- This is the final section of the body of the letter (2:11-4:11). This section forms an inclusio with 2:11-12.
- The resurrection (3:21) has brought into being the final stage of Redemptive History. The end is just as near today. We remain in that same stage which culminates in a future judgment (vv.5-6).
- Continue to live with eternity in view.
Read 1 Peter 4:7-11
- Peter is preparing his readers for trial (4:12), not suggesting their escape from it.
- What makes the Christian community a place of refuge in a hostile world?
- The characteristics of the Christian community serve to promote God’s glory and dominion.
- Four exhortations to the Christian community: Pray soberly, love earnestly, show hospitality, and serve generously.
- Internal Characteristics of the Christian Community (7-8)
- External Characteristics of the Christian Community (9-10)
- Eternal Characteristics of the Christian Community (11)
Internal Characteristics of the Christian Community (7-8)
- v.7 “The end of all things” – The last stage of Redemptive History. “At hand/near” (Matt. 3:2). Near in terms of space, not time. Not that Christ could return at any moment, but that Christ has ushered in the last days (1:20).
- State of being “self-controlled and sober” > calm/rational. Not hysterical/drunk.
- “For” your prayers = You will pray with understanding and discernment.
- v.8 Loving others in such a way that sins will be overlooked. Not swept under the rug. Not atonement. Christians should be thick-skinned. Not easily offended by one another.
- Proverbs 10:12 Hatred brings division. It is quick to point out the wrong in others. It assumes the worst motives lie behind even the most loving acts of kindness.
- Love, on the other hand, is willing to forgive repeatedly (Matt. 18:22, 70×7).
- Martin Luther was asked what he would do if the end would come today. He replied that he would plant a tree and pay his taxes.
- Spoken for a bit of shock-value in its sheer mundaneness, but he was suggesting the opposite of becoming hysterical and erratic.
- Continue to do what God has called you to do, right up to the end! We don’t run around like Chicken Little proclaiming the sky is falling.
- Pray Soberly Does your thinking keep you from praying? Praying proves that we are trusting in God’s guidance and provision. The opposite is also true.
- Love Earnestly As you love one another, you will experience a unity that overlooks wrongdoing rather than retaliating. Our love for each other makes us quick to forgive those who offend us.
- Praying soberly promotes God’s rule over all things. Loving earnestly displays God’s glory.
Internal characteristics provide the fortitude to show…
External Characteristics of the Christian Community (9-10)
- v.9 One significant expression of our love is hospitality. All should offer hospitality without complaining (effort, cost, frequency). Complaining kills the joy.
- “To one another” – The church (Gal. 6:10).
- v.10 God has given each one of us a unique gift to be used for the benefit of one another.
- God has designed us to be mutually dependent upon one another (humbling/sense of purpose).
Schreiner Spiritual gifts are not fundamentally a privilege but a responsibility, a call to be faithful to what God has bestowed.
- If you think of your spiritual gifts primarily in terms of how happy it makes you, your thinking is backwards.
- We have as many ministries within the church as there are people. Each one of us has a ministry that will not happen if you aren’t actively pursuing it > within the context of the church.
- Are you showing hospitality? Hospitality should occur wherever the Church exists.
- Maybe you’re thinking of several excuses. (Jesus?)
- Showing hospitality has more to do with opening up our hearts, than opening up our homes.
- Are you serving? There are needs within the Church that God has prepared you to meet.
- When the Christian community shows hospitality and serves others we display God’s glory and dominion.
All of these characteristics should operate with an eternal perspective.
Eternal Characteristics of the Christian Community (11)
- Speak and serve in God’s strength for his glory.
- May especially have offices of elder and deacon in view. Ministry of Word and Tables (Acts 6:1-6).
- “Speaks” = Preaching, teaching, evangelism, discipleship, counseling, encouragement, rebuke. We should take our speech seriously, “as” if we were uttering God’s words.
- “Serves” = Everything we do that doesn’t require speaking.
- Whether your gifts primarily involve speaking or serving – promote God’s glory!
- Respect for the Word of God should be reflected in our preaching and teaching. This is not about entertaining you.
- I hope and pray every time I preach that the Spirit might empower God’s Word and do the miraculous work of cutting into your heart and bringing deep conviction. But then, just as clearly I want you to know the comforting grace of our loving LORD – so that you might be restored and enthralled by Him.
- This is so important it should be a routine in your life. Daily remind yourself that: The characteristics of the Christian community serve to promote God’s glory and dominion.
- Memorize WSC #1 What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
- Do the characteristics that define you promote God’s glory and dominion? Do you pray soberly, love earnestly, show hospitality, and serve generously.
How do we maintain an eternal perspective?
- Humble Yourself: Recognize how unnatural these characteristics are.
- Admire God: Reflect upon the characteristics that define God and give him praise.
- Trust Christ: It is only through his strength that we can live this way.
- Maybe you think of these characteristics as crippling, they are SO not you. How did Paul deal with the thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10)? He prayed for it to be removed, then trusted that God’s grace was sufficient.
- Christ’s glory and dominion are displayed most clearly in our weaknesses.
- Peter’s readers, like us, felt powerless in exile, but all power belongs to God.