Suffering For Righteousness Sake

Scripture: I Peter 3:13-17 {CSB}

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. — 1 Peter 3:13-17 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

Peter understands something that a great many do not understand today: we are all going to suffer. When I say that, I mean Christians. Paul said to young Timothy– “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Our suffering is not an “if” but a “when.” Christians are called to suffer. We are going to suffer one way or the other: we can suffer for doing wrong or we can suffer for doing what is right. In terms of community and civil authority, those who do right suffer the least but in God’s kingdom, those who do right often suffer the most and Jesus is the prime example. Jesus did nothing but good. He never sinned, not even once. No one on this earth could accuse Him of sin and yet He suffered more than anyone. This world rejected and hated Christ because He was good, not because He was bad.

When I came to this part of the country 40 years ago, I had a deacon who worried himself to death about my unpopularity. He liked me and he wanted everyone to like me. Of course, I offended some people right off the bat and I had folks who despised me, almost from day one. I was aware of my approval ratings but I did not give it a lot of consideration. I told him time and again, “Jesus did not die of old age. He was crucified by folks who hated Him.” Somehow, this truth never sunk in.

Folks, we are not in a popularity contest. We do not seek the world’s approval. Yes, you may suffer less by conforming to their standards: Peter tried this himself. He tried following Jesus from a distance; even denying a relationship with HIM and Peter did all of this to protect himself from the vicious scorn that was being poured out of Jesus. The closer to Jesus you walk, the more you will suffer the scorn and contempt the world has for HIM. But when Peter tried this, he was tormented in his conscience and he had no peace. So pick your poison. The point is: you suffer either way you go so why not suffer for the right things and have peace.

TRANSITION: So Peter is giving these persecuted believers a format or guide on HOW TO RESPOND TO MISTREATMENT.

1. REMEMBER YOU ARE BLESSED

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed.

Jesus said…Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {Matthew 5:10}

As a matter of fact in the next verse, Jesus says, You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me.

How is it that Peter says we are “Blessed.” Who is the source of our blessings? Who has the ability to bless us most? God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, is pleased when we suffer for righteousness and He will bless us for doing the right thing.

2. REFRAIN FROM PANIC…don’t be intimidated!

The devil is a playground bully, he loves to threaten and intimidate. This is his game. Anytime we give in to fear or to his empty threats, we are destined to fail. The classic example is Elijah verse Jezebel [devil]. She send him a threatening message and he fled the country which is exactly what she wanted. We cannot panic.

Actually Peter is quoting Isaiah 8:13-14….where king Ahaz is panicing

12 Do not call everything a conspiracy these people say is a conspiracy. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified.
13 You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy. Only He should be feared; only he should be held in awe.
14 He will be a sanctuarybut for the two houses of Israel, he will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, — Isaiah 8:12-14 (CSB)

Isaiah’s message to Ahaz is clear: “You are fearing the wrong object, stop being afraid of these people and fear God. Give Him regard as the LORD of the Armies. Only He should be feared or awed. A man fearing spirit will lead to compromise and failure. Don’t give in to intimidation. Folks it is going to happen. People are going to try to manipulate you by using intimidating tactics. I have had at least three people to make a vow, to my face, to ruin me if I did not consent to their desires. I even had one to pronounce a curse on me. We cannot give into threats. If we do, we will be follwing Satan and not Christ.

3. REGARD CHRIST THE LORD AS HOLY.

14…Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy.

Isaiah’s point to Ahaz was simple: Look to Yahweh and Him alone. Stop focusing on your enemies [Israel and Syria] or your false friends {Assyria}. Ahaz was doing what men commonly do, He was leaving God out of the equation. He wasn’t giving Jehovah any consideration.

4. BE READY TO GIVE A DEFENSE

Be ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.

The Greek word for ‘defense’ is ä-po-lo-gē’-ä and you don’t have to be a scholar to recognize this is the root of our word apology and from this word we get ‘apologetics’ which is the defense of our faith. Appolos was probaly not the first but he was the most renown of the time. Paul was also an apoligist. Both he and Apollos could take the O.T. Scripture and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Of course, the greatest of our time is C.S. Lewis. But Peter is not directing this statement to brillant minds like Lewis, he is talking to every day, run of the mill, believers like you and me.

If there is one area where I have really dropped the ball, it is here. I have been attempting to witness for Christ for over 50 years and I’m still {sad to say} not very effective. Other than being lazy and missing opts to share my faith, my biggest problem is to slow down, relax and listen to the person I am sharing with. I entertain no illusion that I have the gift of evangelism and I have failed many times to be gentle or show respect. I have even been known to argue in my earlier days. I had a man tell me some years ago, to get off his property, that he was not interested in anything I had to say. I should have graciously dismissed myself, got in my vehicle and drove away but no, I had to have the last word…”You are not interested in knowing the way to heaven…and then I quoted John 14:6 before he had time to get his gun.” At the time, I thought I was planting seed but it is more likely that I reinforced his bias against Christians.

5. RETAIN A GOOD CONSCIENCE

Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.

Paul said to Timothy {I Timothy 1:19} Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

What a wonderful analogy: the Conscience is the ships hull and faith is the cargo. If you rupture your conscience, your faith will leak out. But there are a couple of other things in the hull of your conscience and they are COURAGE and PEACE. We have to stay up to date on our repentance and confession because we need a good conscience.

The bible does speak of:

  1. Good Conscience {I Tim. 1:5}
  2. A Clear Conscience {I Tim. 3:9}
  3. A Defiled Consicience {Tit. 1:15}
  4. An Evil Conscience {Heb. 10:22}
  5. A Seared Conscience {I Tim. 4:2}
Advertisements

Preparing For The Best

Scripture: I Peter 3:8-12, CSB

8 Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.

10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.

INTRODUCTION

Peter begins this section with the Greek word ‘telos’ which means to ‘sum up.’ It is translated in the CSB as ‘finally.’ Swindoll says that Peter is going back and giving us a summary of the Christian virtues he has been teaching. Since so many of you are familiar with the KJV, I will give you that list first:

  • Be ye all of one mind
  • Having compassion one of another
  • Love as brethren
  • Be pitiful
  • Be courteous
  • Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing
  • But contrariwise blessing

The CSB

  • Be like-minded
  • Be sympathetic
  • Be loving
  • Be compassionate
  • Be humble
  • Be forgiving {not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult}
  • Be a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.

So tonight, we will take each virtue and unpack it.

  1. BE LIKE-MINDED: Unity is not uniformity, where everyone looks an acts the same. We all have a different set of spiritual gifts and we are members of one body but we don’t all have the same function. Remember what Paul said in I Corinthians…12:12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ….18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. So Peter is not talking about unison but Harmony. Unison is everyone singing the same eact note, harmony is different notes but the same tune. What Peter is talking about is having ONE SINGLE PURPOSE and that is obedience to Jesus Christ, the Head and Savior of the Body.
  2. BE SYMPATHIC. The Greek word here is very similiar to our English, it is ‘sympatheis’ and it literally means to ‘feel with.’ It literally means we care about each other. Again the human body serves as a good illustration. What happens when you get something in your eye, does it affect the other members of your body? Of course it does, the hand responds immediately and so do the fingers. When we are like minded with Christ as Paul says in I Corinthians 2:16, we feel each others pain. We also celebrate with each other.
  3. BE LOVING: The Greek word here is the same word from which we get Philadelphia; it is the Greek word for brotherly love. It is more than casual fellowship, it is deep affection for each other. I woke up one morning this week with the church on my mind and so I got up and began my bible reading: the verse that really spoke to me was I Corinthians 16:13-14, Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous be strong. Do everything in love. I am very honest and very direct, that can be a virtue but it can also be an excuse. There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth but the scripture exhorts us to speak the truth in love. I got up from bed seeking direction and this is where God lead me. I don’t desire confrontation but I stop running from it years ago. We never solve our problems by running away but in Kingdom work, we don’t solve them with the truth alone; we must love each other amidst our differences.
  4. BE COMPASSIONATE: No this is not the same word as ‘sympathy’, it is the same word used in Ephesians 4:32, my mother’s favorite verse in the bible…And be kind and compassionate [KJV, tenderhearted’] to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. This is a heartfelt compassion that is closely associated with forgiveness [as we will see later].
  5. BE HUMBLE: this is not false or fake humility [which is sickening]. It is certainly not self-pity which is the flip side of Pride. This is a learned humility that comes with failure {like Peter}. It is the ability to put others before yourself. Paul told the Philippians… Make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. — Philippians 2:2-4 (CSB) Humility is not thinking little of yourself, it is not thinking of yourself period.
  6. BE FORGIVING: [V.9] Don’t pay back evil for evil or insult for insult. God said through Moses…“Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay.” Again, the LORD speaks through Isaiah the prophet…“Look, it is written in front of me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will repay them fully for your iniquities and the iniquities of yourfathers together,” says the LORD. [Isaiah 65:6-7] Jeremiah reminded the Jews that God would repay their enemies…“Before your very eyes, I will repay Babylon and all the residents of Chaldea for all their evil they have done in Zion.” [Jeremiah 51:24] Then Moses is quoted twice in the NT… Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. [Romas 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30]
  7. BE A BLESSING: [V.9] Giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing. Then Peter quotes Psalm 34…

10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.

CONCLUSION

The last two virtues, BE FORGIVING and BE A BLESSING go together. Unless we are willing to forgive, we will not be a blessing. Unforgiveness will sap your joy and keep you from loving life and seeing good days. Sin has taken its toll on the entire human race: we have all been hurt by sin–there is no exception. We have all been the victims of injustice at one time or another. BUT, those of us who cling to GRACE have given justice to the LORD. We make no attempt to even the score–we leave that to God. This is why we enjoy life. We do not assume a responsibility that is not ours.

Take a look at history: has the LORD been faithful to take care of Israel’s enemies? Yes or no? You know it is a firm YES.

As I look back over 50 years of serving churches, there have been a lot of hurts, a lot of painful experiences but now I laugh about them. They were not pleasant at the time but I never tried to settle the score and it all worked out for my good. God has never failed to avenge me, not once. I could tell you story after story.

God will and is avenging the death of His Son. You and I don’t need to concern ourselves with His system of justice…The LORD can handle without our help.

Now you can turn a deaf ear to what I am saying and you can try to expidite God’s judgment but if you do, you will destroy any chance of having a good and blessed life.

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watch maker and friend to the Jews. She and her family help many Jews escape the Nazi death camps but eventually, they were found out and arrested. Her father was murdered by the Nazi’s and she and her sister Betsey were put in  Ravensbruck, a death camp. While there Corrie was treated with contempt. Her sister Betsy was not strong enough to survive and Corrie was discharged because of a clerical error one week before all the women in the camp were executed. After the war, Corrie traveled the world as an advocate for Christ. She was speaking in a church [in Europe I suppose] when she spotted one of the Nazi guards in the congregation. Her heart almost stopped as all the horrors of that death camp flooding her mind. “What am I going to do LORD?” She prayed. “What if that man approaches me after the service? What am I going to do? What if he extends his hand in fellowship? His presence in the service was upsetting but she made it through. Sure enough, the guard approached her after the service and put out his hand with an apology. He told her his behavior was unforgiveable but that God had forgiven him and he wanted her forgiveness also. It was a hard moment for Corrie as she thought about forgiving this horrible man but the Spirit of grace in her finally moved her to extend her hand and her forgiveness.

Later Corrie said, “I learned to give my pain to the LORD. I would picture it as a rose and lay it at the feet of Jesus.” You can hold on to your pain if you want but you will forfiet any chance of having a blessed life.

We Don’t Know

 

Scripture Text: John 14:1-6

1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 
3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 
4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 
5 “No, we don’t know, Lord, Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 

Introduction

I really identify with two of Jesus disciples; Peter [because I am impetuous] and Thomas because I am a doubter. Thomas was honest about his doubts and those things that he did not understand. He said, LORD, “We don’t know the way. We have no idea where You are going or how to get there.”

Folks there is so much I do not know:

  • I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.
  • I don’t know why the innocent suffer.
  • I don’t know why some die young and others live to be old.
  • I don’t know why some seem to lead care-free lives and others have a difficult time.

But there are some things I do know and they require little are no faith:

I. I KNOW WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL
Eccl. 8:8–None of us have the power to prevent the day of death.

I. I KNOW LIFE IS SHORT

  • Moses said–Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.
  • Job said–“How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.”
  • David said–LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. 
  • James said–Life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 

III. I KNOW THAT WE LIVE IN A FALLEN WORLD

IV. I KNOW THERE IS A GOD IN HEAVEN [Infinite, sovereign, good]

  • Romans 6:23–The wages of sin is death. We die because we are sinners.
  • Romans 5:12–When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

IV. EVERYONE NEEDS A SAVIOR

  • The bible says in I Thessalonians 5:23 that we are body, soul and spirit. PROBLEM: we take care of our body’s needs and even our soul but we neglect the spirit.

Conclusion

There is one thing I have to accept by faith and that is–God loves me. Now I do believe that He loves me because the bible tells me so. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. God’s love is more than a feeling, it is a fact. By trusting God’s word, I have assurance that I am loved.

I talked with John last Monday and told him I would be here today. John didn’t call back every few hours and say, “Are you coming Bro. Jack?” Because he took me at my word. If we can trust a man, surely, we can trust God.

 

 

Wedlock or Deadlock

1 Peter 3 New Living Translation (NLT)

Wives

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives.

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.

Husbands

7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

INTRODUCTION

Since it has been a while between messages; let me remind you that Peter is giving these believers instruction and encouragement on SUBMITTING TO AUTHORITY which has always been a sensitive issue. Tonight, it will get even more sensitive as we talk about SUBMISSION IN MARRIAGE.

I want to encourage everyone to relax, take a deep breath and remember that this is the LORD’s instruction to us, not my instruction to you. Tonight’s subject has been totally misunderstood by our present culture. SUBMISSION is not a bad word. Mr. Webster says that Submission is the condition of being submissive, humble or compliant…an act of submitting to the authority or control of another. The Greek word means to make oneself a subject to another. In other words, it is exercising the humility to serve another. It is a word that fits Christ who is our ultimate example in submission [Philippians 2:3-8]

In our present culture, we have more information on marriage and more self-helps than ever before in the history of mankind and yet divorce is epidemic. What is the problem? Well, I think it is safe to say, it is not due to lack of information but lack of understanding and one of the most misunderstood concepts is SUBMISSION and God’s order for the home. If I were on TV tonight, this message would ignite a media fire storm; that is how misunderstood this subject is.

I. FIRST MISCONCEPTION: MARRIAGE IS A BED OF ROSES

Chuck Swindoll tells about the couple who got married, got in a buggy or carriage to leave for their overnight room before leaving for their honeymoon and a few hundred feet from the church, the bride took the reins because she didn’t think a lot of the husbands driving and they were fighting before they could reach their cabin. A WEDDING is one thing, MARRIAGE is another. Good marriages don’t just happen. They are the product of hard work and sacrifice.

Peter begins this teaching with instructions to the wives of unsaved husbands. When we marry a lost person, our marriage begins with a major problem which explains why Paul told us not to marry unbelievers. Peter here, is exhorting wives with unsaved husbands to be submissive so that they can reach their husbands with a gentle and quiet spirit.

These unbelieving husbands will be won by what they see, not what they hear. We can’t nag people into the kingdom of God. The better question might be: what kind of woman does it take to reach a lost man?

  1. Submissiveness
  2. Pure
  3. Reverent
  4. Inward Beauty
  5. Gentle Spirit

Let me remind you that marriage is a test to see if we can be faithful, loyal and true. This is a part of our stewardship training for the next life.

Let’s talk for a moment about what Peter is not saying

  1. He is not saying that a woman should hag it up. He is not talking about hair rollers, sweat pants and no make up. He is not saying that it is wrong to wear make up or to fix your hair any more than he is saying don’t wear clothes. It is OK for a woman to fix herself up but she must understand that real beauty comes from the heart not the store.  Your character is more important than your appearance. Don’t rely on externals, eventually they will fail you.
  2. He is not saying that a woman is to submit to anything her husband asked. We don’t submit to any authority when we are asked to violate God’s laws and principles. Peter makes it clear in verse 6 that we are not to be intimidated. We are not to submit out of fear. SUBMISSION is the true sense of the word is voluntary. No one forced Christ to submit: He did it voluntarily. Submission is a choice, you can either submit or not submit.
  3. He is not saying that it will always be easy. Submission is costly. It is not always easy. Peter uses Sarah as an example. Some have used the argument, “Sure, it was easy for her, she was married to a Saint.” Evidently, you have not read your bible. Twice Abraham lied about his relationship with Sarah to protect his own hide. Plus, he comes in one day and tells her God has asked for their son and he is going to sacrifice him. Plus he moves every few months. He refuses to settle anywhere.

II. THE SECOND MISCONCEPTION IS THE TERM “WEAKER VESSEL” [V.7]

  • The most literal translation of this verse is the NASB…You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
  • The NIV and CSB translate it weaker partner. There is no word for ‘Vessel’ or ‘Partner’ in the Greek.
  • The NLT offers some explanation: In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

Peter is definitely referring to ‘physical weakness’ and nothing else. God made the man to be stronger physically. Are there exceptions? Sure, we have women weight lifters. I have a grand-daughter who won a weight lifting competition last Saturday. Am I happy about this? No! I have known women who wanted to prove that they could do anything a man could include arm wrestle. Personally, I am not attracted to women who lift weights. I don’t want to live with a woman who can beat me up. All Peter is saying is that normally, the man is physically stronger than the woman which can make intimidation a temptation for the man.

Equality is a misunderstood word: no two people are equal, to be so, they would have to be clones. We have to face the facts, some are more intelligent than others, some are more athletically inclined than others. There is no such thing as equality among men, let alone the sexes. In many ways, men are inferior to women. We can’t carry a baby on our hip for hours. We don’t cook and wash dishes as well–just kidding. I say they to get your attention but seriously, there are many ways in which a female is superior.

  • Women are more intuitive than men.
  • Women can operate from both sides of the brain: they can multi-task.
  • Women are more sensitive. Try getting a man to listen and understand what you are saying, or feeling.

Peter is not saying that women are inferior, he is saying they are different and I say, Praise the LORD for it! Personally, I have no desire to be like women. I am not about to match my intuitive skills with my wife because I am going to lose. I don’t play checkers with her for the same reason. I’m not going to work on my multi-tasking skills so I can be like her, it will not work and I’m not wasting my effort. She and I are different and I celebrate the difference.

Actually men and women were not made alike. Adam is the clay man, he was made from red dust. A man is dirt, water and breath but the woman was made from the man, not from dirt, not directly. God created the man but He fashioned the woman. In other words, He spent more time on her and it shows. Some have explained this difference by using Gold and Iron. The man is iron, he is harder and stronger but the woman is gold, she is purer and more valuable. There is something wrong when Gold wants to become Iron but we live in a sin cursed fallen world where values are inverted. Our society scoffs at righteousness and praises immorality. We promote the killing of innocent children and protest the slaughter of animals for food.

III. THE THIRD MISCONCEPTION IS GOD’S ORDER FOR THE HOME

Paul said in Ephesians 5:22-23, Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. [this truth is also stated in 1 Cor. 11:3] God does everything decently and in order [1 Cor. 14:40] God created three institution to make life meaningful: [1] The Home [2] Government [3] Church and He created them is this order. Everything in His creation is about ORDER and AUTHORITY. The goal of communism is to destroy one and three, the home and the church and make GOVERNMENT supreme but this is not God’s way and it will not work.

Not only did He create these three INSTITUTIONS, He designed them to have ORDER and AUTHORITY within the institution itself. Take the HOME for example: He created the man first, then the woman or wife, and then the children, in that order. The man is to be the head of the wife and both are in authority over the children. NOTE: everyone except the children are IN AUTHORITY and UNDER AUTHORITY. I Corinthians 11:3, But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.

God would not establish such an ORDER if it were not for the good of mankind. Everything He does is to make your life better. Can you imagine life without a home, government [law and order] and your church? A husband has some authority but he does not have “all authority”, that has been given to Christ. A little child asked me one day [WEE Care], “Bro. Jack, do you have a boss?” I said, “I sure do, His name is Jesus” I use to have a bumper sticker on my truck, “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter.” ANYONE WHO REBELS AGAINST GOD’S SYSTEM OF AUTHORITY IS GOING TO SUFFER MISERY.

Perhaps you are doubting me. Don’t doubt me, what Peter said last is true…Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. Some men do it but for some reason I can’t, I cannot mistreat my wife and then get up here and preach because I cannot preach if I cannot pray. The last thing I want is for may prayers to be hindered. You can doubt me if you want and you can doubt Peter but I don’t.

 

Overwhelming Grace

SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:20-24

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

INTRODUCTION

Today, we come back to the heart of Luke 15 and to the heart of the FATHER. Jesus told this story because the Jews had a twisted view of God. Jesus is trying to convey a truth that the Pharisees and Scribes don’t understand: God is a loving God full of compassion, just like this father WHO OVERWHELMED HIS SON WITH GIFTS OF GRACE.

TRANSITION

Today I want to jump right into the message with no introduction

I. I WANT TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO THE GIVER OF THE GIFTS

  • Yes God the heavenly Father is Holy and He cannot be touched or tempted by sin. Sin must be dealt with. We can’t sweep it under a rug.
  • But He is also good, good to all [this father was good to both sons].
  • He is filled with love and compassion. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. He gets no kick out of the condemnation of a sinner.
  • He longs to forgive, He anxiously awaits our repentance.
  • His heaven rejoices over the repentance of ONE sinner and today, that could be you!
  • He is Gracious and Good, the giver of all good things. We are never more like Him than when we are giving.
  • There is no celebration is heaven today over our good deeds: heaven celebrates when we repent. The Pharisees never brought any joy to Jesus.

II. SECONDLY: THE GIFTS

  1. The RECEPTION…the hug, kiss, the affection and forgiveness
  2. The ROBE…the robe was the best garment in the house, reserved for special guest and dignitaries. Thus the Father is treating his son like a king.
  3. The RING…the ring is a signet ring. It is both a symbol of authority and status. The signet ring was the equivalent to a CREDIT CARD. It had the family crest on it and could be used to purchase property or to consummate a business transaction. It was a big deal.
  4. The SANDALS…Slaves did not wear shoes. This practice is not that ancient. There is an old black spiritual called, “All God’s Children Got Shoes.” You might say the shoes were a symbol of freedom.
  5. The PARTY…The fated calf was reserved for a special occasion. Again, the Father is treating the son as though he had never sinned.

III. THIRDLY: THE GRACE BEHIND THE GIFTS

  • The thing that stunned the Pharisees who are listening to the story is that justice is not served: the boy deserved a beating, not a party.
  • Why would the Father give lavish gifts to a man who was so undeserving?

Understand today: that the Father is this story is our Heavenly Father. When the prodigal came home, he came rehearsing a speech but he never got to finish his speech because his father interrupted him and started giving him gift after gift and not a single gift was deserved. Everything was GRACE. Before the boy can finish his confession, bang, bang, bang, the Father is giving him gifts. The kid had to be OVERWHELMED. He got run over by a truck load of GRACE. He had to be stunned by His father’s kindness. This was not what the boy expected: gift after gift–grace upon grace. I know how the boy feels. TODAY I AM OVERWHELMED BY GOD’S GRACE. I am stunned by HIS INFINITE GOODNESS.

CONCLUSION

I am telling you today, if you will come to the FATHER, the way the younger son came to his father, humble, broken and repentant, confessing your sin…You too will be overwhelmed by His grace. NOTE: the prodigal did not return blaming his older brother or his father but himself.

I read this story many years ago and cannot remember the reference but a woman of renown and prestige decided to join a local church in her city. She thought it would be good for her reputation and her business interest. When she came for membership [during the invitation] she told the pastor, “I want to join this church.” He said, “That is good but first you need assurance of your salvation: have you been saved?” The woman didn’t understand so the pastor said, “Have you repented of your sins and trusted Christ for forgiveness?” This offended the dear lady. “I have no sins to repent of,” she said. The pastor shocked her with these words, “Then, madam, you may as well return to your seat because I cannot help you.” Angry, hurt and embarrassed, she returned to her seat but she was not happy with the outcome. The more she thought about it the more angry she became. So she marched down the aisle for a second time but this time demanding that the pastor present her for membership. Again, he refused and sent her back to her seat. Then a miracle of grace happened, her anger turned to sorrow. The Spirit of God convicted her and she began to weep. She walked the aisle for the third time but this time she told the pastor, “I am a sinner. God has convicted me and I want to repent.” The pastor smiled and said, “Now, I can help you.”

There is nothing anyone can do to help an unrepentant sinner other than pray for them.

Suffering For Christ’s Sake

1 Peter 2:13-25, NLT 

13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 
14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 
17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. 
18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 
19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 
20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 
24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 
25 Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

NASB

Submit yourselves for the LORD’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him [the king] for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor [not worship] the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good to and gentle, but also those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. WHO [Christ] committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to HIM who judges righteously, and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

INTRODUCTION

In our last message, we talked about submitting to authority. Before the flood, there was no such thing as government. God sent the flood because anarchy was destroying mankind. Noah had no institution or power to protect him or his family. After the flood, God instituted Government. We find this in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.” This is the basis of our capital punishment laws. Human life is to be protected by the State.

There are three basic institutions that God has ordained to make life blessed: The FAMILY, the GOVERNMENT and the CHURCH. Everyone of these institution is maintained by authority and order. Families have fathers, Governments have kings and such, and the church has pastors. God leads these ordained institutions through these ordained leaders. You must understand that technically speaking Christ is the head of all three but He leads familes through the father, governments through the kings, presidents or whatever and church through the pastors.

The QUESTION before us tonight: does there come a time when legally and morally, we have a right to rebel against these God ordained authorities? Are we to blindly obey our leaders?

First of all tonight: let’s talk about the things we know for sure…

  1. We know that God has called us to suffer {v.21}…For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. [1] Suffering enhances our witness [2] The key component in our sanctification.
  2. We know that God ordained Authority for the good of mankind. Anarchy is brutal; we do not want anarchy. Anything beats anarchy. {v.14} For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 
  3. We also know that rebellion is most instances is evil. The devil is a rebel. We know for sure, we do not want to rebel against God.
  4. We know that God is not honored when we clammor constantly about our “Rights.” God doesn’t want us to be selfish and always looking our for our best interest. He wants us to deny our personal rights for the benefit of others. God is pleased when we suffer for others sake.

NOW, LET’S ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

  1. Can a husband/father become an abusive bully?
  2. Can a king/govenment become a tyrant? One who enslaves and punishes the righteous.
  3. Can a pastor become a dictator?
  4. Can authority be abused and misused? If so, what are we to do?

NOW, LETS LOOK AT THESE QUESTION IN LIGHT OF OUR PRESENT CULTURE

  1. Paul told the Thessalonians that before Christ returned, there would be an age of REBELLION and sometimes I wonder if we are in it. {II Thes. 23} During this age, there will be a “spirit of lawlessness,” which will produce horror. I don’t think there is any doubt that we see this “spirit of lawlessness” at work today.
  2. Paige Patterson is under attack for telling about a woman he counseled years ago. He advised her to stay with an abusive husband, which she did, and to my knowledge the story had a happy ending, but the press got wind of the story and now Patterson is catching so much heat from the left that he has canceled his speaking engagements.
  3. We know that God doesn’t want us to imulate the spirit of rebellion or to act in the likeness of the antichrist or devil but does this scripture imply that Christians are to take all manor of abuse. Are we do become the doormats of society?
  4. Thomas Jefferson and all our founding father spent hours discussing the tyranny of King George. They understood the gravity of the moment and gave lots of thought and prayer to their decison to revolt. Jefferson said, The two enemies of the people are Criminals and Government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so that the second will not become a legalized version of the first.
  5. These men studied the bible carefully and the last thing they wanted was to rebel against God. Could they rebel against King George without rebelling against God?
  6. They believed that God ordained government in lieu of anarchy: they firmly believed that God opposes anarchy, rebellion, lawlessness and wickedness and that He ordained government to be a terror to the evil doer but a protector of the righteous. So they made a distinction between government and it’s leaders.
  7. How could these men have formed the greatest Republic in the history of mankind had they been anti-government?
  8. They cited scriptual models to support their belief: Moses, Gideon, Ehud, Jepthah, Samson and Deborah…They believed that tyranny can be opposed without one being opposed to government.
  9. The Founding Fathers, all of which were students of scripture clearly believed that they were not in rebellion against God but they were standing up to tyranny and protecting their individual lives and liberty. The bible has always granted man the right to defend himself and his property.
  10. They believed…Rebellion to Tyrants was obedience to God. Of course to the British, we are rebels just as we are referred to as rebels by our catholic friends. You will not hear an old school Catholic use the term Reformation, they will always use the word Rebellion.

CONCLUSION

So how do we conclude. Jesus gave his life voluntarily but He gave protection to His disciples at the same time. He even told them to arm themselves {Luke 22:36}…And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. If you have the grace to suffer redemptively and you choose to do so, I have no problem, only admiration. My problem comes when we do not give protection to those around us and for those who do not have the stamina to endure abuse without it destroying their soul.

Lostness

Scripture: Luke 15:1-10, NLT

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 
2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! 
3 So Jesus told them this story: 
4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 
5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 
6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 
7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! 
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 
9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 
10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” 

INTRODUCTION

The Key to understanding Luke 15 is found in the first two verses: Jesus loved sinners, He even ate with them and this infuriated the Jewish Religious Establishment. These Jewish Religious Leaders believed that God hated sinners and could not wait to punish them. Jesus was God and yet He loved sinners; He came to seek and to save the LOST [Luke 19:10]. To reinforce this truth, that God loves sinners and wants to save them, not condemn them, Jesus told three stories. 

Transition

Today we are going to look at what these stories have in common. There are four things that each story has in common:
  1. In each story, something or someone is LOST. [Sheep, Coin, Son]
  2. In each story, that which is lost has VALUE. [Livestock, Money, Person]
  3. In each story, there is someone who CARES about the lost. [Shepherd, Woman, Father]
  4. In each story, there is a CELEBRATION once the lost are recovered.

We will cover number 4 in a later message: today we are going to focus on the first three AND we are going to combine 2-3 which means our sermon has two major points

I. IN EACH STORY SOMETHING IS LOST

  1. First, there is a lost SHEEP.
    • How did the sheep get lost? {Sheep wandered or just took its focus off of the shepherd. The sheep went astray {Isaiah 56:3}
    • What did it mean for the sheep to be lost? The sheep was more than disoriented, more than separated from the shepherd and flock, the sheep was in a POSITION OF PERIL or extreme danger. {Hell and Judgment}
  2. There is the lost COIN.
    • How did the coin get lost? It is an inantimate object, it could not lose itself. It was lost due to human carelessness, human error.
    • The coin did nothing to get lost. {David in Psalm 51:5, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. NLT,  I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 
    • What do you have to do to be lost? Nothing, it is our default setting. We are lost due to human errror, the error of our grandparents Adam and Eve.
  3. The Lost SON. The Sheep probably wandered, the coin was a victim of human error but the Son was lost because he chose to be lost.
    • There are those who are like the sheep: they know they are lost but they have no idea how to be found. They feel afraid and helpless. They long for the Shepherd to find them.
    • There are some like the coin, they don’t even know they are lost. They need a revelation, a light.
    • There are those like the Son, they are lost, they know they are lost and they have no intention of repenting because they are dead set in living life their way even if that means living in rebellion against God.

II. IN EACH STORY, THE LOST HAS VALUE TO SOMEONE IS PARTICULAR

  1. The lost Sheep has a caring Shepherd. I’m sure you may have noticed the progression: livestock, money, people. The sheep was probably worth about $20, the coin $100 and the Son of course priceless. The sheep might not be that valuable to some but to the shepherd, he was highly valued. {My daddy and his cows}
  2. Coins have little value today but in ancient times, all money was in coins. Even we in America once had valuable coins like a $20 gold piece. So we are not talking about a quarter or a dime. Think of it as a hundred dollar bill. How many of you womem, would turn on the lights and search for a $100 bill?
  3. Then there is the lost Son. Now we are talking about a human being created in God’s image. You cannot put a price tag on a human. This story has a strange twist to it, the FATHER, who we loved the son more than the Shepherd loved the sheep or the woman the coin, did not go in search of His Son. Why? Did he not care? We can coherse fear, we can make someone fear us but we cannot make another human being love us. The Father allowed his son to rebel, to show disrespect, to go to a far country. But he was always at home, waiting, praying, watching for his son’s return.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter why you are lost or who’s fault it is: what matter is that you be found. Since you are a human being, you have to decide for yourself, you have to repent and turn from your selfish ways just like the prodigal. God is the LOVING FATHER who waits for your return.

We know that God is holy, He revealed Himself to Moses as the Holy God, A consuming fire and in CHRIST we have a greater revelation: God is LOVE. You may think He cannot be both but He is can and is: He hates sin but He loves sinners. THIS IS THE GOSPEL TRUTH.

I want to close with a story about Beth. She was a little 8 year old girl in our WEE Care program and she was acting out to the point that all the worker were frustrated and exasperated. They brought Beth to me to see if I could help; she was one strike away from being expelled. It took me a while to get Beth to open up but finally she told me about the fear she had and I am sure this fear was the motivation of her misbehavior. Beth father had abandoned them when she was six; leaving her, her 4 year old brother and her mom. Beth got up one morning and he was there and she had not seen him since. Her mom was very young; she had children before she was mature enough to be a parent. She was also lonely and she had been inviting male friends to their trailor. Beth was horrified by the prospects. She told me, “I’m afraid me and my brother will wake up one morning and mom will be gone just like dad.” Beth was a beautiful little girl but she acted like a beast and no one wanted to be around her: what was I to tell this 8 year old child. I tried to reassure Beth of her Mothers love but then I told Beth–“I can guarantee you that you are loved unconditionally by Jesus and He will never abandon you.” I wish I could have guaranteed her Mother’s love but I couldn’t but I could guarantee the love of Jesus. He loves you, He died for you and He longs to be your best friend. Would you repent of your sin today and trust Him as your Savior.

Under Suspicion

Scripture: I Peter 2:11-17

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners {1and pilgrims {2}, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 
12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 
14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men– 
16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 
17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 
  1. Paroikos–a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship; a none citizen. From another people.
  2. Parepidēmos–one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives. A sojourner, stranger,  or foreigner. From another country.

INTRODUCTION

In this passage, Peter reminds his readers that they are STRANGERS and FOREIGNERS to the pagans who live around them. The two words Peter uses are very similar: one means “not from our house or people” and the other means “not from our country.” The point is clear: As followers of Christ, we do not fit into the culture. We are different; our values are different. Our sights are set on heaven but the world doesn’t think beyond the present world system. 


This means, we live under constant scrutiny. We are under suspicion. The world thinks we are weird. It’s like the story Vance Havner use to tell…A man went in to see a psychiatrist, he had his head tilted back with a strip of bacon draped across each ear and a poached egg on his face. He said to the shrink…“I came to see you about my wife.” He had a few problems himself. The world thinks we are weird, that we have problems; they don’t realize, they have a few problems themselves.

Living in a pagan environment is always toughIn light of this problem: Peter gives them some admonitions…

I. ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUST

Neither ‘flesh’ or ‘lust’ have a good ring and when you put them together, they sound even worse. David Walls {Holman Commentary} believes that Peter is not speaking about sensual lust primarily but about selfishness in general. Since I am a man, I think sensual first but he has a point. Walls says, “Sinful desires {fleshly lust} is best understood as strong desires motivated by our selfishness.” We are talking about any desire that is contrary to the will of God.


There are two reasons for abstaining: First we must maintain our witness before unbelievers and second; we must Protect our souls. These fleshly lust or worldly desires are enemies to the soul and the reason Peter uses the word ‘war’ is that these desires are constantly attacking our minds. The Greek word that Peter uses in reference to this war is strateuō from which we get our word ‘strategy.” It is all apart of the devil strategy. He attacks us constantly with fleshly lust or selfish desires.


Paul speaks about this in Galatians 5:17… For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposiiton to one another, so that you may not do the things you please.

All true believers are in a war. There is no warfare for those who are deceived.

II. MAINTAIN HONORABLE CONDUCT

Peter knew that they would speak against the Christians and our best defense is an honorable life that Glorifies Christ.


 If you think being a Christian is hard these days, you should go back to the first century. Christianity was new and very misunderstood. It was not considered a religion, not a legitimate one anyway. It was considered a cult or a sect. For years it was treated as a “sect” of Judaism until folks figured out the truth. You know how it is when something new is birthed and people don’t understand it: they come up with all kinds of crazy accusations and this was the case for the believers in Northern Asia Minor. They were being accused of being:

  1. Cannibals because of the LORD’s supper
  2. Ungodly because they had no idols
  3. Anarchist because they claimed that Jesus was LORD

The main criticism of the Christians was that they were anti-government. Since they gave allegiance to Jesus their KING {LORD}, they were accused of being trouble makers, anarchist and disrespectful to authority. Peter admonished them to submit to the civil authorities.


Actually the criticism was completely unfounded as the primary principle of the Christian faith is to submit to authority beginning with Christ. No one should be better at submitting to authority than Christians. Christianity is not a license to rebel or to do as we please. 


We are to submit to authority so long as we are not ordered to do something immoral or contrary to the law of God. God has established authority for the orderly function of human life. [Illustration: sports–without rules and the enforcement of rules, you do not have a game]

III. WE CANNOT USE OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY AS A CLOAK FOR VICE

As Christians, we are free, no one has more liberty than a follower of Christ:

  1. We have freedom from the domineering power of sin: we may sin, but we don’t have to, we have the freedom and the power to say no.
  2. We are free from the penalty of sin, free of guilt because we have been forgiven.
  3. We are free from the anxiety and frustration of trying to fulfill the laws demands.  Free from the lawO happy condition, Jesus has bled and there is remission, Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Christ {Grace} hath redeemed us once for all.

BUT we are not free to do as we please and then claim grace. Grace is not abstract. It is not something out there, grace is within us. If we have been born again, grace is at work in us, giving us the desire to please God. Grace is not a cloak that covers our rebellion; it is not a rabbits foot.

Peter says in 2:16…Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

No issue is more misunderstood today than slavery. No culture on the planet misunderstands it more than spoiled Americans. Do you know what it is like to starve, to be without shelter or clothing? No you don’t. In the Roman Empire, one third of the people were slaves and they were not black. Slavery is not a racial issue. Some were black but the majority were not. The Romans enslaved all whom they captured. Human trafficking was big business and Joseph is proof of the pudding. Daniel and Nehemiah were also slaves. The British enslaved the Scots for hundreds of years. Slavery is not a black/white issue and those who think it is are ignorant of world history.

In the ancient world, desperate people often attacked themselves to wealthy people who could provide their common needs. Of course, no one in their right mind would choose a cruel man to be their master but it was common for people to voluntarily attack themselves to good masters. These people were known as bond slaves.

Paul considered himself a bond slave to Jesus Christ. Oswald Chambers in MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST said, “The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign my own rights away and become a bondslave of Jesus Christ.” When I speak of giving your life to Christ, I mean it literally.

The Bond slave of his own free will puts himself under the authority of another. A bond slave does not have the spirit of rebellion, he/she willingly obeys the master out of respect and love.

The Israelites by nature were rebels. Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah all refer to them as rebels. Jeremiah 35 is the story of Jeremiah sitting the Recabites before them and tempted them to drink wine, which they would not do. They would not dishonor their forefather Johonadab who instructed them not to drink wine. God loves obedience. He wanted the Israelites to obey but they refused so the LORD said through Jeremiah, “You don’t want to serve me, that’s your choice but you will serve the Babylonians.” We are serve something. You could take Cain’s position and serve yourself but in the end, who are you really serving?

The Spiritual House

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4-10

4 And coming to Him as to a Living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 
5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood., to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 
6 For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a CHOICE STONE, a PRECIOUS CORNER STONE, and he who believes is HIM will not be disappointed.” 
7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but those who disbelieve, “The STONE which the builders rejected, this became the very conrner stone,” 
8 and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they STUMBLE because they are disobedient to the WORD, and to this doom they were also appointed. 
9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSON, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light
10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

INTRODUCTION

Last week we talked about “Spiritual Growth” of the individual member within the body of Christ. We used Paul’s analogy of the church as a body taken from Romans 12…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. So the church is a body, an organism, not merely an organization. Tonight, we continue with Peter’s analogy of the church as a ‘Building’ made up of ‘living stones’.

Not all of us are builders but most of us are familiar with the different aspects of a building. I guess we could start with DESIGN.

I. DESIGN {Plan and Purpose}

  1. I have a small office building, it was designed to be a place of retreat, study and prayer. This is the purpose of the building. Why build a building if there is no purpose? When we think about DESIGN, we think about an architect and a blue print. Before you begin any building, you need a plan or a blue print. This message will sound redundant but let me tell you that JESUS IS THE ARCHITECT of this Spiritual House that Peter is referring to. He has the plan. You might say, HE IS THE PLAN. But we do have clear building instructions in the WORD OF GOD. Notice Peter’s emphasis on the ‘word.’ [2:6,8] Just as the “Word of God” is vital to our spiritual growth as individuals, it is vital to the growth of God’s Spiritual House. [Illustration: Dr. Wiersbe tells of a contractor who got to the building site to build a two story house. As he and his workers began the construction, they noticed the local lumber yard had sent the wrong materials. Nothing was working according to plan. What they discovered later was that the contractor had been given the wrong blue print. Once they got the plan right, the construction went perfectly]
  2. The DESIGN fits the PURPOSE of the building. Note what Peter says in verse 5, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The OT Jewish Priest needed a Temple or Tabernacle. This was the place where they offered up sacrifices which was the key to O.T. worship. In the NT, every believer is a priest which is what Peter is referring to in verse 9 {Royal Priesthood}. In the O.T. you had to be a descendant of Aaron to be a priest but in the New Covenant, every believer is a priest. This speaks of two things: {1} Wonderful Privilege— we can approach the throne of grace anytime day or night because Christ has become our High Priest and He has conferred upon us the right to approach. {2} Awesome Responsibility–Like the O.T. Priest, we are to minister {1} To God and {2} to others. We are to offer up sacrifices but unlike the O.T. sacrifices, our sacrifices are spiritual. The bible gives us our INSTRUCTIONS in Hebrews 13:15-16, NASB…
15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 
Four Spiritual Sacrifices are mentioned here: [1] Praise “fruit of the lips” [2] Thanksgiving [Psalm 116:17] [3] Good Deeds [4] Sharing.

III. THE MATERIALS

This is the amazing thing: That Christ could design the building is no stretch but to think that He is building this spiritual house out of you and I is flabbergasting. The LIVING STONE is building this house out of living stones. There is only one qualification: that we believe in HIM the Cornerstone.

CHRIST is the CORNER STONE and He is choice and precious to God. He was rejected by men but CHOSEN OF GOD. No true believer will argue with this statement. CHRIST IS PRECIOUS and His blood was precious. Jesus is the Priceless Pearl, worth more than all other possessions but what about YOU AND I? What kind of material are we?

[1] We too our chosen…[v.9] But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

[2] We too our precious…[v.7] This precious value, then, is for you who believe.

  • Yes, we were dead in trespasses and sin and He quickened us an made us alive by His grace.
  • Yes, it was He who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light by His grace: yea, everything that we have in Christ is by grace..
  • BUT the fact that we are HIS POSSESSION is what gives us worth. 
  • Michael Jordon’s old tennis shoes are worth more than my IRA. I wish I could sale my old tennis shoes to the highest bidder but no one would bid on my old shoes. They will his because he owed them.
  • Winston Churchills old desk will bring millions: why, because it was his possession. The Possesser makes something precious.
  • I still have an old shirt that belonged to my father and I still wear it, I may be buried in it. Why is it precious? There is not another one like; that I guarantee. It is precious to me because it belonged to him. To others it would be a rag.

III. THE BUILDER

I said at the very beginning that CHRIST IS EVERYTHING. He is the FOUNDATION STONE, the CORNER STONE and the CAPSTONE. He is the founder of the church, the C.E.O. of the church, the archtitech of the church, the life of the church and you might know, the BUILDER OF THE CHURCH.

Remember what He said to Peter…I also say to you that you are Peter [a stone], and upon this Rock [Jesus Himself] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades willnot overpower it.”

He made it rather clear, “I will build My church on Myself and not even hell can stop me.” [1] If Jesus was not God, this would be the statement of a lunatic. [2] He is the builder. Psalm 118:22-23…The stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief corner stone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. That takes a lot of pressure off of us, doesn’t it. Jesus said, “I will build My Church…and not even hell will stop Me.”

CONCLUSION

I surrendered to the ministry at age 19…I came to Danville Baptist church 10 years later. I was frustrated, discouraged and wondering seriously if God had called me to be a pastor. I knew He had called me to preach and to be a witness. By this time in my life, Evangelism was out of the picture for lack of gifts and opts. I was pursuing a life in missions and dealing with the IMB. Church work was irritating and frustrating and I knew there had to be something better. I worked very hard at my first church out of Seminary and after 4 years, had nothing to show for it. I came here discouraged and it didn’t get any better for several years. Matter of fact, I got so discouraged that I took a trip. A friend put me up for a couple of nights so I could think, read and pray. I carried a little book with me entitled KINGDOM PRINCIPLES Of Church Growth and shortly before midnight {my first night away] the lights suddenly come on and I realized something I had never understood before. DBC was just a local outlet to a chain. We were not the church, just a tiny, tiny part of the church Christ was building. God revealed to me the simple truth that I sharing tonight: Jesus will build His church. He never intended for me to build His church. This truth took a huge weight off my shoulders: I turned in my contractors license and went to work as a laborer. O what a change this one truth made in my life.

 

Spiritual Growth

Scripture Text: I Peter 1:22-2:8

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 
23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 
24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
 
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all [slander] evil speaking, 
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby
3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 

INTRODUCTION

The key verse for tonights message is verse 2…as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. Peter is addressing a subject that is very important to believers and to the church: that is “Spiritual Growth.” Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest but he did not have immediate success. He failed on several attempts and even lost five of his men. Parliament decided to recognize his accomplishment or his effort and it made him angry. They placed a picture of Mount Everest in the chambers and invited Hillary in: he slammed his fist against the picture and said in a loud voice, “You defeated me! But you won’t defeat me again because you have grown all you can and I am still growing.” This is a good question for all believers to ask themselves “Am I still growing spiritually?” Should you as a believer be concerned about your spiritual growth?

The CHURCH is more than an ORGANIZATION, it is an ORGINISM, a body and it works like the human body. The church is made up of many members but they all belong to one body. The body has fingers, toes, ears, eyes, hands, feet and a number of vital organs. They are all uniquely different but they are a part of one body. So tonight, we want to talk for a moment about spiritual growth and its affect on individual members within the body.

First of all, I want to talk about…

I. THE NEED FOR GROWTH…

Peter begins this section by talking about our “Spiritual Birth,” [v.23] “Having been born again.” Then in chapter 2, verse 2 he brings up the subject again, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” Birth implies many things: first and perhaps foremost, it means we have a FATHER. Secondly, it means we are part of a FAMILY. Third, it means we a FOSTER care system. To foster is to encouragepromotestimulateadvanceforwardcultivatenurturestrengthen, or enrich. As you see, a foster parent has many responsibilities.


It is a given that a baby needs nurture. Babies need love and care. Then when they become totlers, they need training. As they grow older, they need discipline and education. We have a serious problem in America. We have millions of children who are not getting the nurture, love and discipline they desperately need. Children must have help in the maturing process. So if a child is to grow and mature, they need NURTURE. So do believers: we need nurture.

II. THE NEED FOR NOURISHMENT

Peter has a lot to say in the passage about the word of God, [v.23] “the word of God which lives and abides forever.” We have the word of God in two forms: the written word and the Living word. Every born again believer should have an incessionable appetite for the word of God. Just like a baby constantly cries for milk, we should long for the word. No believer will grow spiritually a part from the word of God. If you stop eating, you will stop growing. Your cells will stop reproducing and you will dry up and die. The body must have nourishment and the same is true of our spirit. I can give you plenty of milk [previously digested food] but I cannot give you meat. You have to get that in your personal bible study. You see, I have been chewing on this passage for months and especially for the last two weeks. I have ingested and digested and now I share with you but for you it is milk, for me it was meat, I had to chew on it for a while.

III. THE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF GROWTH

A body grows together. The hand does not grow and the feet remain tiny. We would be a freak if the head grew but the rest of the body remained infantile. This is a point that many do not grasp. We have a lot of folks, SUPER SAINTS, who read books, attend conferences and zero in on their own personal spiritual growth to the neglect of the rest of the body. The result is a lot of head knowledge that puffs them up. Paul said in I Corinthians 8:1, Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies, and he is exactly right. There is nothing in the NT that teaches us to grow a part from the body. We are to have a mutual concern for each others spiritual progress.


Peter and Paul are on the same page: what Peter is teaching in this section has to do with the atmosphere for spiritual growth. [1] Yes, we must have the right nourishment [Word of God] but we also need [2] the right atmosphere. You don’t grow tomatoes on the North Pole. Matter of fact, you don’t grow them in Alaska–it is too cold. Tomatoes have to have a warm climate and okra more so. In the mountains of Guatemala, you can raise every vegetable known to man except Okra. Although they never have frost, it gets in to the 50’s at night and okra has to have warm nights.
The THEREFORE in 2:1 is Peter’s transition to the atmosphere needed for young believers to grow. He says, lay aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking. The NASB makes one slight change: Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. All five of these things have something in common. See if you can figure out what it is as I share definitions.
  • Malice means ill will or the desire to hurt or injure. Malicious words are those intended to harm another person. Swindoll says it is the spirit that is entrenched in the world system
  • Deceit means craft, guile, cunning, treachery.
  • Hypocrisy means literally to wear two faces. It is a word used in reference to play actors. One actor could play more than one part because they wore mask. Acting was not a popular art in biblical times.
  • Envy is inappropriate jealously. I was reading somewhere the other day and I did not make a note and now I can’t find my source, but one of the Catholic Popes said, “I have heard thousands of confessions but never one confession of envy.” Some 25 years ago I preached a sermon on JEALOUSY which is ENVY’S twin sister and I said the same thing about jealously…I had never heard it confessed. One woman came by me after the service and said rather briskly, “I’m jealous and I confessed it.”
  • Slander is a compound word which literally means evil speech. Slanders relatives are gossip, talebaring, backbitting and of course bearing false witness. Slander can be a false statment about another persons character that is based on a hunch, assumption, or a feeling. I get real aggrivated at myself for making statements based on my assumptions. I saw this acrostic on the internet and I am going to try to use it.

Now what do these five things have in common? They are things that destroy the fellowship of a church. Things that make a church an unhealthy atmosphere for growth. These things are all anti-spiritual growth.

JUST AS A CHILD NEEDS A NURTURING FAMILY: BELIEVERS NEED A NURTURING CHURCH

We need a warm atmosphere to grow believers. This is what Peter is encouraging…go back to verse 22 and we will see the requirement for creating a warm fellowship for growth. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…

  1. We need a Spirit of obedience. The body has only one head and its not me and it aint you. It is JESUS. He is the boss and He knows what to do. [Matthew 16:18] “I also say to you that you are Peter {petros, stone} and upon this rock [petra, boulder or huge stone] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. The key to church unity is for everyone to obey the HEAD.
  2. We need Purity of Soul. The number one problem in churches is the “Hidden Agenda.” Someone trying to impose their will on the majority by the use of deceit. We have to get our motives right and sometimes that takes the furnace of affliction.
  3. We need Sincere Love. Not fake fellowship but sincere love.
  4. We need a Fervent Love. A fervent love is an earnest and intense love. Dr. Wiersbe says, “It is a love that seeks the best for others; it gives rather than takes. It promotes rather than manipulates.”