Judgment is approaching…so Pray

Judgment Pray

Sunday 08/01/21

Series: Maintaining this hope

Message – Judgment is approaching…so Pray

***Video is HERE***

Share this:

Twitter Google Podacst

Judgment is approaching…so Pray

Last week we spent time with a difficult passage in 1 Peter 3, but found that it is somewhat clarified in chapter 4

Now EVERYTHING since chapter 2 has dealt with submission, authority and faithfulness during persecution ALL springing from a good conscience towards and before God.

As we moved on into chapter 4, we saw that conscience towards God continues to be set forth as our motivation for living lives of devotion, purity and holiness before God and the world.

We ended last week in verse 6, but let’s go back and read from verse 1 and move on in our study of 1 Peter.

I think today we will see how all of this connects with our theme of the year which is to Maintain our Hope of seeing Jesus for Who He really is at His return for His church when we get to verse 7 onward.

1 Peter 4:1-2,  “(1) So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin,  (2)  in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.”

Last week we illustrated this mindset of Jesus we are to have and maintain by looking to Luke 9:51 which tells us that when the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up (a reference back to when Elijah was taken up) He set His face to go to Jerusalem.

The phrase being a semitic idiom, that means He adopted a firm, unshakable resolve… which it would have to have been since He knew it was there that He would suffer at the hands of ungodly men and be crucified.

Also Moses’ heart attitude came to mind. It says that when Moses looked down on the suffering of his people in Egypt, he “…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,  (25)  choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure.  (26)  He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward.  (27)  By faith he left Egypt without fearing the king’s anger, for he persevered as though he could see the One Who is invisible.” – Heb. 11:24-27

Peter goes on to say,

“(3)  For the time that has passed was sufficient for you to do what the non-Christians desire. You lived then in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, carousing, drinking bouts, and wanton idolatries.  (4)  So they are astonished when you do not rush with them into the same flood of wickedness, and they vilify you.  (5)  They will face a reckoning before Jesus Christ who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.

“(6)  Now it was for this very purpose that the gospel was preached to those who are now dead, so that though they were judged in the flesh by human standards they may live spiritually by God’s standards.”

For what very purpose?

The fact that Jesus stands ready to judge the living and the dead, and it is this judgement that sets the pace for the rest of the chapter.

So we will read the remainder of this chapter in an attempt to capture its intended meaning as we circle back to work through the verses thought by though.

“(7) For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer.  (8)  Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins.  (9)  Show hospitality to one another without complaining.  (10)  Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.  (11)  Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.  (12)  Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.  (13)  But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad.  (14)  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you.  (15)  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker.  (16)  But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name.  (17)  For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?  (18)  And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners?  (19)  So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.”

So we start off in verse 7 with a warning, then we move on to the need of fulfilling our calling and purpose and end with the fact that judgment is coming…beginning with the church.

Warnings and encouragements

So in verse 7,

“(7) For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer.” 

In the Greek the sentence actually begins with “Of all things” making that an emphatic part of the sentence.

So it should be understood like this, “Of all things, the end is at hand” meaning, this is of paramount importance.

Words to consider…

Culmination – means the completion

Near – approaching

Now a difficulty is introduced to a modern audience due to the way in which we take words and warnings like this one.

We tend to assume such words imply quickness or immediacy, when it is actually more of a statement of order. The words “at hand” may mean “approaching”. That is NOT to say that judgment had not already begun in the body of Christ, but that the time of judgment is a progressive thing which only begins in the church and continues to have it focus largely set upon the church UNTIL the Bride has been made ready. THEN God turns His attention to the world! So this began during the initial days of the gospel and continues on until today, and more is still to come. In light of this, the wording might best be said, “is at hand and continues to approach until final fulfillment”…nevertheless it is not ours to attempt to improve upon scripture, I only offer this as an clarification. 

As such, Peter may simply be saying, that if we take into our view the entire panorama of mortal life on earth beginning with Creation and ending at the judgment, the VERY NEXT THING in order ~or~ the next phase which is approaching is judgment – first of the church and secondly of the world.

Self-controlled & Sober-minded – This is a warning for our times to approach this time of purification with a mind that thinks and acts soberly, discreetly and relies upon sound judgment and moderation. It means to be calm and collected and as well as self-disciplined..

Question?

Tell me…what often is the heart response and attitude of the church to hearing the end is near?

  • Inward reflection and concern
  • Fear
  • Exuberance over leaving this world such that attention to daily living is not in view. Much like a child not attending to the daily tasks of homework, chores and room cleaning the closer they get to a much anticipated trip or event. 

Yet we are ecouraged to have sober minds and self-control…FOR THE SAKE OF – prayer.

Wuest tells us that “The Christian who is always on a tear, whose mind is crowded with fears and worries, who is never at rest in his heart, does not do much praying.”

Guzik says, “Many Christians who believe that Jesus is coming soon based on prophecy charts and political events fail to apply that belief the proper way. They fail to applying themselves to more diligent prayer.”

So in effect Peter is telling us that the wrapping up of this mortal life is approaching and so we need to learn to be calm and collected and act with sound judgment, discretion and be self-disciplined so that we can be focused upon what matters and that is PRAYER!

Regarding Prayer

As I told you last week – in just one week I had several people ask me to pray for their loved ones who are either severely backslidden or never saved. 

We have been given a sacred charter to occupy until the return of our Lord. He has gone away to be crowned king and will return…but to what will He return? 

A body so preoccupied with the affairs of this life that living in pursuit of their dreams obscures all else OR are they doing as Peter tells us here – “You have lived enough of your past life for yourself – NOW devote it to pursuit of God’s will”

Guys this hits us all – me as much as you. There is no one SO dedicated that this does not need to be heard over and again! It is a sobering clarion call.

One of the precious souls I was speaking to this last week regarding a lost loved one who seems to be doing all they can to hasten their own death with smoking, alcohol, anxiety, being quick tempered and so on…I told them that anymore, when I pray for the lost, I find that in my heart of hearts I am praying for God. 

I know…I know how that sounds, but hear me out. 

I care for the lost, but anymore, I care more for the heart of the Creator Who does and has loved that soul for an eternity past. 

He longs for them and desires to know them, and if they persist in their defiant self-will I am more grieved over His loss than theirs!

So I pray for the sake of His heart, the sake of the sacrifice of Christ, for the sake of the unrelenting ministries of the Holy Spirit and for the sake of Their corporate great Name… give as much mercy, time and grace as can rightly be given that this soul might come to surrender and salvation….’cause once it’s over…it’s over!

I truly believe people do not understand the nature of their own “creatureness” especially in light of the Holiness of God. There is a place…a line if you will that is drawn in the sand where God will offer mercy up to THAT point, but no further! The line is different in terms of time and tenderness due to the uniqueness of each human heart. Nevertheless, God cannot and will not endure long-suffering forever. There is a point at which to continue to honor man with another chance would be to dishonor the sacrifice of Christ and the tender ministries of the Holy Spirit and so it is at THAT point that hearts are hardened beyond repair. I believe that is in part those who John offered a sobering warning, “I do not say that you should pray for them”.

So in view of the need for clear mindedness and self-discipine in prayer Peter says,

“(8)  Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

I ask those who believe all sin is already covered, why is this verse even here? I think the obvious answer is – our sins are paid for, but we need to acknowledge them and our need for continuing forgiveness even after salvation. NOT so that we may “stay saved” but out of respect and honor to the One we know as Father!

“(9)  Show hospitality to one another without complaining.”

I like the Weymouth translation here…it says, “Extend ungrudging hospitality towards one another.”

“(10)  Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.”  

In today’s world of superstars and institutionalized Christianity we have adopted the world’s views on giftedness. Today we are actually taught and encouraged to use our giftings to “build our ministries” in the same way the world is told to use their talents to build their careers and financial success strategies. In complete opposition to this trend we here have Peter telling us that our gifts are for the service of others! Our use of them MUST BE to serve each other – NOT ourselves! To do otherwise is to misuse and abuse a stewardship God has given us.

“(11)  Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. 

Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”  

This always reminds me of Paul’s words to the Corinthians when he said that he came to them struck with awe and trembling offering the testimony of Jesus. Not with words of human wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit of God and of power so that their faith would not rest in his human words of wisdom, but in the power of God Himself.

This is the litmus test of true spiritual giftedness in action – does it point to and glorify Jesus or man? Does it build up God’s kingdom or your ministry?

Superstar Christianity will NOT be prepared for the next words flowing out of Peter’s pen.

“(12)  Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.  (13)  But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad.”

“(14)  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, Who is the Spirit of God, rests on you.”

“(15)  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker.”  

Some translations use the word “spy” or “meddler in other people’s business” though the actual meaning of this Greek word is uncertain. The scope of possible meanings is rather broad and could include the idea of being a revolutionary or even a spy, informer or an embezzler or defrauder.

While I am most often ready to join in with the majority of voices regarding a translation, I just don’t see “busybody” fitting like it belongs in a list of criminal activity like murder and theft. So I assume it means embezzler or defrauder – though in the end it doesn’t matter. We know we should not be busy-bodies either, so just don’t do any of it and you’ll be fine! 

“(16)  But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name.  

(17)  For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?  

(18)  And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners?  

(19)  So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.”

This kinda takes us full circle back to prayer. We are to commit our souls to God in doing good as to a Faithful Creator.

Committing our Souls to God during persecution

What do these words imply?

1st we are to commit our souls to Him. This is in reference to the whole person. The keeping of our minds wills and emotions – stealing them against any inclinations towards unfaithfulness or apostasy.

Also, our spirits, like Jesus Who on the cross committed the keeping of His spirit into the hands of the Father. “Into your hands I commit My spirit”.

Either reveal a deep, penetrating trust in God during the most difficult and uncertain of times. We are NOT our own and in view of this fact that HE is our Creator that we base and place that trust! He Who created us to be faithful to Him is Himself faithful to Himself, His purposes and plans and to us – His creations!!!

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!