Friday, May 25, 2012

1 Peter 3:1-7: Wives & Husbands, Especially Wives “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external -braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” Peter now concludes this section of his epistle on submission, hupotasso, now with the marital relationship of husbands and wives. But why does he spend 6 verses on the wives, and only one on husbands? Also from observation, see how he is initially speaking to believing wives who may or may not have unbelieving husbands. Why do you think this was so common? In the Roman Empire, women did not have a high social status. The men ran everything. Roman men had a “trophy wife” and several mistresses on the side. It was considered to be normal and no big deal. But with the introduction of Christianity the status of women began to dramatically change. There is an equality of status before God when you are “in Christ”. All class, race and gender issues are swept away. All have sinned, all our righteousness is as filthy rags, all are citizens of heaven and all are co-heirs with Christ. It was for freedom that Christ has set us all free. As the status of women changed, it made it necessary for Peter to provide God’s word to them for teaching and instruction in their conduct and behavior to adjust to this new found equality. Responsibility of the wife: The order to be submissive: The command is in such a tense as it means continuously, not occasionally. The word is for military order with the idea of a definite leader and definite subordinates. The limit on subjection: “to your own husbands”, showing that it does not extend to any other man. So it’s not a male-female relationship in view but husband-wife relationship. This follows as we have seen that it is God’s plan in all the institutions He created to have someone at the head or lead. So, the husbands lead role in the marriage is based on God’s plan, not male superiority. The goal of subjection: The Greek word, hina, translated “so that” is a first class conditional (if and it is). So this means that the author assumes it is true that some of the husbands are unbelievers (disobedient to the word). It doesn’t mean they all were unbelievers, but it was true for some of the believing wives. Perhaps they thought “since my husband is an unbeliever, I don’t need to submit to him”. Peter addresses this with the little word “even” before the word “if” (which is not in the KJV, but is in the Greek). And these husbands are said to be disobedient to the word. Apeitheo, means to refuse be persuaded, or to withhold belief. So they had been exposed to the word of God, but some rejected it. These unbelieving husbands would each day observe the behavior of their wives. So they may be won by the conduct of their wives, and all this without a word. So it is not what the wife says or argues about with her husband, but her chaste and respectful behavior. This is truly lifestyle evangelism. The KJV provides a bit of confusion here since it says “they may without the word be won”. But there is no definite article in the Greek for word. It is not referring to the Word of God, but to the words (speech) of his believing wife. The details of subjection: The details are in two categories. 1. The wife is to live a pure (chaste) life. Her conduct or behavior looks at the way she conducts her manner of life. Agnos means “to excite reverence, to be pure and immaculate”. 2. The wife is to possess inner beauty. a. Outer beauty is not prohibited but is made secondary to inner beauty. i. Braiding of hair: Roman women used hairstyles to compete with each other. They went to extremes regarding hairstyles, often braiding jewels and ornaments into their hair. Their reputation was at stake because of their hairstyle. Women would sleep “with terror”. ii. Wearing of gold jewelry: Again, Roman women would compete with each other by wearing lavish gold jewelry. An enormous display of gold jewelry was considered as important to their appearance. iii. Putting on dresses: Peter says not to focus on clothing fashion. But notice that Peter is not prohibiting hairstyling, jewelry or clothing fashion. That was the emphasis of the Roman woman. And we still see the emphasis on fashion, hairstyles, makeup, jewelry, perfumes, etc today as well. b. Inner beauty is of primary importance. The hidden person of the heart refers to who you really are on the inside. As with all externals, clothes wear out, hair must be restyled often, jewelry gets lost or out of fashion. But inner beauty does not fade but shines brighter with time. This inner beauty is the work of the Holy Spirit. i. Gentle spirit: Praeos means meek or to be considerate and gentle. ii. Quiet spirit: Hasuchios means to be silent. Real beauty then is gentle, courteous, tranquil, and quiet in the inner person. Do you know women like these? Precious in the sight of God: So far in 1 Peter he has used the word precious. What things does Peter consider precious? Our faith (1:7), the Blood of Christ (1:19), we as living stones (2:4), Christ as the cornerstone (2:6), and now the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit (3:4). The pattern for subjection: Peter uses the example of Sarah the wife of Abraham as an example of the type of woman he is talking about. So this principle goes way back in time and Sarah was in subjection to her husband Abraham evidenced by her calling him lord. This is a term of respect and shows Abraham’s leadership and headship in her marriage. Genesis 18:9-12, “Then they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he said, "There, in the tent." He said, "I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" Now in verse 7, Peter discusses the responsibilities of the husband toward his wife. And he discusses the relationship in 4 areas: i. Physical. “Live with your wives” means to dwell with them. But this implies much more that sharing the same address. Marriage is fundamentally a physical relationship. Ephesians 5:31, “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” A husband must make time to be with his wife. The male tendency is to be wrapped up in his job or other role and neglect spending time with his wife. Christian workers who devote themselves to ministry often neglect their spouses and children. ii. Intellectual. “In an understanding way” meaning the husband needs to know his wife and her moods, feelings, fears, hopes and needs. He must not focus on himself and his needs but those of his wife’s. Good communication is the key to understanding. Speaking the truth in love is the answer to communication problems (Ephesians 4:15). Honesty is the only policy for good communications. But it takes truth and love! People can live together for years and not really know each other! Divorce rates are 50% + due in part to bad communications and a lack of understanding on the part of the husband. Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. iii. Emotional. “Show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life” means he is to treat her honorably as a co-equal heir of the family of God during the marriage. Peter’s reference to women as “weaker” does not refer to weakness or inferiority in mentality, morality or spirituality. He is generally referring to the physical fact of the gender of women as weaker than men. But this is not always the case. Husbands are to treat their wives as a person of great and precious value and as someone who is to be treasured. Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” iv. Spiritual. “So that your prayers are not hindered” shows us that husbands and wives should pray together. It is true that unbelieving husbands and wives are happy without prayer, just think how much happier the home is with a believing couple who does pray! This is a reminder that our vertical relationship with God is paramount to our horizontal relationships with others. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cook County Police State

The cop in this picture is supposedly going after a protester who had just broken a board over the head of another officer who is obscured in the background. I wonder why this officer wasn't in full military gear like the ones in the background? Anyway, it looks like he is enjoying himself.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Were Our Founding Fathers Liberals or Conservatives?

My guess is a bit of both.

But they did not look at the political spectrum in that paradigm; liberal versus conservative, left versus right. Having been under the oppressive and far removed government of England and King George they saw things as they have always been. It's the tyrants on one end of the policital spectrum and the anarchists at the other end. They chose liberty over tyranny, somewhere just before anarchy. Have you wondered why under the current paradigm, it makes no difference whether you are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, but the same things continue on, the only difference being the scale and magnitude of change? I think that is because liberal versus conservative is a false paradigm. The real argument is tyranny versus liberty. Give me liberty!

1 Peter 2 Verses 18-25 Submissive Servants

“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return ; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls”. The text of our passage we are studying tonight is neatly divided into two sections. The first section is verses 18-20 that focus on Christian servants called upon to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ. The second section is verses 21-25 where Peter turns to the Old Testament prophecy regarding Jesus Christ as the suffering servant as the motivation, the means and the model for all believers who suffer as servants. Slavery or servant-hood is a concept that is increasingly foreign to those of us in the USA. Were not the final nails driven in the coffin with the civil rights act, affirmative action, the election of Barack Obama? And all this after a century before fighting the bloodiest and most costly war between the states? But Peter starts off this paragraph on servants being submissive to their masters with a different word for servant. Most of the time we think in terms of slave, doulos, which looks at the whole social class, but here he uses, oiketas, a broader term that looks at a servant who is considered part of the household. Why is it appropriate to study this today? • The fact is that slavery and servant-hood survive on today around the world in staggering numbers. The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations that focuses on, among other things, labor rights, put the number at a “minimum estimate” of 12.3 million in a 2005 report. Kevin Bales, a sociologist and has authored several books about modern-day slavery, estimated the number was 27 million people in his 1999 book “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy.” In another estimate, Siddharth Kara, a fellow on trafficking at Harvard University, recently told CNN that his calculations put the range between 24 million and 32 million at the end of 2006. Years old data give us a range of 12.3 to 32 MM. • We have similar roles so we can glean proper application to our lives. Slaves made up a large portion of the early church. Think of the runaway slave, Onesimus. They had the circumstances in life most similar to Jesus Christ. An enlisted soldier and his superior, a prison inmate and the warden, a person living in low income housing who thinks they have no rights due to their extreme poverty or minority racial status are examples of roles we see today. • Jesus and His disciples consistently taught that every Christian is Christ’s slave. Mark 9:35, “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Mark 10:44, “and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” Romans 1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” • Slavery and servant-hood was a large segment of the Roman culture during Biblical times. There were an estimated 60 million slaves and servants in the Roman Empire in the first century. Slavery began with Roman conquests, slaves being originally prisoners of war. It was not just menial tasks performed by slaves, but doctors, teachers, musicians, actors, secretaries, and stewards were slaves. As a matter of fact all the work was eventually done by slaves. Why be master of the world and still have to do your own work? Let the slaves do the work. We have nothing to do but be idle and pampered. They thought the supply of slaves would never run out! And slaves had no rights under Roman law. Could not marry, but could co-habit. Children born were not theirs but the master’s property. But slaves did not lead a miserable or wretched life. Nor were they always treated with cruelty. Many were loved and trusted members of the family. But under the Roman law a slave is not a person, but a thing. So there was nothing like justice for a slave. And a wide gulf formed between a master and his slave. Peter’s attention is focused on a servant’s submission to his master. And this is submission in the face of suffering. Christian servants are to submit not only to “good and gentle” masters, but also to masters who are “unreasonable”. The word for unreasonable is a Greek word meaning crooked we get the word scoliosis (curvature of the spine) from this word. A “crooked” master must also be submitted to. An unreasonable master is one who is not “good and gentle”. He may be unfair, unjust, harsh, dishonest or unethical. Our normal response to such a person would be to rebel with our enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Laban was not a man of his word. Read Genesis 31:36-42 for the account of the liar Laban and his worker Jacob. There is a very good reason to submit to an unreasonable master; it finds favor, charis, with God. Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 6:32-35, “"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. "If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” Three principles for praiseworthy suffering: 1. Praiseworthy suffering must be innocent/undeserved suffering. If you are punished for doing something wrong, there is no praiseworthiness in it. So Peter is speaking here of suffering as a result of godliness not a result of sin. 2. Praiseworthy suffering must be endured with patience. We must persevere in the face of such suffering. Many people can endure suffering for a short time but Peter calls us to endure suffering patiently for as long as it takes. 3. Praiseworthy suffering is that which is patiently endured for conscience’ sake. Peter is speaking here of making a decision to patiently endure undeserved suffering with a clean conscience before God. Similar circumstances at different times may have you doing one thing one time and the opposite at another. Suffering that is pleasing to God and finds favor with Him, is suffering for doing what’s right, patiently endured for the sake of a clean conscience before God. Now here comes the kicker! We were called for the purpose of undeserved suffering. And Jesus Christ is our example to follow in His footsteps. Notice he doesn’t speak from his own experience of Christ’s suffering. He instead uses Isaiah 53 for inspired Scripture commonly known as the “suffering servant”. Why should Christians have to suffer? Here we have the answer, because Christ did. He is our example. And this should not be a surprise to us, should it? In Christ’s own words: John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” Also: Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Some principles of Christ’s suffering: • His suffering was innocent suffering. We suffer deservedly when we sin or get out of the plan of God. He suffered due to His Righteousness. Isaiah 53:9, “He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth”. • His suffering was silent. We tend to yell and scream when we are punished. We even beg for mercy. Jesus uttered not one word in retaliation for his undeserved suffering. Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open His mouth”. • His suffering was a path He chose. We must realize that we too must choose this same path that may well include undeserved suffering for us to patiently endure. Philippians 2:8, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” • His suffering was an act of faith. Peter says “He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously”. Jesus had hope in the Father and in the future He promised. He did not need to say anything. He had faith in God as the Righteous Judge. • His suffering was redemptive. Because Jesus suffered and died on the cross and was raised again on the third day, our sins were forgiven and we walk in newness of life. This is what is meant by “By His wounds we are healed.” Undeserved suffering, patiently endured with a good conscience is well-pleasing to God. It is not a burden, but should be counted as a privilege. We can indeed suffer joyfully and without a reply or complaint. We have Jesus Christ as our example and whose steps we are to follow. God has granted to us everything we need for our life in Christ. His grace provision is all sufficient.

Monday, May 14, 2012

1 Peter 2:13-17 Submission to Authority

1 Peter 2:13-17: Submit to Government Authority “Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” Now Peter switches to the seemingly distasteful subject of submission. The Greek word is Hupotasso, which is a military term meaning to arrange in military fashion under the command of a leader. It shows us there is to be a leader with delegated authority coupled with the proper response of subordinates to that authority. The fact is that we are all under authority of one kind or another. As the Bob Dylan song goes, “it may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’ve got to serves somebody”. I can definitely say we are all under authority because of this verse of Scripture: Matthew 29: 16-18, “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Yes, every created being is under the authority of God the Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. This is part of the sovereignty of God. He is in control, and He has all authority. The next verse in Matthew 28 is where he delegates some of His authority to the eleven disciples. Here we see a principle: • All the authority that we see God granting to the human race is delegated authority. There is another principle we need to see about authority in general. It is found in Matthew 22:15-21. “Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, "Tell us then, what do you think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? "Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." • All the authority God granted to the human race is limited authority. But we can readily see this in action. For example, in Scripture the husband is the head of the wife. That extends to his wife only. It does not extend to any other man’s wife. If authority was not limited we would be in a real mess. Come to think of it, problems always arise when limited authority is extended beyond its limits. Like a pastor who tries to extend his “ministry” to people who are not part of his congregation or who combines spiritual with the non-spiritual. WHY? Now we see our motivation to submit-“for the Lord’s sake”. We are to submit because of the reality of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is sovereign, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, righteous, just, loving, kind, immutable, truth. All these things and much more! He died on the cross for my sins and paid the debt I owed, but could not pay on my own. It is for His sake we submit. WHAT? We are to submit to “every human institution”. The Greek is Ktisis, meaning creation. The Greeks used the word for the founding of a city. It’s best understood to be today our institutions. This can be taken two ways: a) First, it can be understood to be to submit to every institution set up by man. b) Second, it can be to submit to every institution set up for man by God. Only the second interpretation fits and satisfies the whole biblical system of authority. Human government was set up by God for mankind for our benefit. God says then that we are to submit to the Divine institution of human government, whatever form that takes. And we know that he is speaking of government first, because of the phrase “whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors as sent by him”. O.K. So, we don’t have a king, but we do have a government and we do have governors. Since we don’t have a king, this phrase shows us there are to be different levels of human government that we are to submit to. For us it would be Federal, State, County and City government. And it shows God as the source of the delegated authority “as sent by him”. This is borne out by the following verses of Scripture: Romans 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Proverbs 8:15-16, “"By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice, by me princes rule, and nobles, all who judge rightly.” And next we see there are certain functions that this delegated governmental authority are to perform. This is not an exhaustive list of government functions but it demonstrates the limited nature of authority. • The punishment of evildoers: Remember from last week that word evildoers is the Greek word for criminals. Government is authorized by God to punish criminals (Proverbs 8:15). This is to be done with justice. The punishment must fit the crime. Notice that from God’s perspective, just punishment is the issue, not rehabilitation. Deterrence is not the issue, just punishment is the issue. • Praise of those who do right: Proper government authority should also praise and reward its citizens for doing what is right in God’s eyes as it is a minister of God to us. Romans 13:3-5, “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.” So things like citizen awards are totally in line with the teaching of the Word of God. Now we see that it is God’s will for us (in subjection to the ministers of God (government)), to do what is right. This is not sullen slavishness, but active good works. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” But the object here is to silence the critics, silence the ignorance of foolish men. We as believers are to live our lives in such a way as there is nothing the unbeliever can use against us. This can seem to be a tall order unless we see a couple of more principles. • If character of the people involved in the government does not matter from the point of view of subjection, whether the government is good or bad, or the ruling party is for us or against us. We submit to government as ministers of God for the Lord’s sake. We have more to gain under unfair authority that fair authority. • Liberty still stands and flourishes under submission to government. We are to “act as free men”. Sounds funny doesn’t it to tie government submission to our freedom and liberty? But we must look at what liberty really is: 1. It is not freedom to do as we please. In reality, this is slavery at its worst. Why? Because it is slavery to ourselves. It is also unrealistic to think we can do whatever we want when we want. Our wishes and wants are always more that what we can get. It is not freedom from service either. Freedom is side by side with service in Romans 6:18, “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness”. 2. Freedom relates to a change in masters. We were slaves to self, slaves to sin, servants of our flesh, but now we have a new master in our lives, Jesus Christ. He is king. He is totally right and just. We find true freedom in Christ. Only in submission to our true King do we find personal freedom. Jesus has freed us from ourselves to which we were in total bondage. 3. The third step is that Jesus as our Master with all authority has delegated human government to people who He says we are to submit to. This begs the question, “what if these people ask me to do something contrary to what I know to be true and right in the Word of God?” Well, we know that God is absolute Truth and we as humans are frail and subject to error. But I believe that with our faith firmly placed in Jesus Christ and the fact we know our lives are hidden with Him, we can trust that no matter what the situation, we will be delivered. Think of Joseph unjustly thrown into prison, Queen Ester and Haman, even King David and his political troubles. And we have already established that there are limits to all delegated authority. This is a place where the government has exceeded its limited authority. If a government tries to rule outside its limited authority, then disobedience may be required since God did not grant them that authority. Therefore, we can trust that God will deliver us from a government or official who asks us to do something that is contrary to His Word. There are distinct dangers to our liberty in Christ Jesus. A. We can lose our liberty. Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Here we see our freedom was granted to us by Christ, and that if we do not stand firm we risk falling back into slavery (to self) and so, a loss of liberty. B. We can misuse our liberty. Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Here we see the potential to misuse our liberty as “an opportunity for the flesh”. Instead, we are to focus on others (those outside of ourselves) and not self (flesh). But there is an opportunity for us with our freedom-to use it as bond-slaves of God. Remember that a bond-slave was one who had been set free, but willingly return to the master to serve him. And an earring was the symbol of his commitment. It speaks well of the master and the character of the servant. Peter now closes out his though with four commands: 1. Honor all people. The Greek word for honor is Timao and it means to recognize the value in something. The command here then is to see the value in all people, not just a few. 2. Love the brotherhood. This is a restatement of the new commandment of John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." 3. Fear God. This is the beginning of wisdom and our discovery of knowledge of God as we see in Proverbs 2:1-10, “My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 4. Honor the king. And of course, he finishes his thoughts on governmental authority with one last command to recognize the value of your governmental authorities. • Based on this study and what you know to be true, do you think Christians should hold public office? Why or why not? • Is civil disobedience ever justified? See Acts 5:29. • Over the course of history we have seen various forms of government, theocracy, democracy, republics, monarchy, etc. Does the Bible specify any particular form of government? What makes our form of government unique in history in terms of its positioning of God and man?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

1 Peter 2:11-12 The Life of Aliens and Strangers

1 Peter 2:11-12: The Life of Aliens and Strangers Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them glorify God in the day of visitation. Peter now starts the second half of his epistle. Beloved shows us he is still speaking to believers and ones that were dearly loved by him and ones he held in esteem. Here he begins a long passage on submission in one form or another as we see in “submit” (verse 13), “be subject” (verse 18), and “be in subjection” (Chapter 3 verse 1). He speaks of submission to the state, submission in the household and lastly submission in the family. In these two verses Peter reminds us of our duty as believers in Jesus Christ. First, we must have inward personal holiness. Then our lives should reflect that inward holiness with outward visible holiness. Then he gives us the purpose for our inward and outward holiness. Peter encourages us. He urges us. This is the Greek word parakaleo, to come alongside to encourage or beg/entreat someone. It is to implore or plead with someone. God the Holy Spirit is a paraclete, a defense attorney, who comes along side us to encourage us. Next Peter reminds us of our temporary status here on planet earth. He calls us aliens and strangers. An alien is someone who lives in a country other than the one of his citizenship. He is a pilgrim. He has established a temporary residence somewhere. A stranger is a sojourner. He is someone on a journey who is just passing through. This was true in a literal sense as we see in Chapter 1, verse 1. This epistle was written to the believers who were scattered over Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. The place where these believers lived was not the place of their citizenship and they had established a temporary residence there. But this is also true of us in the spiritual sense. We are citizens of a special place, heaven! Hebrews 11:13-16, “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” The “these” the writer of Hebrews is speaking of is the list of heroes of the faith. We want to focus on one of them, Abraham. Read Hebrews 11:8-10 for a context of Abraham as an alien and sojourner. Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ “ Next, it is important for us to understand that we live in a state of war. Our lives are played out on a spiritual battlefield. A daily battle wages in our souls, with our old sin natures warring against our new creature status in Christ. God gave us a free will to exercise and allows us to choose. This spiritual battle is revealed to us by Paul in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It would be easy and understandable for us to think our battle is with a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a boss, ourselves, etc. But that is putting the blame in the wrong place. Peter mentions our adversary in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan would like nothing better than for us to lay the blame elsewhere and keep us off target. The warring in our souls is something Paul new too well. And we do too! And he lays out our struggle in Romans 7:14-25, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” As Peter tells us in this passage, we are to “abstain from fleshly lusts that wage war against the soul”. So we are to keep away from the desires of our old sin nature that wage war in our soul. Having spoken to us about the inner man, now Peter switches to the outer man-the importance of our conduct in front of an unbelieving world. “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles”, an expanded definition is: (Continually)-Having your conversation honest. The point is we are to exhibit a habitually beautiful life in front of unbelievers. Why? The reason is because there is an important purpose for it. “so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers”,: Hina is the Greek work showing this is a purpose clause. Then, the purpose clause is interrupted by the phrase, “in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers”. The Greek word for evildoers is Kakopoios. It refers to a criminal. The believers who Peter was writing to were being slandered and called things like criminals. Now Peter resumes the reason for the believer’s good behavior. Our good works are to cause the unbeliever to “glorify God in the day of visitation” This is literally the day of overseeing episkopa (Bishop or overseer). This word is always used in the New Testament of times when God visits in mercy and grace, Lk. 1:68, 78, 7:16 and Hebrews 2:6. The expression refers to the time when those who see the believer’s good works will be saved-visited by God’s mercy and grace. This is evangelism by lifestyle. This is the concept behind the means for evangelizing an unbelieving husband. We close this lesson by looking at Ephesians 2:8-10 to see the proper role of works in our lives.

1 Peter 2:9-10 The "Greater Commission"

1 Peter 2:9-10: The “Greater” Commission “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” In addition to the living stones, choice stones, precious stones and cornerstone which Peter uses as titles for believers in Jesus Christ, he now has a few more for us to consider. And again he uses Old Testament Scripture to make his point when the Lord God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Exodus 19:3-6, Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. 'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel." Now, this was a message for the nation of Israel, which is plainly stated. But as we have just studied, Jesus came to His own people (the Jews), and they did what? They rejected Him! So Peter who we know is writing to believers and in the previous verses described us in such vivid terms, is inferring that believers in Jesus Christ are described in much the same way as the Jews. But this is no surprise to us. Paul explains our adoption as sons of God in Ephesians 1:1-10, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. “ A Chosen Race: Eklektos Genos in the Greek. A chosen generation means a group of people living in a certain span of life. It refers to a group with a common origin i.e. the new birth in 1:3, and 1:23. Chosen shows the distinctiveness of the believer and as always looks to the Plan of God for mankind that was determined “before the foundation of the world”. A Royal Priesthood: The chief idea of a king is authority. The chief idea of a priest is access. We are king-priests! The reason for this is found in the book of Hebrews. There the writer describes Jesus Christ as a priest after the order of Melchisedek, a King of Salem and a priest. Hebrews 6:20, “where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Genesis 14:18-20, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” A Holy Nation: God’s purpose for Israel and the church have a similar point, king-priests. Israel and the church should also bear the same characteristic of holiness. The Holiness of God is the combination of His Righteousness and His Justice. The guardians of the Holiness of God are the cherubim class of angels. The Hebrew word, "to be holy" is quadash, it is derived from the root word qud, which means to cut or separate. God is absolutely separated and is above from all his creatures and he is exalted above in infinite majesty. Exodus 15:11, "Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you? majestic in holiness, awesome in glory." Isaiah 6:3, the angels were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." So, in this sense we are to be separated from the influences of the world and our culture that detract from God. Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” A People of God’s Own Possession: Peripoiasis in the Greek, a “peculiar people”. This means to make something around or to make something and then encircle it showing ownership. We are God’s own special people a “people of God’s own possession”. Now we get to the purpose of the believer stated by Peter. We are most familiar with the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." But when you look at the context of that passage, it was directed at the eleven disciples who were given a specific ministry. It is by inference that we say that ministry is now delegated to believers today. Here we have a passage that is directed specifically toward believers in Christ in general. In this sense it is the “greater” commission as it is directly specific to us. That commission is to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” To show forth or proclaim is the Greek word Exangello. Areta is the Greek word translated excellencies or praises. It refers to one of noble character and noble acts. So, an expanded look at this greater commission means we as believers are to proclaim the noble character and the noble acts of God. We can do this at any time through what we say and how we conduct our lives. Now Peter contrasts our lives before Christ and our lives now in Him. • Not a People  darkness  not received mercy • A People of God  marvelous light  received mercy Not a People vs. A People of God: Apart from Christ we were cut off or separated from God. We had no relationship with Him. Sin created that barrier. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and died so that we do not have to die. The Father was satisfied with the payment and the barrier was removed. We are clothed in God’s own righteousness. I am “in Christ” as a result of my belief (faith) in Christ’s finished work on the cross as complete payment for my sins. God saved us from something (hell), but He saved us unto something else (a personal relationship). As His Chosen people we have access to God (priesthood), and delegated authority (royalty). Now we are a people of God. Out of darkness verses into marvelous light: Peter uses the example of darkness verses light to explain our spiritual condition as an unbeliever (darkness), to a believer (marvelous light). Paul uses this analogy as well in Ephesians 5:8-17, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” But even more interesting is the way Paul uses the metaphor to describe our spiritual condition. It is an absolute. By this I mean you either are walking in the darkness, or you are walking in the light. No mention here of walking in the twilight (no gray areas). So then, here is one of many examples of the fact that believers can “walk in darkness”, or said another way, live his/her life in such a way as it is indistinguishable from that of an unbeliever. That is an important point to take away from this passage in light of the Calvinistic teaching of today’s reformed churches on the perseverance of the saints. Notice that the “fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth”. This mirrors our thought life mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Not received mercy verses have received mercy: First of all, mercy is the withholding of something that is deserved. We generally think of it as withholding just punishment. A convicted felon begs the jury or the judge not to give them the full penalty of the law but to show him mercy. As an unbeliever what did we deserve? John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." But we have received mercy from God due to Jesus Christ! Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” But mercy from God was always available to us. We just did not accept it! Ephesians 2:1-7, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”