five Greek words that we translate somewhat rightly into love, and one that gets translated as love that is totally wrong. The New Testament is written in Greek, it is one of the most exact languages in the world, maybe even the most exact; it is very precise in wording. English, on the other hand, is far from precise and we run into huge problems with its ambiguity.

So our six words for love are Agape, Storge, Phileo, Thelema, Eros, and Porneia:

Agape – Sacrificial lovingkindness – Better translated as Charity.

This is how God loved the world. You agape somebody when you do something for them without expecting anything in return or because of who they are. If you see a baby carriage rolling down a hill, you’re going to do something regardless of who the baby is. You may be agape loving the next Adolf Hitler, but this sort of love doesn’t discriminate. For example, you can totally hate someone but still give them charity, like a prisoner of war is given food and drink and medical care, even though he is an enemy.

Storge – In terms of God it is Fatherly love, also used for parental love, and pastoral love. Cherish would be a good translation; you cherish things that are valuable.

This word is hard to find in the New Testament, not because it’s not there, but because it gets stuck on the back of other words. In Romans 1:31 it says one of the marks of God’s judgment on a people is they will stop having storge love. It’s used most beautifully in the beginning of Romans 12:10, the HCSB has the best translation,

Romans 12:10 Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.

Phileo – Brotherly love, the word for friend, Philos, comes from this.

For example, Tori helping today in class is out of friendship to me and you. Now, say she is at KSU and has a dead battery and she calls me to come give her a jump start, I’m not going to say, “Ok, I’ll do it because you helped me in class.” Then the next day her battery is dead again, I’m going to tell her, “Sorry Tori, we’re even, you’re out of favors.” Out of phileo love there are no favors, if she needed a jump start every day until the end of the semester phileo love would cover it; although after about the third time we’d probably get her a new battery.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Thelema – Desire/Enjoyment…aka…I love hamburgers…I love skiing…

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 it says that God loves your sanctification, he desires it, he enjoys it. What is sanctification? Becoming more and more like Jesus Christ in your actions and attitude.

A husband can also desire his wife, but there is a better word for that;

Eros – Physical/Committed/Romantic Attraction, the actual word is not in the Bible but the concept is.

This is love between a husband and a wife. It is not purely physical, it’s sort of all of the previous loves combined. It’s almost axiomatic, or self-proving, that the husband loves his wife and therefore finds her pretty and he loves her also because she is pretty. This love should be constrained within the marriage covenant; when it is used wrongly you can use Eros to describe it, but a better word is one of sexual immorality:

Porneia – Physical attraction; lust.

The Greeks would have freaked out if they found out we’re using the same word for Agape and Phileo to translate Porneia, yet we do. This is the love that says I love the outside of you and couldn’t care less about the inside of you.

Sometimes I see on Facebook, “He said he loved me but he lied.” No, not necessarily, there was a misinterpretation going on. He said, “I porneia you, I lust you” and she heard, “I want to marry you, I want to cherish you forever.”

So all this said, the way that the Bible tells us God loves us and that we are to love each other is the first four. In our hyper-sexualized culture I wouldn’t dare tell one of you straight out that, “I love you,” because even though I mean the first four, I have no idea how you would interpret it, but I have no problem saying I agape you (I willingly sacrifice for you), I stergo you (I am blessed to know you and see you grow up and am happy to invest in you), I philo you (our friendship is not based on what you can do for me or what I can do for you, but on a Christian affection), and I thelema your sanctification (I want to see you grow in your faith and glorify your Saviour).

If I said “I love you” what I wouldn’t mean is the bottom two. I hope you see that it is very important to say what you mean and do your best to remove ambiguity. Words have meanings.

So that brings us to 1 Peter 3 and how God loves us and Peter’s point is on how love is supposed to work in the marriage covenant. This passage focuses largely on girls, but guys pay attention because it will guide you towards the girl you’re looking for and also will allow you to fulfill your proper role in looking out for your Christian sisters.

1 Peter 3:3-4 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—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.

Three things have been called imperishable in First Peter: our faith, the Holy Spirit, and the beauty of a godly soul. God says nothing of the outside of a person being precious, but he speaks of inward beauty has having great value.

Does that mean that our soul is the only thing that can be good and our bodies are totally bad? This was a cult that grew up in the first and second centuries called Docetism, and they believed that Jesus didn’t really have a body because physical things are sinful and only spiritual things can be good. How are we going to refute that? Let’s read from Genesis:

Genesis 1:27,31 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Nothing is sin and of itself sinful; Adam and Eve’s bodies were not just good, but very good. But just like fire can keep you warm, if used wrongly it will burn you; water is necessary for life, but too much will drown you; Our bodies are the same, but sins with them are on a higher plain than other sins.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

That brings us back to First Peter, we’re not supposed to focus our beauty on the outside, trying to make people notice us for our fa├žade. How many people in history have had the opportunity to choose which body they would wear? Only one, and do you know which body he chose?

Isaiah 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

Jesus could have woven together the most beautiful body for himself, but he chose to be average, even less than average, so people wouldn’t love him for his exterior, but for who he is.

But this is the exact opposite of what our culture today says. You see on tv, you see in magazines, you see on billboards that the importance of the world is on the external person. Check out what John MacArthur says about these women,

And we call those women models, don't we? Models of what? For mercy sakes. Models of virtue? No. Models of character? No. Models of purity? No. Models of inner beauty? No. Models of modesty? No. Models of submissiveness? No. Models of what? They're mannequins.

When he says mannequin he means they’re pretty on the outside, but empty on the inside. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

I’m not saying that there isn’t something to the exterior. I could try to be all pious and say that you should just ignore the external and totally focus on the interior, but look, last week I wore a $500 suit (I didn’t pay $500 for it, but still), we don’t totally neglect the exterior, but it’s not where we put our hope and our resources and our affections.

Our exterior person is a great example of putting our hope on non-spiritual things. Take me for example, when I was 18 I went to the gym every other day and I was ripped. Then over the next few years I neglected myself and fell out of shape, then at 22 I went to the Middle East and went to the gym every day and got into the best shape of my life. I look at pictures of me then and have a sort of covetousness of my former glory, but the chances of me ever looking like that again are slim.

Summit has an unrepresentatively big number of pretty girls, like 100%. Nothing worries me more than how pretty all of you young ladies are getting and the attention from non-Christian boys that you are going to garner. The ulcer Bethany gave me when she told me about her kissing booth has finally started to go away. Her fish club was giving away Hershey’s kisses.

But just as we grow into external handsomeness, so does it decline pretty quickly, and if we put our hope and efforts into the external, we’re going to be disappointed pretty quickly. Even the most beautiful person won’t be that beautiful in a century, because our external person is perishable.

What about a gentle Christian spirit, is it perishable? No, 1 Peter 3 says its imperishable.

Where do we look for examples? Should we look to the world? Or should we look to godly examples and biblical characters?

For the ladies the example is both the women in the church who are walking in the truth, and those in the Bible. An excellent book on this is 12 Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur.

For the guys the example is the same, except looking to godly male role-models and the examples in the Bible. We’ll look at Job in a minute.

The ultimate example for all of us is Jesus Christ;

Matthew 11:27 I am gentle and lowly in heart…

We see that he was humble and submissive to his Father, he acted when the situation warranted, such as standing up to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 or cleansing the Temple, he loves righteousness and hates wickedness, and he counted others as worth more than himself, even dying to redeem people who were totally unworthy.

When you think of Job, what do you think of? Suffering right? But do you ever think of him as a righteous dude? He was, he’s my hero, pretty much every one of his speeches references his understanding of God’s law and practical advice on how to live a God-glorifying life. Chapters 31 is the best, lets just read a few verses, and we’ve read these before, and they’re on the importance of not being caught up in the lust of looking at the exterior:

Job 31:1-4 I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high? Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?

What sort of covenant can we make with our eyes to be God-glorifying? We can be extreme and say, “Eyes, you don’t look at anything you shouldn’t be looking at and I won’t pluck you out and cast you into the fire.” Or more reasonable, “Eyes, whenever something passes before you that is damaging to my soul, you look away or close.”

This is hugely important because the more you focus on the external of a person, the less you’ll appreciate their personality and character. A word that comes from Porneia is Pornography, and it will wreck your soul. Besides the damage that it will do to you, it grieves the Holy Spirit, the Father hates it, and Jesus died to pay for it, so we must be deliberate in avoiding it. This admonition for avoiding the external is more important for the guys, but in America there is a growing rate of female porn-viewers and it shows the depravity of this nation.

But not all pornography is visual. The new series, Twilight, has been called pornography for teenage girls, not because it is sexual, but because it satisfies emotions with fake people. Just as visual pornography sets up an impossible standard of external beauty coupled with debase behavior, Twilight sets up an impossibly high internal beauty in someone who is not real. Ladies, I beg of you not to read these books, and to do everything you can to keep your friends from reading them.

This leads us full circle back to love. Jesus Christ is our perfect example of humility, of inner beauty, and of love in sacrifice, cherishing, friendship, and desire to see growth.

As we’ll talk about more in two weeks, both Jesus and the Holy Spirit pray for us constantly. God prays for us. How great is that? It shows how much he loves us in those four ways.

Now, a brief section on eros love. This is a very special love that God intends for you to share with one person for the rest of your life. The world tells you to date everybody and don’t worry about marriage and that kissing is no big deal. The Bible says we’re to court one person, marry them, and they should be the only ones we are intimate with in the eros sort of way.

Before we conclude, check out this great pickup line from the Bible, albeit I don’t know if it would work today:

Song of Songs 4:1-2 Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down Mount Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn sheep coming up from washing, each one having a twin, and not one missing.

The goats coming down the mountain flow and wave, the sheep up from washing are bright white, and they’re all there.

So our conclusion and application is that the quality and beauty of our soul is what we need to worry about growing, not our external looks. The internal is imperishable, the external is perishable. A beautiful heart is precious in God’s sight, a beautiful smile is not. Jesus chose to have no external beauty, but demonstrated to us the heart which we must seek to emulate.

Be precise in the words you choose to use, especially when telling someone you love them. Love God first, people second, and yourself last. Focus on the eternal soul, not the temporal body. Save your eros love for your future spouse, don’t waste it on temporary trysts. Flee from porneia.

Let’s read two verses to close:

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

The last verse looks forward to the marriage of Christ and his church:

Isaiah 62:1-5 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 24th - Jephthah and His Daughter

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Jordan Return from South Carolina
Superbowl Missions Trip
Winterblast
Dave and Brooke and Eden
Haiti, especially Brittany going to Haiti

Text – Judges 10:6-11:40

I want to step out of First Peter for a week since I didn’t know how many students we would have today. Next week we’ll continue our discussion on the difference between the external person and the internal person. Invite a friend next week because while every section of the Bible is important, this is something I really think it is important and something that for some reason really goes unstated in Christianity, unfortunately.

One real quick correction before we get into today’s lesson, and we have a lot of information and not a lot of time to get through it, so we need to get moving.

Last week I made the point that in Christianity the husband owns his wife and the wife owns her husband. This isn’t the same way that you own a car or a TV or any object. A husband couldn’t just randomly sell his wife, this is a permanent ownership. In the Song of Solomon it says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” I wanted to make sure you understood this distinction and didn’t think of it as an object; this is a life-long commitment, or in the case of Christ and his church, it is an eternal commitment. Just as God told Adam and Eve that the husband and wife would become one flesh, the ownership isn’t materialistic, it’s more like these are my eyes, or my ears, or my heart; separation from any of these would be painful, just as would be separation from a spouse. Instead of thinking, “Who does this truck belong to?” It’s more like, “Who does this arm belong to?”

The story we’re going to look at today is in Judges 10 and 11, it is one of the greatest redemptive stories in the Bible, Old or New Testament. This story is very controversial, and as such is mistranslated in a lot of points. I want you to know that your Bible is properly translated in practically every point, but I can’t lie to you and say it is perfectly translated. This is why I have no problem that we have several different Bible translations in this class, and when I prepare I usually read the passage out of at least three different translations, as well as doing my best to look at the original languages. The ESV, NASB, NIV, KJV and HCSB are usually good translations, but this story is less of a translation and more of an interpretation. For that reason it doesn’t get taught a lot, but it such a good story that I think we’ll benefit a lot from reading it.

Some background, in this story the Israelites have been in Palestine for about 300 years, they’re still under the Judges, which is before the Kings, and there is a constant rise and fall of godliness. The judge before now was a godly dude named Jair, but he died and godliness died with him. This is a huge problem that under a godly leader, the church is godly, but when he dies so does the church. There is a powerful lesson in this that Jesus is our Judge and King, and though he died once to sanctify his people, he is not going to die again, so in Heaven our godliness and holiness is assured forever with no waning.

So instead of reading this whole thing at once, lets do it like we did Ezekiel and go verse by verse. Listen to the list of gods in the first verse of this narrative,

Judges 10:6 The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the LORD and did not serve him.

They served every false god of all of their neighbors and the only God they didn’t serve was the real one. This is a major problem today in America, people are all about every god except for the real one. Karma, horoscopes, positive thinking, astrology, reincarnation, yoga; all of these are totally anathema beliefs but America is into them. So what is the result of serving other gods?

Judges 10:7-9 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, and they crushed and oppressed the people of Israel that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the people of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. And the Ammonites crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed.

God sent the Philistines and the Ammonites, from the South and from the East, to crush Israel. For 18 years the Israelites on the outskirts of Palestine were oppressed, then the Ammonites decided they wanted all of Palestine, and they crossed the Jordan.

At this point, finally after 18 years, the Israelites realized that they were in trouble and needed to do something, because they couldn’t fight so many enemies by themselves, and especially without a judge in charge.

Judges 10:10-14 And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals." And the LORD said to the people of Israel, "Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress."

God is still angry, he brings up all of the times he saved Israel in the past, and yet they still sinned against him, forsaking him and following other gods. His response is, “I’m done saving you. See if the false gods you have chosen can save you.” This is by far the worst thing that God can possibly say to you. The Burger King slogan, “Have it your way,” is exactly the opposite of what you want. Pay attention to verse 14, “Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” It is going to be the main theme of the end of the next chapter.

Judges 10:15-16 And the people of Israel said to the LORD, "We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day." So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD,

This is the best example of godly repentance in the Bible. God didn’t make a deal with them, he didn’t say, “If you repent, I’ll save you.” He pretty much said “it doesn’t matter what you do, I’m not saving you,” and yet the people repent anyways. In America salvation has become a contract or a compromise between men and God, saying pretty much I’ll repent if you’ll save me. We need to repent whether or not God will save us, because it is the right thing to do.

Paris Reidhead talks about the invitation method of today like this, “‘Accept Jesus so you can go to Heaven! You don’t want to go to that old, filthy, nasty, burning Hell when there is a beautiful Heaven up there! Now come to Jesus so you can go to Heaven!’ And the appeal could be as much to selfishness as a couple of men sitting in a coffee shop deciding they are going to rob a bank to get something for nothing! There’s a way that you can give an invitation to sinners, that just sounds for all the world like a plot to take up a filling station proprietor’s Saturday night earnings without working for them.”

Reidhead really puts it well when he sums up why we repent, “Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, obeyed, and served; and I’m not trying to make a deal with you.”

So that is what the Israelites did, with no incentive to repent other that God is worthy to be served whether they perished under the Ammonites or not. And look at how God responds,

Judges 10:16 and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.

He is about to respond, even though he told the Israelites he wouldn’t save them, he is going to respond to their repentance.

We’re not going to look at many other verses, but check out 2 Chronicles 7:14,

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Now for the bad news for Israel,

Judges 10:17-18 Then the Ammonites were called to arms, and they encamped in Gilead. And the people of Israel came together, and they encamped at Mizpah. And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said one to another, "Who is the man who will begin to fight against the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead."

The Ammonites are going to take over Israel, and Israel doesn’t have a military leader nor a judge, and they need one. So they start looking around.

Judges 11:1-3 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. Gilead was the father of Jephthah. And Gilead’s wife also bore him sons. And when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, "You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman." Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob, and worthless fellows collected around Jephthah and went out with him.

Jephthah is my hero, he is a mighty man of God;

Hebrews 11:32-34 For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

We see how bad things must have been in Israel that Jephthah’s dad had a wife but also had a son of a prostitute. This is an important point that someone doesn’t have to have a perfect lineage to do great things for God. God can and does use everyone and is able to redeem someone out of the wickedest of circumstances.

Jephthah’s brothers rejected him and wouldn’t let him have any land or money or livestock, and they drove him out of Gilead to Tob. Tob is probably East of Galilee, although we’re not totally certain. This area was constantly at war with somebody, so Jephthah was able to learn the art of war and had a band of mercenaries who followed him around and fought with him. Now, in their hour of distress, his brothers and all of Israel needs him;

Judges 11: 4-8 After a time the Ammonites made war against Israel. And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the land of Tob. And they said to Jephthah, "Come and be our leader, that we may fight against the Ammonites." But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, "Did you not hate me and drive me out of my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?" And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, "That is why we have turned to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the Ammonites and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead."

Just as Jesus was hated and driven out, so was Jephthah, but afterwards they came and sought him to save them. This is practically the exact same thing that happened when Christ was crucified then many in Jerusalem were saved on Pentecost.

We see how desperate they are, that if they win they promise Jephthah he can be over all of Gilead. They probably know Jephthah is a pretty godly dude already, something he is going to prove here and in his negotiations with the Ammonites.

Judges 11:9-11 Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, "If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the LORD gives them over to me, I will be your head." And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, "The LORD will be witness between us, if we do not do as you say." So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and leader over them. And Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD at Mizpah.

One little hitch, the son of a prostitute shouldn’t have been able to be a judge, so he is clear to leave it up to God to put him in charge. He relies on God, that if God gives him the victory, then he will be over Gilead. Then he goes and swears his allegiance before God.

Judges 11:12-13 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, "What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?" And the king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, "Because Israel on coming up from Egypt took away my land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably."

The Ammonite king says the reason he is attacking Israel is because Israel stole his land 300 years ago. This is patently false; the land was taken from the Canaanites, not the Ammonites. Rewriting history happens a lot in today’s society, everything from misrepresenting Jesus Christ to saying that America was not founded by Christians. When you know history, you’ll be all the better for it. One way that revisionists do away with history is by making it so boring that nobody cares. This is a major thing to watch out for in school, history should be entertaining and enjoyable and you should learn something applicable from it, either good or bad. Making you memorize dates and names and places is way less important than knowing what happened. For example, I could give you the exact date of this passage, 1096 BC, but if that were the only thing you took away from this then I would be a failure in discipling you.

So realize that the Ammonite king has just totally made up history and is attacking Israel on a lie, his real reason is because he wants the land.

Jephthah knows his history surprisingly well, he knows that the Ammonite king is outright lying;

Judges 11:14-27 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said to him, "Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites, but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. Israel then sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, 'Please let us pass through your land,' but the king of Edom would not listen. And they sent also to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. Then they journeyed through the wilderness and went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab and arrived on the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, 'Please let us pass through your land to our country,' but Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory, so Sihon gathered all his people together and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel. And the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. And they took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. So then the LORD, the God of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel; and are you to take possession of them? Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the LORD our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess. Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend against Israel, or did he ever go to war with them? While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, 300 years, why did you not deliver them within that time? I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The LORD, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon."

This is a fantastic recounting of history, Jephthah has studied up on his Old Testament history, and he concludes by saying pretty much, “If this is your land, why has it taken your people 300 years to want it back? Obviously you’re a liar and we’re going to fight, so lets leave it up to God, the ultimate Judge, to determine who is telling the truth.” This is another really important point, that even though Jephthah is the judge of Israel, he points all of his authority at God in Heaven. He is a godly dude.

Judges 11:28-29 But the king of the Ammonites did not listen to the words of Jephthah that he sent to him. Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites.

So they go to war, and Jephthah definitely wants God to be on their side, and he knows that Israel has really sinned against Heaven, so he gives a promise to God to wholly devote someone to him if they win;

Judges 11:30-31 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering."

Here is some controversy, many people think that he meant a goat or a bull, but animals don’t come out to meet people. Jephthah fully intended to devote a person, not to be sacrificed like a lamb or goat, but to be a living sacrifice. Where it says, “Burnt-offering” is the Hebrew word Holocaust, which means a total sacrifice. It is likely that Jephthah had a very specific person in mind, a slave or a priest; I believe probably a slave because this would relieve them from their duty from their master and put their affections solely on Heaven. I have other reasons for believing this, but time is short. Leviticus 27 is all about this and I’m sure Jephthah knew it well.

Judges 11:32-33 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD gave them into his hand. And he struck them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a great blow. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.

They didn’t just win a little, they rocked the Ammonites and sent them home in tatters. So the nation of Israel has repented towards God and returned to him. Remember they had repented from outright paganism. Now the story gets a little more personal. All of Israel would know about this victory and so everyone would be awaiting the victory parade, but remember the vow Jephthah had made, that the first one out would be given to God, so they had to wait for that specific person who was chosen.

Judges 11:34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter.

Someone else was supposed to come out first, but here comes Jephthah’s daughter running out to meet him. There is a lot of evidence to say that she is rather spoiled and disobedient, and here she fails to obey her father. She is Jephthah’s only daughter, and since her mother is never mentioned, it is likely that she is dead. In the Mosaic law a woman could receive the family inheritance if there are no sons, and so Jephthah’s daughter is his only chance for a continued lineage. Here is some probable syncretism, or when you mix one religion in with another: A priest and temple servant in Judaism can get married; the Apostle Paul said that the Christian ought to be married if they cannot stay single. In many pagan religions, especially during the time of Jephthah, a priestess was seen as being married to God and therefore couldn’t marry a man, so Jephthah’s daughter sees this as her never being able to have children. It's strange that it would happen this way, but it is possible that this is contained within the oath, and that this is much stricter than the law required.

Judges 11:35-36 As soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow." And she said to him, "My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites."

Tearing of clothes is symbolic of grief, Jephthah realizes that his lineage is dead. Why he can’t have more children is not told, but probably a war wound or some other reason has rendered him unable to have any more children. A vow to God is binding, and God upheld his part, so Jephthah has to uphold his part.

Remember what God told Israel to do at the beginning of this passage? He told them to go call out to the gods they had chosen to see if they could save them. Here is what the girl asks,

Judges 11:37-38 So she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go down the mountain and weep for my virginity, I and my companions." So he said, "Go." Then he sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and wept for her virginity on the mountains.

Here is one of the very bad translations, when it says something like "up and down the mountains" or "out on the mountains", the Hebrews actually says, “Let me go down the mountain.” This is a contextual proverb referring to religion, something that has a deeper meaning that what it seems to mean. When someone got close to God, they ascended the mountain, they went up, or as Pastor Aaron sometimes says, they have a mountaintop experience. Jephthah’s daughter, in asking to go down the mountain, is asking to return to her pagan religion, her and her other pagans, maybe witches, to see if the gods of her youth can get her out of the vow that her father has made. They didn’t actually go anywhere, but spiritually they abandoned the God of Israel.

So we see what happened, all of Israel did a U-Turn, but she remained a pagan, she kept going straight on her path to destruction. For two months they sought deliverance from pagan deities, then verse 39;

Judges 11:39-40 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went year by year to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

She repented of her paganism, she became a servant of God for the rest of her life, and her return to the true God became a source of spiritual commemoration and an example for the girls of Israel. Some translations say "lament", but there is no reason for them to relent; the readers would know what they did because at the time of the writing this ceremony would still be going on; this is vital in determining what the Bible says is knowing what it said to the original readers. I'm sure this is what happened, because Jephthah, as a great man of God, would have known that he couldn't sacrifice a person, and even if he wanted to, he needed a priest to do it, and no priest would have sacrificed a person. She was wholly devoted to ministry, serving God, and worshipping him.

So your application is that God is a saving God, he can redeem someone out of every sin, every uncleanness, and from every false religion. Jephthah could have forced his daughter to follow his religion, but she would have done it unwillingly, but because he gave her option to seek Heaven on her own, she came to the knowledge of the truth. You can’t force someone to become a Christian, sometimes they need to be told to go see if the gods they have chosen can save them. Unfortunately for many, they will find out in Hell that their gods are totally unable to save. For the fortunate ones they will see this before they die and return to the Living God and repent, and he will redeem them.

A major application is that God saves both individuals and nations. Just because someone is in a Christian nation doesn’t make them a Christian, and each and every person must seek after God on their own.

Third, knowing God and history is vital for discernment. You need to know your Bibles, you need to know the God whom it refers to, and you need to have an understanding of the history of at least the church and your country.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17th - Gender Roles

Prayer Requests
Jordan – Boot Camp
Hawaii Missions Trip
Superbowl Missions Trip
New Middle School Friday Nights
Haiti, especially the Baptist Haiti Mission
Winterblast

Text – 1 Peter 3:1-7

The passage we’re going to look at today starts with likewise, so it is imperative that we remember what we’ve been talking about so that we understand what Peter is going to say now.

What’d we talk about last time? Slavery and the importance of respecting those in authority over you.

Who is our supreme example? Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Two things I wanted to focus on before we move onto the passage are the fact that Peter says Christ didn’t threaten, and a really good definition of biblical slavery which I found.

First, Peter says that when Christ was reviled, he didn’t revile in return, when he suffered, he didn’t threaten. But, we see Christ threatening in verses like

Luke 13:4-5 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

And

John 8:23-24 He said to them, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."

Both of these are threats, but this isn’t what Peter is talking about. Peter is talking specifically on the day that Christ was crucified, he didn’t threaten for the treatment he received. When he threatened in the days and years leading up to his crucifixion was for sins against Heaven. He didn’t say, “Unless you shut up, I’m going to punch you in the nose.” Rather it was more like, “You need to be forgiven or else you will reap the consequences of an insulted and holy God.” His threat wasn’t for their treatment against him, but for their sins against Heaven.

In Hawaii I was preaching on the beach and a very angry old woman came up and told me, “I’m a heathen and I [bleeping] love it.” I could have gotten mad at her for bothering me, but that would have been wrong, instead I pointed her sins at Heaven, that she could be sure her sins would find her out, and the fleeting nature of sin is not worth the eternity of wrath she would face lest she repent. She got even more mad and told me she didn’t need to repent, but that I needed to repent and then she ran off.

So this is what Peter means, that we don’t threaten for our treatment, but we are quick to warn of the threat of eternal damnation for those who continue to rebel against God and who don’t receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We see this in Christ’s prayer, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is a passive threat to them that they need forgiveness.

Next is the slavery issue, and I’m just going to read this so we can get onto the text for today, but this was too good for me to pass up. Dave gave me John MacArthur’s A Tale of Two Sons for Christmas, it is an absolutely wonderful book. Here is what Dr. MacArthur says about biblical slavery,

It was a truly amazing turnaround for the Prodigal Son to reach the point where he would even consider being a hired servant to his father, and it’s a very clear indicator that he now realized just how low he had sunk. The Greek word translated “hired servants” is misthios. It refers to day laborers-the lowest of all workers on the economic scale. In the first-century culture, that kind of hired servant held a much lower status that a slave. Slaves were supplied with living quarters, clothing, and all the necessities of life. Trusted bondservants might even be put in charge of important business affairs…Many household servants were educated, cultured, honorable, highly skilled people, whose status was anything but lowly. Nehemiah, serving as cupbearer to the king of Persia, is one biblical example of a slave who enjoyed honor and advantage.

You can also see evidence of the relative comfort some slaves enjoyed in the ruins of ancient Pompeii, a resort town consisting largely of homes that belonged to wealthy Roman citizens…The typical household servant’s living conditions were usually the most Spartan rooms in the estates…but all the servants’ needs were supplied, and they lived in relative comfort. In some cases, they even enjoyed many luxuries.

Day laborers, on the other hand, were society’s most desperately poor. Unlike slaves, they had no master continually caring for them. They were on their own, and they lived as best they could on whatever they could earn from day to day. Many of them were homeless and unskilled. They would therefore be given the menial or undesirable work. They were usually hired to do temporary manual labor…Such workers needed everything they could possibly earn just to scrape by from day to day, it was considered unjust to withhold their wages until a scheduled payday at the end of the week or even later in the month. As the Prodigals own experience demonstrated, not everyone paid menial workers enough to live on, and outside Israel, they might not get paid in a timely fashion.

But the Prodigal remembered that his father paid even the lowest of his hired servants more than enough. Day laborers who served his father actually had leftover food. That confirms what we have already observed about the father’s character. He was generous, kindly, and compassionate.
(pp.91-92)

So all that to say, Peter’s point is that we are to respect the authority over us, no matter if they are good or bad. This is an important part of the likewise, because Peter is now going to talk to husbands and wives, and his first assumption is that the husband may not be a good husband.

I heard a young lady say recently that if a man-eating lion got loose in the United States, it would starve to death.

So while this passage is going to speak mostly to the ladies, there is a huge amount here to be learned for the men. We could spend two or three class periods on this, but we’re so far behind our schedule and since you’re all at least a few years from being married, I’m going to just teach what Peter says.

1 Peter 3:1-7 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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

While researching for this, every single one of the resources I looked at coupled this passage with Ephesians 5, and rightly so, but we’re not going to go there, I want Peter to make his point without having to reference Paul. If this Epistle was the only letter the Pontian and Asian Christians had, then it must be sufficient, so we’re going to stay mostly in Peter’s Epistle. I’m sure this passage might even make some of us mad or uncomfortable, so that is why I am going to do my absolute best to stick to the text so if you get mad, it’s at the text and not at me.

v.1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands,

The first thing that we get from the context from the likewise, and then from the “be subject” is that Peter fully sees a hierarchy in the marriage covenant, that the man is the authority. Peter is using the same word here that he used in verse 13 about being subject to the government and verse 18 about being subject to a master.

According to the Bible, the husband owns the wife; but on the converse, so does the wife own her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

It is so tempting to go to Ephesians 5 right now to explain why from a theological standpoint, but that isn’t Peter’s intent, read Ephesians 5:22-33 when you get home and you’ll see it from a totally different, yet totally viable perspective. Peter gives a different why in the second part of verse 1,

v.1-2 so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

Until I researched this, I was sure this passage only had to do with unbelieving husbands only, but it doesn’t. That is a part of this, but this is focused on so much more. Even believers are sure to be disobedient in some ways, sometimes willfully, sometimes ignorantly, and Peter is exhorting the wives here to live righteously to show their husbands the right path, instead of taking the authoritative position and telling them they are wrong, to live it out so that through their conduct they may be won to obedience in the Word of God.

The next part is probably the most important for your age group, so I’m going to keep moving even if it doesn’t feel like I’ve spent enough time on verses 1-2. If you feel the need to punch me in the stomach on the way out, then let’s keep talking about this after class.

v.3-4 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—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.

While this is pointed by Peter at women, guys, let’s pay extra special attention because this is what you should be looking for in female friends and future wives.

The external standard of beauty is always changing, so I want to put together a hyperbole of the ideal woman. Let’s say the standard of beauty becomes that the ideal external standard is a woman 7 foot 6 inches tall; it doesn’t matter if she is skinny or overweight, blonde or brunette, ears pierced or not, has perfect eyesight or wears glasses, is dressed in a $5,000 dress or in rags, if she is 7 feet 6 inches tall without stilts or crazy hats, she is the ideal of beauty and everyone who is shorter or taller is not considered beautiful by the culture. What can someone who is 5 foot 5 inches do in this culture to be considered externally beautiful? Nothing.

Now say we had someone that fits the requirements, and assuming the standard doesn’t change, is this beauty imperishable? No, with the ravages of sin she may get osteoporosis and her bones shrink and all of the sudden she is only 7’5, or she starts to hunch over from old age, no longer beautiful, or she breaks her leg and when she limps she goes from 7’6 to 7’5 to 7’6 to 7’5. External beautify is fleeting.

But in the hidden person of the heart, Peter says this is an imperishable beauty, and very precious in the sight of God. A gentle and quiet spirit, a godly character, respectful and pure conduct; these are everlasting. Can every Christian woman achieve this? Yes.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Guys, pay attention, if what is important to God is the heart, then what ought to be important to you is the heart. If you marry a girl just because she’s the most beautiful girl on earth on the outside, you’re in danger of the effects of sin making you think someone else is more beautiful or judging your wife against her former beauty. My friend Melissa had the most beautiful smile and then she bit down on a carrot stick wrong and shattered her front tooth, but her beauty wasn’t only external; her godliness wasn’t affected by her missing tooth because her internal beauty is imperishable.

And what does it matter if the whole world thinks you’re beautiful and God doesn’t? It astonishes me with women like Helen of Troy, of whose beauty nations went to war against one another and who it is said “had a face the launched a thousand ships”, and who really only the king of the winning nation could have, had such impact with their beauty. And yet is Helen of Troy beautiful today? Has anybody gone to war for her recently? No, she is 3,200 years old. To the contrary, check out what Peter says about women with inner beauty,

v.5-6 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Various places tell us that Abraham is in Heaven, and in just a second we’re going to see that Sarah is too, and is her godliness still beautiful today? Definitely, and even moreso because unlike external beauty which fades, internal beauty grows in sanctification until it is perfected in Heaven.

In Galatians 4 it refers to Sarah as the allegory of freedom and Hagar the allegory of slavery, and so Peter is making the point that when you submit yourself to the authority first of your husband and second and more importantly under Christ (as the progression has been moving from chapter 2:13) then in your submission you become free.

Genesis refers to Sarah still being beautiful in her old age, and while it certainly bears the idea of her external beauty, I wonder if much of the reason that Pharaoh desired her so much was from her inward beauty, something he couldn’t find anywhere in the women of Egypt.

She is the perfect model of a holy life, not like the models of today who model nothing more than the fact that the world is totally focused on the outside of a person, that sex and materialism are sources of happiness, and that women are objects rather than people.

So Sarah is the one to be followed. The way you know you are her spiritual children is if you do good out of love for God and in submission to him first, not out of fear, and not backing down in matters of purity. Peter says all of this before mentioning the husband’s duties, and I think the reason is because he is really trying to press home the importance of submission, placing Christ’s submission in the middle as the perfect example.

While men and woman are definitely equal in worth and character and intelligence, our roles are not equal, men have different abilities and duties, and so do women. Mary Daly just recently died, she claimed to be a Christian and claimed the Bible made women out to be inferior and therefore fought to make women equal to men. Feminism tries to make women do the duties of men and men do the duties of women, and one of Peter’s main points is that we ought to stay in our gender roles. This is true feminism, truly recognizing the beauty of the husband/wife roles. Science has backed this up by finding that the happiest and most fulfilled women are those that devote themselves to their families, and the unhappiest and least fulfilled are those that operate in male gender roles. Likewise, the unhappiest and least fulfilled men are those whose wives run the house.

Now, the path to happiness is not simply through submission, albeit this will certainly lead to eternal happiness, but the way this is supposed to work is that both husband and wife fulfill their roles in the way which God commands and desires. For example, the word Islam literally means submission, but it is submission to a made-up god who can’t give anything in return. Their submission does not lead to salvation, but our promise is that if we submit ourselves to God, he will lift us up. So the wife’s submission should be coupled with the husband’s role. And here is the man’s role,

v.7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Living in an “understanding way” is hugely important; it is recognizing that there are differences between men and women and that reactions and methods to doing things may be considerably different. And there is the huge implication in this passage that even when there are disagreements, they must be worked through. A wife with a disobedient husband stays with him, a husband must show grace and love his wife’s internal beauty no matter what happens to the external.

The husband must show honor to his wife within her gender, not expecting her to step out of that role and act as a man. Does this mean she is lesser in worth or in the eyes of God? No, as this verse says, she is an heir to grace leading to eternal life.

Christianity is constantly called misogynistic, or containing a general hatred toward women. In reality I think it is really the most woman-glorifying religion, it doesn’t look at girls and say, “You’re pretty good, now be better by not acting like girls.” Rather it says you’re perfect in your composition and abilities; you are created by a loving Creator who knows what he is doing, and desires your utmost ability within the role in which you fulfill, and has promised you an inheritance in his Son which is neither above nor below the male role.

When Christianity got ultra-liberal in London in the 1800’s, there were debates on whether women even had souls; when what those debaters should have done is simply read their Bible and seen in this verse that women are heirs to grace.

We’re going to skip the “so that your prayers may not be hindered” for now, it is Peter’s transition to the next passage and we’ll look at it next week.

So in conclusion, Peter has given us three purposes of submission, first to the government, then to our employers (which for you encompasses your teachers), and finally within gender roles. He starts wide and impersonal then narrows it to the most personal. Christ being our perfect example in all three. Next week we will look at the purpose of this submission.

The conclusion for our study today, ladies, don’t get all caught up in external beauty, focus on your inward beauty through a quiet, gentle, and pure heart, which is what is truly beautiful and precious, both in godly men’s sight, but mostly in God’s sight. Guys, know that the external is perishable, but the internal is imperishable. Your future bride must be chosen for her godliness and not just ‘cuz she’s pretty.

I have two homework assignments for you, both sure to be of use for you for all of eternity.

First, I want you to memorize 1 Peter 3:4, [Ladies] 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.

Ladies, memorize it as the person you want to be; guys memorize it as the person you want to marry.

Second, help your mom do something nice for your dad. Then help your dad do something nice for your mom. Do it because a strong marriage bond glorifies your Saviour by modeling his relationship with his bride, the church.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3rd - Christ our Example

Prayer Requests
Middle School Bible Study Startup
Whoever's Preaching
Jordan Johnson Basic Training

Text – 1 Peter 2:18-25

It's been quite a long time since we've been in Peter's Epistle, so let's do some review.

Who wrote it? Peter.

Who was Peter? One of the 12 Apostles, a street preacher mainly to the Jews. He was married, and according to John's Gospel, he was slower than John.

Who did he write it to? Pretty much everybody, both Jews and Gentiles, both rich and poor; namely people in every part of modern day Turkey.

When was it written and where? Probably about AD 65 in Rome.

What is the main theme of this Epistle? We are ambassadors/pilgrims to earth, Heaven is our real home. So we need to act as representatives of Christ, remembering that here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city to come.

What else did Peter write or help write? Second Peter, and he provided input for both Mark's Gospel and Luke's Acts of the Apostles, and I believe that he also helped to write Hebrews.

So that gives us context for our lesson today, Peter has been telling us how to live as ambassadors, not fighting against the government or doing all sorts of evil stuff, but honoring people, loving the church, and serving God. Those were all some very universal general commands to everyone, now Peter is going to show that we have an example in Christ of how to act, and give us some specifics on how to act.

1 Peter 2:18-25 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

v.18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

The first thing we see in this passage is that the Bible is not against slavery. There are very specific rules in the Bible on how you're supposed to treat slaves and how slaves are supposed to act. One example is that the Bible tells masters that they are required to give their slaves the Sabbath off of work.

Deuteronomy 5:13-14 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

We've been so brainwashed in the world today that slavery is bad that we totally overlook the fact that most people are slaves. Gone is the day where there was an actual deed of ownership written for our person, but we are still in bondage. We now just have a little more freedom to determine who we will work for. Where-as when we think slavery we think of a plantation owner who has people work for him and in turn gives them room and board (a place to sleep and something to eat), now the employer has people work for him and provides them money in order that they have room and board. Some slave/master relationships are more distant, like when you take out a loan, you sell yourself to the bank in promise of working for them to pay back the loan with interest.

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

William Wilberforce was the Christian in Parliament who in the early-1800's abolished ethnic slavery in England, and then Abraham Lincoln was the Christian in Washington who in the mide-1800's abolished ethnic slavery in America. Some people try to say that they are responsible for doing away with slavery, but really their great achievement is recognizing that all men are created equal. Slavery is still alive and well all over the world, especially in the United States.

1 Corinthians 7:20-24 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

The spiritual implications of this is that people are either slaves to sin or slaves to Christ, we are not our own , we were bought with a price. We could spend hours on this topic, but that isn't Peter's intent, I just wanted to point out this important detail of the biblical worldview versus the secular worldview. Finally, last point on this topic, in George Orwell's book Animal Farm he tries to show that Socialism, though it promises freedom to all people, really enslaves everyone; the great irony of the book is that at the end, the animals that declare their freedom the loudest are the most in bondage. You will see this all throughout the United States today, people claiming we're free and that this is the greatest nation on earth, when in reality they are firmly in bondage to materialism and sin.

So then, Peter's point when he tells us to be in subjection to both good masters and bad masters implies that slavery is real and that everyone is in it. Read this as your future boss, not as some archaic thought of a slave driver with a whip. But why do we do that? Verses 19 and 20 are going to tell us why a little more.

v.19-20 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

This allows us to represent God, that as sent not only will we realize when we've done wrong and accept the consequences, but we will endure when persecuted for doing right. This is one thing that Christians could definitely be better at, you could rephrase this to say, "No whining, I don't care whose fault it is." Do you ever watch those judge shows on TV? Everybody is out to prove that they are right even when they are clearly wrong. My favorite example was a cop show where they had people try to fight their speeding tickets and they came up with every excuse imaginable so they wouldn't have to say they were wrong. "It was on a hill." "I didn't see the speed limit sign." "I was keeping up with traffic." and many many more. We need to admit when we've done wrong and accept the consequences.

But much more difficult is being punished for doing the right thing. If we didn't have such an incredible example, I don't think I could do this, nor try to tell you to either, but we do have an example.

v.21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

The reason is to represent Christ, who suffered unjustly at the hands of men for our sake. When you are persecuted for righteousness sake, it shows that the grace of God overcomes and that God's word is true, that people love darkness rather than the light. Who do you think was the most Christlike person ever to live? Jesus Christ. What happened to him when he lived that life? He got crucified. I like to ask, "How Christlike can you be if no-one has tried to crucify you?"

Leonard Ravenhill really has a great quote on this, "And there's no room for Him in the inn. He got a bit older, there was no room in His family, His family turned on Him. He went to the temple, no room in the temple, the temple turned on Him. And when He died there was no room to bury Him, He died outside of the city. Well why in God's Name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it that the world couldn't get on with the holiest Man that ever lived and can get on with you and me? Are we compromised? Have we no spiritual stature? Have we no righteousness that reflects on their corruption?"

Not only might persecution for doing right happen to us, but Peter says that we've been called to this, it is part of our duty as ambassadors for Christ. Sometimes we may suffer for doing wrong, but in Christ's example, he only suffered for doing right. Verse 22 is one of my favorites in the whole Bible.

v.22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

The reason it is so great is because it almost requires us to say of every verse, "This is my favorite verse." Because everything Jesus ever said was totally true. Peter is going to give some specifics on Christ never sinning.

v.23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Revile means to speak abusively, when they yelled at Christ "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Messiah of God, the Chosen One!" and "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" He didn't yell back, instead he prayed for them, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Both thieves crucified with Christ were yelling at him to save himself and them, really making fun of him, but then one of them repented; Jesus chose to save him instead of saying, "You want me to save you? Ten minutes ago you blasphemed my name, save yourself."

He didn't threaten. This is something that some of the people I preach with need to learn. Some of them get downright snarky telling people to "turn or burn," and really just making some unrealistic threats. We do implore and warn, but not in a threatening way. For example, Jesus said unless you repent, you shall likewise perish to some people who asked about some people who died, but there was the invitation to salvation not just a threat. And if you think about it, Jesus Christ could have called angels from Heaven to save him from the cross, or he could have had lightning bolts zap everybody, but he entrusted it all to his Father, as the one who judges justly. We ought to do likewise.

v.24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

There are several arguments on exactly what Christ was doing on the cross, was he just an example, or a payment to the Devil, or the perfect lamb for sacrifice; none of which is correct; but this verse really puts it well that he was a substitutionary atonement, we should have suffered for our sins, but he died for us. He bore our sins in his body, elsewhere the Bible says he became sin for us; he took our sins and died for them. This is called penal substitutionary atonement, penal being punishment, substitute meaning that he took our place, and atonement meaning how we are reconciled to God.

That is what he did, so the purpose is that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Keeping the context, since Christ died for us, we ought to live for him, and that is why we act as his representatives on earth.

By his wounds we are healed, not physically in this life, but spiritually and physically in eternity. If we have died to sin and live to righteousness, the idea is that sin is a disease which was going to kill our souls, but which Christ has rescued us from. The Apostle Paul always had a physical ailment, as well as many other godly Christians throughout history, this verse doesn't mean that we are going to healed physically. This verse gets misquoted all the time to say that God will heal you if you have enough faith, if you don't get healed, there must be something wrong with your faith.

We're going to talk about this a lot more in Second Peter, but for now, Oral Roberts was one of these antichrists who preached what is called the "health-wealth-and-prosperity gospel", and he just died of pneumonia in December. The antithesis of their idea that a Christian should never get sick because by Christ's stripes we are healed is when they die. To a lesser extent, but a much more dangerous person, is Jesse Duplantis who has to wear reading glasses. Kenneth Hagin claims to have never had so much as a head-ache because of this verse. I don't know if he's lying about his health, but he's definitely lying about God.

Finally, Peter is going to tie the main thought of this passage together in verse 25. He has been talking about us being subject to everyone with all respect, that we are following Christ's example, and because he died for us, we ought to live to him, verse 25 reminds us who our true owner is.

v.25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Our true Master and Guide and person to be respected is Jesus Christ, and following in his example will bring honor to him, even if it doesn't seem right from a human standpoint. Remember in the beginning of the passage that Peter qualifies the statement, "mindful of God," the reason we do everything we do is for him. It is very important to remember that we aren't good for goodness sake, we're good for Christ's sake, so that he gets the glory, because he's the one that did all of the work to bring us back to him.

Now, something that Peter is starting to prepare, but wont' get to for a few more chapters, is calling Christ both the Shepherd, Poimen, and Overseerer, Episkopos, he is saying that Christ is both in charge of the little things and the big things. Usually a Poimen, or Pastor, won't also be an Episkopos, or Bishop. But Christ is, because he is capable of both running the universe and being an individual friend.

This is a really cool point I think, John MacArthur was on a plane once and he was witnessing to a Muslim, and the Muslim said, "I hope God will forgive my sins." John MacArthur answered, "Well I know him personally and he won't." The Muslim was astonished that anyone could know the Creator of the universe.

There are three titles given for pastor in the New Testament:

Poimen - Pastor
Presbyter - Elder
Episkopos - Overseer

A presbyter can be a poimen but usually they oversee pastors instead of acting as one, while an episkopos oversees presbyters. Some people like to think that churches can only be small, like house sized, but God anticipated and prepared for megachurches and the oversight that is necessary. It is interesting to note that the Roman Catholic Church claims Peter to be the first bishop of Rome, or Pope, but Peter is very careful to say that Jesus is the Bishop of our souls, and in chapter 5 he is very careful to only call himself a presbyter.

In the Southern Baptist Convention we are so afraid of the language of bishop and presbyter that we very very rarely use them and instead Pastor Aaron holds the title of Senior Pastor, which would be in our form of church government the equivalent of a presbyter, or even the bishop of Summit, or you could say that the Convention would be in the bishop role, albeit they don't function the way that a bishop should function, so it's probably safer to say Pastor Aaron falls into the episkopos role, while Dave and Leon and Lee would be in the presbyter role, and individual teachers would be in the poimen role.

If this doesn't make sense it's not that big of a deal, the Bible doesn't give a definitive church "how-to manual", albeit it does call elders to train up the younger, and that is what Peter is going to talk about considerably more in chapter 5. In the Methodist and Episcopal/Anglican churches you'll have bishops that are the head of a region of churches, I don't think that is what the Bible had in mind, I think God would rather we do it similar to how Summit does it, albeit I think God would rather all of the churches in the area be under a head overseer so that there is more communication and communion between churches. Unfortunately in this day and age, I don't ever foresee anything like that happening.

So in conclusion, when we suffer, keeping God in mind, under a good or bad boss or leader, we bear it, remembering Christ's example; since he died for us, we will live for him, we will seek to do good in all we do for his name's sake, dying to sin and living for righteousness, because we like sheep had gone astray, but our pastor and owner has brought us back.