Due to technical issues we have no audio of this week's sermon. Below is a rough transcript:
Our time is short this morning so let’s get going pretty quickly!
We are in I Peter 3 this morning
For those visiting with us, we typically preach through books of the Bible at New City and we do that together—here in Macon and at our Milledgeville site as well.
So—we’ll keep going with I Peter this morning
Peter is writing a letter to early Christians spread out thru the Roman Empire.
He is writing at a time when Christianity was very new
To a culture who was just learning what Christianity was and who Jesus was.
It was also a time of increasing persecution against Christians… some believe that Peter was writing during the days of Nero when persecution was pretty common and very, very intense
He is reminding these young believers and these young churches of who they are in Christ… they are His, their future is with Him
He is their King, He is THE KING—the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
BUT Peter doesn’t just toss out theological truths - he makes things practical for these early believers
He calls them EXILES
People living in a land that is not there own.
They are different
One of the common themes is HOPE - Peter says, because of Who God is and what he has done for you in Christ, you have a new and different HOPE…
Your confident expectation is in his promises!
Because you don’t hope in money, or power, or prominence,
Because you don’t hope in Rome or in the emperor ,
because you don’t hope in family or children or job or spouse… you are different.
So we have been talking a lot about Hope and Faith and how those things shape us and how they truly make us different
Those themes continue this morning as we talk about Suffering and Mission…. Suffering that points others to Jesus.
So last week we looked at How the gospel leads us in our relationship with others - with fellow Christ followersPeter said in verse 8 - Have a spirit of unity, show sympathy for one another, love one another, have tender hearts toward one another, and have a spirit of humility
And for others… those who are not Christ followers, those who may persecute you…
Do not repay evil for evil
Do not revile as you are reviled
Instead - BLESS…. Bless them even if they persecute you
Because… God has got you and God will deal with them
Do this because you trust in His promises to you
Do this because of who he is and what he says
Verse 13: 13is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?14even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed.no fear of them,be troubled,in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy,being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and,a good conscience, so that,you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
Let’s pause here:
I. How You Suffer Matters
Peter makes a general statement
Generally speaking, who is going to bring harm to you if you are showing them honor and respect - we talked about that earlier in the series, Honor all people… and if you are blessing them?
Generally speaking people won’t.
BUT…. IF THEY DO HARM YOU
Don’t be troubled, Don’t fear them
The Lord will bless you
Be Prepared, Peter says, to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…
Answer them with gentleness and respect
So Peter is saying, if, in your suffering you suffer well,
You may have an opportunity to share why you are suffering so well
You may have an opportunity to explain why in the midst of suffering you have hope
How we suffer matters.
People are watching.
Sometimes it’s the people causing our suffering, sometimes its others who are just onlookers—coworkers, friends, family, children, neighbors
And How we suffer communicates something
It communicates our despair and hopelessness
Or maybe it communicates that though our circumstances are painful and even dire… we are hopeful. We have a certain peace within us. We are able, even in the midst of our suffering to look beyond suffering and BLESS
Peter doesn’t say it, but suffering poorly doesn’t offer much to others
Hopelessness only offers hopelessness
Bitterness only offers bitterness
Suffering well, however does 2 things…
Suffering Well Brings Condemnation to Some
That’s what Peter means when he says that in the day they make accusations against you they are shamed
So when they say mean things to you or persecute you or make accusations and you return that with honor and BLESSING, they are often revealed as shameful.
Suffering Well Brings Salvation to Some
Chapter 2:12 - Keep your conduct among the gentiles honorable, sothat when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
What Peter is saying is that doing this, responding this way, honoring and blessing those who oppose you may in the end cause them to glorify God on the day of visitation—or better—when Jesus returns.
Your blessing during suffering may give opportunity for you to share with someone why you have Hope.
And your sharing your Hope may lead them to the same hope.
SO - Peter doesn’t say, In Your Best Life Now, God won’t let suffering come your way…. NO he says you are probably going to suffer
And not because you did something wrong
Sometimes you will suffer even when you do things right
And when you suffer, Suffer well
It is an opportunity to share with others the great hope that you have within!
Peter was talking primarily about persecution
We don’t really suffer a whole lot of that. Some, on a much less level than Peter and these early believers did.
BUT the principles apply to all kinds of suffering
Suffering loss. Suffering Infertility. Suffering Illness or Disease
Suffering through a year long building project that darn near kills you…
How you suffer matters.
And the truth is, most likely with you, I know certainly with me - that I don’t get asked often HOW DO YOU STAY SO SOLID IN THE MIDST OF THIS SUFFERING?
How do you have joy in the midst of such sorrow? How can you have such hope when it all seems hopeless? How do you respond this way?
I don’t get this, at least in part, because OFTEN I don’t suffer well.
We don’t suffer well.
We often get angry or bitter
We fight back, we blame, we excuse our poor attitude and behavior
We play the victim, we look for sorrow and sympathy and service
I think it reveals a lot about our hope. It does mine
Or my lack of Hope
Hope - Peter would say, is not some big MAYBE
Maybe the Falcons will win…. Or not
No Hope as the bible describes it is a CONFIDENT EXPECTATION
Peter says, suffer well
Honor them when they curse you
Bless them as they persecute and be ready to give a reason for the CONFIDENT EXPECTATION within
The reason I don’t suffer well is that I don’t have a confident expectation
I don’t believe the promises of God
I don’t believe that he will keep those promises
Maybe I don’t believe that he loves me, like that
Maybe I believe that he has forgotten me
Maybe I believe that he doesn’t really care
That he won’t take care of this, that he won’t take care of me.
I know I’m not alone in this.
I know that you sometimes feel the same way. So did the churches that Peter wrote to.
That’s why He reminds II. How to Suffer Well
Look at these last verses:
18Christ alsofor sins, the righteous for the unrighteous,he might bring us to God, being put to deaththe flesh but made alivethe spirit,whichwent andthe spirits in prison,formerly did not obey,God's patience waited in the days of Noah,the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is,persons, were brought safely through water., which corresponds to this,saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body butan appeal to God for a good conscience,the resurrection of Jesus Christ,has gone into heaven andat the right hand of God,angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
There are some things in here that when we get to see Jesus we can ask about! I have read for almost 2 weeks all of the opinions on Noah, the ark, Jesus’ proclamation.
Most people will say, I’m really not sure what all of that means
So here’s what I do when I find that place and there are those places…. I look for what I can know… And I think that the main thing Peter is trying to encourage the first church in, is How to suffer well
WHERE THEIR CONFIDANT EXPECTATION should lie
And that is, in the Victory of Jesus!
Jesus, Suffered too, Peter says
And He did so Perfectly righteous and without sin…. He suffered what we deserve, what our oppressor deserves
The righteous for the unrighteous
This is the gospel right?
He died the death that we all deserve because of our sin
But God made him alive
And in much the same way that Noah was rescued by water from the flood and damnation of the world YOU were saved through baptism
PAY ATTENTION HERE…. Peter is not saying that the act of baptism saved you, like dirt removed from you in a bath
BUT like Noah entered the ark by FAITH…. He built the ark by faith, working 120 years while the world laughed at him!
He built by faith in the promises of God, He entered by faith in the promises of God and by faith He was saved from the rising flood waters
YOU—You were saved by the redeeming work of Jesus when you believed in hIs life death and resurrection
It wasn’t your baptism, it was the faith that led to your baptism!
Your conscience is clean before God because of your faith in Him, Peter says
Him who is now in heaven at the right hand of God the Father
Him who now stands in authority over all of the angels and powers and authorities that be…. Jesus suffered once
But he stands victorious… on your account
And so—Chapter 1 of I peter:
Your Hope is a living Hope in a living and victorious Savior
Your hope is that no matter what happens here and now you are loved and cared for
Your hope is that though you may suffer now, because of Jesus, you have an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled
It is unfading and kept for you—you who have been made HIS by faith
You whom he loves and cherishes and guards until that inheritance is fully delivered
Peter is reminding the first church that the way to suffer wellTo suffer in a way that honors people, that blesses them and that may, MAY just open a door to their redemption from sin and salvation in Christ
The way to do that and glorify Him
Is to believe the promises of God
It is to have a Confident Expectation in Him no matter what your circumstances are.
And the place that we find that confident expectation in Him and in His promises is in the Gospel… there, in his life and death and resurrection we reminded
That we are loved, that we are cared for, that there is so much more than this, that we are Exiles, our King and Kingdom still to come
There we see that He has done much to make us His own.
There is our Hope.