10/10/14

From Jim McGuiggan... Interpreting the Story


Interpreting the Story
Saying that we should learn how to read the "Story" already implies things. Some don't see the Bible as "Story". Some see it as a "guide to living". Some see it as a "devotional guide to make us more spiritual". Some read it as a "repository of promises". Some read it as an "authoritative guide to God's will," which expresses itself in commands and "principles". It would be hard to deny that elements of truth adhere to these views; anyway, who'd want to deny it? But if the Bible is more the development of the Story of God and his relationship to the human family, if it is more an historical telling of what God has done, is doing and will do in and through the human family then we should read it that way.

There's no doubt that the initiative in the entire biblical witness is with God but there's no doubt either than much of the Bible is a narrative telling how God's people responded to his self-disclosure and creative engagement in the life of humanity.

Maybe we should read the Bible asking how we should live as God's people. I'm sure everybody would agree to that—and should. But it implies a prior question and the answer to that question determines how we should live as God's people. The prior question (in one form or another) has to be: What kind of God is the God whose people we are?

That question has implications of profound importance. For example, it implies that there is one God whose people we are and that that God is unchanging in his character and purposes. If it's true that God is one and that his character and purposes are unchanging then it would follow that any change in his dealings with us would mean that he changes in order to remain the same. That is, he might introduce covenants and later remove them, place people in places of authority and later remove them, act this way in a particular situation and act differently later in a very similar situation. I mean to say that whatever the changes in his behaviour they cannot mean that his character is changing with the circumstances. To maintain his character and his overarching purpose he may act in different ways depending on the circumstances.

Because they care for them, parents might have a lights out at 8 p.m. policy for their young children. For the very same reason those parents will change the "lights out rule" when their children are older. The rules change so that the parents can remain the same toward the children. Click here to see a lengthy development of this point.

God's commandments profile his character and nurture his purposes and I would think that we're not to focus on the commandments as though they were ends in themselves. Commandments are not given for us to ignore and much less to break—they're to be obeyed; but it would be possible to obey commandments (at the societal, home and religious levels) without a relationship of devotion existing between those that obey and the one(s) issuing the commands.

A child may obey a father out of prudence or fear and not because he/she cares for or even respects the parent. The same could be true of societal and religious laws. There's little point in thinking that simply obeying the commands is the ideal—it certainly isn't; and if God is our Heavenly Father then it certainly wouldn't be what he desires. He wouldn't think that we honour him by deliberately defying his commands. He would think we dishonour him if we were to do that but he would surely hold that heartless obedience is legalism or a disguise for something worse. The Heavenly Father seeks the response that comes from his child. This is demonstrated in Jesus Christ whose obedience took the form of a devoted Son. His obedience did not exist simply in the specific actions of his life; he came into the world as a Son, a child of the Holy Father, and offered the obedience of a son. The actions and speech and attitudes were in keeping with his relationship; his righteousness was relational fidelity and not simply the correct legal response to commandments.

What God seeks will show itself in commandment-keeping but it will not be confined to that. If our commandment-keeping is to be like Christ's it will rise out of the child/parent relationship. Let me say it again, it's no accident that Jesus came as a child of the Father rather than some legal representative or special envoy or some such thing, as distinct from a Son. He came as a Son (a child of the Father) to profile what was to be offered to the Holy Father.

So when we ask how we are to live as the people of God I would suppose we should not be talking simply about obedience but the obedience that accords with a child/parent relationship. The obedience of a citizen to society's laws is not of the same nature as the obedience of a devoted child to a devoted parent.

If the above has merit and we are to obey as devoted children who call upon a Holy Father then our way of reading scripture should be undertaken in that light.

Some Prominent Theories of Predestination Considered by Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=281

Some Prominent Theories of Predestination Considered

by  Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.

For centuries, the concept of predestination has been the catalyst for much theological debate. Primarily, there are two biblically based points around which the controversy revolves: the sovereignty of God, and the free choice of human beings. On the one hand, the Bible unequivocally proclaims that God is the incontestable, sovereign Lord of the Universe (see Isaiah 40:21-23). On the other hand, it just as strongly presents the concept of humankind’s freedom (cf. Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 7:16; Matthew 11:28; 23:37; Revelation 22:17).
These two doctrinal strands form the theological Gordian knot of predestination that has attracted, and continues to attract, the curiosity of Bible students. While these two cords prove to be intertwined into a complex knot, simply cutting it in Alexandrian fashion is unacceptable, since each theological thread forming the configuration is fastened to strong, biblical clasps.
Valiant attempts to unravel the knot have been made by theologians through the centuries, resulting in various predestinarian theories. The three classical interpretations of biblical predestination, which span the theological spectrum, are: double predestination, universalism, and Pelagianism.
Double predestination. Double predestination holds that God decreed from eternity, and for the manifestation of His glory, that some people and angels are predestined to everlasting life, while others are foreordained to eternal damnation. From this perspective, predestination is “double” in that it is both positive and negative; God predetermines the eternal destinies of both the righteous and the unrighteous. This solution, however, isolates and focuses on the theological thread of God’s sovereignty, while ignoring (or not fully grasping) the cord of humankind’s freedom. Nor does it take into full consideration the gracious character of the God revealed in the Bible Who desires the salvation of every human being (cf. Ephesians 1:3-11 and 2 Peter 3:9).
Universalism. Unlike double predestination, which acknowledges the eternal demise of certain people, universalism argues that God, consistent with, and prompted by, His absolute benevolence, has chosen all to receive salvation and has rejected none. As with double predestination, this approach similarly emphasizes the sovereignty of God and does not fully wrestle with the biblical concept of human free choice. The Bible is clear that God desires a reciprocal relationship between Him and humankind, which introduces the element of a volitional human response to God’s invitation to fellowship. Unlike double predestination, universalism emphasizes God’s love over His sense of justice. Yet, while the Bible declares God’s desire for the salvation of all humanity, it also proclaims with equal weight and clarity that not all shall be saved eternally (cf., Matthew 7:13-14, 25:31-46, and 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12).
Pelagianism. Named after the fourth-century British monk, Pelagius, who developed this predestinarian theory, Pelagianism embraces fully and optimistically the volitional capabilities of human beings (see Schaff, 1910, 3:790-794). There are two expressions of this theory: the extreme or “pure” form, and the moderate or “semi” position (Guthrie, 1993, pp. 126-131). On the one hand, extreme pelagianism holds that God has given humankind laws and commandments. When we exercise our elective freedom and choose to obey those rules perfectly, God saves us. Though it recognizes humanity’s freedom to choose, this redemptive theory ultimately makes one’s salvation contingent on his or her good works. On the other hand, semi-Pelagianism acknowledges that salvation is by grace, but suggests that humans must exercise their volitional freedom to accept this divine gift.
These classical predestinarian theories demonstrate the centuries-long struggle with this biblical concept. While it is helpful to consider what has been said about this doctrine, the Scriptures—not the flawed theories of uninspired people—must have the final word. In this connection, there are several biblical truths that must be held in tension, and not ignored, if we are to come to some understanding of predestination. First, we must take into consideration the totality of biblical information regarding the character of God. Emphasizing certain preferred divine qualities over attributes that are not as personally palatable results in a distorted portrait of God that inevitably influences one’s theological position. For any predestinarian theory to be biblically viable, it must include the facts that God’s righteousness and justice are equally as real and absolute as His love, mercy, and grace (see Exodus 34:6-7).
Second, the nature of human beings as revealed in the Bible must also be a part of the predestinarian equation. Despite the fact that our sin-filled world has exerted such a deleterious influence on human beings so that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), the Bible holds us accountable for our sinful actions (Romans 1:18-20). This fact, coupled with the universal call of Christ to “come” to Him (cf. Matthew 11:28-30; Revelation 22:17), indicates the biblical position of humans’ freedom to choose. Hence, though it is an admittedly difficult task, any predestinarian theory must balance delicately the concepts of God’s sovereignty and humankind’s freedom of choice. Any approach that tends to exalt one of these features above the other will result in a scripturally skewed position.

REFERENCES

Guthrie, Shirley (1993), Christian Doctrine (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox).
Schaff, Philip (1910), History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

From Gary... Bible Reading October 10



Bible Reading   

October 10

The World English Bible

Oct. 10
Proverbs 1-4

Pro 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel:
Pro 1:2 to know wisdom and instruction; to discern the words of understanding;
Pro 1:3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity;
Pro 1:4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young man:
Pro 1:5 that the wise man may hear, and increase in learning; that the man of understanding may attain to sound counsel:
Pro 1:6 to understand a proverb, and parables, the words and riddles of the wise.
Pro 1:7 The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction.
Pro 1:8 My son, listen to your father's instruction, and don't forsake your mother's teaching:
Pro 1:9 for they will be a garland to grace your head, and chains around your neck.
Pro 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, don't consent.
Pro 1:11 If they say, "Come with us, Let's lay in wait for blood; let's lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
Pro 1:12 let's swallow them up alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down into the pit.
Pro 1:13 We'll find all valuable wealth. We'll fill our houses with spoil.
Pro 1:14 You shall cast your lot among us. We'll all have one purse."
Pro 1:15 My son, don't walk in the way with them. Keep your foot from their path,
Pro 1:16 for their feet run to evil. They hurry to shed blood.
Pro 1:17 For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird:
Pro 1:18 but these lay wait for their own blood. They lurk secretly for their own lives.
Pro 1:19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain. It takes away the life of its owners.
Pro 1:20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street. She utters her voice in the public squares.
Pro 1:21 She calls at the head of noisy places. At the entrance of the city gates, she utters her words:
Pro 1:22 "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? How long will mockers delight themselves in mockery, and fools hate knowledge?
Pro 1:23 Turn at my reproof. Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you. I will make known my words to you.
Pro 1:24 Because I have called, and you have refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no one has paid attention;
Pro 1:25 but you have ignored all my counsel, and wanted none of my reproof;
Pro 1:26 I also will laugh at your disaster. I will mock when calamity overtakes you;
Pro 1:27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when your disaster comes on like a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come on you.
Pro 1:28 Then will they call on me, but I will not answer. They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me;
Pro 1:29 because they hated knowledge, and didn't choose the fear of Yahweh.
Pro 1:30 They wanted none of my counsel. They despised all my reproof.
Pro 1:31 Therefore they will eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own schemes.
Pro 1:32 For the backsliding of the simple will kill them. The careless ease of fools will destroy them.
Pro 1:33 But whoever listens to me will dwell securely, and will be at ease, without fear of harm."
Pro 2:1 My son, if you will receive my words, and store up my commandments within you;
Pro 2:2 So as to turn your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding;
Pro 2:3 Yes, if you call out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding;
Pro 2:4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures:
Pro 2:5 then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, and find the knowledge of God.
Pro 2:6 For Yahweh gives wisdom. Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
Pro 2:7 He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity;
Pro 2:8 that he may guard the paths of justice, and preserve the way of his saints.
Pro 2:9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path.
Pro 2:10 For wisdom will enter into your heart. Knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Pro 2:11 Discretion will watch over you. Understanding will keep you,
Pro 2:12 to deliver you from the way of evil, from the men who speak perverse things;
Pro 2:13 who forsake the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
Pro 2:14 who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the perverseness of evil;
Pro 2:15 who are crooked in their ways, and wayward in their paths:
Pro 2:16 To deliver you from the strange woman, even from the foreigner who flatters with her words;
Pro 2:17 who forsakes the friend of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God:
Pro 2:18 for her house leads down to death, her paths to the dead.
Pro 2:19 None who go to her return again, neither do they attain to the paths of life:
Pro 2:20 that you may walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.
Pro 2:21 For the upright will dwell in the land. The perfect will remain in it.
Pro 2:22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land. The treacherous will be rooted out of it.
Pro 3:1 My son, don't forget my teaching; but let your heart keep my commandments:
Pro 3:2 for length of days, and years of life, and peace, will they add to you.
Pro 3:3 Don't let kindness and truth forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Pro 3:4 So you will find favor, and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Pro 3:5 Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don't lean on your own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Pro 3:7 Don't be wise in your own eyes. Fear Yahweh, and depart from evil.
Pro 3:8 It will be health to your body, and nourishment to your bones.
Pro 3:9 Honor Yahweh with your substance, with the first fruits of all your increase:
Pro 3:10 so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
Pro 3:11 My son, don't despise Yahweh's discipline, neither be weary of his reproof:
Pro 3:12 for whom Yahweh loves, he reproves; even as a father reproves the son in whom he delights.
Pro 3:13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gets understanding.
Pro 3:14 For her good profit is better than getting silver, and her return is better than fine gold.
Pro 3:15 She is more precious than rubies. None of the things you can desire are to be compared to her.
Pro 3:16 Length of days is in her right hand. In her left hand are riches and honor.
Pro 3:17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness. All her paths are peace.
Pro 3:18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her. Happy is everyone who retains her.
Pro 3:19 By wisdom Yahweh founded the earth. By understanding, he established the heavens.
Pro 3:20 By his knowledge, the depths were broken up, and the skies drop down the dew.
Pro 3:21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes. Keep sound wisdom and discretion:
Pro 3:22 so they will be life to your soul, and grace for your neck.
Pro 3:23 Then you shall walk in your way securely. Your foot won't stumble.
Pro 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid. Yes, you will lie down, and your sleep will be sweet.
Pro 3:25 Don't be afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it comes:
Pro 3:26 for Yahweh will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being taken.
Pro 3:27 Don't withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it.
Pro 3:28 Don't say to your neighbor, "Go, and come again; tomorrow I will give it to you," when you have it by you.
Pro 3:29 Don't devise evil against your neighbor, seeing he dwells securely by you.
Pro 3:30 Don't strive with a man without cause, if he has done you no harm.
Pro 3:31 Don't envy the man of violence. Choose none of his ways.
Pro 3:32 For the perverse is an abomination to Yahweh, but his friendship is with the upright.
Pro 3:33 Yahweh's curse is in the house of the wicked, but he blesses the habitation of the righteous.
Pro 3:34 Surely he mocks the mockers, but he gives grace to the humble.
Pro 3:35 The wise will inherit glory, but shame will be the promotion of fools.
Pro 4:1 Listen, sons, to a father's instruction. Pay attention and know understanding;
Pro 4:2 for I give you sound learning. Don't forsake my law.
Pro 4:3 For I was a son to my father, tender and an only child in the sight of my mother.
Pro 4:4 He taught me, and said to me: "Let your heart retain my words. Keep my commandments, and live.
Pro 4:5 Get wisdom. Get understanding. Don't forget, neither swerve from the words of my mouth.
Pro 4:6 Don't forsake her, and she will preserve you. Love her, and she will keep you.
Pro 4:7 Wisdom is supreme. Get wisdom. Yes, though it costs all your possessions, get understanding.
Pro 4:8 Esteem her, and she will exalt you. She will bring you to honor, when you embrace her.
Pro 4:9 She will give to your head a garland of grace. She will deliver a crown of splendor to you."
Pro 4:10 Listen, my son, and receive my sayings. The years of your life will be many.
Pro 4:11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom. I have led you in straight paths.
Pro 4:12 When you go, your steps will not be hampered. When you run, you will not stumble.
Pro 4:13 Take firm hold of instruction. Don't let her go. Keep her, for she is your life.
Pro 4:14 Don't enter into the path of the wicked. Don't walk in the way of evil men.
Pro 4:15 Avoid it, and don't pass by it. Turn from it, and pass on.
Pro 4:16 For they don't sleep, unless they do evil. Their sleep is taken away, unless they make someone fall.
Pro 4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
Pro 4:18 But the path of the righteous is like the dawning light, that shines more and more until the perfect day.
Pro 4:19 The way of the wicked is like darkness. They don't know what they stumble over.
Pro 4:20 My son, attend to my words. Turn your ear to my sayings.
Pro 4:21 Let them not depart from your eyes. Keep them in the midst of your heart.
Pro 4:22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to their whole body.
Pro 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.
Pro 4:24 Put away from yourself a perverse mouth. Put corrupt lips far from you.
Pro 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead. Fix your gaze directly before you.
Pro 4:26 Make the path of your feet level. Let all of your ways be established.
Pro 4:27 Don't turn to the right hand nor to the left. Remove your foot from evil.

Oct. 10
Ephesians 1

Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Eph 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ;
Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love;
Eph 1:5 having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire,
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely bestowed favor on us in the Beloved,
Eph 1:7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
Eph 1:8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him
Eph 1:10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;
Eph 1:11 in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will;
Eph 1:12 to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ:
Eph 1:13 in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation,--in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory.
Eph 1:15 For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which you have toward all the saints,
Eph 1:16 don't cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers,
Eph 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him;
Eph 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Eph 1:19 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might
Eph 1:20 which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places,
Eph 1:21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come.
Eph 1:22 He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly,
Eph 1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.




From Mark Copeland... Persevering Through Persecution (1 Peter 4:12-19)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

               Persevering Through Persecution (4:12-19)

INTRODUCTION

1. We have observed in our study of 1st Peter that the original
   recipients of this epistle were undergoing "various trials" - 1 Pe 1:6

2. In an earlier lesson, "Preparing For Persecution" (1Pe 3:13-18),
   we saw where Peter gave instructions on how they (and we) should
   prepare themselves for hard times

3. Now in 4:12-19, Peter continues to discuss persecution, but with a
   slightly different slant

4. The slant is that he now mentions things that relate to "Persevering
   Through Persecution", not just preparing for it

[While we might not ever endure "physical" persecution, it is unlikely
that we will escape occasional "verbal" or "social" persecution.

Therefore, what Peter has to say can be of great benefit to help us
persevere in such circumstances.  For example, we should...]

I. EXPECT PERSECUTION (12)

   A. IT IS NOT UNUSUAL...
      1. A point Peter stresses twice in this verse
         a. "do not think it strange"
         b. "as though some strange thing happened to you"
      2. It is something other Christians were experiencing at that
         time as well - 1Pe 5:9
      3. Jesus warned His disciples of hard times to come - Jn 15:18-21
      4. Why does God allow such things to happen?  Read on...

   B. "FIERY TRIALS" SERVE TO TRY ONE'S FAITH...
      1. Just as gold is tested by fire, so our faith is tested by
         persecution - cf. 1Pe 1:6-7
      2. This is why God allows the devil to bring such persecution
         (remember Job?)
      3. But just as God blessed Job after his trials, so He will bless
         us! - cf. 1Pe 5:10

[As someone has said, "First comes the cross, then comes the crown."
So don't be surprised if you find yourself facing ridicule, ostracism,
even physical persecution for the cause of Christ. (cf. Ac 14:22; 2 Ti
3:12).  Should it come, what then...?]

II. REJOICE IN PERSECUTION (13-14)

   A. THE CALL TO REJOICE IS NOTHING NEW...
      1. Jesus taught it in His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:11-12
      2. Paul found reason to "glory in tribulations" - Ro 5:3-5
      3. And James taught that trials ought to be an occasion for joy
         - Jm 1:2-4

   B. WHY REJOICE IN PERSECUTION?
      1. As explained by Jesus...
         a. "for great is your reward in heaven"
         b. "for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you"
      2. As explained by Paul...
         a. "tribulation produces perseverance"
         b. Which in turn produces "character, and character, hope"
      3. As explained by James...
         a. "the testing of your faith produces patience"
         b. And patience can help one be "perfect and complete, lacking
            nothing"

   C. PETER OFFERS THREE REASONS TO REJOICE IN PERSECUTION...
      1. It means glory in the future...
         a. "when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with
            exceeding joy"
         b. This will occur at His second coming - cf. 2Th 1:10-12
      2. It means blessing in the present...
         a. "blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests
            upon you"
         b. A reference to the Holy Spirit, and possibly alluding to
            that blessing...
            1) Described by Jesus in Lk 12:11-12; 21:12-15
            2) Exemplified in the case of Stephen - Ac 7:54-60
         c. Such a blessing might have limited application to the
            special circumstances of the first century, but God's grace
            will still provide whatever we need to endure trials - cf.
            1Co 10:13
      3. It means Christ is glorified...
         a. "on your part He is glorified"
         b. When we endure persecution through the strength Jesus gives
            us, we make manifest the "life" (power) of Jesus - cf. 2 Co 4:7-11
         c. And so by our conduct we can bring glory to Christ (God)
            - cf. 1Pe 2:12

[We have every reason, then, to rejoice in times of persecution.  But
for us to make the most of such situations, we need not only to
"rejoice", but also to "reflect".  I.e., use the time to...]

III. EXAMINE YOUR LIFE (15-18)

   A. IF WE MUST SUFFER, MAKE IT WORTHWHILE...
      1. Make sure it is not for reasons listed by Peter...
         a. E.g., as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer
         b. Or for doing what often brings unnecessary suffering to the
            church:  "as a busybody in other people's matters"
      2. Make sure it is because we are Christians...
         a. In which have an opportunity to glorify God
         b. In which we can demonstrate the grace He gives us to endure
            it

   B. CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT REMAINING FAITHFUL...
      1. God allows persecution of the righteous because it serves as
         one way to judge "the house of God" (i.e., God's family, the
         church) - 1Pe 4:17
      2. As Paul wrote, it is "evidence of the righteous judgment of
         God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for
         which you also suffer" - 2Th 1:4-5
      3. If God is willing to so "judge" His own faithful children,
         what about those who are disobedient?  As Peter asks:
         a. "What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel
            of God?"
         b. "Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
      4. Paul provides the answer, in 2Th 1:6-9...
         a. Those God will "repay with tribulation"
         b. Jesus will come "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those
            who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the
            gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"
         c. Yes, they "shall be punished with everlasting destruction"

[In view of the coming Judgment of God, of which the persecution of the
saved is only a precursor, use times of persecution to reflect and make
sure of our standing before God.

Finally, you can be successful in "Persevering Through Persecution" if
you will...]

IV. COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD (19)

   A. "HOW" TO COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD...
      1. By doing good, no matter the circumstances
         a. Whatever evil is done to you, respond by doing good - cf.
            Lk 6:27-28
         b. Remember the example of Jesus (Lk 23:34) and Stephen (Ac 7:59-60)
      2. Don't let persecution be an excuse for misconduct

   B. "WHY" TO COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD...
      1. Because God is a "faithful Creator"
      2. As "Creator", He has the power to do what is right in the end
      3. As "faithful" (trustworthy), He can be trusted to do what is
         right in the end

CONCLUSION

1. Certainly we should hope and pray that we never have to endure the
   sort of persecution experienced by the early Christians

2. But if we do, will we be prepared?  We can be, if we take to heart
   the words of the apostle Peter as found in his epistle!

As for being prepared, have you yet "obeyed" the gospel?

Some may think it odd that the gospel is to be "obeyed", and not just
"believed"; but both Peter and Paul warn of the end of those "who do
not obey the gospel" (1Pe 4:19; 2Th 1:8).

How does one obey the gospel? - cf. Mk 16:15-16

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Living In The End Times (1 Peter 4:7-11)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

                    Living In The End Times (4:7-11)

INTRODUCTION

1. In 1Pe 4:2, Peter wrote concerning the Christian that...

   "...he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh for
   the lusts of men, but for the will of God."

2. As an impetus to live out one's time in the flesh for the will of 
   God, one should remember that we are living in the "end times" - 
   cf. 1Pe 4:7a ("But the end of all things is at hand;")

3. It might be that Peter actually had reference in this text to the 
   destruction of Jerusalem
   a. Which was the end of the temple, the Levitical priesthood, and of
      the Jewish economy
   b. As MacKnight points out in his commentary:  "This epistle being 
      written A.D.67, about a year after the war with the Romans began,
      which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish 
      state, Peter, who had heard his Master's prophecy concerning 
      these events, and concerning the signs of their approach, had 
      good reason to say, that they had approached."

4. But whether Peter has in mind the destruction of Jerusalem, or the 
   Lord's second coming, we can still say "the end of all things is at 
   hand"...
   a. For even if the Lord Himself does not return for another two 
      thousand years, the time is not long when we who are alive today 
      will be "in the flesh" no more
   b. With every passing day, "our salvation is nearer than when we 
      first believed", and the "end" draws ever closer

5. How then should we live out the rest of our time, living as we do in
   the "end times"?

[Verses 7-11 provide guidance to "Living In The End Times" and we
notice right away that it should involve...]

I. PRAYER THAT IS SERIOUS AND ALERT (7)

   A. PETER STRESSES SERIOUSNESS THROUGHOUT HIS EPISTLE...
      1. The word here is sophroneo {so-fron-eh'-o}, which means...
         a. To be in one's right mind
         b. To exercise self control
            1) to put a moderate estimate upon one's self, think of 
               one's self soberly
            2) to curb one's passions
      2. Words closely related to this are found in 1Pe 1:13; 5:8
         (the word "sober")

   B. THIS QUALITY IS NEEDED ESPECIALLY IN OUR PRAYERS...
      1. Otherwise we cannot pray as we ought - cf. Ep 6:18
      2. That is, with praying that is "watchful" - cf. Lk 21:34-36

[Serious, watchful praying is necessary, therefore, or we might not be
ready for that which will come.  As we continue in our text, we see 
that "Living In The End Times" also calls for a...]

II. LOVE THAT IS FERVENT & FORGIVING (8)

   A. THIS IS THE SECOND TIME PETER COMMANDS "FERVENT LOVE"...
      1. The first time was in 1Pe 1:22
      2. Where we defined "fervent" as "constant" or "earnest"
      3. Here Peter tells us to make such "fervent love" the number one
         priority ("above all things have fervent love...")
         a. This is reminiscent of Paul's words in Col 3:14
         b. And perhaps a reflection of Jesus' words in Mt 22:36-40

   B. THE NEED FOR SUCH "FERVENT LOVE" IS SEEN IN ITS POWER TO 
      FORGIVE...
      1. "for love will cover a multitude of sins"
      2. This appears to be a reference to Pr 10:12 ("love covers 
         all sins")
      3. To "cover sin" does not mean to ignore it, but as used by 
         James it suggests "fervent love" does what is necessary to 
         restore and forgive the sinner - cf. Jm 5:19-20

[As the "time of the end" draws near, and the Day of Judgment looms 
closer, how important it is that we have the kind of love for one 
another which will encourage us all to get rid of sin in our lives!

As a further expression of "fervent love for one another", "Living In 
The End Times" will also involve...]

III. HOSPITALITY THAT IS GRACIOUS (9)

   A. THIS IS AN UNUSUAL USE OF THE WORD "HOSPITALITY"...
      1. For the word is philoxenos {fil-ox'-en-os}
         a. It literally means "love of strangers" and is normally used
            in reference to kindness to those we don't know
         b. But here Peter applies it to our love towards brethren
      2. But if we are to show kindness to those we don't know, how 
         much more towards those who are "of the household of faith", 
         our own brethren! - cf. Ga 6:10

   B. THE NEED FOR HOSPITALITY...
      1. There is always a need, as our love for one another is a sign 
         of true discipleship - cf. Jn 13:34-35
      2. But there may be a special need as "the end draws near"
         a. Several passages suggest that persecution of the saints 
            will increase before Christ returns (so I understand Re 20:
            7-9)
         b. In any period of persecution, when some Christians lose all
            they have, other Christians need to be ready to provide for
            their needs - cf. Mt 25:35-40

   C. FOR IT TO BE TRUE HOSPITALITY, IT MUST BE "WITHOUT GRUMBLING"...
      1. If one shows kindness with a begrudging spirit, can it be said
         they truly have a love of strangers (or brethren)?
      2. Only by placing a higher premium on our brethren than we do on
         our possessions can we show hospitality without grumbling

[Finally, in keeping with our Lord's charge to "Do business till I 
come" (Lk 19:13), "Living In The End Times" requires that we 
offer...]

IV. SERVICE THAT GLORIFIES GOD (10-11)

   A. EACH PERSON CAN PERFORM A VALUABLE SERVICE...
      1. By the grace of God, which is "manifold"  (multi-faceted), 
         there are various ways one can serve God
      2. And each of us are to be "good stewards" (accountable 
         servants) of whatever gifts or abilities we may have
      3. Even as Paul wrote to the brethren at Rome in Ro 12:3-8

   B. WITH TWO EXAMPLES, PETER ILLUSTRATES THE KIND OF SERVICE THAT
      GLORIFIES GOD...
      1. Those that speak
         a. They should speak "as the oracles of God"
         b. Understanding that they are speaking for God:
            1) They should speak only that which God Himself has 
               revealed
            2) With "sound speech that cannot be condemned" - cf. Tit 2:
               7-8
      2. Those that minister (serve)
         a. With the ability or strength supplied by God Himself!
         b. Certainly not with slothfulness - cf. Ro 12:11

CONCLUSION

1. "Living In The End Times", then, is living with the recognition
   that to God (and Jesus Christ) "belong the glory and dominion 
   forever and ever"

2. With that recognition, we will be careful to develop:
   a. Prayer that is serious and alert
   b. Love that is fervent and forgiving
   c. Hospitality that is gracious
   d. Service that glorifies God

How are you living now that "the end of all things is at hand"?  Are
you glorifying God through Jesus Christ?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... The Militant Christian (1 Peter 4:1-6)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

                     The Militant Christian (4:1-6)

INTRODUCTION

1. It is quite common today to pick up the newspaper and read about the
   violent actions of those referred to as "militant fundamentalists"
   a. Sometimes the phrase has reference to extremists of the Islamic
      faith, engaged in what they call "Jihad" (holy war, or struggle)
   b. But there also times when it is applied to professing Christians,
      who resort to physical violence in support of their cause (e.g.,
      the radical pro-life movement)

2. As true followers of the "Prince of Peace"...
   a. We must remember that the Kingdom is spiritual, and therefore not
      expanded through carnal means - cf. Jn 18:36
   b. We should keep in mind the words of our Savior:  "...for all who
      take the sword will perish by the sword." - Mt 26:52

3. But this is not to say we do not have a true struggle, nor weapons
   with which to fight...
   a. We are engaged in a spiritual struggle, both without and within
      - Ep 6:12; 1Pe 2:12
   b. We have in our arsenal weapons that are "mighty in God" - 2 Co
      10:3-5
   c. Indeed, as we enter the fourth chapter of 1st Peter, we see that
      Christians are to "arm" themselves in their service to the Lord
      - 1Pe 4:1

4. So in one sense, there is such a thing as "The Militant Christian";
   but it is important that we properly understand in what sense we are
   to be militant in our service to the Lord

[Using 1Pe 4:1-6 as our text, I would first point out that "The
Militant Christian" is to be...]

I. ARMED WITH THE MIND OF CHRIST (1)

   A. WHICH IS A MIND WILLING TO SUFFER...
      1. This is the attitude Peter wants us to have
      2. Which was the attitude of Christ Himself - cf. 1Pe 2:21-23;
         3:18

   B. TWO REASONS WE SHOULD BE WILLING TO SUFFER...
      1. "since Christ suffered for us"
         a. He died for us, that we might live for righteousness - 1 Pe 2:24
         b. Is it asking too much that we might be willing to endure
            hardship for His sake?
      2. "he who suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin"
         a. One who endures hardship for Christ is not likely to allow
            sin to have dominance in his or her life
         b. "One who has embraced the mind of Christ, and whose life is
            so influenced by him that he suffers persecution is not in
            danger of succumbing to the weaker temptations of the
            flesh.  To such an individual these allurements lose their
            appeal.  Martyrs, in the hour of persecution and death, do
            not toy with temptation or surrender to the seductions of
            the world!" - Guy N. Woods

[Armed with the mind of Christ, which includes a willingness to suffer
for doing good, "The Militant Christian" is also to be... ]

II. MILITANT IN HIS STRUGGLE AGAINST SIN (2-3)

   A. HERE IS WHERE THE MAJOR BATTLE IS TO BE FOUGHT...
      1. A battle between one's soul and fleshly lusts - cf. 1Pe 2:12
      2. Unless we first win the battle for our own soul, we are not
         likely to be of much help in winning the souls of others!
         a. Therefore we need to remove the plank out of our own eye
            first - cf. Mt 7:3-5
         b. Only by first being "spiritual" ourselves are we prepared
            to help others - cf. Ga 6:1
      3. Many immature Christians begin fighting a "spiritual warfare"
         with others too soon, and lose the "spiritual warfare" within
         themselves in the process!

   B. MOTIVATION FOR THIS STRUGGLE AGAINST SIN...
      1. We have wasted enough of our lifetime doing what is called
         "the will of the Gentiles"
         a. Briefly summarized in verse 3
         b. What Paul calls the "works of the flesh" in Ga 5:19-21
      2. Now it is time to live out the rest of our life for "the will
         of God"
         a. Briefly summarized in verses 7-11
         b. Which will be considered more carefully in the next lesson

[As we think of ourselves "standing strong for the faith" and "fighting
the good fight", let's not forget that the battle begins within
ourselves.

Unless the Christian is first militant in "crucifying the flesh" and
"putting to death the deeds of the body", he or she is not likely to
have the "spiritual fortitude" necessary to prevent killing one's self
in the "battle for truth" (cf. 2Ti 2:24-26).

When "The Militant Christian" is living out the rest of his or her life
for the will of God, we need to be prepared for the fact that we
will...]

III. LIKELY BE MALIGNED (4)

   A. OUR FORMER COMPANIONS WILL THINK US "STRANGE"...
      1. Because we no longer join with them in their sin
      2. Unable to persuade us from our new course, they may resort to
         "speaking evil of you"
      3. Some young Christians are troubled by this "peer pressure"

   B. BUT WHEN MALIGNED...
      1. We have reason to rejoice - cf. Mt 5:11-12; 1Pe 4:13-14
      2. Our response is to be one of love and honorable conduct - cf.
         Mt 5:44; 1Pe 2:12
      3. Who knows?  Perhaps our conduct will lead one day to their
         glorifying God!

[Yes, "The Militant Christian" is likely to be thought of by others as
a "fanatic", but I believe that deep down even those who malign us the
most have respect for our convictions when held with the proper spirit
on our part.

Finally, taking a clue from the comments of Peter in verses 5-6, let
me suggest that "The Militant Christian" is one who is...]

IV. WILLING TO LET GOD BE THE JUDGE (5-6)

   A. VERSE 6 IS ANOTHER ONE OF "PETER'S PERPLEXING PASSAGES"...
      1. Especially the phrase "the gospel was also preached to those
         who are dead"
      2. Some think Peter is referring back to his comments in 1Pe 3:
         18-20...
         a. If so, then the "spirits in prison" would be human spirits,
            not angelic spirits (as I suggested in my earlier lesson)
         b. If so, then the preaching of the gospel was:
            1) Not an offer of salvation (i.e., a second chance)
            2) But a proclamation of what Christ has done, explaining
               how Christ has redeemed the O.T. faithful, and why
               others remain condemned
            3) Note that they were still "judged according to men in
               the flesh" (how they lived in the flesh), though they
               now "live according to God in the spirit"
      3. Others believe Peter is simply referring to the preaching of
         the gospel...
         a. To people when they were alive
         b. But who are now among the dead

   B. EITHER WAY, AS "MILITANT CHRISTIANS"...
      1. We must remember who is the Judge...
         a. God is the judge of those who are "outside" - 1Co 5:12-13
         b. They will have to "give an account to Him who is ready to
            judge..." - 1Pe 4:5
      2. We must therefore be willing to let God be the judge...
         a. I.e., leave vengeance to God - cf. Ro 12:19
         b. God will apply the "justice" when necessary, we are called
            upon to offer His "mercy" until then...
            1) Through the preaching of the gospel
            2) Through living lives of kindness and mercy - cf. Ro 12:
               20-21

CONCLUSION

1. There is a place, then, for "militancy" in the life of the
   Christian!

2. But it is to be found in the way we "arm" ourselves with the mind of
   Christ...
   a. "Fighting" the spiritual warfare that wages within
   b. "Militant" in our efforts to live the godly life, do going and
      showing mercy

Are you "fighting the good fight of faith"?  Are you even in the Lord's
army...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011