MonthJune 2017

Christ’s Example of Suffering

Christ’s last few days before his death were torture. He was beaten, mocked, falsely accused, among other cruel punishments. All of this, for standing for the truth, that He was the Son of God and that He was the Messiah.  (not to mention paying with his life for the sins of mankind!)  As was stated in the last post, a reader may not have been persecuted by lions or by fire. That said, whatever cruel punishment one can think of, none will ever come to the height of how Jesus was treated. Jesus Christ’s example during this painful experience is just as important to Christians today, and will be discussed in this post.

If a reader has been following the series of posts or just has a general knowledge of 1 Peter, he or she will remember that Peter has been discussing suffering as a general theme throughout the entire epistle. Peter continues the discussion by reminding the readers of Christ’s example and giving a command quickly after it, quite possibly to emphasize it’s importance.

1 Peter 4:1 – 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;

“Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.” Obviously one cannot literally take Christ’s mind and replace one’s own with it. Peter is observing the mindset of which Christ had during His suffering and contrasting it with the mindset that the Jewish Christians had during theirs. Realizing the Jewish believer’s mindset wasn’t enough, he reminds them of Christ’s mindset and tells them to act in the same way. This applies to Christians today as it did back in the time of Peter.

“For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” So, does this part of the verse mean Christians are not going to sin? No, Peter explains that Christ’s death on the cross was so that Christian’s could have power over sin, in 4:2.

1 Peter 4:2 – 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.

This is another powerful verse, wiping out any excuse man might have to live according to lusts of men. The debate comes when one asks the question, what are the lusts of men? There are differing opinions on what this means, and as for the moment it is off topic to discuss in depth. One should note the contrast given to the lusts of men and the will of God for further thought on the issue.

1 Peter 4:4 – Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

Peter gives an example in this verse that every Christian with Biblical standards can relate to. What is even more amazing is the fact that this was written close to 2000 years ago and still applies today. It makes another important point, if the world is against you for following the Bible, you are most likely on the right path. To close, one should remember that ultimately they will account for all their actions before God. And God could come and start the judgement at any moment.

1 Peter 4:5 – Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

Conduct In Suffering

While most of the blog’s readers will not not be persecuted by hungry lions in the Roman Coliseum or being burned on a stake, a different kind of persecution is being employed around the world and across the United States today. Friends will abandon and despise you, mock you, and even take to insults to show you how wrong you are. The question is not how to avoid the persecution for standing by the truths of the Bible, but what to do when that persecution comes. In the study of 1 Peter that the writer has been going through, Peter now, in chapter 3 and verse 13, begins to address Christian conduct in the suffering of the Jewish Christians, who were in fact burned and persecuted by hungry lions. Peter develops what he discussed briefly back in chapter two, verses 19-20.

1 Peter 2:19-20 – For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

Peter wants to reassure his readers on this subject early before he gets into the deeper points of his message. He explains that nobody can harm us, if we as Christians are following God.

1 Peter 3:13 – And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

One may get ahead of me and state: “If nobody can harm me then I should never get hurt in any way, physical or spiritual.” The verse needs a bit more context before one uses it on his or her own. To rectify this, one needs only look to the beginning of the next verse.

1 Peter 3:14a – But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake,

If a Christian does good in the eyes of the unsaved man, he or she may or may not be harmed by those apart from Christ.  The lost may never praise someone for doing good in the eyes of God.  However, if one does good and he or she suffers for it (such as  receiving persecution for the preaching of the cross, following biblical standards, opposing worldly activities) – remember they are to them that perish foolishness (paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 1:18). Peter goes on in the second half of verse 14 to say:

1 Peter 3:14b – happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

So, the first rule of conduct in suffering is laid out for readers. When trials and persecutions come to Christians for obeying the commands of God in the Bible, don’t get afraid or be troubled, be happy. While this may seem to be a difficult thought to swallow, several times in the Bible is this principle discussed. Matthew 5:39, James 1:2, 1 Peter 2:9, and this verse here (among others) all discuss the principle of not retaliating when persecuted. The only logical conclusion is that God wants us to receive joy in our trials.

Job 23:10 – But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Peter moves on after restating the principle he has discussed throughout his epistle, as he delves into another principle immediately: be ready to give an answer.

1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Why should one be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks? Many reasons could be listed but only three reasons that the writer himself has drawn have been chosen for this particular post. First, Christians have a responsibility to lead others to Christ. If one cannot witness of Christ, they are not fulfilling their Biblical responsibility. Secondly, Christians are also responsible for the discipleship of other Christians, who without guidance will go astray back into the world from which they were saved from. Finally, Christians have a testimony for Christ that is shown every single day. One’s testimony plays a key role in witnessing and discipleship. Outside of these three reasons, Peter backs up this last reason with the next verse.

1 Peter 3:16 – Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

Peter closes this section of Scripture with a thought that should bring joy to any Christian devoted to following God every step of the way.

1 Peter 3:17 – For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

To close, if a Christian was to take this verse and live everyday by it, there should be no trial that makes him or her miserable from standing for the truth.

Submission in Business

It is summertime, and the writer would guess that some teens are around this time of year, starting to look for part-time jobs for one reason or another. Some readers may already have jobs, and then there may be some who are not looking to work just yet. The latter case is the position in which the writer finds himself.   After reading through a passage in 1 Peter 2:18-20 on submission in business, I find principles that will apply to any work a person may do, but we will limit it here to an employer-employee situation. Peter, in writing this passage of Scripture, has just finished up a brief but powerful discussion of submitting to government, which was covered in the last blog post. Peter continues developing the argument that Christians need to ultimately submit to God and His divine will by discussing principles of submission in business.

1 Peter 2:18 – Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

Peter writes “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear.” The focus of one’s attention while studying this verse should be to the words “with all fear.” To explain, when God told the children of Israel to fear Him, He was not talking about fear meaning scared or frightened. God used the word fear to indicate respect at a stronger level, so to speak. Essentially, Peter is telling servants to be subject to their masters with the utmost respect, and as he goes to say, “not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” Peter continues this new topic of submission in business by restating the principle he made while discussing submission to government. A person is to submit to authority in every situation where possible, the only exception being if the authority asks you to do something that goes against the Bible.

Peter then goes on to in a sense give a preview of what he will discuss later in chapters 3 and 4. He writes:

1 Peter 2:19-20 – For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

Think ahead to the judgment of those who are saved. There you are giving an account of your life to God. God eventually gets to the occasion in your life where you had to choose between submitting to your froward boss’s demands (it should be noted that these demands were not against the Bible) and blowing off at him. Think about what you want God to say to you. Would you want the God of all the world thanking you for submitting to your boss at this occasion, or would you want to face God and defend yourself for not obeying this command? This applies to any sin. Remember that sin may not seem to have consequences here on earth, but it is the writer’s opinion, that when God Almighty walks through every, last, sinful act you committed during your time here on earth, it will be the worst punishment ever faced by mankind.

If you go through the occasion with your boss described in the previous paragraph and you do in fact follow God’s instructions, the Bible says that this is “acceptable with God.” How much better will it be, to discuss your life with God with more acceptable works than disobedient works?

 

Submission to Government

Since America’s election night in 2016, America has seen an incredible number of protests due to the election of the President of the United States. We do live in America, a country that has held elections this way for a long period of time. Somehow this election was different. Protests, riots, and college campus takeovers by disgruntled students seem to be commonplace. But as readers of this post know, this is not a political blog, but a spiritual blog. So where is the spiritual message here?

Well, it comes in the form of a lesson that Peter wrote about in the second chapter of the First Epistle of Peter, verses 13-17. Peter realized that Christians may not see government officials fitting the Christians dream of an ideal government. Peter wanted to explain to the oppressed Jewish Christians that even if a government is harsh towards Christians, they are still required to submit to the laws and demands of that government in every way except where it contradicts the Bible. In other words, submission to government except where Biblical contradiction is involved is a task of every believer.

Peter plainly states in 1 Peter 2:13 that Christians should “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” While the command to only follow government when it doesn’t contradict the Bible is not in this passage, one can look to Acts 4:19-20 where Peter and John explain this concept.

Acts 4:19-20 – But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

No matter who the President of the United States is, America will never have a perfect government. But as Christians it is our responsibility to obey the government, especially that government which provides more, if not the most, religious freedoms than the rest of the countries in the world. One day, the earth will know a perfect ruler, starting with the millennial reign of Christ and ending nevermore.

Not only does Peter explain the command to submit to government, but he explains the submission as part of the will of God, look at verse 15.

1 Peter 2:15 – For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

The Jewish believers, having followed their father’s traditions of the law for almost two-thousand years, had a hard time understanding the will of God after they were freed from the Law through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. If one thinks about it, all the Jews knew up to their salvation was works, works, works. Peter phrased this verse in a way that the Jewish believers could comprehend the will of God after salvation as still doing those good works, even if the good works meant nothing as to the state of their salvation. The Jewish believers knew to do good works before their salvation and needed the reminder that even after they were freed from the law, continuation of following principles held in the law was important, hence Peter’s statement of “that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”

How does that apply to us today? Well, very plainly, our good works are part of the will of God, and just as the Jews were told by Peter, we are to keep on doing good works for the glory of Almighty God. However, Peter anticipates a response by the Jews and realizes he needs to address it.

1 Peter 2:16 – As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

Peter saw the response of using this liberty to excuse evil. Man, by his earthly nature, looks for ways to excuse sin. It is not natural to do good, as some people would definitely lead you down the road of believing. Peter wanted to make sure Christians used their liberty as servants of God, which is a entirely different message that needs to be heard more and more.

Serving God

 

It seems today that more and more Christians have started to turn away from the principles of Scripture and look towards the sinful delights of the world. For example, a study by the Barna Group in December 2014 showed that 76% of Americans who no longer attend church have attended church in the past and moved away disgruntled.  In another study conducted by the same group in August 2011, Bible reading from 1991 to 2011 from white adults alone dropped from only 42% to 37%, with Hispanic adults Bible reading dropping from 55% to 30%. While I cannot get into the details of all ethnic groups, the studies have shown a change of vision that is taking place in the United States. This vision change came because of Christians being dissatisfied with the Bible and wanting what the world has to offer.

In the first chapter of the First Epistle of Peter, the writer seems to have foreseen the possibility of this change of vision as he writes on who Christians should be serving and why they should serve. The thought Peter had was clear and simple; Christians have no business serving themselves by partaking in the sinful pleasures of the world. In this post, the writer will delve into the passage that Peter wrote, and show from Scripture the need to serve God and not ourselves.

As aforementioned, the passage is in 1 Peter 1:13-21. Before considering this passage, however, let’s look at the context around it. This epistle was written to the Jewish Christians struggling from persecution. Peter reminds this group of believers that while the trials of persecution are heavy, the reward is far worth it.

1 Peter 1:7 – That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

After the examination of the context, one can already note that the principles that Peter gives to the persecuted Jewish Christians can be applied today to Christians facing backlash for their service to God. However, Peter does not stop with just reminding the Jewish believers of the reward of service; he reminds them of who and why they serve.

Peter starts off in verses 13-16 explaining who Christians ought to serve, and very plainly, the answer is that Christians should be serving God. While some may think that Christians don’t need to be told to serve God (cough* Calvinists) more Christians serve themselves rather than God. It doesn’t take much to see it in this world. Everywhere one looks Christians are participating in activities that, for example, the true disciples of Christ would never find acceptable! Christians are attending worldly music concerts, going to proms, or even going to dinners with social drinking, all among a much longer list. Christians need this wake-up call that Peter anticipated and gave so strongly in this passage, as none of these activities serve God! The items on this list would be normally associated with non-Christians, but not anymore. So, when Peter writes that we need to not be “fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:” he is loudly knocking on our doors telling us to start acting like Christians! There is no excuse for this behavior as he goes on to discuss.

In verses 18-21, Peter goes on to address why Christians ought to serve God. To quote the passage:

1 Peter 1:18-21 – Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Peter’s point in this passage is that we have a debt that we owe to the One who redeemed us not through the world’s corruptible music, not through the world’s riches, but through the blood of Jesus Christ who died on Calvary some 2000 years ago for the entire world! How can we accept God’s incredible gift to man and then turn on backs on everything God asked of us? How dare we think that our earthly lusts and pleasures can be more important than serving the one who sent His Son to die for us. Christians today across the world ought to have more respect for the seriousness of the commands of Almighty God.

The writer of the post acknowledges that he is preaching to himself as well as to whoever is out there reading the post; nobody is in any form or fashion a perfect Christian. But it is important to realize that just because you cannot be a perfect Christian, that is not an excuse to completely ignore God’s commands to man given in the Bible. Just because you may face persecution for doing right, know this. When you will stand before God to give an account of your life, you be asked whether you did or didn’t follow God’s commands, and why, if you didn’t follow them. One day, you as a Christian will stand before God face to face and explain your life choices to Him. Do you want to have to say you were scared of the persecution you would face?

1 Peter 2:20 – For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

 

 

 

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