To know God's love and to show God's love
We are God's elect, exiles in this world, travelling joyfully through trials to our inheritance.......part of his church, existing to declare and display his excellencies.
We are called to follow in Christ's footsteps by submitting to authority even if we suffer unjustly. As we do, others see the reality and beauty of our faith.
Christ's path went through suffering to vindication and inheritance; his peoples' path will do the same. On our way, we bless others and live by God's will.
Read 1 Peter 4 v 7 - 11.
What does Peter remind us ( v 7 )?
" The end of all things is at hand".....the day when this world as we know it ends as Jesus returns is near.
. Read 1 v 3 - 4, 7. How do you feel knowing that this day is at hand?
The closer the day is the more joyful we should be. It is the day when everything we have looked forward to will arrive, and when losing things in order to live by faith will be proved to have been worth it.
What are the implications of knowing that this day is coming ( v 7 - 11 )?
. We will be "self-controlled".This means not panicking but praying!
. Most of all we will love each other ( v 8 ), forgiving others' sins rather than allowing them to provoke divisive conflict ( see Proverbs 10 v 12 ).
. We should show hospitality to one another without grumbling ( 1 Peter 4 v 9 ). We need to see our homes as gifts to be opened and shared.
. We will use our gifts to serve others ( v 10 ). Every Christian has received the "grace" of a God-given gift. We are stewards of those gifts and are to use them wisely to "serve one another".
Read 1 Peter 4 v 12 - 19
We have seen repeatedly in this letter that in this life we will suffer because we follow Jesus .........
In the face of this "fiery trial" what should we not be ( v 12 )?
We should not be surprised. Peter says " when " Christian suffering comes not "if". The Suffering is an inevitable reality of living the Christian life ......it is a sign that things are going right.
What should we do and why ( v 13 - 16, 19 )?
Rejoice! We do this because:
. we are sharing Christ's sufferings. ( v 13 )
. we know we will one day be in glory. ( v 13 )
. we know the "Spirit of glory " now rests on us. ( 1 Peter 4 v 14 )
. we know we need never be ashamed of knowing Jesus....even when we are mocked for it. ( v 16 )
. we get on with doing good because we trust that God is our "faithful Creator" ( v 19 ) God is in charge of our lives and we can trust him to do what is best for us.
Read 1 Peter 5 v 1 - 5
Who has God given to his church to help Jesus' sheep ( v 1 - 2a )?
Elders. ( v 1 )
Note: In the New Testament, these "under-shepherds" are referred to as either elders, overseers or pastors; the terms are interchangeable. Today we call them pastors, ministers, vicars, or elders.
What should elders do,and remember ( v 2 - 4 ) ?
. Shepherd the flock ( v 2 ) .....lead, protect and provide.
. Exercise oversight ( v 2 ) ....they have authority.
. Lead willingly, not under "compulsion" ( v 2 ).
. Pastor eagerly and not for their own gain ( v 2 ). Their motivation should be caring for the flock.
. Be an example and not a dominator (v 3 ). They serve those under their care. ( see Mark 10 v 42 - 44 )
. Remember the reward: a crown of leaves given to athletic and military victors......but the promise is of an "unfading" crown. ( 1 Peter 5 v 4 ).
What should church members do, and remember ( v 5 )?
We should be "subject to the elders", assuming that they are striving to be as those described in v 2 - 4. We need to pray for and support them.
Read 1 Peter 5 v 6 - 14
What should our attitude be toward :
. God ? Humility ( v 6 ). We entrust ourselves into his hands even as we suffer, knowing that he is mighty and that he cares for us: leading us towards our inheritance.
. the devil? We must resist him ( v 9 ) because we know he seeks to devour our faith. ( v 8 ).Our attitude should be neither obsessive nor dismissive. The devil is real, and we must be ready for his attacks, but he is defeated and although powerful, he is not "all-powerful".
. our suffering?
. There is no safer place than under God's mighty hand ( v 6 ). Suffering in this life does not mean that we are not in his hands.
. Suffering is a time when the devil will seek to devour us....so suffering is a time to be particularly "sober-minded" and "watchful`'.
. Suffering is normal for Christians ( v 9 ) We are not going through anything that other Christians have not faced in the past, and are facing now around the world.
Note: for further information on Christians suffering throughout the world, and how to pray for them, go to the "Open Doors" website.
. our suffering is only for a "little while"( v 10 ) compared to the "eternal glory "we have ahead of us.
Praise God that he sent his son Jesus to suffer on our behalf.
Thank God for your "under-shepherds" and pray for them that their characters might be as Peter describes in v 2 - 4.
Pray for the suffering church ....choose a country from those listed on the "Open Doors" website.
Pray that you will "stand firm " when you are called to suffer as a Christian.
There will be the usual meeting to discuss this passage on Wednesday, July 28 at 11.00 in the Parish Church Hall. We enjoy a cup of coffee beforehand and everyone is very welcome.
Next week we will have a resume of all that we have learned from 1 Peter.
CHRIST ALSO SUFFERED
1 Peter 3 v 8 - 4 v 6
We persevere even when we suffer for doing good because Jesus has already walked the road marked with righteous suffering.....and it was the pathway to his vindication and glory........
Read 1 Peter 3 v 8 - 17
How should we live ( v 8 - 12 )?
. Have unity of mind
. Brotherly love
. A tender heart
. A humble mind.
These five are in fact just one command: a command to love other Christians sympathetically and compassionately.
. " Do not repay evil for evil ....but on the contrary, bless".( v 9 ) We are called not only not to curse, but actively to bless.
. Don't use tongues for evil or deceit. ( v 10 )
. Do good; seek peace ( v 11 ) and pursue it .....even with those who are treating us badly.
"Obtain" in verse 9 is better translated as "inherit". Re-read 1 v 3 - 5. What do we know awaits us, and how does this enable us to suffer and to bless?
Our future inheritance, which is imperishable, undefiled and unfading........guaranteed by Christ's resurrection.
Peter is saying that as you seek to bless even as you suffer, you can know that you are walking towards your inheritance.
Why do Christians need neither to fear nor be troubled by those who harm them ( 3 v 13 - 14 )?
Christians are assured of the blessing of their future inheritance so there is nothing anyone can do to us.......so we have nothing to fear; we will never have to forfeit our inheritance......not even death can take it from us. Death just means that we receive our promised inheritance.
What should they do instead ( v 15 - 16 )?
. " Honour Christ the Lord as holy" ( v 15 ). That is to acknowledge his lordship and goodness, and so submit to him so that our actions are directed by what pleases him.
. Be prepared to give a "reason for the hope that is in you" ( v 15 ). This hope enables us to be bold and courageous and speak out about our faith in the face of persecution.
. "Do it with gentleness and respect" ( v 15 ). We are not harsh or superior in our response.
So that those who hate the way Christians live "may be put to shame" ( v 16 )
What do verses 15 - 16 teach us about how to share our faith faithfully and effectively?
. We will live differently as we honour and obey God, which will cause others to notice and ask....
. Be prepared to answer......we need to have a "defence" ready that will point to our "hope" in Christ.
. Be gentle and respectful. We must not "look down" and be careful with our tone and attitude.
Read 1 Peter 3 18 - 22.
This passage is very hard to understand and scholars opinions differ. Remember that Peter's aim throughout his letter is to encourage us to persevere faithfully in unjust suffering.......so it's likely that is his aim here too. Bear this in mind as you work through it.
What event do these verses begin with, and end with......( 18, 22 )?
. v 18 Jesus ' death.
. v 22 Jesus' ascension and exaltation ......now seated at "the right hand of God".....the most authoritative place in the universe.
What did Jesus' death achieve ( v 1)?
It was able to "bring us to God". Christ suffered and died once and for all ......the righteous for the unrighteous. He blazed the trail for us to follow.
How does this encourage us to stay faithful when we suffer?
. His death means that we can know with certainty that one day we will be with God in a glorious inheritance.
. His death, followed by his exaltation shows us the template of Christian living .....it is very hard, and then beyond death, it is absolutely wonderful.
How does knowing what Jesus did after his resurrection ( v 19 ) and where Jesus is now ( v 22 ) encourage us to stay faithful when we suffer?
Even the demonic realm is under Jesus' authority; he is supreme over everything ....both physical and spiritual.
The complexities are not over! In v 21 Peter says that baptism is a picture of God's rescue from the floodwaters of his judgement and into new life. enjoying a "good conscience"(that is, Christ's perfect record)......just as Noah was rescued from the flood of God's judgement, into a new life ( v 20 )
As we look back on our baptism what are we meant to remember that we can look forward to?
Salvation from judgement. A day is coming when God will destroy the ungodly, as he did in Noah's time, by means of the flood. Baptism pictures this future judgement and pictures us coming through it .....up out of the water to enjoy glory with Christ.
How does this encourage us to remain faithful when we suffer?
We remember that Christ suffered in our place and that although our suffering now is hard, we will not have to face suffering on the final day.
.......Let your baptism remind you that you are on the same pathway as Christ.
Read 1 Peter 4 v 1 - 6
How should we think and live ( v 1 - 2 )?
. We must think as Christ did, who was willing to suffer because he knew that he was on the path to vindication and glory.
Note: "Ceased from sin " means that will not allow sin to define us or devour us.
. We live for the rest of this life on earth for "the will of God" ( v 2 ).....and not as we want!
Why will this make life harder, not easier ( v 3 - 4 )
Those around us live in a different way following "human passions", but our lives are different so we seem strange. Our old friends may mock or disown us. Life becomes more difficult and costly.
What can we remember when living "for the will of God" is hard. (v 5 - 6 )?
. Judgement is coming ( v 5 ). Everyone will have to give an account of him/herself.
. Salvation is coming ( v 6 ). This is a complex verse Everyone is "dead", and we will all be "judged in the flesh" ie. we die. Those who trust in the gospel will "live in the spirit the way God does " ie. be resurrected.
Use v 18 to praise the Lord Jesus for all he achieved for you through his suffering.
Use v 22 to praise the Lord Jesus for his power and rule right now.
Ask God to enable you to "give a reason for the hope that is in you" in a respectful and gentle way.
Ask God to help you to live your life according to his will rather than according to "human passions".
Next week we will be looking at 1 Peter 4 v 7 - 5 v 14 which has the title "Stand firm, for the end is at hand".
There will be a meeting (lasting around 40 min ) to discuss this week's topic on Wednesday, July 21 at 11.00 in the Parish Church Hall, where everyone is very welcome as usual.
1 Peter 2 v 13 - 3 v 7
We follow in Christ's footsteps by submitting to those in positions of authority, even when that involves suffering unjustly. As we do this,we enable others to see the reality and attractiveness of the Christian faith.
This passage talks a lot about "submission", whether it be the government, the workplace, or marriage. Submission is voluntarily co-operating with anyone out of love and respect for God first, and then out of love and respect for that person. We can see submission as........
Functional: a distinguishing of our roles and the work we are called to do
Relational: a loving acknowledgement of another's value as a person
Reciprocal: a mutual, humble co-operation with one another
Universal: an acknowledgement by the church of the all-encompassing Lordship of Jesus Christ
Read 1 Peter 2 v 13 - 3 v 7
Peter shows us how to behave so that our good deeds are obvious and God is glorified.......
Who are Christians to" be subject " to......
. "Every human institution", or authority. In Peter's day that meant the emperor and his governors. Today they represent the authorities in your nation.
. "Your masters" ( v 18 ) Peter extends his commands to "servants" out to all Christians: "servants in v 18 become "one" in v 19. Since all of us are "servants " to earthly "masters" in certain contexts .....especially in the workplace ....all of us can apply this teaching to ourselves.
"Servants" is literally "household slaves" .Slavery was different in the Roman era than that of "modern " times. Slaves were often well educated and served as physicians or tutors to children. Although difficult, slaves were able to buy their freedom.
. Wives are to submit to their husbands ( 3 v 1 ). In marriage this means allowing the husband to take the lead .....it doesn't mean to never hold an opinion to take part in discussion.
How does Peter detail what it means to "be subject" in each of these areas?
. 2 v 15 - 17
. It means being good citizens (v 15 - 16 ). Our responsibility is to "do good" and in every situation to seek the welfare of others.
. We "honour everyone" ( v 17 ). Humans bear God's image, so they are to be honoured, which means valued as a person of worth.
. We are to "love the brotherhood" ( v 17 ). We are not to neglect our church as we serve our society.
. We are to "fear God" (v 17 ) We obey the authorities, but we are not in awe of them.....we are in awe of God.
. Peter says that even the "emperor" ....who stood at the head of a government increasingly opposed to the church .....is to be honoured as a creature made in God's image and an authority placed over people by God's will.
. 2 v 18 - 19
. Respecting those who are in authority over us ( v 18 )
. To continue to live "mindful of God " ....as a Christian ...when we face unjust suffering because of our faith. ( v 19 ).
. 3 v 2 ,4
. "Respectful and pure conduct."
. "A gentle and quiet spirit" Gentle = humble and is sometimes translated "meek". Quiet = quietness of peace as opposed to the harshness of war. It is a calming presence that pursues peace while others around us are creating war. These qualities betray strength, not weakness.
What motivations does Peter give for submitting in these three ways?
. 2 v 15: Obeying the rules of earthly governments provides a faithful witness to our King. We honour those in authority by paying our taxes and obeying state laws. We may be maligned for our gospel beliefs, but there will be no grounds to criticise us for our relationship to the authorities or our involvement in society.
. 2 v 20b: Suffering for doing good is "a gracious thing in the sight of God". God loves to reward costly faithfulness. There may be no reward for living as a Christian in your workplace .....but there will be a reward from the Lord for living in a way that is mindful of him
. 3 v 1,4b: If a Christian wife is married to a non-Christian, then their conduct may cause their husband to think about the gospel, and give it a hearing.
What do you think it means for a husband to treat his wife "in an understanding way "?
" Understanding " = " according to knowledge". Women are physically weaker than men and most men have the potential to control their wives by sheer brute strength, however, this would live out the curse rather than God's creation design. Christian husbands should seek to understand and honour their wives......leading with sacrificial servant love as Christ leads his church.
What is the sign that a husband is loving his wife well ( v 7b )? Why?
Their prayers are "not hindered". As husband and wife prioritise Christ together and pray individually and together, there will be less annoyance and bitterness.
Re-read 1 Peter 2 v 21 - 25
What kind of life are we called to live as Christians ( v 21 )?
We are called to follow "in the steps of Christ".....our life is called to be the kind of life that Jesus himself lived.
What example did Jesus leave for us (v 22 - 23 )?
Notice that he was "reviled" and he "suffered". Unjust suffering is not a sign that we've done something wrong or that God has failed us.
How did Jesus respond to unjust suffering?
. He did not sin. When we suffer, there is no excuse to sin.
. He did not lash out or threaten those who caused his unjust suffering.
. He trusted God. One day God will right all wrongs. There is no need to take justice into our own hands; we can leave it in God's.
How should verses 24 - 25 move us to follow Jesus' example?
Jesus did all this for us even though his unjust suffering was avoidable. He walked through it, bearing our sins and healing us, in order to restore our relationship with God. God has a purpose in Christ's suffering, so he has a purpose in ours.
To think about.........
How has this passage affected the expectations of your life and your view of suffering in your life?
We tend to be very pleased that Jesus bore his cross for us, but hope that we can avoid bearing a cross as we follow him. However, Jesus said that we must " take up our cross daily and follow him", not just when we feel like it. The bible says that "all those who live a godly life will suffer persecution", so don't be surprised when you do, because it means that you are living the right kind of Christian life.
. That Jesus suffered for you.
. That Jesus is an example to us.
. To be subject in the ways Jesus calls you to be, and to help you to see that you are following in his footsteps.
. To enable you to see the goodness of the Christian life, even when it is counter-cultural and costly.
There will be a follow-up discussion on this topic on Weds July 14 at 11.00 in the Parish Church Hall to which everyone is invited.
Next week's study is entitled "Christ also Suffered " when we will be looking at 1 Peter 3 v 8 - 4 v 6.
1 Peter 2 v 4 - 12
"Spiritual House " ( v 4 )is temple language. The temple was the place where God had promised to meet with his people; where priests spoke to God about the people and to the people about God; and where the people could bring their animal sacrifices so that they could be forgiven and stay in relationship with God.
Read 1 Peter 2 v 4 - 8
What is God's building, and with what is it built? ( v 5 )
"A spiritual house ", built out of "living stones".
Those who "come to him" ( v 4 ) ....to the Lord Jesus, by faith ( v 3 ).....are the stones God uses to build his temple. So what is Peter saying about the church and Christians?
That things mentioned in v 5 are now true of the church .....and your local church. The church is God's temple where his Spirit dwells and where he meets with his people. It is where we gather to hear God speak to us and to worship him, and it is where we celebrate Christ's once for all sacrifice for us and commit our lives as living sacrifices in return. We are living stones made to be built into a living building. Every Christian is brought into God's building project built on the cornerstone, Christ, and sharing in his identity and status.
What are we told about the cornerstone of this divinely designed and divinely built building ( v 4, 6 - 8 )?
In these verses, Peter points to two views of Jesus......
Humanity's view :
*Jesus was rejected by humans ( v 4 )
*People reject him as the cornerstone as they seek to build their lives without him ( v 7 )
*Jesus causes people to "stumble " and is a " rock of offence" ( v 8 ).. that is, Jesus offends people because he does not fit in with how they want the world to be and how they like to view themselves.
God's view :
*Jesus as chosen by God, and precious to him ( v 4 )
*Jesus is the "cornerstone" God had promised to lay as the foundation of God's people ( v 6 see Isaiah 28 v 16 )
. Jesus is the one who will never or disappoint those who trust him ( v 6 )
How should these facts affect our view of what we are doing as we go to church each Sunday?
Here are some suggestions. You may be able to think of others........
*As we gather together, God is there with us because he lives is in us as living stones.
*We are a part of something that is much larger than ourselves, no matter how large or small our church may be.....
*We are created for community....Christianity is not an individual endeavour.
The human heart loves to construct a platform upon which we will make much of......even if it's only in our own family or workplace or church, we want to be famous and praised. However, the church exists to make much of Jesus. It is his fame we work for and his name we should want to be praised.
Read 1 Peter 2 v 9 - 12 .
What is Peter telling us about the identity of the church in 1 Peter 2 v 9 ?
*A chosen race. The church is a new race made up of many ethnicities, chosen by God on the basis of his predetermined love ( 1 Peter 1 v 2 ) and born again of imperishable seed ( 1 v 23 ).
*A royal priesthood. " Priesthood" tells us that we have access to God's presence; that we represent God to the world by telling people about him and that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to him. " Royal" = we serve as priests in the King's presence.
*A Holy Nation. We are a distinctive nation, different from the world, reflecting the holy character of our king..
*God's special possession. The church belongs to God and is valuable to him.....so valuable that he sent his son to die for it....and one day the church will be his bride.
So we are members of a new race, royal servants of the supreme king, citizens of a divine kingdom, and residents of a heavenly city.
What is one purpose of the church according to verse 9?
To "proclaim the purpose of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light"
What is the second purpose of the church ( v 12 )?
To "keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable". Honourable = "godly".
What is the aim of this ( end of v 12 )?
So that those around us might "glorify God on the day of visitation"
How are these two purposes linked?
Our lives commend our massage and our message explains our lives. We display the kingdom in our lives and we declare the kingdom with our words. Unbelievers TV should be able to see our transformed lives, hear our transformational message, and glorify God at the final judgement.
Thank God that Christ is that precious, tested cornerstone.
Thank God for your church. Use v 9 - 12 to thank God for the privilege it is to be a part of the church.
Pray that God would enable you to see how you are being called to declare and display his excellences, individually and as a church.
Pray for particular non-Christians you know who are in touch with your church in some way....that what they see in you and hear from you would cause them to glorify God now, and on the day when he returns.
As usual, there will be a follow-up meeting to discuss this study which will be next Wednesday, July 7 at 11.00. We will meet as before, in the church hall.
1 Peter 1 v 13 - 2 v 3
As Peter addresses the early church suffering hostility and persecution, the question remains: what are they going to do? How are they to go about relating to this hostile world? How are they to relate to one another in the midst of such difficult circumstances? These are the questions that we are also grappling with today, and which Peter now addresses.
Read 1 Peter 1 v 13 - 21
When life gets hard, we look for someone or something in which to place our hope....to right our lives and give us what we need the most.......
Where are the Christians hope to be ( v 13 )?
" On the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ". Look at verses 4 ....the "grace" is the undeserved inheritance that is ours through faith in Christ ( grace = God's Riches At Christ's Expense). God has already worked through Christ to secure our future. This is not a futile wish but a certain future event.
How will setting our hopes here change our thinking and our actions ( v 13 - 16 )?
. Our minds will be " [prepared} for action " and "sober"(v 13 )." Preparing your minds for action " is literally "girding up the loins of your minds" .....a picture of a man preparing to exercise by gathering his robe and tucking it into his belt. We need minds that are disciplined, to work at focusing on our future hope. We need to be "sober-minded" ....to think clearly about reality, setting our hope on God and our future salvation, and not to be "drunk" on the priorities and promises of this world, but clear-sighted about who God is and all he gives. This requires mental effort.
. We will be "obedient" ( v 14 ). This means that we won't live as we did before we knew God and that we won't follow " evil desires ".We'll seek to be like God ....."holy" ....in all that we do ( v 15 - 16 ).
How does Peter motivate us to live in this way?
. v 17: By reminding us that God judges. One day we will have to give an account for everything we have done, thought and said ( see Matthew 12 v 33 - 37 ). Our deeds matter: one day we will have to explain our conduct to the one who can throw people into hell, and that ought to make us live with "fear" ( 1 Peter 1 v 17 )
. v 18 - 20: Primarily we are to conduct ourselves with gratitude. Peter reminds us of the cost of our redemption by using the theme of Israel's redemption from slavery in Egypt. ( see Exodus 12 ). We have been freed ( "ransomed", 1 Peter 1 v 18 ) from the emptiness of life without God, and with no future....and that cost the "precious blood of Christ" ( v 19 ), the perfect lamb. This was always God's plan ( v 20 ) and no divine afterthought. This planning of redemption for us by God should motivate us to pursue a life of holiness out of gratitude.
How do verses 17 - 19 help us to have our " hope.....in God" ( v 21 )?
Our biggest problem is facing God in judgment without being saved ( v 17 ); it is living our lives in emptiness, without purpose or future. ( v 18 ).Our only hope is in God working to save us from his judgment and free us from an empty way of life ....and that is exactly what he's done, at great cost, through Christ's death. ( v 18 - 19 ),so our future in heaven is assured.
Read 1 Peter v 22 - 2 v 3
How does Peter compare and contrast the way we are brought into a natural family, and the way we are brought into God's family ( v 23 - 25 )?
. We are brought into our natural family through procreation ( "seed", v 23 ), but into God's family through the "living and abiding word of God"......that is by obeying the gospel call to repent and believe.
. Every human family is "perishable".....that is it doesn't last forever. Being "born again " into God's family means that we are "imperishable".....this family lasts forever. Peter reinforces the point by quoting from Isaiah 40 v 6 - 8 in verses 24 - 25.
What is the great " family characteristic " we are to grow in ( v 22 )?
"Sincere brotherly love"......notice the familial wording ....a love that is "from a pure heart".
Read 1 John 1 v 7 - 11
How does our father both show us and motivate us to grow in our family likeness?
What has no place in God's imperishable family ( 2 v 1 )?
. Malice: the evil that carries with it hostility and the potential of causing harm.
. Deceit: concealing the truth to cause someone to believe something that isn't true.
. Hypocrisy: putting on a mask so that people think better of us than they would if the truth were known.
. Envy: rooted in covetousness, this is holding ill will towards someone because they have an apparent advantage over us.
. Slander: speaking evil of someone to bring them harm.
All of this represents evil against people; they are sins that harm relationships and destroy the community. Together they work against the command to "love one another deeply".
How do we grow as a member of this family ( v 2 - 3 )?
By craving "pure spiritual milk" ( v 2 ). Crave = to desire with great intensity. We are to crave pure spiritual milk as a newborn baby craves its mother's milk. Peter is saying that we will grow as Christians as we take in the word of God as "milk"...by reading scripture on our own, and together with other believers. As we have "tasted that the Lord is good" we want to experience more of his goodness by "drinking in " his word.....we get a taste for it!
To think about........
"I love Jesus but not the church" How would you use 1 v 22 - 2 v 3 to show someone that if we love Jesus, then we would really love his church?
. for the unchanging hope that comes from knowing God's grace.
. for the holiness of God.
.for the new birth that you have been given, and for the goodness of the Lord that you have tasted.
. that God would give you a real desire to be holy, as he is.
. for growing " sincere brotherly love " among your fellow believers.
. about your struggle to "put away sins" as mentioned by Peter in 2 v 1.
As usual, there will be a follow-up meeting to discuss this study which will be next Wednesday, July 30 at 11.00. Please note the change of day and time. This is a permanent change because Cameo will be restarting in the church hall on Thursdays; check All Saints website for details.
Next week we will be looking at 1 Peter 2 v 4 - 12 with the title "The Greatest Building".
In our own day, it is becoming increasingly difficult to live as a Christian. It feels more and more that we're exiles in a world we once called our own. Our culture seems to misunderstand, malign, and mock us more and more. Peter wants to show us that this is not strange........those who desire to live godly lives in this world will be persecuted. Christian suffering is normal.
Read 1 Peter 1 v 1 - 12
How does the apostle Peter describe the Christians in modern-day Turkey to whom he is writing ( v 1 )?
Elect......God's chosen people related to God because of his divine choice.
Exiles...Peter is using Old Testament imagery, of Israel, who were exiled to Babylon. We are foreigners in this world: we don't belong ....we are just passing through.
What does this tell us about how Peter wants us to view :
. our relationship with God? We belong to God because he has chosen to love us. No hardship, difficulty, or our failings can change this.
. our life in this world? We will be exiles, treated as strange and different, and even hated. ( see 1 John 15 v 18 - 19 ).We are sojourners ( 1 Peter 2 v 11). We will never belong or feel at home here.
What have the three Persons of the Trinity done for each Christian ( v 2 )?
. God the Father chose people. "according to his foreknowledge" .....which means he had planned to save his people before the creation of the world. Just as in the same way he planned to send his son. ( v 20 ),.
. The Spirit sanctified us . " for obedience to Jesus Christ. " Sanctification " means " set apart" for or "dedicated to ". Here it means that the Spirit sets apart those the Father has chosen "for obedience " to the gospel.....to repent of their sin and trust in Christ.
. We are able to repent and trust because of Jesus' sacrifice. We are sprinkled with Jesus' blood. As we learned in our studies in Exodus, this refers back to the animals sacrificed in the people of Israel's place. It was a sign that as God's covenant people they were forgiven through a sacrificial offering ( Exodus 24 v 8 ).
What has " the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ " done for his people ( v 3 - 4 )?
. He has caused us to be "born again".....we are now children of God with a new life and identity.
. This means that we have " a living hope". " Hope " in the bible is not a vague wish, but a certain expectation of a future event. This hope is grounded in the "resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ", which proves to us that we, like him, will enjoy life beyond death and that this hard life of trials and suffering is not all there is.......we will follow Christ through death and into life.
. Not only will we enjoy a future resurrection, but we will live in our future inheritance which is "imperishable, undefiled, and unfading". It is eternal, pure and perfect.
How could we and Peter's first readers know we will reach this inheritance ( v 5 ) Why is this encouraging?
God who keeps our inheritance secure in heaven ( v 4 )
also keeps his children going in faith until they reach this inheritance ( v 5 ). God's power shields through this life.....not from suffering, but from unbelief. It is wonderful and reassuring to know that we will reach heaven, not because of our strength, but because of God's power.
To think about: How do these verses encourage us to live for what we will have in the future, rather than what we could have in our present?
We are not to expect, demand, or desire a comfortable, wealthy, trouble-free, or popular life now. We won't be surprised or despair when troubles come and we have less than those around us in worldly terms. Our future is unimaginably better than anything this world can offer. All this inspires us to endure even the most oppressive circumstances on earth.
Read 1 Peter 1 v 6 - 12
How is it possible....and right.....for Christians to rejoice in trials ( v 6 - 9 )?
In verse 6, Peter is continuing his thought from verses 3 - 5.....we rejoice because we know we are chosen by God, kept by his power and heading for our wonderful inheritance. Whatever happens, we know we are walking toward the day when Christ is revealed and we will see the outcome of our faith .......the salvation of our souls (v 9).
Our joy does not fluctuate according to our circumstances, because our joy is rooted in God and in his salvation.....we know whose we are and where we are heading. Our faith is proven and refined through suffering ( v 7 ). As gold is put through fire to remove its impurities, so are believers. The goldsmith puts the impure gold into the fire again and again until he can see his face in it.......so with us, we are refined until our maker is seen is us; the presence of Jesus in our lives. Note here that we are not to masochistically rejoice in suffering for itself......but to rejoice in and despite suffering.
How is this different from how the world links trials and joy?
The world thinks that trials and suffering will diminish or destroy our joy, telling us that we need to avoid it, or ignore it, and get through it as quickly as we can......so that we might be joyful again. However Christians are different: we can be joyful in a trial knowing that our joy rests on knowing God, and being saved by him. A trial cannot remove these things .....and in that trial, we can see that our faith is truly genuine as, trusting in Christ, it endures during the hard times, which brings us joy as well.
How are believers who live after Christ's death and resurrection in a privileged position compared to ...........
. the Old Testament prophets (v 10 - 12 )?
Although the prophets predicted and pointed toward the coming Messiah, they did not know how he would achieve our salvation through his suffering and glory. We, along with Peter's readers of that time, live after Messiah's death and resurrection and can know exactly when and how Jesus has come to save us....something that Elijah, Isaiah and the other prophets could only have longed for........
. the angels in heaven( v 12 ) ?
It is only humans that God saves. Angels live in the presence of God in the throne room of heaven. They have witnessed the unfolding of God's plan of salvation and rejoice when a sinner repents ( Luke 15 v 10 ), but they will never experience God's salvation, and in this sense, they "long to look " into these things.
Use verse 3 - 5 to spend time praising God.
Pray for yourselves and those you know facing "various trials", that those difficulties would show you ( and them) the genuineness of your faith.
Rejoice that you have a sure and certain future!
The follow-up meeting to discuss this study will now be at 11.00 on Thursday, June 24 (please note the change of time) in the church hall, when we will be enjoying chatting over coffee; do join us!
Next weeks' study will be on 1 Peter 1 v 13 - 2 v 3 and is entitled "Loving Christ by Loving Your Church".
STUDIES IN 1 PETER
Crushed, overwhelmed, devastated, torn......these waves of feelings wash over all those who suffer, blinding all vision of hope and threatening to destroy them. Suffering has many forms......physical abuse, debilitating disease, social ostracism and persecution. The pain and anguish tempt a person to turn back; to give in.
Many first-century followers of Christ were suffering and being abused and persecuted for believing in and obeying Jesus. Beginning in Jerusalem at the hands of their Jewish brothers, the pattern of persecution spread to the rest of the world.......wherever Christians gathered ......and climaxed when Rome determined to rid the empire of those who would not bow to Caesar......the "Christ ones".
Peter knew persecution first hand. Beaten and imprisoned, Peter had been threatened often. He had seen fellow Christians die and the church scattered. However he knew Christ, and nothing could shake his confidence in his risen Lord. In this personal context, Peter wrote to the church scattered and suffering for the faith, giving comfort and hope, and urging continued loyalty to Christ............
.........so this letter was written to Jewish Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and all Christians everywhere.
Date Written.......about A.D. 62 - 64 possibly from Rome. The writer is in "Babylon" according to 1 Peter 5 v 13. This is highly unlikely as by this time Babylon had become a ramshackle old town on the river Euphrates, instead, this is probably a code for Rome.
Setting.........Peter was probably in Rome when the great persecution under Emperor Nero began. Eventually Peter was executed during this persecution.
So here is a letter written to churches like ours, about times such as ours......where the post-Christian societies many of us live in, are now very much like the pre-Christian society in which Peter's first-century Christians lived, seeking to serve their risen Lord and Master. We often encounter the reality of increased hostility toward anything Christian as the culture of our time is likely to discriminate against us simply because we identify with Christ.
What we need to learn from this letter........
. to be enabled to face the reality of following Christ and obeying what he commands makes us different......we are aliens and strangers in a foreign land.
. to learn how to endure unjust suffering in a society where Christianity is unwelcome.
. to remember what the identity and purpose of our local churches are in communities that see them as irrelevant.
. to learn how to live with joy, hope and love when we are mocked, maligned and misunderstood because of what we believe and how we live.
. to be reminded of the "true grace of God " in which we can, and must, "stand firm"1 Peter 5 v 12.
These next six studies, followed by a conclusion, will excite, reassure and challenge you about your life now, as Peter shows you how to live well on the way home to your heavenly inheritance that is "imperishable, undefiled, and unfading" 1 Peter 1 v 4.
Read Isaiah 52 v 13 - 53 v 12. This is the well known "suffering servant " passage.
How does this prophecy point forwards to "the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories"?
. His sufferings : 52 v 14 ; 53 v 1 - 9.
. His glories : 52 v 13, 1 ; 53 v 10 - 12.
As we begin our study in 1 Peter 1 next week, think about.......
What trials are you facing right now? What grief are you experiencing?
You do not have to ignore it or seek to belittle it; but neither must you despair in it or be crushed by it. If you have trusted in Christ, God is at work in your life, and he will not waste your suffering. Keep trusting in Christ and keep loving Jesus. Remember the living hope you have and the inheritance that you will enjoy. Look at how God has guarded you through your trials and know that God is refining your faith in those trials ........and rejoice!
In what way do you need to apply this encouragement? Is there someone who needs you to share it with them?
Praise God for this letter and for its relevance for us today.
Pray for God's help in the various trials that you are facing.
Praise God that he has promised to be with you and support you through those trials.
Pray that God will speak to you as we read and study this letter in the next few weeks.
There will be a follow-up discussion on this study on Thursday, June 17 at 10.00 in the church hall as usual....followed by coffee.
We begin our study in earnest reading 1 Peter v 1 - 12 with the title "Certain future, joyful present" which will be online on Saturday, June 19.
Many thanks as always to our churchwarden Mike Buitekant who is responsible for all the hard work on the church website where you will find all the bible studies, both current and archived.