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1st Peter 1:1-9 1st Peter 1:7-19 1st Peter 1:20-25 1st Peter 2:4-15 1st Peter 2:15-25
1st Peter 3:1-6 1st Peter 3:7 1st Peter 3:8-22 1st Peter 4:1-19 1st Peter 5:1-14

 

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1st Peter 4:1-19

 

"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:  for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:  wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:  who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.  For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.  But the end of all things is at hand:  be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer.  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves:  for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:  that God in all  things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen.  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you:  on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on his behalf.  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:  and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." 

 

Arm Yourselves With God's Heavy Armour

 

"Chapter 4 of 1st Peter, Peter begins by saying, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh," he's referring back to the previous chapter, saying that Christ suffered, though he was God's Son he suffered, verse 17, chapter 3, "For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins," he goes on to say.  Now the believer, he says, if we're going to walk with Christ and follow in his footsteps, some of that is going to be on the agenda for us, on the menu.  Now he's particularly this evening, going to address no doubt a problem that these Christians that Peter was writing to faced, and that was in the Roman Empire.  They were being persecuted, there was Caesar worship being enforced, and in many places the worship of Christ was considered standing in opposition to that, so there was persecution still rumbling on what the Judaizers had done.  There was persecution rumbling on from the Roman Empire at this point in time.  And a lot of these Christians were facing daily something that we see on the news that we haven't faced here in the United States, though hostility is growing.  [The persecution our Pilgrim forebears went through in England may yet come to the United States.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm]  But that doesn't exclude anyone in this room from sometimes being mistreated because of your faith.  It happens in our families, we get saved and all of a sudden our family doesn't know what to do with us.  I remember when I got saved my mom and my dad, they had no idea what to do with me.  Because it had been one thing or another, the world, LSD, and Hippies and communes, and then it was Jesus.  They thought 'What's next, flying saucers?  What's left?'  So, they had no idea what to do.  And of course my dad was Catholic, my mom was Lutheran, they were never religious till I got saved, once I was in the house with a Bible talking about Jesus, then my mom was more Lutheran than she ever was, and my dad, all of a sudden they had to be grabbing onto something, because they couldn't stand the thought that I had the savour of life and they had the savour of death, you know.  There is a particular kind of pressure that comes on us when we stand up for Christ, and he's going to talk about that this evening.  He's going to say it's bad enough when you do something wrong, and he talked about that in chapter 2, and you get caught, and you take that patiently.  Well, you should do that, you got caught.  But if you do what's right, and you do what's good, and then you suffer for that, now we're talking about a difficult situation.  And it's even more difficult amongst family or friends or people that are close to you, let alone people that might persecute you.  And it's certainly difficult when some within the Body of Christ persecute you, if you do something right, for the right reason, because you think the Lord is leading you, and you do something you think is loving, and it's misinterpreted by other people, and then you're taking the heat for it.  [That's something I've felt a little of, running this website, especially from my Sabbath-keeping brethren and pastors, etc.]  Well how do we deal with that?  Well, he says, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:" so here's the right to bear arms [spiritually speaking, of course].  Ok?  He does something interesting.  "arm yourselves" he uses a Greek structure that speaks of not just the armament of the Roman soldier, but it speaks specifically of the heavy armament [like the heavy Greek-Spartan armour of the hoplite soldier].  He says, 'OK, let's arm ourselves now, we need the heavy-duty stuff for this, we need the heavier armour, because this is the area where you don't expect to get hit, and it's for doing what's right, and the world's going to hate that, friends might hate that,' he says, 'ok, let's put on the heavy armour here because we're headed into this territory that's not very comfortable.'  And he says Christ suffered that way, the Just for the unjust, he was perfect and God's Son, and he was crucified.  He was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of sinners and so forth. 

 

Peter Gives One Of The Reasons Why We Suffer Persecution

 

He says "arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:  for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." (verse 1)  Now our context is, these believers were suffering because of persecution.  And the reason, it seems to be causative here, the reason that they're suffering in the flesh is because they're no longer living in sin they way the world does.  There's a lot of arguing over this verse because the structure of it is kind of difficult, whether some of the verbs are passive, it doesn't mean anything to you.  Some try to say it's talking about those Christians that have died here early, but the next verse says "that he should no longer live" and it's not talking about those that have passed away.  So, what it's saying is, 'those that have suffered in the flesh are those who have taken a stand for Christ.'  Romans chapter 6, not letting sin reign in your mortal body anymore.  Yes, we wrestle with sin.  John says 'If we say we have not sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.'  But our lives are to be changed.  Jesus Christ is risen, he's not dead, he's alive, and he comes to us in the person [or form] of his Holy Spirit, and when we get saved we believe in the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ.  And when we get saved we should be set free, all the bondage should be broken, we should be living a different way, and not look the same way we did before we were saved, living in sin, carrying on compromising.  No, there should be a drastic difference in our lives.  And that's going to be the context here, and the fact that we take heat for doing what's right.  That we're going to take heat for living for Christ, for saying the right things, for doing the right things, for jettisoning, to jettison some of the things in our lives that were sinful.  [Comment:  What is sin?  The apostle John tells in 1st John 3:4, "Sin is the transgression of the law" i.e. the laws of God.  Paul tells us in Romans 8 that the world is at enmity with the laws of God, but those who have God's indwelling Holy Spirit are no longer at enmity with God's laws, they love them, as David expressed in Psalm 119.  When you start following the Ten Commandments in both the letter and the spirit (cf. Matthew 5:17-48) you're going to rub people around you in the world the wrong way, because you're making them look bad.]  He's going to say "he that hath suffered in the flesh" it's because this is an individual that has ceased from sin, he's turned away from that, "that he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." (verse 2)  The New King James version may say "life", I like "time," because we sometimes forget we only have so much time, that we should live the rest of our "time", "that he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men," and that's not sexual lusts [it can be though], it's the desires of what worldly men desire.  It certainly includes that.  But, you're an individual, you've turned to Christ, your life has changed, you've suffered because you've ceased from living a sinful lifestyle, and the reason you've done that is because you should no longer live the rest of your time, here, in sin. As the Psalmist says, 'Lord, teach us to number our days,' and you know, when you think of it, if you just take a 24-hour day, you spend an average six or seven hours sleeping, that's one-third of your life, if you spend an hour a day eating, that's nine hours of your life, you spend an hour a day washing and getting cleaned up that's ten hours of your life, if you spend an hour commuting, that's you know, eleven hours.  If you spend 8-hours at work, that's 19 hours of your life, if you spend an hour watching TV, you probably spend more, even though the Eagles are over now.  You're getting to the point in your day where there's only four hours left, you know, what is that in a lifetime?  How much time do you have left, that you're not going to be sleeping, and working and eating and taking a shower, how much time is left?  He says we've made a decision not to live the rest of our time in vanity, in sin and in insanity, the way that we lived before we came to Christ, "in the flesh and to the lusts of men, but [rather] to the will of God." (verse 2b) 

 

Peter Takes A Look At Our Past Life In The World

 

"For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:" (verse 3) and it has the idea of 'that which is behind us,'  I don't know about you guys, when I think back, it seems like a different life to me.  I had to think all the way back to 1972.  Not that I haven't had a struggle since 1972, the major change took place there in 1972 when I got saved.  When I think back to what I was in 1971 and 1970 and 1968, you don't want to know [I was on a WWII Fleet Submarine cruising the Atlantic and Mediterranean through 1968-69, and pig-boat subsailors were a wild and crazy bunch of guys back then].  Occasionally somebody drifts through here that was BC, before Christ, and I'm thinking 'Oh no, I hope they know that things are different now.'  "For the time past of our life may suffice" it satisfied us to do those things, "to have wrought the will of the Gentiles," or the unbelieving world, "when we walked in" this is how we walked, this is the description, "lasciviousness," which is impurity, sexually, just that there were no boundaries, "lusts," which is not just sexual, but all of the things that worldly people desire, what drives their lives, we walked according to those things, "excess of wine," takes no explanation, "revellings," it describes somebody who wandered through the village in the middle of the night [with a bottle in one hand, usually singing loudly and off key], like we all did, before we got saved, we were all the village idiots, revellings, somebody just making noise, carousing, 'there they go again, walking down the street,' "banquetings," is the Greek word for drinking-bouts, you know, where you sit down and bet your buddy you can drink a six-pack before he can, you know, where you can drink a whole bottle [say vodka, my previous poison] down, down 12 ounces without breathing.  You think it only happened then, huh?  I'll let you know the people afterwards that were shaking their heads 'Yeah,' they know what I was talking about here, "banquetings, and abominable idolatries:"  That's just things that should be against the law, the good old days, you remember 'the good old days.'  I'm glad I lived through the good old days.  Because if I'd have died in the good old days, I'd have gone to hell.  I'm thankful I survived the 'Good old days,'  And there's a few times that I could have gone either way.  And people are crazy when they do that, you hear a Christian say, 'You know, it was easier before I was a Christian,' you have lost your mind.  It was not, it was empty and dark and lonely and miserable.  Was it easier before you were  a Christian?  [I know where that person is coming from that says that, and it's true from another perspective.  We as Christians are battling Satan and the world, which do not let up on us.  Satan and  the demons actually focus themselves and the world around us against us when we're Christians.  In that sense, where before conversion, we were not targets of the enemy, it was easier, we were going with the flow of mankind, instead of against it.  So I know where that person is coming from that says 'It was easier before I was a Christian.'  From one perspective it was.]  You think it was easier just at that minute because you think, 'If I wasn't a Christian I could just punch this person, then my problems would be over.'  That's only for a few minutes, you remember what that was like.  'If I wasn't a Christian I'd go to the bar and get a load on.'  You remember what that was like, use your head, that was miserable, it didn't happen one time, it happened continually.  This is the way we lived before we came to Christ, and because we've decided to step away from that kind of life because we realize we only have a certain amount of time left, and we know the way Jesus lived and died for us, in this world, and we have his Spirit living in us, and we want to live that way now, because of that, we've come into contest with the course of this world and the course of our culture.  And you hear, you hear in the media, the culture screaming about, you know, if we want to be holy, and we want to say what purity is, and we want to say what sin is, and we want to say what an acceptable lifestyle is, and we want to talk about the sacredness of marriage, the culture is starting to scream about us like we've lost our minds.  We've made a choice to go in another direction.  

 

Your Former Friends In The World Wonder Why You Won't Party With Them Anymore

 

It says, "wherein" because we don't live in lasciviousness, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, all this abominable stuff, it says, "wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:" (verse 4)  And that word "strange" is "foreign", there are a few foreign things in this chapter.  We read it in the King James because I love the King James, now I'll give it to you in English, in American.  'They wonder why you don't party anymore, and they backbite you.'  That's the American translation.  "They think it foreign that you run not with them," that's what you used to do, you used to run with a certain crowd, "to the same excess of riot."  Isn't that the way we lived?  It wasn't just a normal riot, it was an excess of riot.  It couldn't just be a normal riot, like normal riotous people, we had to live in excess of riot.  And then they speak evil of you.  When I was young, party was a noun.  It became a verb, "to party."  I'm not sure, I think in the late 60s, the early 70s that it changed from a noun to a verb without telling anybody.  But when I was little you got invited to a party.  It was a noun, it was a thing.  By the time I was 19 or 20 it was something you did, it became a verb.  So, they're wondering why you don't party with them anymore, why you're not doing it.  And the crazy thing is, they speak evil of you, 'That Bible-thumper, he's talking about Jesus again, he's holier than thou, he doesn't drink anymore, doesn't mess around with girls anymore, he doesn't smoke or chew or go out with the girls anymore, he doesn't do this, he's not having any fun, he's not using a needle, he's not snorting coke anymore, not free-basing.  What's he doing for fun, what's wrong with him?  He's miserable...'  They speak evil of you, because you don't party with them anymore.  You've chosen something, and it's more real than cocaine, it's more real than alcohol, it's more real than pornography, you've chosen something that they can't stand, because if what you're saying is true, they're in deep trouble.  And you try to share the truth with them in love.  That's what Jesus did, and he got crucified for it.  But they wonder why you don't run to the same excess of riot, and they talk evil about you.  You're the one who cleaned up your act, and they talk evil about you.  I remember a couple in our church, and the husband used to go to Atlantic City, used to spend all their money, was drunk all the time, was running around, and he got saved, and he started to come to our church, and God transformed his life.  He became responsible with the money, he stopped drinking, and his wife filed for divorce.  She couldn't stand it, she loved him when he was abusive, she loved him when he was wasting the money, when he was drinking.  She'd say 'You're reading that Bible now, you're going to church all the time,' there was money in the bank, there was food on the table, he wasn't drunk anymore, and she divorced him.  Individual lifestyle, she came under such conviction because of the transforming power of Jesus Christ in his life, that she couldn't stand it.  'Don't walk in this house with that smile on your face, don't you sing those songs around here, humming and whistling those songs, don't you do it, you think I'm going to go to that church,' and that's what it's saying, 'They think it's foreign, because it is foreign compared to what you used to be, it's foreign that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you, 'What do you do for fun now?  Youth group?  What is that!?  Over-fifties?  What's that!?'  [I'm jealous, you've got some groups in your church we don't have in ours!]  'College and career group?  You don't go to college, you don't have a career, who are you kidding.' 

 

Your Old Friends Need To Wake Up To The Fact That They'll Have To Give An Account To God Someday

 

But verse 5 says, "who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead."  Greek grammar rule, very important here, refers back to those who accuse you, speak evil of you.  Those old friends that wonder why you don't party with them anymore, and they get offended and talk evil about you, it says "who shall give account".  The truth is, they're going to have to give an account some day.  Don't let it be a temptation to you to go back and do that old stuff.  Because it's old stuff.  And there ain't anything new out there.  I got saved in 1972, and what was out there was sex, pornography, gambling, money, power, drugs, there ain't nothing new out there.  There ain't nothing new.  Now we glorify it, it's on TV now, power, money, desperate house-wives.  Sorry, women, you've become as degraded as we've been all along.  Now there's whole shows about your problem, it was bad enough when it was just us, we were the hunters, now poor men, we've become the hunted.  [Comment: any guy who thinks women aren't or can't be the hunters had better wake up.  Solomon in Proverbs chapters 1-5 warned men about women, who would hunt them down, there have been huntress-women since time began.  What do they call it?---the oldest profession in the world.]  I mean, that's where we're at.  And you come to Christ, and you realize, no, I want something else.  And you know, a lot of people, they come to Christ because they're so empty, they've done all that, and they know it goes nowhere, and they're broken, and they're tired of it.  Not everybody.  But when you come to Christ, and then the same thing, you don't want to be holier than thou with your old friends, you don't want to cut them off like you don't love them anymore.  But the only reason you can be around them after you get saved is because you want to infect them with what you have.  You don't want them to infect [re-infect you] with what you used to have, you want to be around them to share the love of Jesus Christ with them.  You can no longer find fellowship with them.  Because what fellowship does light have with darkness?  They're going to want to do other things, you have a different Spirit dwelling in your heart now, the Spirit of Christ.  So, it says here, the truth is, you're living out the rest of your time, the decision you made, to walk with Christ.  They need to wake up to the fact that they're going to give an account to the One who will judge the quick and the dead.  They only have so much time left, too, and it goes by snap! like that.  Sometimes it comes suddenly and unexpectedly [like with Joe, my adoptive daughter's dad].  Verse 6, "For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."  Now it wasn't preached to dead people, the grammar is, it was preached to those who have already passed away, through persecution, through martyrdom, it was preached to those believers who had already gone on.  You know, James had been martyred by this point in time, many of the apostles had been martyred by this time.  "For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh," yes, humans made a certain judgment about them, "but [that they might] live according to God in the spirit", they're still alive in the spirit.  [Comment:  That last statement, "they're still alive in the spirit," gets into a Calvary Chapel interpretation where they believe that everyone who dies, their spirit-in-man component of the soul, the soul being the combination of body and spirit-in-man, stays conscious after death and goes to God in heaven.  Others choose to believe the spirit-in-man, yes, does go to God, but goes unconscious at death, as Solomon says it does in several places in Ecclesiastes.  It's a secondary area of doctrine and we'll find out when we die.  Ultimately, doctrines like this don't affect the final outcome of the saints who will rise up in the first resurrection to immortality and live forever with God the Father and Jesus Christ in his glorious Kingdom.  Believe what you want here, and you'll find out when you die in Christ.]  Yeah, they were judged of men, like you're going to be judged of men because you don't run to the same excess of riot, but they made the same decision, those who have gone on before us. 

The World Is In The Process Of Passing Away---Now More Than Ever

 

Verse 7 says, "But the end of all things is at hand:  be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."  Now he gives this exhortation, it's "of all things" is emphatic in the language, which then should structure it first in the sentence.  It should be "Of all things the end is at hand" of all things, of everything out there, of all things, the end is at hand.  "At hand" means "has drawn near."  Not 'it's gonna get close', but "has drawn near."  Peter lived with that truth hanging over his head.  [now we're even nearer now.]  It says in Philippians chapter 4 that the coming of the Lord is at hand.  James says the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, has drawn near, this is immanency, it's taught in the New Testament, that Christ could come at any moment.  [This is part of Calvary Chapel's pre-trib Rapture doctrine, which could be true, or it could not be, as it deals with 2nd coming of Christ timing issues of prophecy which haven't been thoroughly nailed down by all within the Body of Christ.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/Prophets_Prophecy.html and read that title paragraph to see what I'm talking about.]  Paul tells the single men in 1st Corinthians chapter 7 not to get married, because the Lord was coming.  He says in Thessalonians the Lord will descend with a shout, the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, then we, with a personal pronoun, includes himself, then we which are alive shall be caught up together and meet the Lord in the air.  Paul expected the Lord to come in his day.  Peter did also.  James did also.  John tells us it was the purifying hope of the Church.  Important for you to understand, because there's all kinds of stuff out there in the Church [Body of Christ].  All kinds of stuff, saying the Book of Revelation is symbolic [those guys are wrong, it may have symbolic language, but it's prophecies are quite literal, and will come to pass], that the Rapture already happened, that these things are all past tense.  That's nonsense [and I agree with Pastor Joe here].  A ten-year-old that can read English can understand that these things are still ahead of us.  In fact, when it talks about the abomination of desolation, the antichrist, it says in Thessalonians, he is destroyed by the brilliance of his [Jesus'] coming [which is backed up in Zechariah 14:1-15].  That has not happened yet.  The antichrist will be destroyed at the brightness of the return of Jesus Christ [to the earth, at the Mount of Olives, cf. Zechariah 14], that puts it future, it hasn't happened yet.  [And if you're wondering how light can destroy, we all know the power of lasers.  The sun emits light in the spectrum of gamma rays, which is a powerfully destructive form of light.  Jesus at his return to earth atop the Mount of Olives will be emitting such a brilliance of light that it will melt flesh, the flesh of his enemies.]  These things are still rolling on.  People will say, 'Oh, the Rapture got invented in the 1800s, Margaret McDonald, John Darby, C.H. MacIntosh,' no, no, no, no, that's nonsense.  The Rapture is not historic Church doctrine, I can agree with that [i.e. "pre-millennial, post-tribulation 2nd coming of Christ" is historic Church doctrine, along with Catholic "Amillennialism"].  Historic Church doctrine [Catholic "Amillennialism"] is not something we want to brag about.  The Church has a sad history.  When Huss or Luther or Whitfield wanted to bring justification by faith [which is historic Biblical Pauline doctrine] to the fore, they discovered it wasn't Church [Catholic] doctrine either, and they were persecuted, Huss was killed, they tried to kill them for bringing justification by faith back to the Church, because it wasn't historic Church [Catholic] doctrine, it was New Testament doctrine, it was Biblical doctrine.  And the imminent return of Christ [i.e. he's talking about the pre-tribulation return of Christ for his Bride, initiating the 1st resurrection to immortality, which the Calvary Chapel's refer to as "the Rapture"], the fact that he could come at any moment, at any second, is not historic Church doctrine, it's New Testament doctrine.  And Peter here is saying to a persecuted Church 2,000 years ago, 'You have to understand, that Christ could come at any moment.'  And that's the way we have to live, and when we're persecuted, and when we suffer, and we're going through difficult things, and when there's pain in our lives, we should be able to lift up our heads, and say "Come Lord Jesus," and to live like we believe that.  Somebody said to me last week, 'You know, if you teach that, people are not going to finish school, they're not going to pursue careers...' and I said, 'Well if it has that much impact on our lives, how come so many of them are getting drunk and going to Atlantic City, using drugs and living in sexual sin, I wish it was as influential as you think it is.'  It's a double-edge sword, the other side is I wish it was cutting into our hearts, and being reality to us that Christ could come at any time.  [The fear the other person was trying to convey to Pastor Joe did bear fruit within the Worldwide Church of God once, when it appeared that it's leader, Herbert Armstrong, set a date for the beginning of the tribulation at the year 1972.  Young people in the church didn't pursue college for awhile, and it adversely effected some people's lives like that.  But there's nothing wrong with believing in the immanency of all these prophetic events.  Life is fleeting, it's as James says, a vapour, we're all like vapour, here today, gone tomorrow.  We're all essentially one heart-beat away from death, and then the resurrection to immortality.  So no matter how you look at it, Peter's words ring true.]  Peter says, 'Of all things that we see, of all things,' he says, 'the end is at hand.'  John would say in his first epistle, "that the world passeth away."  The grammar is, 'the world is in the process, presently, of passing away.'  It's decomposing, it's falling apart.  You know when you have somebody, a friend of mine in the hospital right now, I just talked with him the other day, he had lost a son a number of years ago, and he now has cancer, and he said, 'I don't know if I'm ready for the fight again.'  He said, 'I remember those years,' when his son died, and I had the privilege to do the funeral.  But he said 'It's that up and down, one day there was good news, the next, bad news, and there's good news, and there's bad news, and there's good news, and there's bad news, and things look good, and then something happens, and then there's "complications."'  That's what they call it, 'There's complications, because one system effects another system, and you end up with congestive heart failure, and something else is going to high, you can no longer be on blood thinners, you can no longer be on diuretics because it drives this down, makes this go up, just dying of complications.'  The world we're living in is dying of complications.  [Oh, and is it ever.  I saw a utube about how miniscule pieces of plastic in increasing amounts (huge amounts, not tiny) are starting to supplant the plankton in the world's oceans, which the fish all the way up to the whales in the food chain live off of.  These microscopic pieces of plastic being flushed daily into our oceans through storm drains, down rivers, you name it, also are able to collect and hold such things as mercury and deadly bacteria on their surfaces.  The bottom line, the fish all up and down the food chain in the world's oceans are not able to reproduce as they were before, so their numbers are dwindling rapidly.  Normally, mankind could not over-fish the oceans, but we are starting to now, and not because our fishing boats are better either.  The reproductive rate of healthy fish is off the scale, no over-fishing possible.  But what we're doing in dumping billions of tons of plastic into the oceans each year is throttling the reproductive rate of all fish.  Also a good amount of the plankton in the world's oceans plays a vital part in the world's C-02 scrubber system, keeping atmospheric C-02 at safe levels, well below levels that prove deadly to life.  In that sense, the world's living oceans are one of the major sustainers of life on this planet.  That's just one scientific area where the world's systems are breaking down because of man, and in just one area, due to plastics manufacturing.  I could go on and on listing more, but this is Pastor Joe's sermon.  I always wanted to be a Marine biologist.  But a Maine State Fish and Game person I was talking to backed up most of what I just said, and they have to have doctorates in Marine Biology just at his level, which pays a measly $35,000 a year, so he has to love his job, and he knows what he's talking about.]  It's the same way, one day good news, the economy's going up, next day, bad news.  Oh, there's an election in Iraq, that's good, everything goes up, then it's Syria and Iran are getting together [and destabilizing Iraq, which just happened], and then it's this is good, and North Korea said they've got nukes now.  You watch the news and our world is dying of complications.  It's dying of complications.  And Jesus said in Luke 21 that perplexity of nations, men's hearts would be failing them for fear, looking for things that are coming on the world, the roaring of the sea.  200,000 people drowned in a tsunami.  That was just the beginning of Bractston-Hicks, the beginning of contractions, birth-pangs.  Perplexity of nations, Jesus says, that means 'no way out,' everything gets so complex, so intertwined, that one thing sets off another thing, [that's how WWI started], and the world we live in is dying of complications. 

 

'Seeing All This Going On In The World, Be Of Sound Mind, Be Calm And Pray'

 

Peter says, 'Hey, for the believer, know this, that the coming of the Lord is at hand.'  "be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." (verse 7)  Now, do we believe that tonight?  [If you didn't when he gave that sermon over ten years ago, you can certainly believe it now, unless you're totally blind, or the village idiot or something like that.]  If you don't believe it, don't say 'Nah I don't believe it!'  I'll talk to you afterwards.  But in general, do we believe that this evening, that Christ could come at any time?  Yeah, ok.  Thank you, there's more of us than there is of you.  So, what do we do with that?  Is that just information to log away?  Never, not in the Bible, it's always to effect the way that we live, effect our urgency in evangelism, effect the way that we live our own lives before the Lord, and he says that here.  He says "But the end of all things is at hand:  be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."  "Be ye therefore", i.e. "because of that," first of all, "be ye sober,"  That is "of sound mind" is what it means.  You have to make a serious appraisal of life [and what's going on in the world], your perspective has to be right.  First of all, we believe that we should live of sound mind, and he says, then, "and watch unto prayer."  And he uses a particular word there, and it's watching, but it means to be calm.  Isn't that interesting?  Because I know people who are looking at what's going on today, and they're freaked out, 'What if they put smallpox in this!?  And what if this happens!?  And what if there's anthrax in here!?  Well you better look out for this!?  Mad cow disease, and you can't do this over here, and you'd better look out for this! and what about this here!?'  No, no, it' says 'Ok, the end of everything is at hand, so let's have a sound mind, let's remain calm,' Ok? 'unto prayer.'  Frantic emotions, getting ulcers over what's going on doesn't lend itself to the prayer-closet very well.  But a sound mind, calming ourselves, making an assessment, watching what's going on, and then getting on our knees, is a good combination, if we believe that Christ is coming.  Watch unto prayer, to be calm, settle your hearts, get before Jesus and say 'ok, Lord, I can see the signs around us, you may come this afternoon, you may come tomorrow, you might come in a year, you might come in ten years, you might come in fifty years, but there's enough going on around that I know you could come today.  How do I live today?  I don't want to freak out, tell me what that means, show me how to live.'  So the first exhortation is in regards to watching unto prayer. 

 

Second Thing After Watch And  Calmly Pray, Have Fervent Agape-love One To Another

 

Second exhortation, if you believe verse 7 is true, verse 8 should be very important.  "And above all things have fervent charity [agape-love] among yourselves:  for charity covereth the multitude of sins." (verse 8)  Above all things have fervent love, that's our word, among yourselves, because love [God's agape-love] covers a multitude of sins.  Above all things, it means, in order, first of all, preeminent.  You believe Christ is coming, look around this room, see the people that are here?  I don't know about you guys, if a nuke goes off, I'm glad I don't have to go through that alone.  I'm glad I have you guys.  OK?  If there's a major biological attack, I'm glad I don't have to go through that alone.  I'm glad I have this family right here.  What a family we are.  Huh?  I'm glad whatever goes on, we can come here and say 'OK, if you don't have any food, go to that corner back there.  Everybody with radiation burns go in that corner back there.  Everybody that has their mortgages paid off and can let a bunch of people move into their house, you come up to the front here.'  Everybody will be 'ah, I didn't sign up for this.' [laughter]  'above all, first of all, most importantly, if you believe these things, have fervent love [charity is King James for agape', agape-love] one towards another.'  "Fervent" is an interesting word, it means "to stretch out, or to be extended."  'Above everything else, first of all, primarily, this is the starting place, extend agape' one to another, let it be extended.'  Because love, agape', will cover a multitude of sins.  How do you do that?  How do you get agape'?  Sometimes I need a load of it.  It's not humanly produced, you don't struggle and strain.  You know, it says that "the fruit of the Spirit is agape (cf. Galatians 5:22-23)."  It isn't anything you can generate yourself.  Go back to the verse before, where you give yourself to prayer (verse 7), if you're filled with the Spirit, love, that kind of love, agape, which is sacrificial love, which doesn't have to find anything worthy in the object that it is loving---Jesus didn't come down, he didn't look down from heaven and say 'You know, they're so darned cute, I'm going to go down there and die for them.'  There wasn't anything in us that elicited his love, God is love, and he loved us because he loved us.  He loved us because if he didn't he wouldn't be who he is, he wouldn't be God.  He loved us with a love we could never deserve.  And now he's saying to us, demonstrate that to others.  You see in the first verse, he says "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us", extended himself, now first of all, primarily, you're waiting for Christ to come, you're living in a world that's hostile to you, one of the most important things is that you have and that you extend sacrificial love one to another.  That's a decision.  Not a feeling, there are going to be feelings sometimes where you think, 'I can't believe I have to love you.  The Bible didn't know you were going to show up in my life when that was written.'  Ah, we have a tape in our tape library that you can get, it's called "The Greatest Of These Is Love", it's by Corey ten Boom.  Corey ten Boom talks about the fact that her sister had died in Ravensbruck, the concentration camp, and she saw her sister wither away and be cruelly mistreated and die. And then the end of the war came, and the German guys that ran the camp, they fled, the Nazis.  Years later she's speaking somewhere, and afterwards a man comes up to her, and says to "Corey, I'm a Christian now," and he goes to put his hand out to shake her hand, and she recognizes he's one of the Nazi prison guards that was responsible for the death of her sister.  And she said "There was nothing in me but disdain when I looked at this man, and he was telling me that he was a brother. that he was a Christian."  And she said "Simply out of obedience, because I had nothing else, I extended my hand."  And she said, "When I took hold of his hand, the love of Jesus Christ began to flow through me, and I began to weep, and we embraced."  'First of all, importantly, extend, reach out, fervently love one another, extend agape one to another.'  It is a decision, it is something that Christ asks of us.  And if we will obey, he will supply.  The reason?  Because that kind of love covers a multitude of sins.  Because amongst us there is that which needs to be covered.  When I make a mistake, and I do, did in 1978, but when I make a mistake, I appreciate that being covered and not being put on the front page of the newspaper.  The people that are around me and care about me and love me, they know that I'm human.  You know, I think of Noah, in his drunkenness, that Shem and Japheth backed in and they covered their father, his nakedness, you know.  Love does that.  How much gossip would there be in the Body of Christ if we were serious about this?  [law, maxim, the amount of gossip in a church, group, is directly proportional to the amount of agape-love there is or isn't in that group.  No agape-love, lots of gossip, lots of agape-love, almost no gossip.]  Love covering a multitude of sins.  How about the people that don't love us, that use their mouth against us?  And we don't have anything in the natural to give them that would be good for anybody.  But it says that we should extend or reach out with agape, with the love that God provides.  Because love covers a multitude of sins.  What if you suffer for doing what's right, even in the Body of Christ?  And instead of taking it out in your own hands, you demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" or turning the other cheek, and it makes peace in the Body of Christ.  Just know that there is a reward.  That doesn't go unnoticed. 

 

"Use Hospitality One To Another Without Grudging"

 

So, some exhortations, to pray, to love one another fervently.  I like verse 9, "Use hospitality one to another without grudging."  Use it, it's a tool.  "Use hospitality one to another without grudging."  Peter must have been in some of those situations.  'oh, Peter, again.'  Use hospitality.  You know, it's funny, especially with the kids here, you have four kids, and you have a busy life, and you invite somebody over.  And when you do it, you think you're sane, when you invite them over.  But by the time it comes, 'This needs to get vacuumed! this needs to get cleaned!  This needs to happen!  No, no, the  baby just pooped here, this needs to happen!...'  and by the time they come you think 'Why did we invite them?  I hate company!  I'm leaving, they can have the house, I don't care, it will be empty, the food will be burning in the oven.'  No, use hospitality, without grudging, without grudging.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/The%20Sabbath%20and%20Hospitality.htm]  Great exhortation, particularly in a world where people were being persecuted, and how wonderful this must be in parts of the world today where Christians sometimes have to flee, Christians sometimes have to leave their homes because they're being persecuted.  I talked to someone in our church just a little while ago, who grew up in the Middle East, had to run and hide their identity, and it meant so much to be taken into somebody's house and to be hid and be cared for [like Corey ten Boom's family, who were hiding Jews from the Nazis].  So use hospitality one with another, without grudging. 

 

Everybody Here Is An Able Minister Of The New Testament

 

"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (verse 10)  Now the "gift" here is charismata, God's given to all of us spiritual capacities, they're given, we don't drum them up ourselves, "even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."  The word "minister" there is simply "serve."  So, you can't be something that you're not, you can't be something that you want to be, you can only be what God's made you to be. He's given us all different gifts, Peter calls it here "the manifold grace of God", that's "very coloured" literally "grace of God."  That's Peter's word for grace, is "very coloured" because Peter needed, you know, the purples and the blues and the yellows and the reds of God's grace.  I mean, one day he's chopping somebody's ear off, the next day he's doing something else.  Peter, because of his own personality appreciated the manifold, the very coloured grace of God.  Paul was a different character, he defines grace as the grace, in Titus, of 'Our Lord has appeared, bringing us to salvation, teaching us to deny ungodly lusts in this present world, and looking forward to the coming of God...'  Paul says, 'Grace saved us, grace is teaching us and keeping us, and grace is the only thing that causes us to look forward to the coming of Christ.'  Paul describes it that way, Peter says it's manifold, it's very coloured.  And God has extended to us gifts.  Everybody here is an able minister of the New Testament, everybody here has gifts given to them by the Lord.  Everybody here has the freedom to go to the Lord and say 'Lord, I wish I had this gift,' to ask the Lord for certain gifts.  It doesn't mean he will give, 'the Spirit distributes to every man separately as he wills,' but it's all of our gifts functioning that make us a complete Body. [Comment: Not everybody could have made this website.  God gave me specific talents, one of which is to be able to take in a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated facts and combine them to get the big picture on any one subject from it all.  As well as being able to sort of fill in missing pieces of spiritual information, within the proper context of God's Word.  As a remedial reader I spent 8 years in a remedial reading school, and for some reason, they assigned me to typing class for all of those eight years.  Recently I read a history book titled "Joe Rochefort's War", where he used his talents to gain a lot of special military intelligence, and used his organization to cut through military-naval bureaucracy, to supply that military intelligence to where it was most needed (in that case, Admiral Nimitz).  Joe had special talents, similar to ones I notice I have, that lent themselves to what he was used to accomplish, I sincerely believe by God, to help us win the war by helping Admiral Nimitz to sink the Japanese Kido Butai at Midway.  This website provides spiritual intelligence, cutting through denominational bureaucratic lines, to provide God's spiritual military intell where it is most needed, to the believer (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm).   Looking around church, as I do sometimes, I don't know of anybody who could do this.  But God prepared me, you might say, from the womb, for this job.  He's prepared each and every one of you for a specific job too, with spiritual gifts and talents that he's intended for you to use.  Don't be afraid to use them for the greater good of the Body of Christ, as well as for your individual congregation.]  You know, the shame is, because of the charismatic, charismania side of things, and because there can be [and is] abuse there, and I believe the gifts are for today, and I pray in tongues when I'm alone, but you know there's an abuse of that, and because there's an abuse of that, what gets on stage is prophecy or tongues, and everybody in that [religious] circle wants to do that.  [i.e. if you ain't cut out for it by the Lord, don't do it, there's a pride thing involved here, is what Pastor Joe is talking about, that's led to this abuse.]  But what about "helps"?  What about "mercy"?  What about "administration"?  What about the quiet things that go on behind the scenes, where nobody ever gets a pat on the back unto they get to heaven, the things that build up a body in love?  And of course the other abuse, is against the gifts of the Spirit, I understand the reaction, but that's also an imbalance.  It says here The charismata is given, the gift is given, so that we all might minister one to another, that we should be stewards, householders of the manifold grace of God.'  It belongs to someone else, we should take care of it, watch over it, the gifts that God has given to us. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews5-1-14.htm and scroll to "Different Jobs, Same Church" and read down from there.]  "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:  that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen." (verse 11)  "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;" you know, if your gift is to teach or your gift is to do that, you do that on behalf of the Lord.  "if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability God giveth:" serves is the idea, in any other capacity, "let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:"  Don't strive, do your best, and commit the rest.  The servant of the Lord shouldn't strive.  So, whatever your gift is, minister, if you're ministering in some capacity in the Body, you're serving, do it to the ability that God has given.  Don't be killing yourself, 'I wish I was like this, I wish I was like that,' no, no you don't.  I just did a funeral here a little while ago, just to hear the testimony, testimony after testimony after testimony after testimony, of the powerful effect that this individual had on countless lives, behind the scenes, without anybody ever making it public, it was just staggering to me.  If you serve, do it with the ability that God has given to you.  Here's the reason why we should speak, we should serve, do whatever we do, "that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen."  Not that we should get the glory, and our flesh loves that, but that's not the point.  He kinds of goes into this doxology.

 

"Beloved, Think It Not Strange Concerning The Fiery Trial Which Is To Try You"

 

And then he says, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:" (verse 12)  "Beloved" speaking to us.  "think it not strange" and the emphasis is 'stop thinking' when he says "think it not" it's assuming you already do think this, and he's telling you something he doesn't want you to think.  OK?  So here it is.  "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial" and I hate a sentence with "beloved" and "fiery trial" in it, they don't seem to go together to me, that's the first thing I think, 'that is strange.'  He says 'Don't think that, stop thinking that.'  Ok, I will, alright.  'Beloved, stop thinking it's strange concerning the fiery trial'  "which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:"  Now here's the other "strange thing", it says here in verse 4, they, the unbelievers, 'they think it's strange,' same word.  They think it's very foreign to them that you don't party with them, carry on like you used to do, they think that's strange.  Now it says to you and I down here, there's something that we think is strange, "foreign" literally, that we should stop thinking.  'Beloved, stop thinking that it's a foreign thing, that it isn't right, concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,' now the fiery trial, we get the word "furnace" from that in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the idea is, this isn't happening out of, it's not out of control, there's a purifying work of God's hand and God's Spirit in this.  Stop thinking that it's so strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some foreign thing,' the Greek word "happened" means to bring two things together, "as though some strange, foreign thing has happened unto you:"  In other words, we can't put the idea together sometimes, 'Well God if you love me, how come I'm going through such a hard time?  Lord, if you love me, why does it seem like everything's falling apart?'  'Lord, if you're sovereign and in charge of everything [predestination], why?  I didn't do anything wrong.  Here I gave testimony for Jesus, I've stopped living in sin, why is this going on?'  He says stop thinking, the unbelievers think it's strange that you don't party with them anymore, he's saying the problem is the believers think it's strange that something comes into their lives to try them, and to test them, to purify them.  And he says stop thinking that that's some foreign thing that shouldn't be happening.  He had told us in the first chapter, 'The trial of your faith is more precious than that of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, that it might be found to the praise, honour and glory at the appearing of Christ.'  He says in this process here there's a purifying effect, though it seems contradictory.  'Stop thinking it's a foreign thing'  "but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (verse 13)  I'm just telling you what Peter said, I haven't graduated yet [neither have I].  "but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." Now I understand that then I might be glad.  The hard thing for me to do is to rejoice now when I'm in the midst of a fiery trial.  'Man, I love this, the heat is really turned up, I am sizzling, I love it.'  [if you do, I'm getting away from you, man, you're weird.]  Now, Peter is remembering some remarkable words that he heard in verse 14, when he says, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you:  on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."  He is thinking back, because he uses the same word "when you're reproached," Jesus said 'Blessed are ye when men revile you' that's the same word, "reproached," that Peter uses.  "Blessed are ye" the Sermon on the Mount, "when men revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name's sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."  "Rejoice and be exceeding glad," Peter uses the same word that Christ uses, and no doubt he's thinking back to the Sermon on the Mount, and he's thinking 'I can't believe when he said that, he really meant it.  I thought that was just good plaque material.  And now here we are being persecuted, having to take all of this literally.'  But he says that we should rejoice in those difficult circumstances, and if we're reproached for the name of Christ, "happy" is the same word, "blessed" are you, he uses the same word Jesus did, 'Happy are you,' and here's why, "for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you:" and it's a very specific structure.  It isn't just that the Spirit of God and the spirit of glory is resting on you, when you're suffering for righteousness sake.  It's the same phrase when Jesus says 'Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, that I will give you rest.'  It's the same Greek word that was used in agriculture to rest a piece of land, and not plant it for a year [the Old Testament Sabbatical year], to plant it lately, and to rest it.  What this literally says here is that when we're in that circumstance, 'the spirit of glory and of God,' the King James says "resteth upon you" it's "will give you rest," 'it will rest you.'  Then in the middle of those circumstances, where you have no longer any resource to deal with it, you know, you're just pressed beyond measure, you're falling apart, it says 'Rejoice, because it's then, that the spirit of glory and the Spirit of God will rest you, will rest you.'  Probably everybody in this room can remember a time in their lives when they were completely overwhelmed, falling apart, felt abandoned by the Lord maybe even, and just in prayer or in his Word, somewhere in the process, all of a sudden, this tremendous sense of peace.  All of a sudden God did something to bring things into perspective, all of a sudden his gracious voice was there.  'The spirit of glory and the Spirit of God will rest you, it will rest you.'  Paul said 'I've learned rather to glory in mine infirmities, because it's in my weakness that his strength is made perfect.'  Peter's saying much the same thing here.

 

Don't Be Ashamed Of Being Called A Christian

 

"For the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you:  on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." (verse 14b)  "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters." (verse 15)  Sounds like Peter hung around with a rough crowd, doesn't it?  Isn't it interesting, and it's a little unfair for him to put those two in the same sentence, isn't it?  A murderer and a busybody?  And it's an interesting construct, it's "a self-appointed overseer in other people's matters."  [know any of those?  I do]  Speaks of ambition in the Body of Christ.  "let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters."  How do busybodies suffer?  I know how people who they're busy about suffer.  I guess the busybody finally gets turned to finally go busy somebody else, 'Go busy somebody else's body and leave me alone.'  Not to suffer like that.  "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." (verse 16)  If we're going to suffer, let's suffer as a Christian, and let's not be ashamed.  Paul, Romans chapter 1, verse 16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ."  Chapter 10, verse 11 of Romans said, "For he that trusteth in him shall not be ashamed."  It says in Hebrews chapter 2, verse 11 that Jesus Christ is the one who sanctifies us, and because of that "he's not ashamed to be called our brethren."  Imagine that.  Jesus Christ is not ashamed to be called our brethren.  And in chapter 11 of Hebrews it says "God is not ashamed to be called our God," to call us his sons and daughters.  Isn't it interesting, it tells us here not to be ashamed of him.  Paul says 'I'm not ashamed of the gospel,' it says anybody who trusts in him is not going to be ashamed.  It says Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers.  God's not ashamed to call us his children.  And then somebody says 'You, are you a Christian?'  'Ah, ah, what do you mean by that?'  Isn't it funny, God, you know it seems like in this relationship, on one side if somebody is going to be ashamed, it would be him.  'Yeah, I wrote whosoever will may come, and I never thought they'd take me up on it.  But because I'm God, and now they've come, there's nothing I can do, but yeah, they're mine.  Ok.'  But rather, we do that.  'Oh, yeah I'm a Christian, but I'm not that kind of Christian. What kind of Christian are you talking about?'  If we're going to suffer, he says, let's suffer for doing right, not as a thief or an evildoer.  I mean, there's all kinds of suffering in this world. 

 

"Judgment Must Begin At The House Of God"

 

"if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed:" Let's never be ashamed of Jesus, "but let him glorify God on this behalf.  For the time is come" remembering this is the idea, "that judgment must begin at the house of God:  and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (verses 16-17)  Judgment begins at the house of God.  God would not be just to judge the world, look at the world today with all of its sin, all the rebellion against God, you know, God wouldn't be just to deal with that unsaved world, and be idle in regards to our lives.  Judgment begins at the house of God, he deals with us [first].  You and I, it says he chastens us if we live in sin and rebellion (cf. Hebrews 12:5-13).  And any father who loves his children chastens them.  Because it says that it's unpleasant, but it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  God deals with us who are his children.  Why would the world think that he's not going to deal with them if judgment begins at the house of God?  And it doesn't end there, it says it begins there.  If it begins with us, "what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" who refuse to believe in God's forgiveness in Christ?  "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (verse 18)  "Scarcely be saved" and the idea is "with difficulty."  If you and I were saved, it wasn't an easy matter.  It cost God everything for us to be saved.  That person sitting next to you, is the most expensive person in the universe.  The price God paid for you, he didn't ask 'What's the price?' he just said 'I'll pay.'  If you and I were saved with difficulty, is the idea, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear, if the righteous are scarcely saved?  [rhetorical question.  Also this verse, although Calvary Chapel's being so grace oriented don't like to admit it, refers to the fact that sin is the transgression of God's law, 1st John 3:4, and we're told not to sin, we're told to eliminate sin from our lives.  When John wrote 1st John 3:4, much of the New Testament didn't exist or was available, so it refers to God's Ten Commandment law in the Old Testament.  So if we scarcely be saved, in the sense of our own ongoing sanctification, Peter asks, then what's gonna happen to the world?  Well, prophecy shows us clearly what's going to happen to the world, the Great Tribulation, then God's redemptive plan throughout the Millennial Kingdom of God, etc.]  Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.  If the righteous are scarcely saved, narrow is the way that leads to eternal life, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?  You and I know that, it will be before the Great White Throne (cf. Revelation 20:11-13).  "Wherefore" because of all this, "let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." (verse 19)  "Let them who suffer according to the will of God", I don't like the way that sounds.  But there are times in our lives, he says, when God allows a fiery trial to come to us.  "let them who suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator."  "Commit" is a banking word, and it says, 'If I evaluate and allow this to come into my life, you're allowing me to go through this trial, Lord I know you're sovereign, I don't know what's going on here, but I know things aren't out of control.  They seem like they're out of control, but Lord I'm going to trust you.'  "Yea though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I'll fear no evil, for thou art with me," 'Though ten thousand fall at my right hand, I'll fear not, you're my shield and my buckler.'  'Though like Paul, I have to go nights without sleeping, though there's persecution, though there's difficulty, I am going to commit' it's a banking word, 'put on deposit, the keeping of my soul, Lord.'   'I know the deposit that's been made, Lord, I know Paul says in whom I have believed.  I'm going to put my soul on deposit, and I'm not going to live like a heathen,' it says, "commit their souls to him in well doing," it should change the way that we live, and that commitment is "as unto a faithful Creator." 

 

In Closing

 

So, read ahead.  We'll finish 1st Peter next week...next week some great exhortations, Peter particularly to those who want to be in leadership in the Church, ah, in any capacity, there are some times there to take note of.  Ah, put on the heavy armour, don't put on the light stuff, you've got to put on the heavy armour for this, because the whole chapter is saying 'What are you going to do when unjust suffering comes your way?  When you think you're suffering unjustly?  What kind of armour do you need at that time to believe 'Well God loves me, I know that he's sovereign, I know that nothing can happen in my life unless he allows it, my heart is broken, my body hurts, I feel betrayed, I'm sick, whatever it might be,' you need the heavy armour then, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, your loins gird with truth, put on the heavy armour.  Because he said those days come.  But know this, the end of everything is at hand, so let's be sober minded, let's remain calm, let's seek the Lord in prayer, let's love one another fervently, let's remember love covers a multitude of sins, use hospitality, do things the right way.  And know this, if you're going to suffer, if God allows a trial in your life, rejoice, because at that time the Spirit of God and the spirit of glory will give you rest in those difficulties.  And if we're going to suffer, let's do it that way.  Let's not suffer as a thief or a murderer or an unbeliever would suffer, but let's rather if we're going to suffer, let's suffer on behalf of Christ, and let's not be ashamed, let's not be ashamed of Jesus.  Because judgment, it begins at the house of God, it doesn't end there.  And if you and I, we're saved with a great difficulty, scarcely saved, what will happen to the unrighteous and the unjust, where will they be?  You and I, let's take our souls, our very lives, and put them on deposit with the Lord, the one in whom we believe.  Let's trust that our future is kept, as he says in the first chapter, that we have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us who believe, though we haven't seen him, yet we love him with joy unspeakable, full of glory...[transcript of a connective expository sermon on 1st Peter 4:1-19, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

related links:

 

Persecution of believers may come to America.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm

 

"Use hospitality one to another without grudging."  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/The%20Sabbath%20and%20Hospitality.htm

 

We're all, in one way or another, able ministers of the New Testament.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews5-1-14.htm

 

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