Saturday, October 10, 2009

Peter's Conclusion

1 Peter 5:12-14

Silvanus the Brother, 12

Being, no doubt, delivered by the hands of Silvanus (Silas) to the church or churches to whom Peter is writing is a faithful brother to those written to as well as to Peter. We have many brothers just like this in our day, who are instantly willing to do whatever they are able to do in order that the Kingdom of Christ may be continued and exalted and that the Gospel be preached throughout the world.

Peter sent with his concluding remarks the idea that the true grace of God is existent and confessed among those to whom Peter is writing. The true grace of God is his electing grace (1 Peter 1:2), and it is a grace wherein we are to stand continually and not to forsake, which some have done in our day, becoming lackadaisical and unconcerned about the work of the Lord. We should always stand in the grace of God, always busy about the Father's business. This is our life-long vocation.

The Church At Babylon, 13

This church was, no doubt, made up of pure-blooded Jews who did not return to Judah from Babylon when they were taken away in the captivity. The Gospel had got to them, and they were saved by the true grace of God. Peter is here acknowledging them; otherwise, we would have no knowledge today of their existence. It is believed that this letter was written from Babylon.

It is miraculously by grace that God would find and save people who seem to have been forgotten by God at the time when he was sending Jewish people back into their land after the 70-year captivity. But God has not forgotten his people nor forsaken them. He will save all his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).

From Babylon, that deceitfully beautiful city with all of its idolatry, its prostitution, its wantonness and greed has in it a remnant who have been touched by the true grace of God; and these lovely people, who have been saved amidst all of this degradation, are now saluting the people to whom Peter is writing as fellow saints of God with Christian love and generosity.

The Holy Kiss, 14

Peter wishes them cordiality and love among themselves, for without love the grace of God is squandered and misrepresented (See 1 Cor. 13 for the more excellent way). Love among brethren is paramount in our ministries today. We must "love the brethren," for this is a genuine testimony of the grace of God that has been worked in our souls (1 John 3:14).

Peter wishes them peace, not world peace, but the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7), that peace with God (Rom. 5:1) that is greater than world peace, and the peace of God (Col. 3:15) which rules in our hearts and pushes us on toward the prize of the high calling of God (Phil. 3:14). The only way we can have this peace, Peter explains, is through Christ Jesus. He is the only way, truth and life (John 14:6). Neither is there any other name whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

So ends the book of 1 Peter with many instructions on how to live the new life that we have in Christ Jesus. He has mentioned many things that affect our individual lives and also church life. This book should be read often and heeded. May God be our guide to follow this instruction for the duration of this short life. Amen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Humility Among Church Members

1 Peter 5:5-11

Humility In The Church, 5

The younger are the common members of the church, since in Biblical days pastors were usually the "elder" of the membership. These younger are to submit unto the elder, or the pastor(s) of the church. This humility is a genuine character of a true believer. It is warranted among the young of any church. The elders, or pastors, are to be respected highly. The younger are also to submit themselves to other elder ones who are not pastors. In this they can learn the true Christian graces and the practical work of serving in the Lord's church.

There is also to be a general submission or humility among all the members of a church. We are all to be clothed with humility. God gives us the reason we are to be clothed with humility: God resists the proud. This is a quote taken from Proverbs 3:34. In this passage, Solomon puts it this way Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. God scorns the scorners; therefore, we do not need to scorn the scorners. Our job is to be humble, and God will take care of the scorners. He will give grace unto the lowly. James 4:6 tells us that he giveth more grace.

Humility To Be Done, 6

We are to humble ourselves. This is not something that God does without our surrender. Our proud hearts and arrogant character must be subdued, and that submission must be done by our own hearts. If our hearts are humbled, God will exalt us in due time but not until that time.

How To Be Humble, 7-9

The first step to humility is to cast all our care upon him (God). We can trust him, because he cares for us.

The second step to humility is to be sober, that is, sober-minded and vigilant (watchful); because the devil is seeking whom he may devour. He would love to ruin our reputation and cause us to fall into temptation.

The third step to humility is to resist the devil and to remember that our brethren who are serving Christ also have the same temptations and the same testings from the devil, who would love to make us a castaway and ruin our testimony for Christ.

What Will God Do? 10-11

Peter prays that God will bring each believer through the sufferings of this life and into that glorious entrance into the eternal heavens where every believer will be perfect, established, strengthened, and settled. This will be done, and it will be done to the glory of God, who has glory and dominion forever and ever.

This life is a path of genuine suffering and service. It is a path of genuine humility before God, and God will reward each believer in his own good time. We are looking forward to a grand entrance into that eternity that God has promised everyone who loves him and trusts him as Savior.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The New Life In Service As An Elder

1 Peter 5:1-4

The Position

Each elder of a church, or pastor of a church, is exhorted or encouraged by Peter. He is mentioning their position before the church, a position that should not be taken for granted or one that should be boasted about or allowed to swell up the preacher's ego. The position is a good work (1 Timothy 3:1), and it is one that should be respected; but it is not one that is to be allowed to make a man arrogant or proud. It is a position of service. Paul told the Colossians that "ye serve the Lord Christ," Col. 3:24.

The Purpose

The purpose of the elder is to "feed the flock of God." This feeding comes from the word of God, Jeremiah says in 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. Each believer in a church who hears the word of God will rejoice in the truth; and those who have been in error and who have found the truth are thrilled at how the word of God itself transforms their minds and gives them contentment and consolation in God's word alone.

Another purpose of the elder or pastor of a church is "taking the oversight." This is the leadership of the pastor, and it is a tender vocation; for we as pastors are not to oversee the Lord's flock as furious lords over God's heritage but as tender nurses who take care of little babies. Paul told the Thessalonians that he was gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children (1 Thess. 2:7). Being a nurse is neither an easy nor a pleasant job, but it is a needed job. Rather than being proud, then, as elders, we should be as nurses cherishing the Lord's flock.

This job is not to be taken by constraint (by the pressure of another pastor or of mother or father) but willingly, as God would lead by his Holy Spirit, who will both prepare the heart and place the man into this ministry as he sees fit. It is not to be taken for greedy gain (filthy lucre) but of a ready mind, a mind that is intent upon doing the job and willing to study to show oneself a workman that needs not be ashamed.

The Problem

The problem with being an elder is that ego can very easily get in the way of service. Rather than being lords over God's heritage, we are to be examples of believers. Paul told Timothy in 1Ti 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. This is the duty of an elder. The problem is that our own ego and arrogance sometimes hinders us from doing this very thing.

The Prize

If we serve the Lord Jesus Christ as elders in a way that pleases God, then we shall receive a prize, which is a "crown of glory that fadeth not away." No one knows what this crown looks like or actually what it is, but we know that whatever it is, its glory will shine in our behalf because of our surrender to the service of God. It is not that we deserve this crown, but it is that God desires to reward us with this prize. We are to work for this prize, for Paul said in Phil. 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Why would God give a church elder a prize for simply surrendering to his service? It is because that is God's will for us. Notice what Paul said to the Philippians in 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Part of this surrender is to be willing to suffer for Christ's sake. If we do not suffer for him, then we will not pursue the prize of the high calling of God. Let us be true to God and make ourselves of no reputation, as Jesus did (Phil. 2:7).