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Eagerly Wait for the Glory of God

Date: Sep. 5, 2010

Author: David Shim

1 Peter 5:1-14

Key Verse: 1 Peter 5:4

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Today we will study the last passage of 1 Peter. As we wrap up, I want to ask you a question: “What is one lesson that you take away from 1 Peter?”  Today I will talk about this underlying theme throughout Peter’s letter.  It is this: “Eagerly wait for the glory of God.”  To make sure the Christians have this eager anticipation, Peter wrote this letter that testifies about Jesus and encourages the Christians.  He also delivers to the Christians two instructions: “Be self-controlled and alert,” and “Humble yourselves.”  Unlike the usual course of studying the passage, today we will study the passage in sort of a reverse order starting from the last verses.

1. The Testimony and the Encouragement (4, 12-14)

At the end of his letter, Peter reveals why he had to write it.  Let’s read verse 12.  “With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.  Stand fast in it.”  What did Peter testify about, and how did he encourage?  Let’s take a look at them one by one.

 

First, Peter testified about Jesus and the glory that Christians will share with Jesus.  In 1:1, Peter identified himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ.”  An apostle means a witness, so “an apostle of Jesus” means a witness of Jesus.  What did Peter witness about Jesus?  In 5:1, Peter calls himself “a witness of Christ’s sufferingsand one who also will share in the glory to be revealed.”  Christ suffered, and those who believe this will share in the glory of God with Jesus.  This glory is an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1:4).  This inheritance is kept for some select people, whom God had already chosen even before time began (1:2).  And now God’s plan to crush sin has been fulfilled through Jesus’ death and resurrection!  Now the moment has finally come, the moment that the great prophets and angels have been speaking about in eager anticipation.  Peter and his contemporaries have finally been given the great grace, which is Jesus.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, everything is different.  Jesus was born, died on the cross, and rose again as eagerly anticipated throughout the Old Testament.  And the final promise remains, after thousands of years of waiting: that he will come again.  This is the underlying theme of Peter’s letter: Christ’s suffering and the hope of the glory that we will share in his second coming.  Let’s read verse 4.  “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”  It is this hope of receiving glory that will never fade away that Peter testified to.  Boy, Peter was so excited to see this coming.

So, naturally, Peter’s letter shows a sense of urgency.  He says, “You may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  But rejoice, because the suffering is only for a little while!  (1:6)  The end of all things is near(4:7). Quick!  Prepare your minds for action. . . .Set your hope fully on the grace to be given when Jesus Christ is revealed(1:13).”

But when he looked at the Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor, he couldn’t find in them such urgency, such eagerness and joyful anticipation.  What was going on?  He found the church was suffering from all kinds of trials (1:6).  First, they suffered from the persecution by non-believers. We saw their struggles from chapter 2, where Peter addressed their hardships of living among non-believers and under their harsh authorities.  But they also suffered from their fellow believers, too.  So Peter pleaded with them, “All of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (3:8).  Apparently many Christians seem to have been tired of endless sufferings and losing hope.  Their morale to fight the good fight was down.  Therefore, Peter decided to give them words of encouragement. 

So the second purpose of his letter was to encourage the downcast Christians tired of sufferings.  What was his encouragement?  We already learned many words of encouragement in this letter: “Be holy” (1:16); “Grow up in your salvation”, “God is good” (2:2-3); “You are heirs of the gracious gift of life” (3:7); and “If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (2:20).

Now the last one doesn’t sound like an encouragement.  But it is an encouragement for the Christians who are suffering, when it is combined with the conviction that they are chosen by God to share in his glory to come.  In the letter, Peter called the Christians “God’s elect . . . who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1:1-2).  The same identification is repeated in 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.”  Since God has chosen us, the inheritance of the glory in heaven cannot be taken away from us.  So if you suffer, be assured that glory is sure to come.

It may sound like an unfair command that Christians must strive to do good, especially when everyone else seems to have no conscience at all in this modern world. But we Christians do it all for the glory of God, because we are chosen by God to receive the inheritance kept in heaven, which has nothing to compare with in this world.

So Christ suffered for us, and following Christ, we who believe in Christ will suffer, too. But sufferings will be only for a while, and when Christ comes again, we will share in the great glory of God.  So suffer for the glory of God!  Heaven is yours!  Isn’t this itself encouraging enough?  But before he concluded his letter, Peter had still more words of encouragement.

2. Be Self-controlled and Alert (8-11)

In Chapter 5 Peter gives two additional instructions.  One is “Humble yourselves.”  The other is “Be self-controlled and alert.”

In verse 8, Peter urges that Christians must be self-controlled and alert.  When does a person have to be alert?  It’s usually when he perceives that a certain danger is impending but never knows exactly when.  What is the danger that Christians face?  It is the devil’s attack.  Why is that a danger?  It’s because they are growing in their salvation.  Peter said in 1:9, “you are receivingthe goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  In 2:2 he also said, “Crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow upin your salvation.”  So salvation is a goal that we as Christians grow into; not what is given in full the moment we decide to become Christians.  It is a growing process.  But the devil doesn’t want us to grow.  His purpose is to lead the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9).  So he keeps planting doubt in us on our hope of salvation, so we may not be holy, but be malicious, lustful, envious, and be whatever that separates us from God.  We must be alert.

The devil’s attack is powerful.  Peter experienced it himself.  On the very day Jesus was arrested, Peter denied Jesus three times, even though he pledged he would follow Jesus no matter what.  He was fearful of being prosecuted along with Jesus, and the devil used his fear to deny his Lord.  So Peter wrote in verse 9, “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion.”  The devil may use not only our weaknesses but also our strengths. If one is greedy, the devil may use it to separate him apart from God.  If one is smart, the devil may use her intellectual power to make her proud and sin.

The devil’s attack is also without notice.  It would have been nice if our enemy the devil gave us ten days’ notice before attacking us, in a similar way the lawyers do in court.  But the devil tries to grab every chance to derail us from growing into salvation catching us off-guard.  If one becomes complacent because she was victorious in her life of faith one day, she may be a victim the next day.  That may be why unfortunately great servants of God sometimes sin big time and become laughing stocks of non-believers.  Always be self-controlled and alert.

The world which the devil controls is like a huge stream of water flowing down toward death. Consider Niagara Falls.  In the upper stream of the river, the current is slow, and you hardly even recognize there is constant flow downstream.  The life of faith is like this: Unless you row against the stream, you don’t know because the whole world flows with you. Likewise, when we are young, we may not notice there is a strong pull of the devil to make us sin.  But as the river flows downstream, the current flows faster and faster, and almost nothing can escape it, until it is crashed at the bottom of Niagara Falls. 

Then what happens to those who row upstream?  They will experience the power of the stream against them.  We learned this last week.  “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (4:12).  For example, once you made up your mind to worship God every Sunday without missing, your boss may want you to work on Sundays.  Should you submit to your boss and comply?  What does Peter say?

Let’s read verse 9. “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  We should resist the devil, and stand firm in the faith.  When we do that, Peter assures in verse 10 that our sufferings will be only for a little while, and “the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast.”  So God will restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast.  “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”

3. Humble Yourselves (1-7)

Now let’s finally talk about humility.  Let’s read verses 1 and 2a, until we get to “overseers”.  “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers.”  Here, Peter addresses elders who are in charge of younger believers. 

Who were elders? They were leaders of the church. When Paul pioneered a church, he appointed elders, and entrusted that church to their care.  1 Timothy 3:1-7 say elders had to meet high moral and spiritual qualifications.  He must not be a recent convert, because they had to withstand the devil’s attacks and be able to lead the church.

To the leaders of the churches Peter said: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers.” What is a shepherd?  A shepherd is one who herds, guards, and tends sheep. Peter says a shepherd is an overseer (2).  An overseer is one who keeps watch and directs others.  Sheep are generally known to be unintelligent animals. Domesticated sheep have a tendency to congregate, but they easily flee in panic in the face of stress.  So a shepherd—or overseer—has a duty to keep watch over the sheep so that they may not be lost when a predator like a wolf approaches.  In light of what I said in Part II—“Be self-controlled and alert”—an elder must helphis flock to be self-controlled and alert. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).  So, once God entrusted his flock to elders, they must do their best.

Then what attitude must an elder have in serving younger believers?  Look at verses 2b and 3.  “Not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” First, an elder should willingly serve, not grudgingly.  This was what God wanted Peter to be.  In his last days on earth, Jesus made a request to Peter: “If you truly love me, feed my lambs” (John 21:15).  One must serve his/her sheep out of love, so that the sheep, moved by the love, may in turn serve still another sheep out of love. Msn. Daniel has been a good friend to Orlando for the last ten years.  When Orlando was going through difficult times, Msn. Daniel did not stop praying for him and visiting him for Bible studies.  That way he helped Orlando to remain and grow in faith.  I pray that Orlando too may become a good shepherd who serves others out of love.  I pray that we may all become good shepherds serving God’s sheep out of love.

Second, an elder should serve others out of eagerness to serve God, but not for what he will get out of it.  It is very dangerous to say, “I sincerely served God, so God blessed me with success in my career.”  We have already been given the reward from God for our service.  It is eternal life.  The share in the glory.  Serving out of greed for money is trading the inheritance in heaven away for money.

Third, an elder must not lord it over the flock, but be an example to them.  Being an elder is not gaining a powerful position in a big corporation, even if he belongs to a big church.  Elders are there to serve.  But they exercise much spiritual influence.  Young people come to elders and ask for direction.  However, if elders don’t live up to their teaching, young people will see the hypocrisy in the elders, and they will not be trusted. So elders must be extra careful in their actions.

Now, we’ve looked at three instructions for elders piece by piece.  But basically, these instructions can be summarized into one sentence: “Be humble.”  Let’s see why.  In verse 5, Peter also pleads with young men: “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.”  Then he appeals to all of them, both young and old: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”  From the fact that Peter wrote instructions especially to elders and young men, it seems likely that there were conflicts between them.  Peter saw that this problem arose because they became proud and wanted to lift themselves up, not God.  And when they were not recognized by others and exalted high up, they became anxious.  But read verses 6 and 7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  So, humbling ourselves is not being condescending to others to make an impression of himself as a good person.  But it is humbling before God, recognizing that we are doing God’s work. We should let God do the work through us, not the other way around.  Even this message must be written and delivered, not with my personal ideas, but according to what God speaks to me. 

There is another reason why we need to be humble.  A church is also where people gather and mingle.  It is another society in the world.  So, it is bound to have occasional misunderstandings and disputes. But we must humble ourselves, because every time we criticize others, we might be doing it because of our pride, and the devil might be right there ready to devour us using our pride.  As in verse 6, we do not lift ourselves any inch by criticizing and pulling down others.  It is God who could lift us up in due time.  Let’s be humble before God.

When I came to Chicago to study law, I was so sure that it was the field that God put me in. Chicago was my holy place where I would grow.  Since God entrusted me with the law school, I should do my best to help him out.  I thought I could glorify God by being successful here.  But as the first semester ended with very poor GPA, I became anxious.  I wanted to testify about God’s glory to everybody in my own way, through my success in school study.  But that was not God’s way.  Instead, he wanted me to testify that I could do nothing on my own, and it was God who saved me, when I let go of myself and accepted God’s control. Through all this verse 7 really convicted me: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  And when I cast all my anxiety, God does lift me up—in his due time.

Peter wrote that his purpose of writing was “to testify about the true grace of God and to encourage you.”  We learned that we need to be self-controlled and alert against the devil’s attacks. We also learned we need to humble ourselves before God.  We are all called to live up to Peter encouragement.  Let’s be self-controlled.  Let’s be alert.  And let’s eagerly wait for the glory of God, because Christ is coming, and when he comes, you will receive the crown of glory.

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The Result of Complacency and Pride

Amos 6:1-14

Key Verse: 6:8b

The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:

  “I abhor the pride of Jacob
    and hate his strongholds,
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