Thursday, August 20, 2009

Living The New Life With Love

1 Peter 4:8-11

See also the blog from May 26, 2009

What these verses say is "above all things." That means that it is a serious priority for our consideration. The subject of this section of scripture, love, is incumbent upon each and every one of us to love one another, and not only to love one another, but to love one another fervently. I see that the Greek word for fervent literally means "stretched out." This means that the love wherewith we are to love one another is one that is to be stretched out, or one that lingers long, even to the end of life.

The reason for the fervent love (charity) is in order to cover a multitude of sins: each one of us has a multitude of sins. There is not a one of us who does not have enough sins to stretch over the entire earth and back again, enough to reach through space almost endlessly. The only thing that will cover sins is love. John 3:16 expresses God's love toward his people in that he forgave us our sins so that we shall never perish. We should reflect this divine love one to another so that we, also, may have our sins covered, covered that they may not be brought up and reminded and rebuked continually. This fervent love between believers will make our co-existence not only easier but formidable.

The Greek word for "hospitality" means literally "the love of strangers." If we would just learn to love one another as believers, we would not need to worry about strangers. No Christian should be a stranger to another Christian. We have a communion together that makes every new believer we meet a common fellow.

Now this love and hospitality is a gift, as shown in verse 10. God has given believers many gifts, and this is a primary one, one that we should use on a daily basis to live the new life with love, thus being good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Now when we speak to one another, we should speak the truths of the "oracles of God," the word of God that is always pure and perfect. No believer should ever be offended at another believer when he hears the truth from God's word. It is the word of God which brings us to repentance and conversion in our daily lives. We should read the word often and listen to it in conversation and in teaching and preaching, verse 11.

All this living with love and listening and preaching the word of God is done to the glorification of Jesus Christ, for it is to him that we owe our praise, and to him belongs dominion forever and forever. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and he has brought us together as believers to be one in Christ through his blood. With love we can have a divine communion one with another, and no believer will be a stranger to us.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Living The New Life Judged By God

1 Peter 4:4-7

The Wicked's Attitude

The wicked think it is strange that we who are God's children do not follow them to their drunken party, why we do not enjoy their excess of riot and their sin in general. They wonder why we do not enjoy their music, their jokes, and their language. Since we have been changed by God's grace, our interests are different now. Old things are passed away, and all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17).

Sometimes the lost will try to encourage us to be involved in things that Christians should not do, and that is when we must say "No." They, then, speak evil of us as though we are the ones who are in the wrong. Their lost mind cannot understand why we turn away from these evil things.

The Wicked's Judgment

These wicked ones must give an account to God, but they do not think that they will ever meet him. One day they will understand that our trust in Christ's second coming is not to no avail. Every evil person will stand before the Judge of all.

But not only will God judge the wicked; he will also judge the righteous (Eccl. 3:17). Our text says that he will judge the quick (living) and the dead.

Judgment In The Flesh

The Gospel was preached to those who are dead, literally dead, those who have died in the past who are in Christ. The world judged them in the flesh, but they lived according to God in the spirit. This is how we live today: toward God in our spirit, because his Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are the children of God. Therefore, we are to be sober and to watch in prayer, watch for the judgment of God upon both the lost and the saved.

Judgment At His Coming

The end of all things is at hand. Anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ, his death, burial, resurrection, and his precious blood will be judged according to God's mercy. Let's live in this world knowing that we are his children and that God's judgment is just with mercy through the death of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Living The New Life With A New Mind

1 Peter 4:1-3

The most magnanimous event in history is that Jesus suffered for us, the just for the unjust. He suffered the penalty of Hell in the place of the sinner who comes to know Jesus Christ as Savior. What an adventure of suffering was this! He suffered Hell for us. Of all the theological discussions people can have, this one brings the greatest discussion, difference of opinion, and the greatest joy to those who understand it biblically.

Because Jesus has done this for us, we must arm ourselves with that same mind, the mind of surrender to God's will, even if it is unto death (See Phil. 2:5-8). This same mind, because the one who has suffered in the flesh (while still alive) has ceased from sin. When faith came to each individual believer, he suffered with Christ "in the flesh" through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, he has ceased from sin; that is, he has a part of himself that does not sin, yea, cannot sin (1 John 3:9). The spirit of a man who has faith in Christ does not and cannot sin. It is regenerated and secured by the grace and the Spirit of God, verse 1.

Therefore, that believer who has ceased from sin should no longer live in this life to the lusts of of men, lost men who do not know Jesus Christ as their Master; but he should live his life to the will of God, following the scriptural mandates for the believer and developing the character of a true Christian, verse 2.

The past life, which we lived among the Gentiles when we were lost in our sins, is not to command our lives, but the grace of God is to be recognized, embraced, and pursued for growth and understanding (2 Peter 3:18).

The ways we walked in those days in our lost condition are listed in order to remind us of our old mind, our old attitude, in comparison to our new one in Christ. (1) lasciviousness, which is unbridled lust and excess of sin; (2) lust, which the strong desire to sin--which was our nature under the law; (3) excess of wine, which, of course, intimates drunkenness; (4) revelings, which indicates half-drunken men and women who have late-night parties of excessive revelry; (5) banquetings, which indicates, again, drunken parties and feasts; and (6) abominable idolatries, which, of course, indicates the worship of false gods.

Notice the progression of these sins. Not only does the first lead to the second and the third, etc., but each sin gets deeper into the character of the sinner, thus pulling him down to habitual lust and sin; but also the root and ground of the matter is mentioned last. Idolatry is at the root and base of sin. Remember that every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed (James 1:14), verse 3.

This should be our mind:

(1) The mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)
(2) The mind of humility (Phil. 2:5; Acts 20:19; Rom. 12:16; Col 3:12)
(3) The renewed mind (Rom. 12:2)
(4) The mind of service (Rom. 7:25)
(5) One mind to the glory of God (Rom. 15:6)
(6) A willing mind (2 Cor. 8:12)
(7) A ready mind (2 Cor. 8:19; 1 Peter 5:2)
(8) A sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Living The New Life With A Good Conscience

1 Peter 3:16-22

Some people speak evil of Christians, and this is seemingly getting worse as time goes on. But we need to understand that, in the midst of the world's calling us evil, we are to have a good conscience, assured that we are God's children, saved by his grace and kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5). When men speak lies about us, we should show our good conscience and assurance in Christ, therefore making them ashamed. They will also be ashamed when they stand before Almighty God in judgment. If we are to suffer, it is better to suffer for good instead of evil. Never should it be said that a Christian suffers for wrongdoing, because we are to be ye therefore perfect, even as my Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48). If we are to suffer, it should be for Christ's sake, verses 16-17.

Christ, our great Example, suffered for sins, but not for his own but for ours, the just (Christ) for the unjust (the sinner). He was obedient unto death, because it was his Father's will and plan (Phil 2:8). He did this that he might bring us to God, his Father, where he is and where we shall be later (See John 17:24). He died in the flesh, but he was alive in the Spirit. When the body dies, the spirit is still alive. When Jesus died, Jesus' Spirit went to be with his Father (Luke 23:46).

By this same Spirit Jesus, through Noah, went and preached to the spirits "in prison," the prison of sin and captivity of the lost soul. These were the people who lived during the life of Noah and during the time the ark was being prepared. Jesus spoke to these sinners by his Spirit through Noah the precious message of the Gospel. They were warned to pending doom to every soul who did not trust God's divine word. In that time only eight souls were saved: Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. These were saved "by water," which does not, of course, indicate that they were saved by means of the water, for the water was for the destruction of those sinners who rejected the message of Noah. They were saved by water in that the water was a testimony of their earnest trust in God. Many may have said they believed what Noah said or what God was going to do; but until they were willing to step into the ark, their faith was vain. Many believe in that same way today. Water did not save Noah's family; the ark did.

Now this is a figure, a shadow, a type of baptism and how it saves us today. Baptism does not literally save us, but it is a testimony of our salvation, thus giving us a good conscience toward God. We are answering to God's demand, his will, and his plan. We are committing ourselves to his service in being baptized in water. Verse 21 is broken by a parenthesis. By excluding it from the reading one can understand the basic sentence, which is The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also save us . . . by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as the water lifted up the ark to be a testimony of God's grace to Noah, so our baptism lifts up the resurrection of Jesus Christ as that which actually saves us, verse 21.

Now this is the same Jesus Christ who is gone into heaven by ascension (Acts 1:11). He is now at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:56) where he is making intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Angels and authorities and powers kneel at his presence and serve him as King of kings and Lord of lords, verse 22.

There is nothing greater than to serve Jesus unless it is having a good conscience toward God. As believers we are to "have a good conscience." If we know that we are doing right, we need not be ashamed whether we are at peace or whether we suffer for Christ's sake. May God help us to have a good conscience.