Sunday, September 20, 2015

Trusting in the Lord: Suffering Like Christ

September 20, 2015

Trusting in the Lord
Suffering Like Christ
1 Peter 2:18-25

(Advance Slide #1)

We do not get much snow like we use to.

(Advance Slide #2)

  • I remember one time when I was in grade school we had a horrible snow/ice combination.
    • We were without power for several days.
    • Since our heating system used electricity we relied on our fireplace.
    • One thing that made things awesome was that we cooked over the fire!

I wonder what life would be like today?
  • No computer, cell phones, TV, etc.

Let's take this situation a step further.
  • Imagine that there is a shortage of fuel, no cars, no trains, no transportation!
  • Now all of the sudden life is totally different.
    • I think my life would probably include a lot of reading, studying the Bible but in reality I would probably be chopping wood and such.

In the ancient world, more or less everything that today is done by electricity, gas and motorized engines was done by slaves.
  • We must not think about slavery in terms of our own history of slavery.

(Advance Slide #3)

    • Not all masters were abusive but there were certainly times when slaves were abused (sexually and physically) and exploited in a hundreds of different ways.
  • If we want to sneer at ancient societies for being so barbaric, we should be careful.
    • They might just sneer back at some ways that we still enslave people still today.

Peter addresses slaves and masters.
  • I will admit that these verses trouble lots of people but there is a powerful lesson here for us.

(Advance Slide #4)

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:18-21

(Advance Slide #5)

Peter addresses these Christian slaves.
  • Instead of telling them (as we might prefer) that they should rise up in revolt against their masters, he tells them to obey, and to show respect.
    • And he stresses this, not only when the masters in question are kindly and fair-minded, but also when they are unjust.

Putting up with unjust suffering looks, to us, very much like colluding with wickedness.
  • Many a violent household, many an abusive workplace, has been able to continue acting wickedly because people have been afraid to speak out.
    • 'Whistle blowing' on such behaviour can cost you your job, your home or even, in extreme cases, your life.

Peter would likely tell us to stay with him and things will become more clear.


(Advance Slide #6)

Peter invites followers of Jesus to inhabit his extraordinary story.
  • To embrace it as their own, and to make them the pattern of their lives as well.
  • What in particular is Peter challenging these Christians, and us, to experience?
    • Suffering!

(Advance Slide #7)

The crucifixion of Jesus was the most unjust and wicked act the world had ever seen.
  • Here was the one man who deserved nothing but praise and gratitude, and they rejected him, beat him up, and killed him.
  • To understand this, Peter goes back, as many early Christians did, to Isaiah (chapter 53).
    • Jesus, the royal figure of the ‘servant’ is called to carry out God’s worldwide saving purposes.
    • He does so precisely by being unjustly treated, being insulted but not replying in kind, suffering without throwing back curses at his torturers.
    • The wound in which He suffered HEALED!

(Advance Slide #8)

Jesus became the scapegoat for us!
  • He took on the punishment that we should have received in order that we might be saved.

Now, having gone through all of this we see how important it is for Peter to say what he does about slaves and masters.

(Advance Slide #9)

Suffering Like Jesus  
He isn’t simply recommending that people remain passive while suffering violence.
  • He is urging them to realize that the sufferings of Jesus was not only the means by which we are rescued from our own sin.
    • Through suffering as He did the world itself may be brought to a new place.

This is hard to believe.
  • It looks, to many, as though it’s a way of not confronting the real issue.
  • Peter believes that the death and resurrection of Jesus was and is the point around which everything else in the world revolves.
    • He is saying, we must see all the unjust suffering of God’s people as participating with the suffering of His Son.


(Advance Slide #10)

As I was meet and worship here this morning, Christians who live in other countries, trying to exercise their faith, are barely tolerated and often persecuted.
  • The message coming out of these countries is that things have become very bad.
  • Livelihoods have been taken away...the authorities always seem to be closing in.

When we hear such a message, we feel helpless.

(Advance Slide #11)

  • Somehow though, in prayer, those of us who read 1 Peter in comfortable freedom have a deep responsibility to help our brothers and sisters for whom the persecution of which Peter speaks is a daily reality.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

2015-09-13 - Trusting in the Lord - The Stone is Alive

September 13, 2015

Trusting in the Lord
The Stone is Alive
1 Peter 2:4-10

(Advance Slide #1)


(Advance Slide #2)

I will never be a great big reason is that I lack patience.
  • Have you ever been digging, preparing soil only to run into rocks?
    • This has happened to me before, I was planting a baby tree.
    • I kept pulling rock after rock and then I realized that if I kept this up was going to take me a long time.
    • Also, I was going to have to do something with all the rocks.

This splendid passage in which the word ‘stone’ occurs six times in five verses, with a ‘rock’ thrown in for good measure.
  • For us, stones are simply a nuisance...they get in the way.

(Advance Slide #3)

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”  7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”  8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
(Advance Slide #4)

But for a first-century Jew who knew the scriptures, the very word ‘stone’ carried a double promise.
  • First, the great hope of Israel was that the true God who would return to live for ever in the Temple...of course it would have to be properly rebuilt.
    • What’s that got to do with a ‘stone’ or a ‘rock’?
      • Well, there was a long tradition of speaking about the Temple being built on the ‘rock’, on the ‘cornerstone’.
      • Find the right ‘stone’, and you may be on the way to building the new Temple, ready for God to return.
  • Second, the word ‘stone’ in ancient Hebrew is like the word for ‘son’.

(Advance Slide #5)

How do the ‘stone’ and the ‘son’ join up?
  • God promised David that his son would build the Temple in Jerusalem, and that this son of David would actually be the son of God Himself.
    • The royal son of God will build the Temple, and he will do so on the proper stone.
    • The ‘chosen, precious cornerstone’ is no longer a physical stone itself, but a human being.

God’s promise to send his son, and his promise to build a house where he will come to live for ever.

If this seems complicated, it’s because it is.
  • But once you get the picture firmly in mind—God’s promise to send his son, and his promise to build a house where he will come to live forever...the rest of the passage is plain sailing.

(Advance Slide #6)

Jesus the Stone
For Peter, obviously, Jesus himself is the ‘stone’, and the new Temple is already being built up on him.
  • He is the ‘living stone’ (verse 4).
    • In that passage, the builders discard one particular stone because it doesn’t seem to fit.
    • Yet when they get to the very top of the wall, right in the corner, they need a stone of exactly that shape...what?
      • Jesus was rejected by his own people, because he didn’t fit with the plans they had at the time.
      • But God has shown him to be the most important stone in the whole building, the one who wouldn’t fit anywhere else because only the most exalted place would do.

If you’re going to suggest such a scenario, it helps to be able to find in scripture a passage or two which say exactly that.
  • Peter, like Paul, uses these texts from Isaiah and the Psalms to this effect.

(Advance Slide #7)

The Crucial Point
What he says about Jesus is crucial for all Christian life and devotion.
  • The scattered communities to which he is writing get it firmly in their minds that they, too, are part of this new Temple.
    • God is no longer to live in a Temple in Jerusalem, but in the ‘spiritual house’ which, made up of ‘living stones.’
    • This ‘temple’ is being ‘built’ all over the world.

God wants, after all, to fill the whole world with his glory

(Advance Slide #8)

Nothing to Something
This all means that Peter can address this scattered group of Jesus-followers in terms which, that at least in scripture, belong to the nation of Israel itself.
  • The early church was mostly Jewish.
  • But Peter knew that God had brought non-Jews into this family, to share in the blessings and the inheritance.

They were the ‘holy priesthood’ offering ‘spiritual sacrifices’.
  • They were the ‘chosen race, the royal priesthood’ spoken of in Exodus 19:3–6.
3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
  • They were to show the world what the true God had done.

To stress the point, Peter picks up in verse 10 a famous passage from Hosea 2:23.
  • The people who before were ‘not a people’ are now ‘God’s people’.
  • The people who had not received mercy now have received mercy.

Peter believed that all God’s promises to Israel had been fulfilled in Jesus himself.
  • He also believed that all who belonged to Jesus had now been brought into that ‘people of God’, that true Temple.
    • The one true God was now living in them!
  • The ‘Temple’ had been rebuilt—not in Jerusalem but all round the world!
    • That is the great truth on which everything else in the letter will depend.

(Advance Slide #9)

Think what a responsibility we have, privileged as we are, to stretch our minds to understand these enormous truths, and to teach tomorrow’s church to do so too.
  • Only by being firmly anchored in the truth of who Jesus is, and who we ourselves are as his followers, will we be able to live in the way the rest of this letter urges us to.