This morning, we’re in 1 Peter 5; verses 10-11 were used for the Great Lakes Bible School theme; we’ll just go through the chapter up to verse 11.
Verses l-5 address the older and the younger members; the shepherds and the sheep. Of course we’re all below Jesus; he is the great equalizer; none of us are to have “authority” over anyone else; just because you’ve been in the truth for sixty years doesn’t mean you’ve earned a higher or better position than someone who’s been in the truth for six years. The older members are to be shepherds; not lords. They certainly have experienced a lot more than the younger ones and should guide the younger ones but should never act as if they have authority. The ultimate shepherd of course is Jesus; he is the oldest member of our meeting; isn’t he? And he is always watching over what we’re doing; no good shepherd is ever unaware of what his sheep are up to and how they’re doing. They want the best for the sheep. Shepherds are also to protect the sheep from wolves; but they’re not on a witch hunt; either.
The younger are to submit themselves to the elders; when you read something like this; you may think it’s just a commandment; but hardly any commandments are there just as a commandment; those of us who have been around the truth for a long time may realize that this is just really good advice. Every one of us here has been around the truth for at least twenty years; each of us probably knows of someone who is a lot older than us who has been a huge influence on us and has helped us. For me, there’s one here in Richmond who I’ll mention a little later on. Peter tells us to submit ourselves to these people; not to put them on a pedestal; and we need to be careful of that; but because these people are probably pretty wise.
Verses 6-7: God is mighty to save (Isaiah 63:1) and there is nothing too hard for him (Jeremiah 32:27). Cast your cares on him; he cares for you. I like the Phillips translation of Philippians 4:6-“Tell God every detail of your needs.” He’s able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). We may all be a lot better off if we prayed about things as much as we talked about them.
Verse 8 tells us to be alert and sober; don’t give “the devil,” your sinful nature, any opportunity. I know I’ve been guilty before of trying to get as close to “the edge” as I possibly could without actually sinning. Just as an example; I can honestly say I’ve never been drunk; but have I drank enough beer in one sitting to get a “buzz” and to maybe not be in my right state of mind? Yes. It wasn’t a good idea. Because even though by the letter of the law I didn’t sin, I didn’t get drunk, I was still leaving open the possibility instead of just going with what I had intended to limit myself to originally. Sometimes we may find ourselves vulnerable; don’t leave yourself open to something that may cause you to sin. And don’t walk on thin ice; it’s bound to break at some point and it could get you in trouble.
In verse 9, we see that we’re not alone in the different things we go through.
As a few of you know, last month had a rough start for me; the last time I was here, so four weeks ago, that night I was laying in bed; thinking about a lot of stuff, wasn’t doing all that well. It was after 1 AM and I was just about to go off to sleep. Then my room lit up; I had gotten a text on my iPod. I saw the light from it and opened the text message and it was from someone I didn’t really know all that well; someone I had just reconnected with on facebook recently. No need to go into any detail but I read the text message and just said “What?” The person on the other end was going through a tough time and needed to vent. I wrote back and said I was sorry they were going through that and that they could tell me their story and could tell them mine, but then I asked if I could just call them. So there I was, around 1:15 AM; talking to someone I barely knew. We talked for half an hour; we really helped each other out. And even though we haven’t talked much since then, that night, at least for that night only, we needed each other; God allowed us both to see that there was someone else out there who was suffering in the same way. I went to bed that night feeling a lot better about everything because I knew someone else was going through almost the exact same thing. We should never feel totally alone in a problem as if we’re the only person out there who has it. Peter tells us the same afflictions are accomplished in our brethren in the world.
Now we come to verses 10-11; the theme verses at the Bible School. Verse 10 starts off: “But may the God of all grace…” Peter writes; “may grace and peace be multiplied.” Bruce Parker said last week that “we are under a grace-based-system; where we get what God gives us instead of what we deserve.” Grace is when God fills in where we fall short. When he gives us something good, it’s not because we deserve it, but because he is gracious. And he has promised that the righteous will be rewarded.
He calls us to his eternal glory; Mike Hill said, “When we are called to do something, we can either embrace that calling, or we can run away from it, or ignore it;” God gives us the choice.
The next part says, “after you have suffered a while.” There is a time for suffering and a time for rejoicing (Ecclesiastes 3:4); we know that there will be suffering; we’re to count it all joy when we suffer (James 1:2), because our reward will be great (Luke 6:23); “if we suffer with Jesus, we will also reign with him (2 Timothy 2:12).”
To perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle, it takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight. Ephesians 4:12-16 is about the process: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
These two verses are the story of our journey in the truth; the God of all grace calls us, we suffer for the sake of Jesus, God perfects, establishes, strengthens and settles us, and it ends with glory in the Kingdom. God’s plan would not be able to continue or really be complete without any of these aspects. Without a God of grace, we can’t be called to his eternal glory. If we’re not called to his eternal glory, we can’t suffer for the name of Jesus. If we don’t suffer for the name of Jesus, we can’t be perfected, established, strengthened, and settled. It worked out well that on the final day of our Bible School together, the final part of the theme verse was about the final and ultimate part of God’s plan: “To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Jude ends his letter by saying essentially the same thing as Peter says in our theme verse: “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.”
He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present. His ways are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth. He’s the creator of the universe; on Tuesday night, I gave a devotion about creation for the teens, and then we went outside and looked through a telescope at a few of the planets and the moon. Psalm 19 says God’s glory is seen in creation, as well as in his word which makes wise the simple. In order for something to have glory, there must be someone to glorify it; God says in Isaiah that his glory will rise and that all nations and tongues will come and see his glory and to worship before him from one new moon to another (Isaiah 66:19; 23).
At Jesus’ birth, the angels said “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill toward men (Luke 2:14).” There is a reason that “glory to God in the highest” is mentioned first and that “peace on earth” and “goodwill toward men” follow. It’s because “glory to God in the highest” must come first. Why is there no peace on earth right now? By the way, “peace” does not mean the absence of war; it means the absence of even the very thought of war or trouble.
When there is “glory to God in the highest,” naturally, peace on earth and goodwill toward men will follow. Glory to the one true God, the God of Israel, and once that happens, there will be peace on earth at last.
Imagine if everyone in the world was a Christadelphian, giving glory to God in the highest, always putting him first in everything, asking him to essentially be their King, there would be no war; there would be peace. Unfortunately some people in our community are fighting among themselves and a lot of people have died as a result. But we wouldn’t be dropping nukes on each other, we wouldn’t have to worry about having planes fly into buildings, we probably wouldn’t even need to lock our doors at home. When the glory of God fills the earth as the waters cover the sea, the world will be a lot better.
When I hear the word “dominion,” I think of a kingdom, and a ruler having great power after conquering; like Ahashuerus from the Book of Esther; he had dominion over 127 provinces; maybe the most powerful man in the whole world at that point. As we know, Jesus will one day be the most powerful man in the world; Daniel 7:14 says, “and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Psalm 72:8-“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth.”
Luke 1:33 says that “of his Kingdom there shall be no end.” When the angel said that to Mary, he didn’t mean it would last all eternity; we know that will have an end after a thousand years when Jesus turns it over to God (1 Corinthians 15:24). What he meant was that there will come a time where it will not matter where you are on earth; you will be in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ; he will have dominion over the whole planet; he will control every nation on earth.
As I was flying here back on Saturday, I was looking out the window of the airplane and just realized how big the earth is, and how Jesus will be the King over it all. Even in the small part of the planet that I got to see on Saturday, President Obama is the “ruler” for lack of a better term. But there will come a day very soon when Jesus will be the ruler over not just that, but all the land on the earth. Even this land that we’re all on right now will one day be under the dominion of King Jesus.
Daniel 7:27-“And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
And his dominion will bring peace and prosperity to the world; from Genesis to Revelation we see that man can’t do it himself, that no ruler has ever been able to bring lasting peace. Psalm 72:16 says they of the city will flourish like the grass of the earth.
Isaiah 2:2-4-“And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
I was visiting dear brother Blair Smith a few weeks ago. He and I were talking about the Kingdom; we had been studying it in the Monday Night Bible Class that I go to. Blair and I read these three verses from Isaiah 2 and he looked up at me and said, “This is what it’s all about, isn’t it?” And he was right; the entire mission of the Kingdom, summed up in three verses: “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill toward men;” all three aspects of it are seen here. The Bible begins and it ends in a perfect world; it’s the beginning and the end of the story.
In Revelation we see the saints singing giving glory to their God; they’re joyous of their hope; earlier in the theme verse it says “after you have suffered a while…” but we know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18); to be kings and priests to reign on the earth (Revelation 5:10), to transform this world. So in conclusion, let’s remember why we’re all here, we share the same wonderful hope. It’s our hope and our prayer that each of us, by God’s grace, will get to share in that glory and dominion that we’ve just read about, to be found acceptable to live and reign in the Kingdom with Jesus forever and ever. Amen.