Pastor Aaron Preaching
PasXa outreach – April 2nd
Praise - Shawn Holes in Scotland
Praise - Kari's Dad's New Job
Cherry Blossom Festival Outreach
Mark's Family at the Loss of His Grandmother
Text – 1 Peter 3:8-12, 4:7-11
Before we start, we're not meeting next Sunday due to Easter. Our Good Friday outreach will be from 6:30-9:30pm on Friday, it's going to be awesome so make sure you bring friends. One thing I want to touch on about Easter before we start is the sign you often see above Jesus' head on the cross, it's often abbreviated "INRI", and I've long wondered what it meant. It's not scriptural to be an acronym, but I finally looked up what it means to find out why it's up there.
John 19:19-22 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but rather, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."
It stands for:
Iesous - Jesus
Rex - King
Ioudaios - Jews
So moving on, the passages we’re going to look at today are what are called “bracketing” or “book-ends” or “sandwiching” passages, they say basically the same thing but have a major theme in the middle. As you are reading your Bibles it’s not particularly important to be looking for things like this, although when you find them they can really add a lot to the passage, and these today really do add a lot to the theme of chapter 4 and 5.
The way you find things like this is that a phrase will be repeated, for our passage today that theme is “so your prayers may not be hindered” and “for the sake of your prayers.”
I like that Peter writes this way because it’s how I write. If you look on the website I’ve posted a link to an article I wrote on prayer. (http://trustobey.blogspot.com/2009/07/privilege-of-prayer.html) I start it with, “We have a problem, ‘We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.’ – John 9:31” and conclude with, “We had a problem, now we have a solution. So let’s pray, ‘We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.’ – John 9:31”
What is the main theme we have we been talking about in 1 Peter 3:13-4:6? The Resurrection, first of Christ, and then of the believer, and how we have a hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ, that just as he suffered and died, he was made alive in the Spirit, and just as we will die, we will be made alive in the Spirit, because he is the firstborn from the dead.
A verse I encourage all of you to memorize is 1 Corinthians 15:55-57: “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Everything we looked at between these two verses was set on Heaven, but on either side of the promise of the resurrection, Peter is telling us to also live holy and Christian lives on this side of eternity. For a bit of context, remember Peter started out by telling everyone how to live under the government, then focused on slaves/employees living under masters/employers, then focused on wives, then focused on husbands, and now he is going to focus on everyone again, on how Christians should live with Christians.
1 Peter 3:8-12 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
1 Peter 4:7-11 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
3v.8 All of you
This is to all Christians, from the highest pastor to the newest believer.
3v.8 have unity of mind
Holding to Jesus Christ and the Bible as the final rule of faith and belief, not letting the traditions of men cause divisions.
3v.8 sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind
All of these are pretty self explanatory, and Peter is going to give some principles which apply to all of them:
3v.9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
This works for Christians towards unbelievers as well, but Peter's point in this passage is to point it inwards into the church. If you are offended in the church you are to return blessings, not curses. Remember what an imprecatory prayer is? It's a prayer asking God to squish someone; this verse forbids Christians praying these prayers against other Christians. (Based on student interest we looked briefly at Psalm 58 and we discussed if this Psalm, which was prayed against a government, should be prayed today)
So when we are insulted within the church, we don't hold it against the other person or the church as a whole, rather we continue to love both the church and the other Christian. We were called to receive the blessing of eternal life, so we therefore must emulate Christ in blessing all of our fellow believers.
In verse 10-12 Peter quotes from Psalm 34, he's quoted this already once in chapter two about "tasting and seeing that the Lord is good." Here Peter is making his point basically that the church falls under the same guidelines as Israel, and that living an upright life within the church comes with blessings. We can't ever forget that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." There are definitely things you can do to be more effective and happier in this life, but in this passage Peter is going to be very clear that it's not to earn us Heaven.
3v.10-11 "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it."
Do you want to love life and enjoy good days? I think practically everyone would say yes to this, nobody wants to have a bad day. You can point this at Heaven, but that isn't Peter's intent, he is saying there is something you can do on Earth to have good days and love life. If we were going to point this at Heaven we'd look more in-depth at Psalm 84,
Psalm 84:10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
But we're focusing on our life here on earth. Peter makes a very interesting point by using Psalm 34 in this way, because I've always read this verse as one about prayer, but he's using it as both for prayer and for holy living, and this reminds us of Peter's approach to prayer, that the holier you are, the more you'll pray. Contrasted to Paul's approach to prayer, that the more you pray, the holier you'll be. These aren't contradictory, rather they mesh together perfectly, that the more you pray, the holier you'll be, and the holier you are, the more you'll pray, and the more you pray, the holier you'll become, and as you become holier, you'll pray more, and so on and so on.
I love the verse about keeping our tongues from evil and our lips from deceit. This is one of the quickest ways to tell if someone is a Christian, I believe. A person that curses often cannot possibly have a new heart, a person that takes God's name in vain frequently shows that they are not a child of God but an enemy of God. It's not what goes into a persons mouth that defiles them, but what comes out, for out of the mouth the heart professes.
Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
But also know that just because someone doesn't curse often or take God's name in vain doesn't automatically mean they are a Christian.
3v.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
At face value, we really need to recognize that God only listens to the prayer of the righteous, so we have to see that in order for God to listen to your prayers, you have to have been justified, made holy, cleansed of your sins, and clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
So even when we are sinning, because of Jesus Christ's righteousness, our prayers are still heard. You can't make God listen to you by being nicer, because you have to be perfect. So you can't make God not listen to you by sinning, because in Christ you are perfect. At first glance it sounds like Peter is saying that you can gain better audience to God by being holy, but that can't be what he is saying. What he is saying is that we seek peace and pursue righteousness, repenting of evil to good, which basically means turning to Jesus Christ, then through Christ God will hear our prayers.
4v.7 The end of all things is at hand;
As we talked about two weeks ago and will talk more about in about a month, the nearness or farness of Christ's return is meant to motivate us to focus on things that really matter, not flitting away our lives or focusing on worthless pursuits. Yesterday at the Cherry Blossom Festival was a very talented puppet-master, probably about 75 years old, and as I watched his show I couldn't help but think that this man has utterly wasted his life entertaining people with something of absolutely no substance. Peter goes on to tell us what then to do with our shortness of time:
4v.7 therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
Again, for the sake of our prayers, our communion with God, we live lives with a purpose for Heaven, with seriousness in our actions and attempting to do nothing just to do it, but always giving honor to Christ Jesus giving thanks to the Father through him. And again Peter is going to point us at the church:
4v.8-9 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Remember from our study of love that there are different kinds. The kind here is better translated as charity, it's not ushy gushy and it's not conditional, it is lovingkindness no matter what the person has done. It covers a multitudes of sins, not sins towards God, but sins towards you. Say someone is supposed to do something and fails to do it and it causes you all sorts of stress and extra work, you show love towards that person instead of freaking out and getting mad and punching them.
This isn't to say that you don't show them what they've done and ask them to try harder next time. I really don't want you think that we ignore sins against us or Heaven, rather we don't hold them against someone, but we correct and rebuke and help others to become holy just as they help us to be holy.
Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
When we show hospitality without grumbling, it means to accommodate the needs of the saints without counting the cost, without feeling you are owed or are being treated unfairly, but that you are representing God. Does God give us gifts and salvation so that we will eventually pay him back? No, of course not, he is showing us hospitality without grumbling, showing his love and his grace and through it earning himself glory and blessings and honor, which we'll read in a moment at the end of the passage.
Acts 17:25 Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
4v.10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—
According to various places in the Bible (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4) we all are gifted in various ways to minister for the gospel. Peter puts a different spin on it that we are gifted to serve the church. God didn't give everyone the gift of mercy, he didn't give everyone the gift of discernment, he didn't give everyone the gift of evangelism, he didn't give everyone the gift of leading or of being able to speak multiple languages, they are varied, but together they all work towards one goal.
There are two major types of gifts: speaking and serving. Peter says whichever you are gifted at, do it to the fullness of your ability as gifted by God. Yesterday at the Cherry Blossom Festival people were amazed at how loud my voice is and how God has gifted me to talk to complete strangers, not everybody has received these gifts. Your gifts may be working with children, or organizing church events, or writing books, or teaching, or preaching. Whichever you are best at, hone those gifts and use them for the glory of God. And whichever ones you have, Paul says we ought to strive to also have the others, especially the ability to speak and tell people about Jesus. In all this we do it
4v.11 in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God gives the gifts, he gives the strength, he gives the blessings, he gives the righteousness, and in that he receives all of the glory and ownership forever and ever. We'll conclude with
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.