33. 1st & 2nd PETER

Lesson 344: 1 Peter 3:15…

1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have

Peter wanted his readers to know what they believed, and why they believed it, so they could answer those who asked. Stated simply, we believe Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), so whoever believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:16). Our faith is based on the eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ apostles, who were willing to suffer and die for what they saw (Acts 5:17-42), and never changed their story. In a court of law, that is about as good as it gets. But there is more. 

In addition to the external testimony of the apostles, we have the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:9-11). The indwelling Spirit provides assurance to all who believe in Jesus Christ that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16). On the basis of the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, and the indwelling Spirit, we know that Jesus Christ is Lord of all (Acts 10:36). This is what we believe, and why we believe it.

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near

This verse was written two thousand years ago, but is still true for at least three reasons. First, the end is nearer now than it was yesterday. Second, the end is near for us individually, since we are only a heartbeat away from death. Third, if Jesus does not return for a million years, it is still near compared to eternity. 

I met a man in his forties whose health was beginning to fail. I offered to meet with him, to explain the gospel, but he put it off. He thought he still had plenty of time, but he died later that week. The end of all things is near, and may be nearer than we think.

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins

Peter knew his Bible well, and drew on two verses from Proverbs. [L]ove covers over all wrongs (Proverbs 10:12), and love covers over an offense (Proverbs 17:9). 

One of the most loving things that we can do for fellow sinners is to protect their reputations. We have all done things we are ashamed of, and should simply do for others what we would like them to do for us (Matthew 7:12). This means speaking all the good we know, and none of the bad. Some sins need to be exposed, but most do not. Love covers over a multitude of sins

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms

Peter knew the strength of any church depends on every believer using their gift for the good of the whole. Spiritual gifts include serving, leading, encouraging, giving, teaching and more (Romans 12:6-8). Broadly speaking, a spiritual gift is whatever a Christian can do for the good of the church. Spiritual gifts can be used formally, as when a pastor gives a sermon, or informally as when someone mows the church lawn simply because it needs to be mowed. All believers have a spiritual gift which God expects them to use (1 Corinthians 12:7).

A conductor stopped a rehearsal in the middle of a song. Where is the piccolo? he asked. The piccolo player thought he could stop playing, and that no one would notice. But the conductor noticed, and so does Jesus Christ. The health of any church depends on every believer using their gifts for the good of the whole. 

1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you

Some of Peter’s readers were surprised by the suffering they were going through. They may have assumed their lives would improve after they put their faith in God. Instead, their lives became worse. If God is good and powerful, why was he letting them suffer?

This question cannot be answered to everyone’s satisfaction. It is, in fact, the primary argument atheists use against believing in a good and powerful God. A God who allows suffering might be good, but not powerful. Or, he might be powerful, but not good. But a God who is both good and powerful would not allow suffering, they insist.

But if God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing suffering, then suffering does not disprove the goodness, power or existence of God. Parents buy braces to straighten their children’s teeth, but are not considered evil for doing so. They allow their child to suffer pain for the good it will bring their child. This is how we should think about any suffering God allows into our lives.

1 Peter 4:16 [I]f you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name

The unbelieving majority will always try to make Christians feel ashamed of their faith. Christians are mocked for attending church, shunning evil, and believing unusual things. Instead of being ashamed, however, Peter wanted believers to praise God for the honor of bearing the name of Jesus Christ.

Tallison was working outside an elementary school in Armenia when the ground began to shake. He ran inside to get the children out, and then returned to be sure he did not miss anyone. The ground shook again, however, and the building fell on his head. From that day on, the town honored his widow by calling her Tallison’s wife. Our greatest honor is not who we are, but whose we are. We ought to praise God for the honor of bearing the name of his Son, Jesus Christ. 

1 Peter 5:8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour

A lady was vacationing in Africa, and was viewing wildlife from the safety of a bus. Passengers were told to keep their windows up, but the lions looked so peaceful, she did not feel threatened. She wanted a better look, so she rolled her window down, and a lion suddenly charged. She tried to roll it up again, but it was too late. The lion got a paw inside and literally ripped her face off. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, and we put ourselves at risk, whenever we lower the window of sin.

Reflection and Review
What do we believe, and why do we believe it?
Why is the end of all things near?
Why doesn’t suffering prove that God does not exist?