The Importance of Humility in the Local Church: 1 Peter 5:5-7

Occasion Sunday Worship 29th March 2015

Illustration: Jonah teaches us that you cannot fight against God and win. And that even a true prophet of God can become so proud that he will refuse to take God’s message to those who need it. God can do and use anything He chooses to accomplish His sovereign purposes. He used and storm, a great fish, a tree, and a worm to reveal how He uses His creation to accomplish His purposes in the world.  We see from the life of Jonah, that fighting against God in pride and rebellion is futile. You cannot prevail.

Text: 1 Peter 5:5-7

Purpose: Since a properly ordered church is the best environment for young believers to grow, Peter commands the church to seek peace around truth through humble interaction.

Proposition: God wants you to be a humble Christian.

Interrogative: What truths will help you to be a humble Christian?

Truth 1: God resists the proud: 5:5 God resisteth the proud…

  • What is pride? Viewing yourself higher than you ought to think

Romans 12:3 I say to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.

Illustration: Satan Isaiah 14:12-14 Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will be like the most High.

    • Arrogant self-esteem: You really think you are something special.
    • Self-focused: Your own interests are your primary concern.
    • Self-promotion: You will do whatever it takes to get noticed and promoted.
    • Self-reliance: You trust and depend on no one but yourself.
    • Self-pleasing: Your own desires are your focus
    • Self-governing: You see your own mind as the final say on everything.
  • What does he mean by resists?

Illustration: Picture two brothers, where the older brother runs and hides behind the door to the house.  When the little brother pushes against the door, he cannot move it because he is being resisted by his older and stronger brother.  This is how many people live before God.   

    • Literally, God will become your opponent, and will fight against you.

Psalm 89:6-9 Who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?  God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.  O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?  Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

Truth 2: God gives undeserved favor to the humble: 5:6 And giveth grace to the humble.

  • What is humility? Viewing yourself Biblically.

Illustration: How would the chairman of a certain department at UCC view a first year student correcting him incorrectly? A humble student would never dream of acting so proudly.

    • Your confidence is not in self, because you know what you are before God, but rather it is in God’s grace given to you in Christ.
    • Your focus is on God above everything else, and then to your fellow man.
    • You let God promote you, rather than seeking to promote yourself.
    • You are dependent upon God’s providential care, not upon your own strength, wisdom, and plans.
    • Your greatest desire is to glorify and please God not self.
    • You bring yourself under God’s rule, and everything you do is filtered by a fear of the Lord.
  • In what ways does God favor the humble?
    • Salvation: You cannot be converted without the humility that accompanies genuine repentance.
    • Promotion: God lifts up those who do not lift themselves up.
    • Protection: God defends those who do not defend themselves.
    • Fellowship: God communes with and reveals Himself to those who are humble.

Application: Five biblical responses to this text

  • Show proper honor to those who are older than you in the Lord: 5:5 Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder…
  • Hold your opinions gently: 5:5 All of you be subject one to another…

Illustration: It seems that every family has at least on controversial member, that one uncle who always has to have the final word. When his mind is made up, you might as well close the meeting, because no other view will move him. Is this the way a Christian should behave in the church?

    • Never compromise on truth.
    • Be quick to compromise on personal opinion for the sake of unity in the body.
  • Have a humble interaction with other members of the body: 5:5 Be clothed with humility…

Illustration: When a visitor comes into the church and sits in your chair, the chair you have sat in week after week since the first day you came to the church, what thoughts come into your mind? Are you irritated and offended? Do you think things like: Who does this person think that they are?

    • How do you speak to other Christians?
    • How do you speak about other Christians?
    • How do you relate to other Christians?
  • Humbly let God exalt you: 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time…

Illustration: The scriptures are full of men and women, who were humble and came from lowly places, but God chose and used in remarkable ways for His own glory.

  • Give your anxiety to God: 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you…

Illustration: Do you ever lie down on your pillow at night with your mind racing and overwhelmed with worry and fear. Your life seems out of control and you do not know what to do. Is this the way a Christian should live his life? Does this kind of thinking please God?

    • Worry is rooted in two serious sins:
      • Distrust of God: God is not able or God is not good
      • Pride: I must be in control of my circumstances

Conclusion: Let us take a moment to reflect on what we are before God: we are morally bankrupt, without any hope of salvation apart from God’s work for us. Every spiritual blessing that we have is ours by the work of Christ alone. Every good gift that we have is from God’s kind hand. How many times has He held back His anger from us, and showed us mercy. Let us see ourselves as God sees us, because then we will be able to walk before God and men as this passage commands us to walk!

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Three Final Thoughts on Elders: 1 Peter 5:1-5

Occasion: Sunday Worship 22nd March 2014 

Text: 1 Peter 5:1-5

Purpose: Peter wants to see the church persevere in obedience, and mature into Christ-likeness, therefore he emphasizes the importance of God’s instruction regarding elders in the local church.

Proposition: God wants His church to submit to His instruction regarding elders.

Interrogative: How can we as a church do that?

Truth 1: An elder must be motivated by an internal sense of calling: 5:2 Not by constraint [force/compulsion], but willingly

Ill: A young man training for the Olympics in boxing or weight lifting will go to the gym for hours every day when he peers sit in the house and what’s app chats with his friends all day. What separates the athlete from his peers: an internal desire to be a champion.

  • What is a calling?

Ill: When we here the word calling, we often get a mental picture of someone receiving a vision or hearing a voice. That is not what we are talking about.

    • It is not a prophetic word from God.
    • It is not an simply an emotional experience.
    • It is not simply the sense of a need in the church.
    • It is the inescapable work of God in a man’s heart convincing him of his need and fittedness under God to do the work of pastoral ministry that will ultimately be recognized and confirmed by his local church leading to his appointment as an elder.
  • Where does the calling come from? It comes from the gracious work of the Spirit

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some pastors and teachers…for the perfecting of the saints.

Acts 20:28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers…

    • The Spirit fits the man for the work: gifting
    • The Spirit motivates the man for the work: internal sense of calling
    • The Spirit matures the man in his daily walk: spiritual qualification
  • How does the calling work?

Ill: Picture a germinating seed. We put it in the soil and water it, and in its time, what we cannot see becomes evident and eventually it feeds us.

    • It begins with a daily walk of growth into Christlikeness
    • A is revealed in to the church through a period of service in the church.
    • It is pursued as God works a desire into the heart of the future elder and the church recognizes God’s hand upon the man.

Truth 2: An elder must not be controlled by money: 5:2 Not for filthy lucre [dishonest gain], but of a ready mind [free from covetousness]

  • Weak elders can be tempted to remain silent when they must speak the truth:

1 Corinthians 16:10-11 If Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.  Let no man therefore despise him

1 Timothy 4:11-12 These things command and teach.  Let no man despise thy youth.

Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

    • Weak teachers are silent because they are afraid it will cost them their daily bread.
      • They are unwillingness to confront error in the church.
      • They are unwillingness to teach certain truths that may offend.
  • Teachers appeal to men’s consciences

Ill: Peer pressure is not a small issue, nor is a pricked conscience, and unethical “pastors” are masters of manipulating the people. A great example was an appeal made to the local NGO’s at a Social Welfare workshop in Cape Coast.

    • False teachers are masters of manipulating the weak consciences of unstable and immature people.
  • Teachers can be tempted to appeal to pride and greed in their congregations.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word; for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Titus 1:10-11 There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

2 Peter 2:-1-3 There shall be false teachers among you…through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.

2 Peter 2:14-20 They beguile unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices…when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh…they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption.

    • False teachers deliberately shape their message to bring and keep a big crowd.

Truth 3: An elder must be an example: 5:3 Neither as being lords [masters/kings] over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

1 Timothy 4:12 Be thou an example of the believers.

Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me…ye have us for an ensample.

2 Thessalonians 3:9 We make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

  • Hypocrisy causes resentment and opportunity to excuse compromised living.
  • Examples prove that principled, righteous living is possible
  • We learn best when we see it done

Ill: A picture is worth a thousand words: Picture the welder who will not be able to make something for you simply based upon what you let him, but if you make a model or draw a picture, he will have no problem making what you want.

Conclusion: Let us pray together, that God protect this church from weak and unprincipled elders and may He consistently raises up men from our midst till He returns who will take these scriptures seriously and be faithful with their God given callings!  Let us also pray that God will help each of us to walk in the same way for God’s glory!

 

Submitting to Biblical Church Administration: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Occasion: Sunday Worship 8th February 2015

Text: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Purpose: Peter wants to see his suffering brothers and sisters persevere in obedience, and mature into Christ-likeness, therefore he emphasizes the importance of God’s instruction regarding elders in the local church.

Proposition: God wants His church to submit to His instruction regarding elders.

Interrogative: How can we as a church do that?

Truth 1: All Christians need spiritual leadership: 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God…”

Ill: When my day security killed the wrong hen, he left the chicks without a mother, and eventually they all were killed.

  • Instruction: You need someone to teach you the truth

1 Timothy 4:6-7 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ…

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Convince, rebuke, exhort…

  • Edification: You constantly need your heart to be stirred up even when you know the truth.

Ill: If you are tending a fire, you must constantly add more wood and stir the coals to keep the fire hot and burning properly. If you remove one coal from the coal pot, its will go out.

1 Timothy 4:13 Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

  • Correction: Rebuke and pointing someone in the right direction

Titus 1:9 Hold fast the faithful word as it has been taught, that you may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

  • Oversight: Ruling, and guarding against error.

1 Timothy 6:20 Guard what was committed to your trust…

  • Accountability: Willing to ask the deep questions that no one else is willing to ask you.
  • Pattern: They don’t just tell you what to do, they come alongside you and show you how to do it.

Ill:  We have school and we have an apprentice.  Which of the two really prepares you for your field? The practical goes much further than the theoretical.

1 Timothy 4:12 Be an example…in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Truth 2: God alone has the right to order the church: 5:3-4 “Nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away…”

Ill: Have you ever watched someone who has just bought their first car? They wash it every day, they spray it so its finish is sparkling, the even brush each tire and polish its rims. They won’t even give you the keys to move it for someone.  When you own something, you are protective of it.

  • He ordained it:

Matthew 16:18-19 I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it…

  • He purchased it:

Ill: He paid the bride price to take His bride to Himself!

Acts 20:28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

  • He has instructed it:

1 Timothy 3:15 I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Truth 3: God demands that His servants be fully devoted to fulfilling their office: 5:1, 3 “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ…Shepherd the flock of God…being examples to the flock…”

Ill: What happens to a farmer who is only half hearted about his work? He will not be successful. You must be all in, or you will starve as a farmer.

1 Timothy 4:15-16 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

  • A witness of the sufferings of Christ: An elder is accepting a position of humble sacrificial service, that involves being willing to release his rights for the benefit of the congregation.
  • Eagerly: An elder must have a passion or be driven to do his work.
  • Entrusted: An elder will answer to God for his faithfulness in his pastoral office.
  • Example: An elder is constantly being watched, and is called by God to live in a way that is worthy of imitation.

Titus 2:7-8 In all things show yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity…sound speech that cannot be condemned…

Conclusion:

  • Pray for your elders.
  • Submit to your elders.
  • Hold your elders accountable to their God given calling in the church.
  • Refuse to appoint unqualified half hearted elders to the office.
  • Be a faithful elder.

 

Three Commands to Christians in the Face of Persecution: 1 Peter 4:1-6

Occasion: Sunday Worship Fall 2014

Illustration: Church history is filled with great men of the faith: One if my favorite characters was the German reformer Martin Luther. He spoke perhaps his most famous words in April 1521, when confronted with the option to recant or face likely execution. Luther said the following: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures…which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me.

Text: 1 Peter 4:1-6

Purpose: Peter wants believers to look to Jesus as their perfect example so they will faithfully persevere in the Christian life.

Proposition: God wants us to persevere in obedience.

Interrogative: How can we be sure to do this?

Command 1: Have the mind of Christ: 4:1 Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind…

What is Christ’s mind? Philippians 2

  • Selflessness: 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
  • Concern: 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
  • Humility: 2:7-8 Christ made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled Himself…
  • Obedience: 2:8 He became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
  • Love: Christ’s motivation was a love for His Father and the world.

Hebrews 11:1 By faith the elders obtained a good testimony…without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Hebrews 12:1 Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Command 2: Remember your time here is temporary: 4:1 He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin

  • Has suffered: There is no rest till you first have first suffered.
  • Has ceased from sin: The temporary nature of our suffering is meant to encourage us to persevere.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 Let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

Romans 8:18-19 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

Illustration: Running in Senior High School. They would inform us of our time at every mile.

Command 3: Do the will of God: 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

What does he mean?

  • Pagans viewed Christians as boring people who did not know how to have fun.
  • Christians would not be involved in many commonly accepted practices in Roman society:
    • The Roman theater
    • Chariot races: violence
    • Gladiator fights
    • Vicious feuds
    • Sex outside of marriage: homosexuality, having a mistress, incest, polygamy, prostitution, festivals
    • Drunkenness
    • Slander
    • Lying
    • Covetousness
    • Theft
    • Burning incense to the gods

Commentator: Pagans in the first century viewed Christians as people who lived without pleasure, because of their attitudes toward Roman customs and morals. Their refusal to burn incense made their neighbors and families see them as traitors to the Roman way of life.

Peter encouraged his readers to continue to stay away from the things that society believed were acceptable, even though he knew that their actions would bring anger from people who were doing these things. Whenever Christians are forced by their faith to oppose cultural values they will suffer.[1]

Illustration: This is happening in the Middle East with groups like ISIS beheading Christians.  It is even happening in the US where pastors are being bullied by public officials.

Conclusion: May God give us the grace to faithfully in obedience to His will.

  • To have the mind of Christ.
  • To remember our time here is temporary.
  • To be committed to doing the will of God.

[1] Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 262.

The Importance of Identifying With Christ Even in the Face of Persecution: 1 Peter 3:18-22

Occasion: Sunday Worship Fall 2014

Text: 1 Peter 3:18-22

Purpose: Peter refers to the faithfulness and deliverance of Christ and Noah to encourage these persecuted believers to have godly thinking and faithful living as they wait for the coming judgment of God on their persecutors.

Proposition: God wants you to be faithful no matter what you are facing.

Interrogative: How can this passage help you be faithful?

Step 1: Interpret the passage:

The Key statement: 3:17 It is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

What does he mean by doing good?

  • Identify with Christ publically, by professing your faith through water baptism.
  • Live faithfully to Christ in all areas.
  • Do not compromise, even if it means you will suffer.

What does he mean by doing evil?

  • Refuse to be baptized, out of fear of the consequences.
  • Divide your life into areas that are submitted to God and areas that belong to you.
  • Compromise, because it will cost you too much to do what right.

How does he illustrate his teaching?

  • Christ: 3:18, 22 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.
  • Noah: 3:19-20 By whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

Why are these illustrations important? Patience, perseverance, deliverance, and glory.

  • Both trusted and obeyed God:
    • Every aspect of Christ’s life was lived in full dependence upon the Father.
    • Noah spent 120 years building a boat on the land, preaching God judgment, with rain which had never been seen, got into the ark, and shut the door before he saw a drop of rain.
  • Both suffered as they did the will of God.
    • Christ was mocked, beaten, despised, falsely accused, stripped, and crucified.
    • Noah was mocked, and lived during the wickedest time in human history.
  • Both were delivered once they had done the will of God.
    • Christ rose from the dead after three days.
    • Noah was rescued with his whole family.
  • Both were instruments of God’s judgment and grace:
    • With Christ’s crucifixion, He sealed judgment on the Jews, and all men who reject His offer of salvation, and provided a complete salvation for all who will trust in His finished work.
    • Noah’s obedience sealed judgment on his entire generation, and preserved his family, people, animals, and God’s plan of redemption.

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

  • Peter’s primary application: If you suffer for doing good as they did, your obedience will result in your deliverance from their persecution and their judgment.

Acts 2:36-42 Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…Be saved from this perverse generation.

James 5:7-11 Be patient, until the coming of the Lord…for the coming of the Lord is at hand…Behold, the Judge is standing at the door…we count them blessed who endure…the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Step 2: Apply the passage:

  • Remember what God has done for you, so you could be saved: If there had been no Noah or Christ, there could have been no salvation.
  • Respond with a thankful heart: God’s grace was at work for you, long before you trusted in Christ and were saved.
  • Trust God no matter your circumstances: God will deliver in His time, so trust Him.
  • Obey in every area of life: God does not make room for you to compromise. Every area of your life is important to God.

2 Peter 2:4-9 If God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell…and the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked…then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the Day of Judgment,

Conclusion: God wants you to be faithful no matter what you are facing.  Are you doing it?

Responding to Challenges God’s Way Part 2: 1 Peter 3:13-17

Occasion: Sunday Worship Fall 2014

Illustration: University game eating a covered apple and a covered onion. Both look the same; until you take a bite, then you realize the difference.

Text: 1 Peter 3:13-17

Proposition: God wants you to respond in a Christ-like manner in all circumstances.

Truth: Fear God not man: 3:14

Truth: Submit to Christ’s Lordship: 3:15

Truth 1: Be prepared to answer questions: 3:15 “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”

  • Godly living will cause people to ask questions:

1 Peter 4:3-5 We have spent our past doing the will of the Gentiles– when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.  They think it strange that you do not run with them.

  • Christians must be prepared to give a logically reasoned Biblical defense

Apologetics: a verbal defense by reasoned statements or arguments

Know what you believe and why you believe it, and make sure what you believe is Biblical.

  • The motive for Christian living is our resurrection to glory, which motivates us in two practical ways:
    • Judgments Seat: We will be rewarded or lose reward; be rebuked or commended; and we will be beaten or crowned.
    • Eternal State: We will receive rest from all our labors, temptations, and pain; living in a glorified body free from sin’s presence.

Truth 2: Have a humble spirit: 3:15 “With meekness and fear…”

Proverbs 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you.

Ephesians 4:15 Speak the truth in love, so that we may grow up in all things into Christ.

  • Our defense should be without offense.
    • Meekness: Gentleness and humility
    • Fear: Obviously, based upon what he said just a few verses earlier; the fear is focused on God, not the person we are answering. We will not only answer to God for what we say, or do not say, but we will also answer to God for how we say the things that we say.

Truth 3: Have a Biblically cleared conscience: 3:16-17 “Having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

  • What is the conscience? Found 32 times in the NT. 3 times in 1 Peter: The part of our inner man that separates between what is morally good and morally evil. It either condemns or commends us.
  • Why is it important?
    • God will hold us accountable for what we knew was right in our conscience.

Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…so that they are without excuse.

    • It is meant to warn us when we are doing wrong.

Romans 2:15 All men show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, accusing or else excusing them.

    • It is meant to restrain us under temptation.

2 Corinthians 4:2 We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully.

2 Corinthians 1:12 The testimony of our conscience is that we conducted ourselves in simplicity and godly sincerity.

    • It can cripple us if it is constantly violated.

Romans 14:22 Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats,

    • It can make us bold and persistent in damaging sins.

Romans 1:22-26 Professing to be wise, they became fools, Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie…for this reason God gave them up to vile passions.

  • How can we damage it?
    • It can stay immature: We feel guilty about things that are not condemned in scripture.
    • It can become a sense of pride: We become proud because our convictions are more strict that those around us.
    • It can become desensitized: We no longer feel guilt when we sin.

1 Timothy 4:2 Some speak lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron.

    • It can become perverted: We start thinking that evil is good and good is evil.

Titus 1:15 To those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.

  • How can we keep a good conscience?
    • Be constantly under the ministry of God’s word.
    • Have a healthy personal walk with God.
    • Do not sin against it.
    • Be quick to admit your faults and make things right.

Conclusion: God wants you to respond in a Christ-like manner in all circumstances.

  • Are you living in a godly way, which will certainly bring questions?
  • Are you ready to answer those question in a Biblical, logical way?
  • Are you answering people humbly?
  • Are you serving God with a Biblically clear conscience?

Called to Love: 1 Peter 3:8-12

Occasion: Sunday Worship 21st September 2014

Introduction: Think about the difficulties of being a Christian in the 1st century compared to today.

  • Roman occupation
  • Moral decadence
  • Idolatry
  • Slavery
  • Abusive dictators
  • Shame driven societies
  • Jewish animosity

Text: 1 Peter 3:8-12

Purpose: Peter concludes his section on practical Christian living, by explaining how Christians should relate to others.

Proposition: God commands you to love all people without exception.

Interrogative: How can we do this?

Truth 1: Love the brethren: Christians should love one another with fervent brotherly love: 3:8

As you look around this room, you see many different people who have professed faith in Christ, and been joined to this body. We are all very different: different backgrounds, interests, cultures, and occupations. When you speak about your brother, what do you say about him? When you think about him what is in your mind? When you relate to him, is it in sincerity, honesty, and Christian love? There are no exceptions! We are to love with fervent brotherly love, every member of the body of Christ, no matter our differences?

1 John 4:7-21 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar…He who loves God must love his brother also.

John 13:35 All will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

What does brotherly love look like in practical daily living?

  • Like-mindedness: Unified, around our common faith and purpose
  • Compassion: A sympathetic attitude toward one another.
  • Brotherly love: See yourselves as members of the same family
  • Tenderheartedness: Feeling affection for them, to the point that it physically moves you favorably toward them.
  • Humility: Treat them as better than yourself and show a measure of reverence and honor.

Paul: Prayed fervently for them, asked about them, rebuked them, comforted them, wept with them, wept for them, labored with them, gave himself for their sakes, refused to be a burden to them, and gave them the whole counsel of God.

Truth 2: Love your enemies: Christians should demonstrate trust in the Lord by loving their enemies: 3:9

Not someone you dislike or have trouble getting along with.  We are talking about someone who genuinely hates you and desires to harm or ruin you. How are you responding to your enemies? How do you speak about people who have attacked your reputation or threatened you? How are you responding to those who have taken advantage or done painful things to you? What about people who are lying about you, stolen from you, used you to advance their own purposes, or betrayed you?

Those who love their enemies are more like God, demonstrating that they are truly His children, than those who demand justice, though justice will eventually come in God’s time

Consider God’s gracious actions toward the world:

  • Common Grace: Matthew 5:44-45 Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
  • Saving Grace: 1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us. Romans 5:10 When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.
  • Peter confronts our natural response by saying, do not do the following:
    • Not returning evil: Not doing things that will cause harm
    • Not railing/reviling: Not using critical or abusive language
  • Peter presents Christ’s ethic from the Sermon on the Mount: But rather
    • Bless them: Speak favorably about them, pray for their wellbeing, and treat them with kindness.

Illustration:

Christ: Took on human flesh, lived in poverty, was rejected, went to the cross stripped, bloodied, beaten, and mocked, yet prayed for His accusers, showed love to the disciples who would deny Him, said: not my will but yours be done, do not lay this charge to their account, and ministered to Judas for 3 years while knowing he was a hypocrite and a traitor.

Truth 3: Walk in Christian virtue: Christians should strive to walk in holiness, because it is for their own good: 3:9-12

Psalm 34:11-16 Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil.

Do you want a long life filled with good, or do you want God against you? Four commands:

  • Do not speak evil: Do not use abusive, threatening, or insulting language. Do not spread gossip, speak crude language, or make a mock of evil. Matthew 5:22 Whoever says to his brother, Raca! shall be in danger of the council…whoever says, You fool! shall be in danger of hell fire.
  • Speak the truth: Do not tell lies (deliberate statements to mislead to cover evil actions or attitudes); present a false testimony against someone (especially to get revenge); flatter (false statements to take advantage of someone or conceal hatred), or make commitments you have no intention of keeping. Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD. Matthew 5:37 Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.
  • Turn away from evil: Opportunities to get revenge, harm, steal from, or take advantage for evil purposes. Matthew 5:39 Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also…Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.
  • Do good by laboring to live in peace with others: You cannot resolve every conflict, but as a Christian, you should always initiate resolving conflicts, and be willing to sacrifice your perceived rights to keep peace.  Romans 12:18-21 As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

David: Twice refused to kill Saul when he had the opportunity and was encouraged to do it by his men. Later, he showed mercy to the Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth, when most Kings would have killed all the royalty to secure their throne.

Joseph: Showed affectionate brotherly love to his brothers when he could have imprisoned or executed them, not even demanding an apology.

Conclusion: God commands you to love all people, without exception. Are you doing His will? May God give us the grace to repent of our sins where necessary, and humbly love all people for His sake and to His glory!

The Danger of Dishonoring God in Our Home Life: 1 Peter 3:7

Occasion: Sunday Worship 24th August 2014

 

There is an Akan Proverb that goes something like this: If you respect or honor me, I also will respect or honor you.  The Proverb teaches that elders treat youth similar to the way the youth treat their elders, and disrespectful youth will not receive the respect from elders they desire.

Text: 1 Peter 3:7

Purpose: Peter emphasizes the importance of husbands treating their wives with honor and the danger of not doing right toward them, so they will treat their wives as God would command them to be treated.

Proposition: God wants you to honor your wife.

Interrogative: How will a husband honor his wife?

Truth 1: Disobedience is dangerous: 3:7 “Husbands are commanded to honor their wives, so that their prayers may not be hindered.”

There is a simple yet important principle, that God does not bless disobedience.  Here are just three out of many Biblical examples:

  • God rejected the worship of the disobedient: Genesis 4:5-7 God did not respect Cain and his offering. And said, if you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.
  • God refused to answer the prayers of the disobedient: Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
  • God made people’s work unfruitful when they were disobedient:

Ecclesiastes 3:13 That ability to enjoy the good of all our labor– is the gift of God.

Proverbs 13:7 There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.

Haggai 1:1:5-7 Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes…Consider your ways…You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why…Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.

God does not bless our willful disobedience, even if we have been able to justify it in our own hearts, and here are just a few among many scriptures that bluntly state this truth.

Truth 2: Obedience takes work: three simple commands

Live with your wife: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with…”

Ephesians 5:31 At marriage, two shall become one flesh.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 Because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

You cannot obey this passage if you do not live together, and this instruction is for the benefit of both husband and wife.

Warning: Do not give in to the temptation to live separated from your spouse. 

Walking in obedience is called walking by faith for a reason, and walking in disobedience means I am not trusting God in a specific area of life.

Learn about your wife: “according to knowledge/with understanding”

You must work hard as a husband not only to live with your wife, but to really know her as a person.  One of my responsibilities as a husband is to lead my wife and to disciple her in the faith.

3 Biblical Responsibilities:

  • Men should initiate the marriage: Genesis 2:34 A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.
  • Husbands should disciple their wives: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive…and if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home.
  • Husbands should lead their wives: 1 Peter 3:1,6 Wives, be submissive to your own husbands…Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

Love your wife: giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life. (Joint heirs means we are a unified team working together for

Wives are not inferior to their husbands or worthy of a smaller reward because their position in the home is one of submission rather than leadership.  Peter emphasizes that husband and wife are a team and joint heirs of the grace of God.

Ephesians 5:25-29 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and as your own bodies; nourishing and cherishing our wife, just as the Lord does the church.

The husband’s calling in the marriage and in the home is a difficult calling, but beautiful and rewarding.

Conclusion: God wants you to honor your wife. Will you honor Him by honoring your wife?

A Call to Embrace Godly Values: 1 Peter 3:3-6

Sunday Worship 17th August 2014

Illustration: The moment we pick a rose to admire its beauty, it begins to whither in our hands and this is the nature of all earthly riches and beauty.  That is why, 1 John 2 says that the world is passing away along with its desires, and Jesus said in Matthew 6, not to lay up treasures where moth and rust corrupt and thieves steal. What we value in life determines the value of the life we have lived.  This is why we have a proverb that says: “Physical beauty does not pay debts.”

Text: 1 Peter 3:3-6

Purpose: Peter is teaching that all Christians are to be clothed in godly character; therefore he applies this principle to women.

Proposition: God wants us to embrace godly values.

Interrogative: How can we do this?

Truth 1: Recognize the battle: We were born selfish, and deceived, but when we trusted Christ, we became new creatures and the Sprit began His work in us. This worldliness in our thinking is still at work in us tempting us daily to embrace temporary pleasures, and to love the created over the Creator.  Worldliness must be constantly identified, rooted out, and replaced with Godly thinking.

  • God saved us to change us: Romans 8:4 God saved us so that…the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…
  • Change involves a new affection in our hearts: 1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world.
  • Change involves God renovating our minds: Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
  • Change involves submitting our wills.  Matthew 10:33-39 Whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven…He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.

Truth 2: Search the scriptures: 3:3-5 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

  • What should a woman value?
    • Do not let your adornment be merely outward: He is not saying that it is sinful to wear jewelry. The fact that the passage does not only mention jewelry, but it also mentions clothing.  His point is that a woman’s beauty should be focused on something other than her outward appearance.
    • Let it be the hidden person of the heart: Here is Peter’s concern.  Beauty should be in a godly character.
    • Incorruptible beauty: This beauty does not get old like outward beauty. It actually becomes more pronounced as we age and grow more into the image of Christ.
    • Meekness: calm and controlled
    • Quiet spirit: Not agitated
    • Very precious in the sight of God: Value what God values
    • In this manner the holy women who trusted God adorned themselves: There is a rich heritage of faithful women in the Bible
  • Summary: Be concerned that you are growing into Christ-likeness, not expanding your wardrobe.
  • Is Peter’s teaching only apply to ladies? Humility, gentleness, and meekness as not just feminine Christian virtues.  They are Christian virtues for both men and women.

The way a pastor should do his work: 2 Timothy 2:24-26 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting …

The way we relate to government: Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to…to obey…to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

The way we pursue our calling: Ephesians 4:1-2 Walk worthy of the vocation with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love…

The way we relate to other believers: 1 Peter 5:5 You younger, submit to the elders…be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

*The fruit of the Spirit in all believers is…Galatians 5:22-24 Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance/self-control.

Truth 3: Admit your faults

Four areas that reveal our values:

  • Courtship: The kinds of people you are romantically interested in, and the way you present yourself to these people reveals something about your values. What do these interests and actions reveal about you?
  • Education: The schooling arrangement that you have chosen for yourself or for your children and the course of study that you direct them or yourself toward says something about your values. What do these decisions reveal?
  • Occupation: The occupation you have chosen and the schedule it demands says something about your values.  Does your occupation take you away from studying the word, ministering to your family, and faithfulness to the local church? What do the decisions you have made about your occupation reveal about your values?
  • Entertainment: The movies you watch, music you love, and websites you visit say something about your values. What do they reveal?

Conclusion: We were born selfish, and deceived, but when we trusted Christ, we became new creatures and the Sprit began His work in us. This worldliness in our thinking is still at work in us tempting us daily to embrace temporary pleasures, and to love the created over the Creator.  Worldliness must be constantly identified, rooted out, and replaced with Godly thinking.

  • Our position in Christ calls us to a godly walk.
  • He wants to give us right thinking, godly affections, and to guide us into a holy walk, but only we can make the necessary choices to see this take place.
  • May we, this morning, cry out to our God for grace, confessing our sins, purposing to let Him change us!  May we continue to progress in this great process of sanctification!

 

A Christian Commitment to Do Right No Matter the Cost or Circumstances: 1 Peter 3:1-2

Sunday Worship 10th August 2014

Introduction: I would like to introduce you to one of the great heroes of the faith. His name was Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna a city in modern Turkey.  As far as we know, he was a personal disciple of the Apostle John. Polycarp was a strong man who fought to maintain doctrinal and practical purity in the church of Smyrna. In his 86th year, Polycarp was arrested and brought to trial.  His captors were filled with amazement as they observed his strong, peaceful, and gracious demeanor.    As he stood before the Roman proconsul, his accuser sought to persuade him to reject his faith: Swear by the genius of Caesar, repent, and say away with the atheists! Then Polycarp to the shock of the proconsul and angry mob waved his hand at them, and looking up into heaven groaned and said, away with the atheists. The proconsul responded, swear, and I will release you; curse the Christ, but Polycarp said, eighty and six years have I served him, and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me? The proconsul responded: I have wild beasts; if you do not repent, I will throw you to them. But he said, Send for them. For repentance from better to worse is not acceptable. Then the proconsul responded, “If you despise the wild beasts, I will burn you with fire. And Polycarp answered, you threaten the fire that burns for an hour and in a little while is quenched; because you do not know of the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly, but why do you delay? Do what you need to do.  As his accusers burned him at the stake that day, they marveled at the settled peace he had in doing what was right no matter the cost.[1]

Text: 1 Peter 3:1-2

Purpose: Peter has taught that our position in Christ demands a set apart walk, therefore he takes the time to explain practically what that holy walk demands.

Proposition: God wants us to do right, no matter our circumstances.

Interrogative: How can we do this?

Truth 1: Christians must be committed to always do right no matter the consequences or circumstances

  • The condition of our soul is far more important than the condition of our body: Mark 9:47 If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
  • God’s way may be lonely and difficult: Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
  • God’s way may separate you from family: Luke 12:51-53 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.  The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
    • Doing right is not always easy.
    • Doing right is not always practical.
    • Doing right is not always comfortable.
    • Doing right is rarely popular.

The Bible is filled with examples of these principles:

Daniel 1:8 Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

2 Chronicles 18:12-16 And the messenger that went to call Micaiah spake to him, saying, Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of theirs, and speak thou good. And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak.

Jeremiah 37:15-16 The princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.  When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days.

Jeremiah 38:6 Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon…in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.

Acts 4:18-19 Let us straitly threaten them…and they commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 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.

Acts 5:28-29 The high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Why are these examples significant?

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Truth 2: Christians must be committed to marrying Biblically.

Peter writes to those who are already married, but that does not mean he is ignoring those who will one day marry.

  • Only marry a believer

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

  • Only marry a committed believer

Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 19:13 A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.

Proverbs 27:15 A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.

  • Only marry a believer you can honestly respect (ladies) or a believer you can honestly cherish (men)

Proverbs 31:10-12 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

    • Honor is a choice
    • Obedience is a choice
    • Love is a choice
    • Why choose to marry someone who you cannot honestly cherish, trust, etc.

Truth 3: Christians must be committed to live Biblically in all circumstances.

Our commitment to walk as a Christian will be constantly attacked.  Life is full of tests and opportunities to grow, but how do we respond to God’s word in those situations?

  • Likewise: In the same way…

1 Peter 2:21-23 Hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

  • Be in subjection: Be arranged under authority, like you have in the military arrangement…
  • If any obey not the word: He is speaking about someone who is an unbeliever.  Peter is assuming that many people are going to be converted after they are married, and because of the they will have complicated family situations.

1 Corinthians 7:12-16  If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.  And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 

Truth 4: Christians must realize the power of a godly testimony.

How much has the gospel impacted the way you live? Does your new life since you were converted make your family and friends thirsty for the gospel, or does your life contradict the gospel you claim to have embraced?

  • They also may be won: Peter’s desire is to see unconverted husbands trust in Christ.
  • Without the word: The husband will not become a believer by his wife’s constant pushing, which will be her natural response.
  • By the conversation of the wife: He will watch the way that she lives, and it will draw him to ask questions and be attracted to the faith that has changed her so much.
  • While they behold: What you are at home is what you really are, and new person ia new at home as well as at church.
  • Chaste conversation coupled with fear: Reverential pure way of life

1 Corinthians 7:14-16 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband…for what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Conclusion:

  • God commands you to obey him in all circumstances
  • Are you committed to doing what is right no matter what it will cost you?
  • Are you willing to obey God in your decision to marry?
  • Are you willing to obey God in the marriage you are now in?
  • May God give us the grace to do what is right no matter what it will cost us!

[1] Christian History Magazine-Issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1990).