Blog Detail

The Writings of Peter - Part V

The Writings of Peter

Part 5

For the past few Sundays, we have, in the sermons, been considering much of what Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote to Christians who had been facing and were going to face persecution based on their faith in Jesus.

Among the things Peter taught those people - teachings that apply to Christians today as well - were to get rid of bad behaviors and replace them with good conduct, for Christian workers to be submissive and respectful of their masters, for Christian wives to be submissive to their husbands and for Christian husbands to live considerately with their wives, and for every Christian, no matter their work or marital status, to have unity of spirit, sympathy, love, a tender heart, humility, and a habit of blessing others.

In last week’s message, the challenge was given that all those things be done because, as Peter wrote, the end of all things is at hand, the point being that we need to be ready for whenever our earthly time is done, either individually or because of the Lord’s return.

Today’s sermon is based on a section of the last chapter I Peter, which is chapter 5. For this message, I Peter 5:6-14. 

Before we get to that passage, something needs to be mentioned. Many times in I Peter, suffering is mentioned. 

One example is early in the letter when Peter identified his audience as exiles. Those people had been forced by persecution to leave their homes. They had been forced to flee for safety to other areas. That persecution came from Jewish forces.

Even in their new areas, the Christian exiles were persecuted, then at the hands of Greeks and Romans, among whom they lived, who misunderstood Christian practices and wanted to ostracize followers of Jesus.

Thinking again of the challenge for Christian workers to be submissive, Peter acknowledged in chapter 2 that sometimes masters do not treat their servants well, which can lead to suffering. Christian workers are to work well anyway, but suffering is at least possible in the work world.

In chapter 3 of I Peter, he wrote again about suffering. He did so yet again in chapter 4, there writing, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you.” In that passage and elsewhere is the point that since Jesus, who was perfect, suffered, how can we, who are His followers, think we can somehow avoid suffering? However, since Jesus survived, we can know that, with His help, we, too, can survive.

Even in our world today there is persecution. We hear about it in other countries of the world with arrests and beatings and deaths. Even in our own nation our Christian faith can cause us to lose popularity or friends. It can be uncomfortable to stand for what is right when all those around us give way.

Suffering can and often does come the way of those who are Christians. Peter warned about it. Other New Testament writers warned about it. Jesus Himself warned about it. It can be so easy to think that when someone becomes a Christian, all the problems of life disappear for that person. That is certainly true spiritually, but it is totally false in a physical sense. In fact, accepting Jesus leads to problems from those who do not believe in Him.

The fact that suffering is part of the Christian experience, as much of a downer as that is, must be presented. It was presented by Peter, many times in I Peter, including in today’s passage, which begins with verse 6 of I Peter 5.

Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God.” That statement applied specifically to leaders of the churches attended by the Christian exiles. Those leaders were instructed to lead willingly and tenderly, acting as examples for others to follow. But the statement also applied to everyone else in the congregations. All were to be humble.

Humble yourselves. In another message in this series, humility was described this way. It is knowing we are all dependent on God and His blessings. It is realizing we all fall short of God’s ideal, so there is no basis for gloating that we are better than someone else.

Be humble under the mighty hand of God. The reward, Peter continued, is that “in due time, he who is humble will be exalted.” That is worth waiting for.

One way to be humble is - verse 7 - to “cast all your anxieties on God,” who, as Peter wrote in verse 6, has “a mighty hand,” a phrase used another place in the Bible. It was with a mighty hand that God brought His people out of Egypt, that recorded early in the Old Testament.

Cast all your anxieties. Anxieties are not the normal concerns of life, but feelings or dreads or fears so great your very health and well-being are in danger. Anxiety is having such negative anticipation of what is going to happen that you forget you belong to God. Cast - throw, dump, discard - all your anxieties on God.

The good news is that God wants you to do that. That is what Peter meant when he added, “For He cares about you.” He loves each of us,  so He cares for each of us, hoping we will not be scared, but rely on Him, our creator, sustainer, and teacher. How good to know we do not have to worry about things. We can let God carry our burdens. At least help us carry the load as we work with Him in the things of life.

Be humble. How? Cast all your anxieties on God for He cares about us.

However, there is someone who, during our time on earth, will always be around, trying to keep us from trusting God. Verse 8. “Be sober.” Be serious about knowing and living the Christian life. “Be watchful.” Be aware of that someone so he cannot catch you unprepared for his attacks.

Listen to how dangerous that someone is. Peter describes him as your “adversary.” Your enemy. Your confronter. The one who tries to defeat you. In this case, defeat you spiritually.

Peter then identified the adversary. “The devil.” Listen to what that word means.

The accuser. The devil will say accusing things, his hope being to do so with such volume and ferocity that any defense is thwarted.

By the way, those who accept Jesus have a defender who is even louder and fiercer than the devil could ever hope to achieve, but that will not, this side of Heaven, keep the devil from trying.

The word “devil” also means to strike or stab, doing so with poison. That is how evil the accuser hopes to be.

Peter added how the adversary the devil prefers to attack. “He prowls around, constantly searching for prey” - for those who are not sober and watchful - and “he roars like a lion.”

Interestingly, I have read that the really dangerous lions are the ones that do not roar. It is quiet lions that can sneak up on prey. 

But that has to be hard to remember when you hear a lion roar. Such a sound can put fear into a person’s heart, which is the ploy of the devil. His hope is to cause such fear that a person will forget to be sober and watchful and thereby be easier to devour.

Verse 9. Peter wrote, “Resist him.” Resist the devil. Stand firm against him, which is possible for all who stand “firm” in their Christian faith. Those who stand firm, despite the efforts of the devil, even in the face of persecution, in the midst of the struggles to get rid of what is bad and do what is good in the eyes of God, thereby taking advantage of being chosen by God to be obedient to the Lord.

Resist the devil. Stand firm in your faith - here is a thought designed to be encouraging - “knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.”

How good to know we are not alone. We need to remember we are not alone. In addition to the Lord being with those of us who are Christians, there are other believers around us, far and wide, who also have the devil trying to devour them. We know, both Biblically and through historical and contemporary news, that there have been and are many Christians who have faced persecution and stayed true to their faith.

That may not be of great comfort. I still remember a time as a teacher when I was threatened by a student. Nothing ever came of it, but that was a scary day, even when I remembered I was not the only teacher in the history of education who had been threatened. 

But other Christians who survive spiritually are to be examples for us to do the same. As we stay true to the Lord, even in difficult times, we can be examples for others.

In verse 10, there is hope. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

I wonder. I know from other Bible passages that there is a benefit of suffering. The benefit is being made pure. As metal is put into fire to burn away any and all impurities, so can our faults and problems be burned away by suffering. 

Of course, we need to use the Lord’s power to not succumb to the heat. We need to use the Lord’s power to stay true to Him. But I wonder if God allows His people to suffer, not to be mean, but to help His people to grow stronger. That could be what Peter meant when he wrote about suffering for a little while, his wording indicating it might be God’s will that suffering occurs, the purpose being to be best fit for eternal glory in Heaven.

For those who, with His power, survive, God will do - this is a promise - a number of things.

He will “restore.” The root word for restore refers to the setting of a fracture. Here it means that as we stay true to God, He will fix any weaknesses found in our character. Hence, we will be purified. What a wonderful reward that will be.

He will “establish.” The root word refers to being as solid as granite. Of course, suffering can defeat a person, causing him or her to collapse or lose hope, but the purpose of our suffering, in God’s eyes, is to make our faith in Jesus ever stronger.

God will “strengthen.” Here is a comparison to explain that reward. Wind can extinguish a weak flame, but it will fan a strong flame into a great blaze. If we, with God’s help, will keep our spiritual flames strong, the sufferings of life will cause our faith to grow. That is the strength God wants each of His people to have. 

And God will “settle.” The root word refers to laying a foundation. When we face suffering and succeed in staying true to the Lord, the bedrock of our faith grows ever stronger, thereby providing even more spiritual support for us for the future.

To bring our consideration I Peter to a close - we will begin with II Peter in the next message - a quick look at verses 12 through 14, in which Peter wrote some closing words.

He mentioned Silvanus, who, it is believed, was Peter’s agent. The one who did the actual writing of the letter, writing what Peter dictated, and who then delivered the letter to the Christian exiles. 

A few comments about him. Silvanus was very important in the early Christian church. Among his credentials was having traveled with Paul in some missionary journeys. But get this. He apparently was satisfied with being an assistant. An assistant to Paul and here an assistant to Peter.  

What an important thought. Serving Christ is the important thing. Doing so in whatever role we have is what we are to do. Silvanus is an example of that.

Peter wrote, “Stand fast in the grace of God.” The grace that is described throughout I Peter.

Peter then shared greetings. One was from Rome, which is what “she who is at Babylon” means. Another was from Mark, a young Christian Peter discipled.

“Greet one another with the kiss of love.” A kiss was a common way for Christians to greet one another back then. I am not sure it is as acceptable in our day and age, especially lately, but it was a sign of spiritual love. Maybe there are other ways we can accomplish the same greeting now.

And finally, a word repeated from the very beginning of I Peter. “Peace.” Not necessarily happiness, but a confidence that, when being obedient to the Lord, we are right with God. “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”

*       *       *       *       *

A Christian author writes that he is amazed at the unbelievable offers that flood his e-mail every day. Recently he added up the offers of free money that were sent to him in a single week. His take totaled $26 million.

Of course, each of the offers was a fraud. Each one, from a $1 million prize to a $7 million offer, was nothing but a lie sent by unscrupulous people hoping to squeeze money from him.

We are all threatened by fantastic offers. Beyond money, the world claims that following the world is the way to happiness. The world asks why stay true to the Bible when it is so much easier to go along to get along?

The world is a temptation, but it offers only scams that in reality pay off with nothing but trouble. Over and over again we are offered false hope that, if pursued, ends in dashed dreams.

The Christian author continues, though, by writing that there is one offer that is genuine, though it is fantastic beyond belief. It is the offer God makes to us, which is salvation through faith in Jesus.

Salvation from sin that is to be displayed in many ways, including putting away what is bad, maintaining conduct that is good, living appropriately as workers, wives, and husbands, being unified with other Christians, loving them, being serious and sober, knowing the end of all things is at hand. And, as discussed in today’s message, being humble, being watchful for the devil’s attacks and resisting him, knowing that being and staying strong in the Lord will allow God to restore us, establish us, strengthen us, and settle us, all of which will give us peace.

All that is taught in I Peter. May we learn and live by each of those teachings.

In verse 10 of I Peter 5 is the phrase, “the God of all grace.” Grace is receiving what is not deserved. In the case of I Peter, that refers to the blessings of God, but all who accept Jesus receive grace. It then becomes possible and our privilege to live in ways that show our appreciation for what He has done, is doing, and will do. 

Today’s closing hymn reminds us of grace. It is Grace Greater Than Our Sin. We will sing verses 1 and 4. 

And listen. If you have not yet received grace because you have not yet accepted Jesus as your Savior, please change that. Accept Jesus even now. Do that instead of singing.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured -

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,

Freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face,

Will you this moment His grace receive? 

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Lord, we need to be sober and watchful against the devil, but You tell us how to be sober and watchful so we can resist our spiritual adversary. We need to be humble. We need to trust in You. We need to allow You to restore, establish, strengthen, and settle us. We need to do all that, even if we are not as prominent as others. Thank You for the peace You offer, now and always. Amen.

No comments (Add your own)

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.