Suffering Purifies the Church – I Peter 4:7-11
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Remember that the theme of I Peter is “God’s Grace” and 3:13 through chapter 5 is “God’s Grace in Suffering.” Last week in 4:1-6 we saw that “Suffering Purifies the Christian” and in 4:7-11, we will see that “Suffering Purifies the Church” that is, the Body of believers.
“The end of all things is at hand” – the culmination of everything is near. We live in the shadow of eternity. Peter began this letter with an admonition that is similar to the one in 1:13: Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul also gave a similar admonition in Romans 1:13,14: And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
As 4:1-6 admonishes: “rejecting the sins of the past, let us walk a new pathway of obedience to God, looking toward what lies ahead.” Or as Hebrews 12:2 puts it: Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Consider how suddenly this pandemic hit us, as well as the whole world. It was as though the whole world came to a halt and suddenly and unexpectedly, our lives were changed: special and major events were cancelled, family plans were changed and gatherings postponed; churches are empty, schools are closed, as are restaurants and many businesses. Our whole way of life was suddenly changed! And so it was for the whole world!
Remember that Jesus spoke of the Rapture, His coming for His Church, will be “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”
In the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, Jesus spoke of world conditions at the time leading to the Tribulation as a time of famine, diseases (pestilences), earthquakes etc. Today, along with the pandemic, some nations are enduring other tragic events such as plagues of locusts, hurricanes, earthquakes, cyclones and fires. Also there are increased attacks on Christians in various parts of the world.
The Holy Spirit, through Peter, gives us four practical admonitions: Live soberly, prayerfully, lovingly, and faithfully.
That is “be sane” or “be level headed.” “Be in control of your passions.” Because eternity matters, it’s forever. This is the word used in Mark 5:15 concerning the demoniac after Jesus cast out the demons in him and he was now “in his right mind.”
BE PRAYFUL Literally, “Be serious unto prayer.” Life is serious and the Lord’s return is imminent, we should give full attention to prayer. It does make a difference! It is how we maintain our fellowship
with God. Prayer should be taken seriously and demand our full attention. As you approach the Throne of Grace, recognize it is of God’s grace that we are allowed to approach God in all His holiness! Give Him your thanks and praise. When presenting your requests, place greater value on the spiritual and eternal riches than on the temporal and material. Develop the attitude to say and mean “Thy will be done.”
BE FERVENT IN LOVE - 4:8 – Above all things have fervent love for one another
The word “fervent” means “stretched out” – Stretched out to the point of sacrificial giving.
This is a description of the taut muscles of an athlete or the neck of the horse as he strains to win a race. This needs and should be demonstrated in the church today among all who are part of the body of Christ. An unselfish concern for others in such an intense way, stretching to the point of sacrificial giving of ourselves for their welfare.
“love covers a multitude of sins” - (Proverbs 10:12)
Only the blood of Jesus does that, but genuine Christ-like love can overlook sin, that is, makes it easier to forgive someone. The thought is that one who loves fervently forgives the other person again and again. Remember in Matthew 18:21,22 when Peter asked Jesus if the limit of forgiving another was seven times and Jesus replied “seventy times seven.”
BE HOSPITABLE - An Attribute of LOVE
Fervent love leads to hospitality without grudging. In biblical times travelling was difficult and inns were few with little accommodations and could be expensive. Fervent love opens hearts and homes. When a church has a missionary conference or evangelistic meetings, it is not uncommon for the members of the church to take a missionary or evangelist as a house guest temporarily. Notice Peter says “not grudgingly.” Even back then, evidently some would say “do I have to?” Often those who did it grudgingly or fearfully later say what a blessing it was. In Scripture we have the example of Mary and Martha who opened their home to Jesus and it appeared it was a place of comfort for him. Another example was Lydia, who opened her home to Paul and Silas.
BE FAITHFUL - Or DILIGENT
Verse 10 makes it clear that every believer has a spiritual gift and it’s to be used as a ministry to other believers. (Keep in mind Peter is speaking to believers in the church. We’re all to minister to one another. We will give an account to God how we used our gifts. The gifts are various gifts all given by God’s grace so that we may help each other on our pilgrim pathway.
Believers do not live in isolation, we are interdependent.
Verse 11 mentions two types of ministry: speaking the Word and serving.
“oracles of God” – if we speak or teach God’s Word do it with conviction and declare it accurately so that it comes across as the Word of God. Speak in keeping with the revelation of God’s truth so that the hearers will know that what they hear is from the Lord Himself.
Next, Peter speaks of ministering or serving, that no matter what you do, don’t minimize it. It’s all important because it’s the Lord’s work. Therefore do it in His strength, relying on Him and doing it in His name and for His glory.
Whatever we do we do in the Lord’s name, the Lord’s power and for the Lord’s glory. That God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
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A wise man will hear, and will increase learning. - Proverbs 1:5
Prayer flies where the eagle never flew. - Thomas Guthrie
The Devil did not tempt Adam & Eve to steal, lie, kill or commit adultery; he tempted them to live independent of God.
— Bob Jones, Sr.
Can you name 3 consecutive days without using Sun., Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., or Sat.?
(Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow.)