Archive for the ‘1 Peter’ Category

            In the closing chapter of 1 Peter, we see simple instructions from Peter concerning the relationship between an elder and a church member. An elder himself, Peter is specifically instructing the elders within the church to exercise oversight over the other believers in their churches- not compulsively, but willingly. It should be a burden on their hearts, constantly. Not as a compulsive thing, but more of a personality thing. He says they should provide this oversight (not to be confused with dictatorship) eagerly, but not simply for shameful gain, such as financial compensation or the accolades of men. Lastly, he warns the elders to not be domineering over those in their congregation, but to rather lead by example. Peter is describing the kind of man I wish I was more of- a caring, loving, example-setting, people nourishing, minister to people.

            One need not spend much time around me to see how sorely lacking I am in these areas, and for that I apologize. While I recognize this calling on my life, I can also see that I’m nowhere near the elder I should be. Thankfully, God is giving me more grace everyday- be patient with me, lol. Continuing his instructions, Peter encourages the members of the congregation to follow the example set by the elders- something else easier said than done, ha!

            So the secret to a perfect local church is simple. Ensure that your elder(s) is setting a godly and loving example, and then do what he/they say/do. Too easy, right? 🙂

                God’s will is an interesting thing. Trying to define it properly is like trying to pin jello to the wall. I suppose another way to describe God’s will is by saying God’s desire. Though having barely dipped my toes into the plethora of philosophical theologababblings existent on the internet in this realm, I am firmly convinced that God has more than one will (or if you want to be technical, more than one aspect of His one will- whichever floats your boat). My understanding of God is that He employs at least three different wills, or desires. While I could do a little research and really flesh this post out, I’d rather shoot from the lip and keep it simple. That said, forgive me for my poor treatment of a deep topic.

                  But the first type of will is what is known as God’s decretive will, or His decreeing will. In other words, this is the aspect of God’s will which commands what will be done. An example of this would be “let there be light”…and there was light. What God decrees will happen. Period. For it to not happen, God is not all powerful.

                Well, this creates an issue because God, quite simply, does not get His will. Seemingly. Remember 2 Peter 3:9? You know, “God isn’t willing that any perish”? Well, here is where God’s permissive will comes into play. No, God doesn’t want people to go to Hell. However, God is willing to allow this to happen because in the end it will glorify Him more (see Romans nine for an explanation of this). Of course, one could simply point out that 2 Peter 3:9 is in reference to believers in the first place, but that won’t negate the other instances in scripture where God wills for one thing and gets another.  

                 Tough at times to understand, the reality is that God’s decretive will allows for, and includes, human violation of His permissive will and His moral will, which is His third kind. Simply put, this is the standard of conduct which God has placed on the human race. His will is for us not to murder, though we do, which is a violation of God’s will, which was a part of God’s will in the first place…see how it can be confusing?

                I say all of that to say this: crap happens, and it’s God’s will that crap happens. Look at what Peter says: “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Suffering according to God’s will. Yes, suffering because God wants you to suffer, because ultimately it will be for your best and for God’s glory. So don’t ever think for a second that God has lost control over the events in your life. Everything happens is part of God’s plan, even the bad parts. So please…trust God in the worst of times, and do good. Be faithful to God- He’s always faithful to us.

            One of the things I love about 1 Peter three is its citation of the Old Testament and its applicability to New Testament believers. I love it because I’m a New Testament (or New Covenant) believer, and I love the reaffirmation that much of the Old Testament has everything to do with us today. As Paul explains to us in Romans nine, not everyone born as a Jew is a spiritual Jew, and those of us now who are in Christ are grafted into true Israel, so it behooves us to study carefully the pages of the Old Testament in order to learn everything we can about God’s chosen people, because we are part of that group.

            Peter, referencing Psalm 34:12-16, sets up a propositional statement, one of those “if/then” deals by which we as the reader have the opportunity to fulfill our end of the bargain in exchange for something else. Here is that something else: an awesome life and God hearing our prayers. Sounds pretty good, right? God says, do this, and you’ll love life. You’ll have good days. I’ll listen to your prayers. I will continually watch you. That all sounds pretty good to me. So what do I need to do for these things?

            The answer to that is threefold. The first step is to “keep [my] tongue from evil and [my] lips from speaking deceit.” So what all does that entail? As Gill states, it means to stay away from “all obscene words, filthy and corrupt communication, whatever is unsavoury and unedifying; from lying, cursing, swearing, and particularly from railing and evil speaking.” Hmm. Just got a little tougher, huh? It means that everything we say needs to be God-honoring. Everything.

            The second thing we must do is “turn away from evil and do good.” There is a naturally corollary in place here for those who turn away from sin, and that is to instead do things that are good. It’s not enough, God says, to simply turn aside from sinful acts and stand there doing nothing. Instead, get active with doing good! In fact, James tells us that when we know what things to do that are good, and we choose not to do them, than we are sinning. So this whole turning away from evil thing? Well, the evil could be coming from our refusal to do something good, so turning from evil means doing something good. So do something good!

            Lastly, Peter reminds us that we are to “seek peace and pursue it,” which means that we should be actively working towards peaceful harmony with those in our homes, workplaces, schools (yes, even among the snobbiest of our classmates), youth groups, oh- everyone in the world, basically.

            A daunting task, to be sure, but one that is doable with the help of God. I encourage you now to ask for God’s help as you control your tongue, do good, and pursue peace so that God will see you, listen to you, and give you awesome days in your awesome life.

            When the chapter divisions of the Bible were made sometime in the thirteenth century, it looks as if someone cut Peter out mid-thought in his first letter. You can tell this by the way chapter two begins with the word “so”. In other words, you can’t begin 1 Peter two with verse one and truly grasp his train of thought, because the train began back in chapter one, which was wrapped up with Peter discussing how we were born again through the good news (Gospel) of Christ.

            After touching on this and reminding his readers of God’s electing grace, he says “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” Just get rid of that stuff, guys. You don’t need that garbage. Instead, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

            Now, elsewhere in scripture Paul refers to believers needing milk, but in that context milk was a bad thing. It marked an inability for Paul’s readers to grasp a “deep” theology. Don’t read Peter’s words in Paul’s context. What Peter is saying is this: Hey guys- most of you have kids. Remember how your children’s lives revolved around eating? You know, you couldn’t sleep all the way through the night because every few hours they just had to drink some more milk? And the older they got, the bigger they got, and the more milk they needed, so that every passing day brought an even bigger need and desire for milk? Yeah- that’s the exact same mentality that we should have towards God’s word. It should sustain us, and we should have a non-stop need for it, always.

            So…how does one go about desiring more of something that they don’t much care for now? There are two immediate answers to this question. The first one is the easiest, and it’s to simply ask God to increase your desire for His Word. The second is tougher, but necessary. It begins with your first “drink”. Until you down the first bottle, your body will have no need for more, so get to drinkin’, people!

I Peter One: Be Holy!

Posted: August 6, 2011 in 1 Peter

            Y’all remember Peter? You know, Mr. “Jesus You Aren’t Going to the Cross”, or “Jesus, You’re Going to the Cross But I’ll Come Too and Never Deny You”? Yeah, that guy. Let me walk on water and then sink from lack of faith Peter. He’s the one. Did you know that God used him to write a couple of very important letters? First Peter is one of them, written to the scattered elect Jews.

            I enjoyed reading 1 Peter one, because it felt as though while Paul was busy crafting deep doctrines, Peter was able to jump right into the conversation without preamble or thought. Right from the get-go we see God’s sovereign election and foreknowledge, and Peter uses these terms to remind his readers of who they are in Christ. He affirms monergistic regeneration in his reminder that “God has caused us to be born again”, not “God begged and you responded right and were born again as a result.”

            After throwing around terms and concepts that Paul spent a long time developing, Peter really gets to the heart of the matter and says this: “Come on, guys. Take a long, hard look at what God has done for you. I know that this knowledge is compelling you to respond, so this is what you should do: devote yourselves to a life of holiness, because as God is holy, He calls us His children to be holy as well.”

            The precept stands for us today. We have been called to be separate from the lost world around us. How well are we doing that? The good news is, holiness isn’t about removing thing after thing after thing in our life, but rather becoming consumed with the Cross, and with the Christ who died for us. As we take in more God, we leave less room for anything else. That’s how we become holy, and it begins with the proper understanding of the Cross.