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Service Archives > 60 1 & 2 Peter - Rock Solid - 2013 > The World's Hardest Activity

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The World's Hardest Activity
1 Peter 2:13-17
Skip Heitzig

1 Peter 2 (NKJV™)
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme,
14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men--
16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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60 1 & 2 Peter - Rock Solid - 2013

Some people are just gifted at music or naturally talented with their hands. Others find that sports come easy, while others can perform math functions with total ease. But there is something that practically everyone finds difficult and that is submission. To abdicate our will to that of another, even for the sake of order and peace, is extremely tough. But there are higher goals and loftier purposes for believers to live submissive lives.

When Jesus asked his disciples. "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Peter responded "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus promised Peter that upon the Rock of that confession He would build His church.

The truth of who Jesus is empowers common man to speak the message that opens the doors of heaven to sinners. Join us to learn strong principles for godly living and reach new heights in our faith as we work our way through Peter's epistles—writings which evangelize the lost and instruct the church. Pastor Skip Heitzig guides us through First and Second Peter in the series Rock Solid.

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Outline

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  1. The Principle of Submission (v. 13)

  2. The Particulars of Submission (vv. 13-14)

    1. The King

    2. Governors

    3. Law Enforcement

  3. The Purpose of Submission (vv. 13, 15-16)

    1. The Upward Purpose (v. 13 “For the Lord’s sake”)

    2. The Outward Purpose (v. 15 “to silence the ignorance of foolish people”)

  4. The Practice of Submission (v. 17)

    1. Towards People

    2. Towards God

CONNECT QUESTIONS

  1. In verse 13, what is the first reason given for our submission?

  2. How does this principle influence your understanding of submission?

  3. Who should we submit to? In what ways can we do this?

  4. Why should we submit?

  5. How do we differentiate submitting to God and submitting to people? In other words, when does submitting to God take precedence over submitting to people?

  6. What are some examples of this?

  7. What did God reveal to you in this passage?

  8. Is there anything that applies directly to you or to someone you know? How can you take aim at changing a negative behavior in a biblical way?

  9. Who was this passage originally directed to?

  10. How does this passage apply to believers?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Of all the doctrines in the Bible, which is the hardest one to do? The doctrine of submission
    2. Nobody likes to be told what to do
      1. American culture is based upon the idea that we have freedom from restrictive laws of a tyrannical government
      2. But it's not just an American proclivity; it's human tendency, human nature
    3. James Dobson: there are twice as many defiant children as compliant ones
    4. But it's not limited to children; resisting authority and finding it difficult to submit is as human as blinking
    5. Isaiah 53:6, MSG
    6. However, without submission, there is no safety, security, or protection—or music
    7. When an orchestra subordinates their feelings and biases to the leadership of one conductor, there's harmony and music
    8. 1 Peter 2: we are observed by the outside world and have grounds rule to play by
      1. Verse 12: an inward purity of life demonstrated by an outward quality of life
      2. Verse 13: how to do this—submit to:
        1. Government (see v. 13)
        2. Your employer (see v. 18)
        3. Wives to husbands (see 3:1)
  2. The Principle of Submission (v. 13)
    1. Submit is the Greek word hupotassó, which means to arrange in orderly fashion a group of soldiers under the ranking of a commanding officer
      1. Here, it is used in a non-military sense
      2. Speaks of voluntary cooperation or helping someone carry a load
    2. Believers are never to be known as subversive troublemakers, but as model citizens
    3. Culture of the New Testament
      1. Politically corrupt, filled with tyrants
      2. No democracy, no voting, no free speech
      3. It was an autocracy
        1. The Caesars were deified by the people
          1. Once a year, Roman citizens were required to confess Caesar as lord
          2. Christians did not do this and were persecuted because of it
        2. Herod the Great (see Matthew 2:16)
      4. Slavery of epidemic proportions: over half of the Roman population was slaves
      5. Crushing and oppressive taxes
    4. People thought the Messiah would deliver everyone from this oppression
      1. But He never picketed, marched on Rome or Jerusalem, started an insurrection, or tried to win a culture war
      2. Pharisees and Herodians hated each other but tried to corner Jesus: Matthew 22:15-21
      3. Not everybody agreed with Jesus' statement: Jewish nationalists called Zealots tried to kill their oppressors, based on Deuteronomy 17:16
    5. In an ungodly government, what is a Christian to do? Peter said submit yourself to every ordinance of man
  3. The Particulars of Submission (vv. 13-14)
    1. The King
      1. Caesar Nero
      2. Peter wrote this letter a couple years before the Great Persecution, AD 64
        1. A fire broke out in Rome; many believed and still believe the fire was started by Caesar Nero
        2. Nero chose the Christians as scapegoats and started persecuting them en masse
      3. Is there ever a time when a Christian can or should defy the government?
        1. Yes; submit until submitting to earthly authority makes you not submit to heavenly authority
        2. Obey until your obedience makes you disobey God
        3. Midwives in Egypt: Exodus 1:17
        4. Daniel's diet: Daniel 1:8
        5. Nebuchadnezzar worship: Daniel 3:18
        6. Daniel's prayer: Daniel 6:10
        7. Peter and other apostles: Acts 5:29
    2. Governors
      1. Twenty-eight imperial districts
      2. Pontius Pilate
    3. Law Enforcement
      1. "For the punishment of evildoers" (v. 14)
      2. You never need to fear the police unless you're breaking the law
  4. The Purpose of Submission (vv. 13, 15-16)
    1. The Upward Purpose (v. 13 "For the Lord's sake")
      1. God is honored when His earthly representatives are seen as stabilizers in their society
      2. Isn't this the greatest motivation to do it—because God said to do it?
      3. John 14:15
      4. Verse 15: there are very few places in the New Testament where something is called "the will of God"
      5. A good Christian should be a good citizen—then they'll have a clear conscience
      6. Romans 13:1-2, NLT
      7. If God is the ultimate authority, He has the right to say, "Obey the intermediate authorities"
      8. You have the right to voice dissent and to not enjoy certain things about our government, but this is a different issue
    2. The Outward Purpose (v. 15 "to silence the ignorance of foolish people")
      1. People are always looking at us to find the dirt on us; so, one of the best witnesses is to be a good citizen
      2. Often, the way people will view God is by looking at God's representatives
      3. One of the greatest apologetics for the gospel of Jesus Christ is a good life, a redeemed life
      4. Peter said to submit, but then he also said you're free (see v. 16)
        1. Most people think of freedom and submission as opposites
        2. When you submit, you're gaining a greater freedom
        3. "Christian freedom does not mean being free to do as we like; it means being free to do as we ought" —William Barclay
        4. In restricting certain freedoms, you gain others
  5. The Practice of Submission (v. 17)
    1. Verse 17 is a summation, doctrine, theology of submission
    2. Towards People
      1. Every single human being deserves a certain amount of respect
      2. Peter wrote this against the backdrop of the first century, where slaves were not considered human beings
        1. Women hardly had any rights at all
        2. But the Christian church is not to discriminate
          1. This doesn't mean we mindlessly tolerate any behavior
          2. But every single person deserves to be honored as made in the image of God
      3. The brotherhood is believers
      4. John 13:35: Jesus gave the world permission to judge us
      5. You want to have a family of love so compelling in the church that when people visit, they say, "I want to be in this family"
    3. Towards God
      1. Fear means a reverential respect and awe of God that culminates in submissive obedience to the will of God
      2. Because we submit to God's will, and part of His will is for us to obey intermediate authority, we do it
    4. "Honor the king" (v. 17)
      1. Peter went full circle
      2. However, in verse 13, he dealt with action; here, he dealt with attitude
      3. You can do something and have a rotten attitude
      4. Be careful how you talk about your governing authorities
      5. Whether your president, governor, or police force, they are to be prayed for and honored
      6. They are in a place God allowed them to be in
  6. Closing
    1. Let's make beautiful music together
    2. Let's make our ideas and our biases subservient to the conductor, our Lord
    3. In submitting to His lordship, we march together in unity
    4. You don't have to feel like it; just do it, and you'll discover that the emotions will catch up with your obedience
    5. Hate cannot well up in the heart that prays a prayer of honor to a loving God

Figures referenced: James Dobson, Herod the Great, Caesar Nero, Pontius Pilate, William Barclay

Greek words: hupotassó

Cross references: Exodus 1:17; Deuteronomy 17:16; Isaiah 53:6; Daniel 1:8; 3:18; 6:10; Matthew 2:16; 22:15-21; John 13:35; 14:15; Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2; 3:1


Topic: Submission

Keywords: submission, submit, government, citizens, obedience, disobedience, authority, law, freedom, respect, unity, honor, will of God

Transcript

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Pastor Skip Heitzig guides us through First and Second Peter in the series Rock Solid.

Let's turn in our Bibles to one Peter, chapter 2. We continue a series we started called Rock Solid based upon Peter's writing in First Peter, chapter, well, 1, all the---the whole book, but we're in chapter 2 this morning; First Peter, chapter 2. I was first pulled over by a police officer when I was fifteen years old. I'll never forget it. Being fifteen, I did not have a driver's license. I was on the freeways in Southern California, and what's most interesting is he pulled me over for something he called "impeding traffic."

And he said, "You were going 55 miles an hour, but the flow of traffic is much faster, and it's actually illegal to go slower than the flow of traffic," only in California, I might add. So he asked me if I had a driver's license, and I being unredeemed said, "No. Yes, I do have one, it's just not with me at the time, but I have a driver's license." So I lied through my teeth. And this began a very uneasy relationship with law enforcement in my life.

As time went on and I was riding motorcycles where I lived, and I had right down the street from me Officer Lattis. He was a member of the CHP, California Highway Patrol. He had a brother named Officer Lattis who was also a member of the California Highway Patrol. And so between the Lattis brothers and the Heitzig boys it was like a match made in hell. [laughter] They did not like motorcyclists, and we were not that fond of law enforcement, and it was very difficult. We'd get pulled over all the time.

And we felt like we were being harassed and hassled by "the man," which leads me to open up with a question: of all the doctrines in the Bible which is the hardest one? I know it's a sort of a loaded and even a trick question, because if by that question I mean which is the hardest doctrine in the Bible to understand, you might say, "The doctrine of the Trinity ranks pretty high up there for me. It's hard to understand that one." If you were to say, "The doctrine of submission," which is what I'm talking about today, "that would be the hardest one to do and obey."

The doctrine of submission is the doctrine that Peter addresses in these verses that we have before us. You see, nobody likes to be told what to do, nobody. Nobody likes it when their personal right to choose and self-determine their future is taken away or hindered. In fact, I would even say American culture is sort of based upon the idea that we have freedom from the restrictive laws of a tyrannical government. That's how we began as a country. But the difficulty in submitting is not just in an American proclivity, it's human tendency. It's human nature.

Most of you remember the name or know the name James Dobson. Dr. James Dobson has written several great books on families and marriage over the years. And if you remember some of those books, if you're familiar, he speaks about two kinds of kids in a family. Remember the categories? There's the compliant child and the defiant child. And he speaks about those in his writings, and Jim Dobson says that there are twice as many defiant children as compliant ones, and that they learn rebellion to their parents at a very young age.

While I do not disagree with Dr. Dobson; I think what he said is true, I just want to add, it's not limited to children. Resisting authority and finding it difficult to submit is as human as is blinking. The prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 said, "We are all like sheep who have wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, and we have gone our own way." It's human nature. However, without submission there is no safety, there is no security, there is no protection, and I would add, there is no music.

Let me explain. At a meeting of the American Psychological Association one of its members Jack Lipton from Union College stood up and he described with his colleagues how members of a symphony orchestra perceived one another. He said, "The percussionists," these would be the drummers, "are seen as insensitive, unintelligent, hard-of-hearing, and yet fun-loving. String players were seen as arrogant, stuffy, and unathletic. But the orchestra members overwhelmingly chose the word "loud" as the primary adjective to describe brass players."

"Whereas woodwind players seemed to be held in the highest esteem and were described as quiet and meticulous, though a bit egotistical." Now here's a question: When you have a group of people with such different personalities and perceptions, how on earth are they going to make music? What's the answer? Submission. When they subordinate their feelings and their biases to the leadership of one conductor, there's beautiful harmony, there's beautiful music because of submission.

There is a theme that Peter has been working with in chapter 2, and I just want to bring you back up to speed since it's been a few weeks since we've been there. What Peter is addressing is how you and I as Christians are observed by the outside world, the kind of accusations they make against us. And Peter says when you live with the close eye of scrutiny upon you, there's certain ground rules you need to play by. Go back to verse 12 of chapter 2 and you'll see what I mean.

He says, "Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles," a euphemism he uses for unbelievers, "that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." In other words, by an inward purity of life that is demonstrated by an outward quality of life, you will put them to silence. Any accusation they make against you won't stick. And then he gives examples beginning in verse 13 of how to do that, how to do that societally, how to do that socially, how to do that familially within the family unit.

So you will notice, even though I'm skipping a little bit ahead: number one, you submit to government; that's verse 13. Number two, you submit to your employer; that's essentially verse 18 and following. And within the family, wives submit to their husbands; that's chapter 3 beginning in verse 1. So let's go to our text. Verse 13 says, "Therefore," playing off the previous verse as the unbelieving world is looking at you, you are to conduct yourselves honorably.

"Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men---as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king."

In those verses there are four principles that we want to look at, four principles. First of all, the principle of submission. Second, the particulars of submission; who are we to submit to when it says that we are to submit. Third, the purpose of submission; why are we to do it. Do we do it just to keep order in a culture or is there a higher good? And then, finally, the practice of submission. All of that is inclusive within this text. Look at a phrase where we begin in verse 13.

"Therefore submit," there's the principle, "submit yourselves to every ordinance of man." The word submit is the Greek word hupotassó, which means to arrange in orderly fashion a group of soldiers under the ranking of commanding officers. It has a military term with a military use; however, it is used here and elsewhere in a nonmilitary sense. It speaks of voluntarily cooperation or even helping somebody carry a load. In other words, believers, you and I, are never to be known as subversive troublemakers, but as model citizens.

Now before you get all itchy and riled up about being a model citizen and thinking of ways that it's sort of impossible to be a model citizen in the culture and governmental structure that we find ourselves here, let me just remind you about the New Testament and the kind of culture that that was birthed in. When Jesus came and when Paul wrote, the New Testament culture it was politically corrupt. It was filled with tyrants, filled with despots. When Peter wrote these words, there was not a democracy in Rome. People didn't get to vote.

There was no free speech. It was an autocracy. The king, Caesar, made the rules and everybody had to abide by them. Here's a sampling: in Rome there was Caesar. At this time it was Caesar Nero. I'll get to him. The Caesars were deified by the people, considered god, to be worshiped as god. So that once a year it was required of a Roman citizen to stand before an altar, offer a pinch of incense, and say, "Caesar is lord," at which point they would be given a little certificate called the libellus, which certified that they had worshiped their emperor.

And now they were free to worship any god they wanted to worship, but you had to do that first. Well, that posed a great problem with early Christians, because when they were dragged before the altars, they didn't say, "Caesar is Lord," they said, "Caesar is not lord, Jesus Christ is Lord." And they were persecuted because of it. Those Jews who had been living in Judea remembered guys like Herod the Great who had all the babies in Bethlehem, the males under two years old killed to get at Jesus Christ.

Then there was slavery in the Roman Empire, and it was in epidemic proportions. One writer says that there were three slaves for every one free person in Rome. It's believed that over half of the population of the ancient Roman Empire were all slaves. And then, then there were taxes. And you think it's bad now, the kind of taxation that we have discussed with you that was present in the Roman Empire was absolutely oppressive. It crushed the people and the taxation was simply a form of cruel injustice. Into that world Jesus Christ came as the Messiah, but not as people expected.

They thought when the Messiah comes he's going to deliver everyone from that oppression; he's going to deliver everyone from Rome and the yoke of Rome upon them. But he didn't do that. In fact, Jesus never picketed. He never told his followers to make a protracted march on Rome or Jerusalem and protest cruel government. He never started an insurrection. He never tried to win any culture war at all. In fact, it so surprised people that on one occasion they tried to trap him. And there were two groups of people who did it. Both of them hated each other.

There were the Pharisees who hated Rome, hated Rome and government, hated paying taxes to Caesar. And there were the Herodians who thought it was okay to follow Rome, and especially Herod in Judea, and to pay all those taxes. So these two groups hated each other and they were both present on one occasion and they tried to corner Jesus. And they said, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" Thinking, "Whatever way he answers, we got him. If he says yes, half will hate him. If he says no, another half will hate him."

So Jesus took out a coin and he said, "Whose mug is on this?" or "Whose face is on this?" They said, "It's Caesar's face." He says, "Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God." In other words, "Well, if his face is on it, you better give it to him. It's his. He owns it. So you pay those taxes exorbitant as they are, but you make sure you give to God what belongs to God." Well, it was an amazing statement, but not everybody agreed with that statement.

There was a whole other group of Jews called Zealots. They were Jewish nationalists. They refused to pay taxes. They staged terrorist attacks to kill their oppressors. And they did all of that, get this, they did all of that "based on Scripture." "We have the right to disagree with the government and protest and disobey them based upon the Scripture." What was their Scripture? Deuteronomy 17, that says, "You shall not set a foreigner over you who is not your brother."

So, because there's a Caesar in Rome and because there's a Pontius Pilate in Judea and a Herod, "We didn't put them there. We must be sworn to overthrow the government." So what is a Christian to do in the midst of that? In an ungodly government, what is a Christian to do? Peter in the midst of that world says, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man." That's the principle. But then there are the particulars of submission. Let me spell it out for you. Verse 13 says; "Whether to the king as supreme," notice that.

Who was the king back then? Caesar was the king, and in this case Caesar Nero was the king. Then it says in verse 14, notice, "Or to governors, as to those who are sent by him [by the king] for the punishment of evildoers, for the praise of those who do good." Now, Rome had twenty-eight imperial districts, and those imperial districts were all governed by governors or procurators. Pontius Pilate was a procurator or a governor. And so Rome gave to them part of the Roman army, legions of soldiers who would keep the peace. They were law enforcement officers for the government to use on behalf of Caesar.

So here's the principle: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man," whether it's to the king, Caesar Nero, or to all of those twenty-eight provincial governors, submit to them. Now let me tell you a little background. When Peter wrote this letter, he was about one, maybe even two years away from what's called the Great Persecution in Rome. It happened in 64 A.D. Here's what happened: a fire broke out in Rome. Most all of the Roman citizens---and it destroyed a great portion of the city. Most of the Roman citizens believed and many historians to this day believe the fire was started by Caesar Nero.

It was so controversial and so widely believed that their own Caesar started the fire that Caesar Nero needed a scapegoat. And guess who he chose? The Christian population of the city of Rome; he accused them of arson and he started persecuting them in mass. Here's just one story. About halfway through his reign Caesar Nero started fancying himself as a race car driver, except they didn't have race cars, they had chariots, a chariot racer. He just thought it was the coolest thing to race chariots. He had a track built for himself in Rome so that he could race chariots during the day.

And he started getting into it so much, he wanted to do it not just during the day, but also at night. The only problem is nobody invented electricity yet. So, his sick solution was to have his soldiers round up during the daytime Christians and bring them to his palace. And while they were still alive cover them in tar and pitch, tie them to poles, so that at sunset he could light those torches around his track, so that he could spin his little race car at night while Christians were burning after he accused them of setting fire to Rome.

Can you see by this the obvious problem that the early Christians had, and even we have today, that the world is filled with Caesar Neros and Adolf Hitlers and Bashar al-Assads, which makes us ask this question: Is there ever a time when a Christian can or should defy and not obey and not submit to the government? Is there? Yes, there is. But here is the rule. The general rule is: submit until submitting to earthly authority makes you not submit to heavenly authority. You obey until your obedience makes you disobey God. At that point a whole other set of rules comes into play.

And there are many examples to show you. Example number one is back in the Old Testament when Pharaoh of Egypt commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the boys that were born among the Hebrews. It was a law that was passed: "Kill the baby boys." They refused to do it. Exodus, chapter 1, tells us, "But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king commanded," flat disobedience. Later on there was a guy named Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon who when the captives came in, Daniel and his buddies, made them eat a certain diet that was against kosher Old Testament law, the delicacies of the king's table.

They refused to do it. Daniel, chapter 1 tells us, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies." "I'm not going to obey you because it would mean that I would have to disobey the covenant of my God." Another example is later on when Nebuchadnezzar built a huge image of himself, a golden image, and commanded everybody to bow down and worship that image. And there were three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who said, "We're not going to do it." Their reply in Daniel, chapter 3, "We will not serve your gods, nor will we worship the golden image."

Another example, also in the book of Daniel: King Darius, the prevailing king at the time, the Medo-Persian king made a law that for one month, thirty solid days, nobody could pray to any other deity except to himself. "You want to pray, you pray to me. I am your new god." What did Daniel do? Did he say, "Okay. I'm gonna submit to that." No. The Bible says in Daniel 6, "He opened his windows toward Jerusalem, knelt down on the ground, and three times that day he prayed and gave thanks before his God."

Another example is in the New Testament when the Jewish Sanhedrin passed a religious law that the name of Jesus Christ could not be preached any longer: "You can't say that name. You can't preach that name. You are forbidden to preach the gospel." What did Peter and John do? Did they fold over and roll over? No. They refused to obey it. Standing before the government authorities they said, "We must obey God rather than man." That's the principle: obey man until obeying man makes you disobey God. And then you must obey God rather than man.

You can look into modern history. The Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler passed all sorts of crazy laws. It was law. Many Christians defied it, including one pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And that isn't just a matter of history. I think it's going to confront us. In fact, I think it already does as our government passes its own laws, abortion laws, same-sex marriage laws. And we're going to be confronted: "Am I going to obey God or am I going to do what they say?" But back to our text.

Verse 14, notice what it says, that these governors, this police force even "are sent by him [the king] for the punishment of"---what?---"evildoers." "For the punishment of evildoers." You see, you never need to fear the police unless you're breaking the law. If you are breaking the law, then you should be afraid. You know, it's funny, because of my earlier altercations with the law, even to this day, it's just conditioned response whenever I see a police officer I just sort of gasp, skip a beat, white knuckle the steering wheel.

And immediately my eyes instinctively look down at the speedometer to see how fast I'm going. If I look down at the speedometer and it says 75 miles an hour as I pass that police officer, I go, "Oh, no! Lord, please help me." [laughter] But if I look down and it says 45 miles an hour in a 45, I go, "Lord, I just bless you and I thank you for those police officers. Bless their day." It's sent for the punishment of evildoers. So that's the principle and the particulars of submission. Well, there's a purpose for submission. That's the third, there's a purpose for submission.

And you'll notice what it is in verse 13. "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for"---what? What does it say? "For the Lord's sake." In other words, you do it to honor God. God is honored when his earthly representatives are seen as stabilizers in their society. And isn't this the highest reason to do it? Isn't this the greatest motivation to do it, because God said to do it, right? Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments," which means if you constantly break his commandments, it must mean you don't love him.

The highest motivation is because it honors him. You know what it's like, parents. You love it when your children obey, when you give them a direction and they go, "Yes, Daddy." "Sure, Mommy," you love that. Okay, but have you ever had a child not do that? Okay, come on, all of you have. And so what do you say if your child ever comes to you and you give him a directive and they don't want to do it, and they say, "Why should I have to do that?" And you say, "Because I said so." Right? That should be enough. "What I just said to you as your parent should be enough for you to obey."

Well, it's no different with God. "Well, God, why should I obey my authorities?" "Because I said so. Because if you love me, you'll keep my commandments." Now, Peter augments that thought in verse 15, notice, "For this is the will of God." There are very few places in the New Testament where something is called "the will of God," and he spells it out, this is God's will. So when people come to you and they go, "Well, I'm just struggling with knowing God's will. What is God's will for my life?" Go the speed limit, let's start there. [laughter] Quit texting while you're driving, let's go there.

"It is the will of God," he says, "that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men---as free, and not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God." The central issue is simply this: a good Christian should be a good citizen. And a good Christian who is a good citizen because he or she wants to honor God has a clear conscience. It's great to have a clear conscience. One man wrote a very honest letter to the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS, that stated: "Dear Sirs: I cannot sleep. Last year when I filed my income tax return, I deliberately misrepresented my income."

"Now I can't sleep. Enclosed is a check for $150. If I still can't sleep, I'll send the rest." [laughter] Okay, we have a problem with that one, don't we? He's not really being honest, he's not really being highly motivated, he's just buying off his own ill conscience. It was an honest letter, but listen to another letter, Paul's letter to the Romans. "Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God."

God's the ultimate authority. And if God is the ultimate authority, he has the right to say to you and I, "Obey the intermediate authorities," right? After this last service somebody came up to me and said, "Boy, that's a hard message for you to tell us to like our government." I said, "I never said to like your government. I said to honor your government, to obey your government, to submit to your government." You have the right to voice dissent and to not enjoy certain things, but this is a different issue. The highest reason, the purpose then is to honor God. That's the upward purpose.

There's an outward purpose. Notice verse 15, he says to silence, "By doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." People are always looking at you and I to find the dirt on us, the reason why they shouldn't trust in the God we say we believe in. So one of the best witnesses is to be a good citizen, because the way people will often view God is by looking at God's representatives. So you say, "I'm a Christian." "Oh, really? What are those five traffic tickets doing in your front seat?" "How come you're going to court again over that issue?"

One of the greatest, if not the greatest apologetic for the gospel of Jesus Christ is a good life, a righteous life. Because what is the central message of the gospel? Redemption. We talk about how God can take any life and redeem a life. So you know what the best apologetic is? A redeemed life. Verse 16 says something that just---I never saw it before: "As free, but not using your liberty as a cloak for vice." Now, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. He just said submit to higher authorities, and in this case there was tyrannical governments, submit.

But then he says you're free, you have liberty. That doesn't sort of make sense, does it? Because most people think of freedom and submission as opposites; if you submit, you're giving up your freedom. Now, actually, you're gaining a greater freedom. William Barclay said, "Christian freedom does not mean being free to do as you like, it means being free to do as you ought." I'll give you a little example here. Let's say there's a young girl who shows promising athletic ability in ice skating. He parents cough up the big bucks and they get her a world-class coach.

And the coach says to the young lady, "I will coach you under one condition---I own you. I own your time for the next several years. You will work out when I tell you to workout. You will keep the regiment and discipline of exercise that I set out for you, no exceptions. If you agree to that, I'll coach you." And so she does. So hours and days and weeks and months are eaten up and spent on practicing, and pretty soon all of her free time disappears. She's lost her freedom to do what she wanted. Her friends start complaining, "We never see her anymore. She's always working out."

Even her parents are a little bit miffed at this new schedule. But years later the day comes when she competes in the Olympics. Was all that work worth it? Was that loss of liberty and personal freedom worth it? She would said, "It sure is." "Oh, but, sweetheart, you lost your freedoms." "But I gained other freedoms that I didn't have before. I now have the freedom to represent my country before the world athletes. I now compete at a different level that I've never competed before. And because of that notoriety that will probably even bring later on financial freedom."

So in restricting certain freedoms, you gain others. So the purpose of submission: it honors God and it gives a good witness. You have the freedom to live your life in the open before men, and let it be on display, and let them look at you because you've got nothing to be ashamed of; whatever accusation won't stick. Leads us to the fourth and final slice of this; and that is, the practice of submission and I take you to verse 17 where we close. It's a summary statement this verse. It's a summation. It really is a doctrine, a theology of submission.

Four short statements that show submission in four areas: "Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." Take the first one: "Honor all people." Every single human being deserves a certain amount of respect. Whether they hate you or they hate your God or they practice a certain lifestyle that you degree with, they're still made in the image of God and you are to honor all people. When Peter wrote this in the first century, he wrote it against the backdrop where slaves were not even considered human beings. They weren't considered persons. They weren't considered people.

They had no rights, and women had hardly any rights at all. But the Christian church, he would say, is not to discriminate. Now don't misunderstand what I am saying. I'm not saying that we are to mindlessly tolerate any behavior that is aberrant and unscriptural and sinful, not at all. But every single person deserves to be honored, made in the image of God. Second, he says, "Love the brotherhood." Who's the brotherhood? We're it. It's believers loving each other. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have one for another."

It's an interesting statement. We all know it, but I don't think we know what it means. Essentially Jesus gives the world outside permission to judge us, to look at our lives, to see if the gospel of love that we preach really works among us. He didn't say that, "They will know that you're my disciples by the fact that you love them"; "They'll know you're my disciples by the fact that you love each other." And maybe about now you're thinking, "Um, how is loving each other going to make an impact on them? And how is loving one another going to silence them as they accuse us?"

Easy, here's how. When I was a little kid and I had good parents. They stayed together, but we had some difficult times in our family. Whenever we had some real difficult seasons, whenever I was around families that were stable and filled with love and grace and acceptance, I was invited over for dinner, I just wanted to live there. I didn't want to go home. I thought in my head, "I want to be a part of this family." That's how it works. You want to have a family of love so compelling here that when people visit they go, "I want to be in that family." "Love the brotherhood."

"Fear God," is the third. Fear doesn't mean a crouching fear. It's not---it's not like the Cowardly-Lion-in-the-Wizard-of-Oz kind of fear. This is a reverential respect and awe of God that culminates in submissive obedience to the will of God. And because we submit to him and his will and part of his will is to obey intermediate authority, we do it because he said to do it; that's fearing God. And then number four, and we close, "Honor the king." So, he ends full circle from where he begins. He says, "Submit to human authority, even the king," and then he says at the end, "Honor the king."

However, this is different. In verse 13 he was dealing with the action; in this verse he's dealing with the attitude and it's very different. You can do something and have a rotten attitude. You can be like the little kid whose dad said, "Sit down." Finally the little kid sat down, but with a sneer on his face. And he said, "I may be sitting down on the outside, but I'm still standing up on the inside." That's not honor. It's obedience, but it's not honor. It's the right action, but it's the wrong attitude. "Honor the king." "Yeah, but the king is Nero, Caesar Nero." "Honor the king."

Let me just place it in our lap: be careful how you talk about your governing authorities. Be careful of sending those back-of-the-hand things that do not compliment but rather deprecate political figures you disagree with. You can degree with them, you cannot like them, but whether it's your president or your governor or the police force, they are to be prayed for and they are to be honored. Because they are in a place, according to the Bible, if I'm reading it right, that God allowed them to be in. So I honor them.

So, let me close with this: let's make beautiful music together. How are we going to get along and perform all of this and do all of this when we have so many differences and personalities and ideas? By making our ideas and our biases subservient to the conductor, our Lord. We submit to his Lordship, and in submitting to his Lordship we march together in lockstep in unity. "I don't feel like it." Don't have to feel like it, just do it. And you'll discover as you just do it, eventually the emotions will catch up with your obedience. You'll find yourself honoring.

Here's a start. Go home this afternoon, make a prayer list: president, vice president of United States; your governor; your mayor; police officers, especially the ones that gave you maybe a ticket lately, and just start praying for them. You'll find that hate cannot well up in the heart that prays a prayer of honor to a loving God.

Father in heaven, we thank you that Peter's words are really just so simple and so easy to understand, but so practical. And yet I imagine that when the first recipients of this letter read it, it was difficult to read, because they were in an oppressive situation feeling alienated already because of the world and the governmental structure they were in. And then Peter comes along and says, "Now obey them and honor them and submit to them."

"And by doing that you show that you honor God and that you provide a good savory witness to those who are watching." Lord, that is our highest purpose, and that is what we are called to. And we admit it's not easy, but it's what we're called to, and it's made a little bit easier by knowing that in doing so we please you, in Jesus' name, amen.

For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.

Additional Messages in this Series

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9/1/2013
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A Pebble, a Boulder & a Solid Foundation
1 Peter 1:1
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Peter is the most famous of the apostles, even though he only wrote two short epistles in the New Testament. But of all the early followers of Christ, Peter is perhaps the most relatable to us since he demonstrates all the weaknesses and failures we see in ourselves. But Peter's personal life and his writings become a composite model of "strength through trust." Any weak, wobbly, failure-ridden person can become Rock Solid through Christ.
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9/8/2013
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The Underpinnings of a Rock-Solid Life
1 Peter 1:2
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Peter skillfully lays the foundational basis for the Christian life to his readers in a single verse. We've been picked by God, placed in His family, and promised future benefits. For anyone who has ever struggled with a weak faith, these truths can be transforming. In this introduction to Peter's letter, let's unpack the meaning of these encouraging realities.
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9/15/2013
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Stepping Stones of the New Birth
1 Peter 1:3-5
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"Born again" wasn't a term invented by the popular press or religious fundamentalists. It was something Jesus told Nicodemus must happen for anyone to enter heaven (see John 3:3). Peter certainly heard that term from Jesus and speaks of it here (as well as in 1 Peter 1:23). It's a term synonymous with being saved and having eternal life. What does this new birth provide? In a word—solidity! Coming to Christ brings hope, inheritance, and power.
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9/22/2013
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Why We Hate Trials (And Why We Love Them)
1 Peter 1:6-7
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If the trials of life could only exist by popular demand, we would have voted them away long ago. People, by and large, hate suffering of any kind. Here in the Western world, we have made it our aim to mitigate against any form of it by a multitude of distractions and experiences. There is even a theology that seeks to say God never wants us to suffer—ever. Let's look at five reasons why we hate (and love) trials, and consider how they can be used to make us better people.
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9/29/2013
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Rock Solid Relationship or Relationship on the Rocks?
1 Peter 1:8-9
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Why do we insist that having a relationship with God is not the same as being a religious person? How is a relationship with Him even possible, since He is GOD and thus is unique from all other creatures? Today, the answer to that will be made simple as we consider the simplest components of any relationship, including a relationship with God.
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10/6/2013
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Our Bedrock Salvation
1 Peter 1:10-12
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God has always planned on saving you. You were never an afterthought or a last-minute consideration. Not only have you been chosen before time began (1 Peter 1:2), but throughout the ages your salvation has been expected and planned for. The spokesmen of the Old Testament wrote about Jesus’ coming and the new covenant of grace, which you are now a part of. All this makes our salvation more secure than ever, built on the bedrock of His promises.
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10/20/2013
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How to Walk in the Dark
1 Peter 1:13-18
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Holiness is an uncomfortable subject for most believers. We have no problem assigning holiness to God as we sing, “You Are Holy, Oh Lord!” But our minds get muddled when we think of our own holiness because we don’t want to appear holier than thou. So what does it mean to be holy? And how can we live holy lives around unholy people? In short, how can we be “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) while walking in a dark world?
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11/3/2013
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Where You Fit in God's Plan
1 Peter 1:18-21
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God's plan always involves people, and you are one of those people. God's plan includes you. Just think of it. God had you in mind when He put His plan together for the whole world. So where do you fit in that plan? When did this plan have its beginning? How much did this plan cost, and what is your part in it? Today we make that discovery by noting five vital truths:
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11/10/2013
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Rock Solid Love
1 Peter 1:22-2:3
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Peter's love for his Friend and Lord, Jesus Christ, was at one time on shaky ground when he denied that he even knew Jesus. His love would even get questioned by Christ later on (John 21:15-17). But now Peter knows that love for Christ and love for His people is all part of the same package. A relationship with God includes an affection for God's people. Four components of a rock-solid love are given by the very man who learned what true love is.
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11/17/2013
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Got Milk?
1 Peter 2:1-3
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Babies need milk to survive and to thrive. And newborn babies need and crave it a lot. So too, those who have been spiritually born-again need spiritual milk so that they can grow and be mature. As believers grow, they will begin to enjoy more solid spiritual food. But here Peter is addressing our appetites?those things we desire and crave. He gives us a three-part instruction that will curb and train our appetites in such a way that maximum growth will be achieved.
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11/24/2013
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This Old House
1 Peter 2:4-10
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God has been building His "house" since He first made the world. This is not a physical home nor a temple of worship as much as an assembly of peoples whom He has gathered to Himself. The stones He chooses are human beings in relationship to Christ, the cornerstone foundation. Let's consider God's site-plan for this construction project today.
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12/8/2013
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Maximum Impact
1 Peter 2:11-12
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How can Christ-followers make the most meaningful impact on the unbelieving world? That was in Peter's mind when he wrote this letter to scattered believers facing hostility from their neighbors. Four principles that transcend time stand out here; these will encourage us and empower us as we seek to influence our world for Christ and leave a lasting impression.
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1/19/2014
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Take This Job and Love It
1 Peter 2:18-21
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I want to make you a promise today: If you can learn and master the four principles in our text, your job will never be the same. The tedium, tension, and labor will give way to a higher motive that will bring authentic joy and deep satisfaction. As Peter addresses slaves in the ancient Roman world, let?s apply it to a much more modern and humane situation?your place of employment.
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1/26/2014
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You Remind Me of Someone!
1 Peter 2:21-25
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Whom do you remind people of? At work or in society at large, is it evident that you are a Christ-follower? Jesus is always our supreme example for how to live a godly life in an ungodly world. Peter told us that we should submit to government as well as to management, and now he tells us why we should—because Jesus did and He's the one we follow.
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2/2/2014
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The Irresistible Beauty of a Tender Heart
1 Peter 3:1-6
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The most attractive people in the world are those who display depth of character and pleasant personalities. Solomon insisted that “[outward] beauty is passing” (Proverbs 31:30). As Peter speaks to a common issue in the early church (Christian wives married to unbelieving husbands), he also gives us three marks of a tenderhearted woman: in her actions, attitudes, and admiration.
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2/9/2014
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The Four-Sided Fortress of a Husband's Love
1 Peter 3:7
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If life is to be rock solid, then family relationships—especially marriage—must be rock solid. No wonder Peter speaks to husbands after addressing wives. In his directive toward submission, he addresses citizens (and not government officials); he addresses servants (and not their masters). But when it comes to the home, he addresses both wives and husbands. Let's consider how a husband's love can make a woman feel firmly secure.
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2/16/2014
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How to Attract Flies
1 Peter 3:8-12
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The old saying "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar" fits perfectly with Peter's letter. He's been telling Christians how to live in plain view of the unbelieving world. Now he goes into the church and tells us how to treat each other. It's his hope that an exhibition of real, Christian love will provide a base of satisfying fellowship for us and attract unbelievers. But how?
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2/23/2014
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When Holiness Meets Hostility
1 Peter 3:13-17
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Faith is not neutral. It’s a powerful and dynamic force that changes behavior (if it is genuine faith). Unbelief is also a powerful force, and when believers try to live out their faith in an unbelieving environment, there are some predictable and unavoidable results. Let’s consider four truths from Peter’s pen that will be helpful when God’s holy people meet up with a hostile world.
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3/2/2014
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A Reason for Every "Ouch!"
1 Peter 3:18-22
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Perhaps the most common word in our language is the tiny word, "Ouch!" Every day, it's repeatedly expressed in variant forms around the world. It's a word that conveys pain and suffering. Peter’s audience knew all about suffering, but they didn't always know how it could actually be used for anything good. Christ's own sufferings provide the best example of both the power and usefulness of suffering.
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3/9/2014
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The Invisible War
1 Peter 3:18-22
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In every war, strategy plays a role. Each side plans and makes movements in accordance to what it learns about the other side’s tactics. If information is leaked, a counteroffensive can be launched. This can be seen in the grand and most profound war of the universe: The Invisible War. In this battle, Satan and his minions wage war against God, His angels, and His people. We’ll consider it by looking again at one of the most enigmatic texts in the New Testament. Let’s unravel it.
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3/16/2014
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Should I Get Soaking Wet?
1 Peter 3:20-21
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So what's the deal with baptism? Why do Christians practice it? What does it have to do with my relationship to God? Peter raised the issue of baptism in this letter, but he tied it into what happened during the time of Noah and the great flood. What on earth could one have to do with the other? Let's unravel these verses and then relate them to our current understanding of Christian baptism. Does this really save a person?
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3/23/2014
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Just Counting Time or Making Time Count?
1 Peter 4:1-6
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There is a certain amount of time allotted to us all, and we all decide how we are going to spend it. But none of us knows exactly how much of it we have left. So a huge question for all of us is: What will you do with the time you have left? Some never face that issue honestly, thinking that they'll always have plenty of time. Today, let's consider four solid principles that will make the time you have left really count.
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5/4/2014
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Living Like There's No Tomorrow
1 Peter 4:7-11
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People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world. But Scripture declares there will be an end. For some, their world could end this week or this year when death pays them a visit. But with whatever time we have left, we should live with a sense of imminence and anticipation that God's kingdom is around the corner. What elements can make our lives stronger as we await the end of the age?
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5/11/2014
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The Dos and Don'ts of Suffering
1 Peter 4:12-19
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Pain and suffering dominate our world. To some, that poses an insurmountable roadblock to faith in a good and loving God. How can a loving God let such unlovely things happen all around the globe every day for millennia? Not only is this a deal breaker for unbelievers, but it presents a quandary for believers who want to make sense out of everything in life. The apostle Peter weighed in on these issues in a very personal way to his fellow Christians.
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5/18/2014
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Profile of a Good Shepherd
1 Peter 5:1-4
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"The church needs leaders who serve and servants who lead." So said one notable pastor. Peter doesn't address just the suffering flock of believers in this letter; he also has encouragement for the leaders of the flock—the pastors. What are the characteristics of a shepherd who serves among God's flock? What are his responsibilities, and how can a church flourish under such leadership? Here, Peter places himself and fellow shepherds under the microscope.
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5/25/2014
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The Upright Walk of a Bowed-Down Man
1 Peter 5:5-7
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One website I came across recently stated that "the more in control you are of your life, the more assured and confident you'll become." The same website warned readers to not trust others. That is, unfortunately, the by-product of our proud world. But walking among others means we sometimes need to bend low in humility for the sake of solidarity and unity. Peter's words on this are timeless.
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6/1/2014
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Lion Alert!
1 Peter 5:8-9
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Just think what would happen if a lion from our local zoo escaped and was wandering around the park, looking for a fresh kill. Can you imagine the pandemonium that would erupt if such a misfortune occurred? Imagine no more! Our Enemy is far more dangerous and formidable and is on the prowl to destroy the spiritual lives of the residents of planet Earth, especially those who belong to Christ. Let's consider the battle and the potential outcome.
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6/29/2014
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A Rock-Solid Finish
1 Peter 5:10-14
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Peter ended his letter with a few nuggets of distilled truth. In just a couple of verses, he concentrated everything he had already said. To his suffering audience, Peter offered assurance of God’s perfect plan that began when they trusted in Christ and wouldn’t end until they were firmly secure in the glories of heaven. Though pain is part of the process of perfection, the finish line is worth it!
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10/12/2014
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Building a Forever Faith
2 Peter 1:1-11
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To build a home or a commercial building requires having the right people and the right materials in place. There is a critical path for the work to follow. And there are blueprints and building codes for the builders to follow. It's the same when it comes to building a spiritual life. As Peter began his second letter, he spoke to the need of spiritual growth. To build a "forever faith," Peter shared four important principles to build successfully.
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10/19/2014
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How to Live and Die Well
2 Peter 1:12-15
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Peter lived his life knowing the brevity of it. Here, he wrote as an older man in his seventies. Realizing there was more road behind him than ahead of him, he gave a model for us. Essentially we have here an excellent example of how to live well and how to die well. Let's answer the question How can I live and die well? by considering four keys passed along by Peter himself.
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10/26/2014
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Is It True? How Can I Know?
2 Peter 1:16-21
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Truth is a slippery word. Definitions get assigned to it that are contradictory, purely individual, and without any validation. Peter wanted his readers to know things. He was giving them truth that was both personally familiar and prophetically verifiable. How can we today know that what we believe in and hope for is actually true?
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11/2/2014
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Watch Out for Fakes!
2 Peter 2:1-14
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Counterfeiting has become a multibillion-dollar industry that extends all around the world. Fake jewelry, fake purses, fake paintings, and, yes, even fake medicines are sold as if they’re the genuine articles, when they are cheap (though amazingly real-looking) imitations. It’s the same when it comes to truth. What makes a false teacher of false teaching? Peter gave three recommendations in dealing with such counterfeits.
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11/9/2014
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Caution: Ruts Ahead!
2 Peter 2:15-22
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The quality, comfort, and success of a journey depend largely on the conditions of the road, the company you keep, and the destination you’re heading for. False teachers and their devotees guarantee a perilous voyage and a bad finish! Today we are challenged to live cautiously as we make progress in our journey of faith and to watch out for ruts.
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11/16/2014
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Look, Jesus Is Coming!
2 Peter 3:1-10
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The second coming of Jesus Christ will be the greatest day in humankind’s history. The promise of His return to rule the world He created has been what believers have longed for the last 2,000 years. Jesus’ return will be the solution to every social, moral, political, and spiritual issue and problem. But what do other people (besides Christian believers) think about such a notion? And, as we wait for His return, what should we look for, and where ought we to be looking?
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11/23/2014
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Breaking Up Camp and Moving On
2 Peter 3:10-18
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We have studied both letters of Peter and have seen how anyone whose life would otherwise be weak, wobbly, and failure ridden can become Rock Solid through Christ. This is vital since life in this world is dynamic, shifting, and transitory. This world is passing; its glory is fading. Thus, anyone who places all their energy and hope in this life alone will be disappointed. Today, as we end our series, we consider where we are eventually headed and how to arrive safely.
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There are 35 additional messages in this series.