Final Greetings.

“12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (I Peter 5:12-14).

We now come to the conclusion of I Peter. As in keeping with the style of first century letters or epistles, the Apostle Peter saves most of his personal greetings and acknowledgements for the conclusion of his letter.

Silvanus is also known as Silas. This is the same man who traveled with the Apostle Paul on his missionary journeys (Acts 15:22; 16:16-34) and who is also mentioned in Paul’s epistles (2 Corinthians 1:19; I Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). Silvanus was a prophet (Acts 15:32) along with being a Romans citizen (Acts 16:37). Apparently, Silvanus recorded Peter’s words and later took the letter to its intended audience. Peter regards him as a faithful brother. Silvanus is one who Peter could trust, depend upon, could commit to and honor. May this be said of us by our friends.

Peter’s phrase “I have written briefly to you exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God” refers to the content contained in this first epistle bearing his name. The Lord commands those who read the Scriptures to stand firm (ἵστημι; histemi) in what it says. It is one thing to complete a study of a Bible book, but quite another thing to remember what you have studied and to faithfully apply its truths in your life. This is what God commands us to do.

“She who is in Bablyon” may well refer to the church in Rome which biblical scholars believe is where Peter was staying when he wrote I Peter. Rome is often referred to as Babylon (Revelation 17 & 18). This perspective concerning Peter’s location is supported by Peter’s reference to Mark, who he regards as his son. Mark was known to have been in Rome with Paul (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11). Tradition holds that Peter even helped Mark write the Gospel of Mark (Acts 12:12).

Peter’s final words focus on Christian fellowship. The kiss of love was a common form of greeting in the Near East (Matthew 26:48-49; Romans 16:16; I Thessalonians 5:26). It was an outward sign of the believers love and unity toward each other. It is equivalent to today’s practice of shaking another person’s hand. God is so adamant that fellowship be fostered among believers that this directive is a command.

Peace (εἰρήνη; eirene) is freedom from worry, anxiety and inner turmoil. Peter’s statement takes the form of a prayer on behalf of people who have experienced more than their share of outward turmoil. The peace for which Peter prays is not the absence of outward suffering but rather the inner knowledge that one belongs to Christ, the Prince of Peace.

This brings us to the final blog concerning the Epistle of I Peter. I trust you have grown in your walk with Christ because of this study. Remember, it’s not how well you begin that’s important, but how well you finish. Thank you for completing the journey with me through this epistle. Our next topic with be a periodic series I entitled Delighting in Doctrine. We will begin a study entitled Knowing God. This new study will take us right up to, and including, Easter Sunday.

Thank you for your many encouraging words as became a reality for me and a hopefully a blessing to you. I am humbled.

As always, Soli deo Gloria!







Precious Promises.

10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 5:10-11).

The Epistle of I Peter has extensively addressed the issue of the believer’s suffering for Christ while living in this world. The apostle has not shied away from this biblical truth. However, what hope does the believer have that the trials of life will eventually end? Does God provide any promise that our trials will give way to something better and greater?

As Peter nears the conclusion of his letter to suffering saints, the Holy Spirit leads him to provide some final and lasting encouragement to those beset by temporary trials. One pastor writes, “Christians are to live with the understanding that God’s purposes realized in the future require some pain in the present. While the believer is personally attacked by the enemy (I Peter 5:8-9), he is being personally perfected by the Lord.”

Peter once again acknowledges the reality of suffering at the beginning of I Peter 5:10. The word suffered (πάσχω; pascho), which we have seen in I Peter 4:13, means to undergo an experience of pain. See Luke 22:15. However, our suffering is only for a little while (ὀλίγος; oligos), a small amount or a short period of time.

This parallels what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

What does God promise to do? To begin with, we see that Peter identifies God as the God of all grace (θεός πᾶς χάρις; theos pas charis). Grace, which is unmerited favor and divine kindness, belongs to and originates from God and God alone. This is who God is.

What the God of all grace has done is that He has called us to His eternal glory in Christ. To call (καλέω; kaleo) means to summon and to invite. This was done by God at a particular time and which impacted our entire being. Consistently, the call of God refers to His effectual, saving call of the sinner unto salvation (I Peter 1:5; 2:9, 21; 3:9). His eternal glory (αἰώνιος δόξα; aionios doxa) refers to the believers everlasting life in heaven in the presence of God: the holy, righteous, pure and just One. This eternal glory is because the believer is in union with Christ. While our sufferings are temporary, our life in Christ is eternal.

Because of the believer’s status in Christ before the God of all grace, God promises to do four things on the believer’s behalf. First, God promises to restore the believer. To restore (καταρτίζω; katartizo) means to make adequate or furnish completely. To confirm (στηρίζω; sterizo) means to strengthen and to make more firm. To strengthen (σθενόω; sthenoo) means to make more able. Finally, to establish (θεμελιόω; themelioo) means to literally lay a foundation. All four verbs are in the future tense indicating that these actions are what God will do.

These four verbs all speak of strength and steadfastness of the Christian’s character. God is working through the believer’s temporary struggles to strengthen the believer’s eternal and godly character. While the struggles are temporary, God uses them to bring about everlasting results.

What then is Peter’s response to all of this? The apostle acknowledges that God is sovereign and has dominion (κράτος; kratos) power, might and strength (Acts 19:20; Ephesians 1:19; 6:10; Colossians 1:11; I Timothy 6:16; Hebrews 2:14; Jude 25; Revelation 1:6). Our sufferings are not caused by impersonal fate, but rather are purposed by the eternal, sovereign God of the universe. He is in control and we bow down to Him.

Peter’s concluding word in I Peter 5:11 is the familiar conclusion “Amen.” It means that what the apostle has written is true and that what we read in I Peter we acknowledge as truth from God.

In this similar benediction to the one found in I Peter 4:11, the Apostle Peter praised Christ who has all power for all time (Romans 11:36; 1 Timothy 6:16). Jesus Christ certainly has the power to strengthen His church as, and when, she undergoes persecution.

Take time today to thank God and worship Him as the sovereign God of your salvation. He is working in you from beginning to end and everything in between. For His glory!

Soli deo Gloria!



Watch Out!

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (I Peter 5:8-9).

Not only does God command believers to submit, to be humble and to trust God through suffering circumstances, but also we are be sober-minded and watchful. Both statements are God given commands. Even though God is sovereign in the believer’s circumstances, we are not to be lazy and careless regarding spiritual disciplines.

To be sober-minded (νήφω; nepho) means that with one’s entire being our minds and thoughts are to be restrained and self-controlled. It means to not succumb to irrationality.

To be watchful (γρηγορέω; gregoreo) means that with one’s entire being we are to be alert, and vigilant while also being self-controlled and restrained. In short, to be aware of the enemy. Who is our enemy?

Our adversary (ἀντίδικος; antidikos) accuser and enemy is none other than the devil (διάβολος; diabolos) who is by nature a slanderer and a wicked being. Along with the fallen world (I John 2:15-17), and our flesh or sinful nature (Romans 7:13-20), the devil is the believer’s mortal enemy, not unlike an opposing attorney in a legal dispute.

Much like a roaring lion, the devil and his demons are on the prowl. The word prowl (περιπατέω; peripateo) means to go about with a singular purpose to destroy. Peter emphasizes this truth by then using the phrase “seeking someone to devour.” To seek (ζητέω; zateo) means to actively and continually try to find something.

What is the devil trying to find? The devil and his demons are trying to find someone they can devour. To devour (καταπίνω; katapino) literally means to swallow one’s prey. It means to completely ruin and destroy. Therefore, the destroyer is constantly seeking someone to destroy through temptation, persecution and discouragement. This is the devil’s nature and his mission (Psalm 22:13; 104:21; Ezekiel 22:25).

Along with being sober-minded and watchful, the believer must also resist the devil. To resist (ἀνθίστημι; anthistemi) is a God-given command to actively oppose the devil’s pressure and power to sin against God. We are able to resist by remaining firm (στερεός; stereos) and steadfast in our faith (πίστις; pistis), which is our commitment to, dependence upon, trust in and worship of God alone through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The encouragement Peter gives his readers is that they are not alone in their suffering along with the devil’s constant attacks and accusations before God against them (Job 1:6-12; Revelation 12:10). Believers throughout the world, then and now, are under the same oppression.

Martin Luther once wrote, “When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means! For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the son of God. Where He is, there I shall be also.”

Martin also wrote, from Psalm 46,

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

We must, and we can resist the devil. Let me encourage you today to read Colossians 2:5-17. The Apostle Paul gives us some practical instruction regarding being sober-minded and watchful. Get behind me devil. You have no claim over me. I belong to Jesus and forever I shall be.

Soli deo Gloria!






Blessed, when Insulted.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (I Peter 4:12-14).

For the fourth time in his letter Peter speaks to Christians about the reality of trials in their lives, specifically because of their testimony for Jesus Christ. Peter has acknowledged that trials may grieve the believer (I Peter 1:7), but he has also encouraged the faithful to look at the example of Jesus Christ and how He handled the trials and persecutions He encountered (I Peter 2:18-25; 3:13-17).

Some commentators believe that Peter wrote this letter shortly before, or after, the burning of Rome by the Emperor Nero in A.D. 64. Nero’s act of blaming Christians for a fire he was responsible for marked the beginning of 200 years of Christian persecution by Rome.

Peter says that there are four attitudes believers must have when experiencing trials. First, Christians should not be surprised when trials come into their lives. The phrase “do not be surprised (μή ξενίζω; me xenizo) is a commandment. We are never to be taken by surprise when trials come, unlike a person who answers the door and is surprised by a friend who has come to visit. The word surprise means to experience a sudden feeling of unexpected wonder. This is not a problem when opening presents on one’s birthday, but it should not be our response when difficulties occur in our walk with Christ.

Second, we are to rejoice in our trials. Let me repeat that; we are to rejoice in our trials. The word rejoice (χαίρω; chairo) means to be glad in your soul. We are to rejoice and be glad in how we think about our trials, along with how we feel about them and the decision to rejoice while in the midst of them. This is also a commandment which we are to continually obey.

Another reason we can rejoice in our trials is that God promises that He will bless us when we are insulted for the name of Christ. The word insulted (ὀνειδίζω; oneidizo) means in the context to be persistently reprimanded, reproached and reviled for one’s identification with the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Peter says that when this happens, you are blessed (μακάριος; makarios) or fortunate. Why? Because the Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of glory or praise and who is God, rests (ἀναπαύω; anapauo) or continues to abide upon you. This refers to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in all who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:19-20) and because of this they are therefore persecuted.

How do you view your trials? Are you surprised by suffering? Honestly, I think most of us are, in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:12 to not be shocked and dismayed. Are you rejoicing in your trials? Again, I think many of us don’t in spite of the commandment in I Peter 4:13. We become anxious, fearful and despondent when tough times come. Rather, we should realize that God promises to bless us when we are in the midst of misery.

Make it a priority of your prayers that you will ask God to help you obey the commandments found in this text from I Peter. It may not be easy at first to not be taken by surprise or to rejoice when trials eventually come, but continue to ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:5-13) for God’s strength to be faithful to His Word. Do so boldly and shamelessly. God will answer your persistent prayer.

Soli deo Gloria!


“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (I Peter 4:9).

In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to show hospitality.

God encourages believers to be people of hospitality (φιλόξενος; philozenos). The root of this multi-syllable word is “philo” from the Greek word for friendship or brotherly love. Within this context, it means a friendliness to strangers, visitors or guests.

Within the ancient world, there were no Holiday Inn’s. Lodging for travelers could often be found in people’s homes. This is the context for Jesus’ parable about persistent prayer in Luke 11:5-13. As one pastor writes that, “Hospitality was receiving others, especially taking in travelers of the same faith who needed a place to stay. As generally in the ethical ideals of antiquity, lodging and provisions were to be provided generously, not grudgingly.”

Peter is saying that believers are to show generous hospitality to one another. My wife and I have had the occasion to entertain and house overnight several guests through the years. Many times, these were musicians or guest pastors visiting our church. We had the opportunity and the space in our home to do so. We have also done so with my mother-in-law who lived with us due to her ill health.

However, Peter is not just addressing the demonstration of right behavior, but also the demonstration of a right attitude. Showing hospitality should not be done so with grumbling. Grumbling (γογγυσμός; gongysmos) is literally behind-the-scenes talk. It is conversation with oneself, of with another person, in order to complain about showing hospitality to another person. It would be like me complaining about having my mother-in-law live in our home. This type of behavior does not glorify God.

Complaining spoils hospitality. Well, someone may say “I won’t show hospitality. I won’t have people in my home. Therefore, I won’t complain about it then.” That is not the answer. Jesus encouraged the entertainment of strangers or guests (Matt. 25:35). Then and now, hospitality makes mission work possible (3 John 5).

If the Lord has blessed you with a home in which you may house and entertain fellow believers you do not know, take the opportunity to do so. But remember to do so without complaining. Now, if the guest does something inappropriate, that issue must be graciously addressed. However, for the most part, that will not happen.

Have a blessed day and ask God to prepare your heart to be hospitable.

Soli deo Gloria!


The End of All Things is at Hand.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (I Peter 4:7).

What does the Apostle Peter mean by the phrase, “The end of all things is at hand”? The word end (τέλος; telos) means the end of a particular point of time or a fulfillment. The word may refer, in the immediate context of I Peter, to the then future destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D; I Peter having been written between 60-68 A.D.

However, it is more likely that Peter is making reference to the final consummation of Christ’s kingdom at His return. Peter is saying that this end is at hand (ἐγγίζω; engizo). This means that the return of Christ is drawing near or is imminent (James 5:8; Romans 13:11-12; Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:25, 37).

What Peter wants his readers to understand is that the entire period of time between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His second coming to judge the living and the dead is near or soon approaching. This doctrine is referred to as the “last times,” or the “latter days” (I Peter 1:20; Acts 2:17; I Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1). In effect, the church of Jesus Christ has always existed in the latter days immediately prior of the return of Christ.

Regarding the soon return of Christ, Jesus explicitly instructed His disciples that no one would know exactly when He would return. He said as such in Matthew 24:36-37: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

However, in spite of Jesus’ own words, ancient and modern man has continually attempted to predict when Jesus Christ would return thereby initiating the end of the world. Here is but a few examples of such bold predictions within recent years.

  • July 29, 2016– The group End Times Prophecies once announced the world would end on July 29, 2016, because of something called a “polar flip.” It was predicted the stars would race across the sky and the atmosphere would be pulled along the ground. It turns out such a reversal is a common phenomenon occurring when iron shifts in the Earth’s core. This prediction turned out to be a bust, as did the group’s prognosis that former President Barack Obama would reveal himself to be the Antichrist.
  • October 7, 2015– The eBible Fellowship, a Philadelphia-based Christian website run by Chris McCann, predicted the end of the world in correlation with the blood moon. (It also claimed the world would end on May 21, 2011.) “According to what the Bible is presenting it does appear that 7 October will be the day that God has spoken of: in which, the world will pass away,” McCann told The Guardian. “It’ll be gone forever. Annihilated.”
  • September 27, 2015– The blood moon-supermoon phenomena generated several end-of-the-world predictions related to four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses occurring at six-month intervals for about two years. Mormon author Julie Rowe’s apocalyptic musings caused the Mormon Church to issue a statement to USA TODAY distancing itself from her statements. Hold onto your predictions, though: the blood moon-supermoon will next appear in 2033.
  • April 15, 2014 – Some people thought it was the end; others just think it’s the beginning of the end. The blood moon marked the beginning of a tetrad — four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses occurring at six-month intervals — which some see as a prophecy. Specifically, Texas televangelist John Hagee (author of Blood Moons: Something is About to Change) says the blood moons signify a “world-shaking event” that begins to fulfill End Times prophecy.
  • December 21, 2012– Remember this? Basically, the ancient Mayans, who ruled through Mexico and Central America until around 900 A.D., used three calendars, one of which ended on Dec. 21, 2012. This laid the groundwork for the Mayan calendar doomsday craze of 2012. People planned. People partied. It was debunkedover and over. Celebrities tweeted. The Mayans chuckled. Nothing happened.
  • August/September 2011– NASA’s recap of the Comet Elenin fascination explains it for us: “Elenin somehow quickly became something of a ’cause célèbre’ for a few Internet bloggers, who proclaimed this minor comet could/would/should be responsible for causing any number of disasters to befall our planet. … NASA’s response to such wild speculations was then, in turn, speculated to be an attempt to hide the truth.”
  • May 21, 2011– Harold Camping, a then-89-year-old televangelist and former president of the Family Radio Network, predicted the Rapture, initiating the end of the world with a series of worldwide earthquakes hitting at 6 p.m. People believed him. Some quit their jobs and nervously huddled in their home awaiting their moment with God. The Day of Judgment didn’t come. So, he pushed the date back to Oct. 21. Then, he stopped making predictions. Camping lived a long life and died at 92.
  • January 1, 2000– The computers can’t handle an extra digit doomsayers predicted. So, the world braced for a computer database crash of catastrophic preparations. Rev. Jerry Falwell said Y2K would fulfill Christian prophecy. People who had never previously bought into end of the world theories were suddenly stockpiling canned goods in their basement. More than $100 billion was spent on Y2K fixes, the New York Times reported. When the clocked hit midnight, there were a few minor computer glitches but nothing major. Everyone survived.

The Return of Jesus Christ is near. It is at hand. I do not make this statement in order to be associated with the frequent false predictions by so-called end-times prophets. I make this statement because it is found in Scripture. Jesus is returning soon.

Are you ready for His return? When He comes, will He be your judge or your Savior? There are no other alternatives. No other options. No other choices.

Repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord this very moment (John 1:12-13). Then you will be able to say with me, “Our Lord, come!” (I Corinthians 15:22).

Soli deo Gloria!





“For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does” (I Peter 4:6).

The Bible speaks of three kinds of death. First, there is spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1-3). This is the person who is separated from God and possesses no spiritual life, even while they are physically alive. Second, there is physical death (Hebrews 9:27). This is the person whose soul is separated from their physical bodies. This kind of death is experienced by the saved and the unsaved. Third, there is eternal death (Revelation 20:11-15). This is eternal separation from God, also referred to as the Second Death. This is experienced by the unsaved only. Please note that death is not annihilation but rather separation.

The only answer for the problem of death, in all its forms, is the Gospel. The Gospel teaches that (1) God exists; (2) Sin exists; (3) One Savior, Jesus Christ, exists; and (4) Salvation exists in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel message not only declares that Jesus Christ delivers the sinner from the penalty, power and presence of sin, but also that Jesus Christ delivers the sinner from spiritual, physical and eternal death.

Jesus said, ““I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

Peter was teaching his fellow believers that the Gospel is the only hope we have. He was proclaiming that this Gospel was preached in the past to those who were now presently and physically dead. Even though believers will experience physical death, this neither undermines the reality of their spiritual and eternal life, nor their eventual physical and glorified life (I Corinthians 15).

One pastor explains, “The preaching of the gospel not only offers a rich life (I Peter 3:10), a ceasing from sin (I Peter 4:1), and a good conscience (I Peter 3:21), but also an escape from final judgement. Peter had in mind believers who had heard and accepted the gospel of Christ when they were still alive, but who had died by the time Peter wrote this letter. Some of them, perhaps, had been martyred for the faith. Though these were dead physically, they were triumphantly alive in their spirits (Hebrews 12:23). All their judgment had been fully accomplished while they were alive in this world (in the flesh), so they will live forever in God’s presence.”

Too often we live lives focused on the here and now, rather than eternity. All too often we focus on the physical rather than the spiritual and the eternal. All too often we tend to focus on the difficulties in our earthly life rather than the promised blessings of our eternal, heavenly life to come.

Difficulties will come, perhaps even persecutions for our faith in Christ, but we must focus our attention not exclusively upon the here and now, the physical and the earthly, but rather upon the spiritual, eternal and the heavenly. I Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Soli deo Gloria!




Prepare to meet your Judge.

But they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (I Peter 4:5).

I have heard many testimonies from people about their faith in Jesus Christ. I have often given my own, personal testimony of my conversion of faith in Christ as my Savior and Lord. During those occasions, Jesus may be referred to as one’s friend, guide, or some other descriptive and biblical term. However, I rarely hear people speak of Jesus as Judge. Yet, this is how Peter describes Jesus in I Peter 4:5.

The verse is a contrast to what Peter has said in I Peter 4:3-4. He again specifically speaks about unsaved people who are surprised and then malign former friends who now follow Christ. His words in vs. 5 are not only an encouragement to the believer but also a warning to the unbeliever.

Peter refers to the unsaved with the phrase “but they.” Ultimately, the unsaved will no longer be surprised and slander those they know who no longer want to participate in sin. Rather, they will be doing something else with their speech. What is that?

They will actively give an account sometime in their future. The word account (λόγος; logos) is a statement or a reason for what they have done here on earth. The word literally means, “To give an accounting of an account.” Peter says the unsaved will give an accounting for the sum total of their lives; perhaps lived as the apostle described in I Peter 4:4. To whom will they give this accounting? To Jesus, who is ironically identified as the Logos in John 1:1-14. In effect, Peter is saying that the unsaved will give an accounting of the accounted sum total of their lives here on earth to the Sovereign Accountant of the universe.

Jesus is the one who is ready (ἑτοίμως; hetoimos) and prepared to judge (κρίνω; krino) and make a legal decision not only regarding the living but also the dead. Jesus will judge the spiritually living regarding their service for Christ (I Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10). This is referred to as the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ. The Savior will evaluate the service of the saved.

But Jesus will also judge the spiritually dead at the Great White Throne Judgement recorded in Revelation 20:11-15 which says, 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

One theologian explains it this way. “Those who have spent their lives in indulgence and idolatry will someday give account (apodōsousin logon, lit., “give back a word or an account”; cf. Matt. 12:36; Luke 16:2; Acts 19:40; Heb. 13:17). Peter warned that these people must one day face the One who is ready (i.e., willing) to judge. No one will escape this final judgment of the words and works of his earthly life, when Christ will judge both the living (zōntas) and the dead (nekrous) (cf. Acts 10:42; Rom. 14:9; 1 Thess. 4:15; 2 Tim. 4:1).”

Are you ready to meet your Judge? Whether we are saved or unsaved, we will stand before the Lord who will judge the living and the dead. Are you to be judged for your service for Christ, who is your Savior and Lord, or are you to be one who will be judged for your sinful rebellion as an enemy of the Lord (Romans 5:10)?

If you are a believer in Christ, ask God to help you evaluate your service so that it pleases and glorifies the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ, repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior (John 1:12-13). Do so today!

Soli deo Gloria!

Peer Pressure!

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;” (I Peter 4:3-4).

Peer pressure! Going along with crowd. Or as one youth leader once remarked, “If you run with skunks you’re going to smell like a skunk.” I Corinthians 15:33-34 says, “33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”

Prior to my conversion to Christ in October 1974, I associated with a group of people who attended the college I was attending. We were all aspiring writers and/or journalists. We worked on the school newspaper together, often attended the same classes, and sometimes got together to party. Alcohol was a predominant part of our after school get-togethers. I actively participated.

However, when I was converted that behavior soon lost its appeal. I became increasingly uninterested in attending such gatherings as before, and found myself making excuses to my friends why I could no longer attend. Eventually, I began to share my faith in Christ to them. Except for a few, most of my college friends did not want to hear what I had to say about Jesus Christ and they weren’t bashful about telling me so. I had changed, they said, and they did not like the changes they were seeing in me.

Peter makes reference to this in I Peter 4:4. He says lost people are surprised (ξενίζω; xenizo) when any friend of theirs no longer wants to do what they previously did prior to their conversion. The individual’s friends experience an unexpected feeling of wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to party and have fun like the world says you should.

They are surprised, Peter continues, when you do not want to participate in what the apostle says is a “flood of debauchery.” This phrase refers to senseless, reckless and extreme sinful behavior. How well I remember my friends reacting that way when I no longer wanted to participate in their parties.

However, surprise soon gave way to being maligned. To malign (βλασφημέω; blasphemeo), from which we derive our English word blasphemy, means to slander, defame and defile. It means to speak about someone in a way which will injure them or their reputation. This is not a pleasant experience when former friends treat you this way, and say negative things about you behind your back, because you have accepted Christ.

What do you do when this happens? Find new friends who not only love you, but also truly love the Lord. You will find them in a Bible study group, Sunday school class, and in a church. You may find them at school, at college or even at work.

However, even when you feel very alone, remember that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6). How often do I thank the Lord for that precious promise.

Soli deo Gloria!

Live for the Will of God.

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (I Peter 4:1-2).

When last we met, we discussed the meaning of the Apostle Peter’s statement in I Peter 4:1 when he wrote, “For whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” We submitted several different interpretations to the particular phrase “has ceased from sin.”

Some interpret it to mean the character building effects of suffering. Or it may mean that all those in union with Christ in His suffering and death are considered not to be sinful since Christ has died for their sin and taken its penalty ( I Peter 2:24; 3:18; Romans 6:7).

However, in light of what Peter wrote in I Peter 2:24, we believe that what he means is that believers are no longer living for sin but rather increasingly living for righteousness. We have ceased to have sin be our desire to fulfill but rather we seek to be holy in all we do. I Peter 4:2 supports the interpretation that the believer in Christ is striving to no longer live for sin but rather to live to be holy as the Lord is holy.

Peter writes “so as to live for the rest of the time.” The word “live” (βιόω; bioo) means our conduct in daily living. “For the rest of the time” is a phrase taken from the Greek word χρόνος; chronos, from which we derive our English word chronology meaning things as they happen. Peter says that our conduct in daily living as a Christian from this point on as things happen in our lives should be for one singular purpose.

That purpose is that while we live on this earth we no longer live for human passions (ἄνθρωπος; anthropos; ἐπιθυμία; epithymia). Human passions are lustful cravings. John calls them the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (I John 2:15-17). This describes the sinner’s desires prior to conversion to Christ.

Rather, the believer in Christ now lives for the will of God. In other words, that which God purposes as right, good and holy should be what the believer continually pursues each and every day.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that living in such a way is counter cultural. In fact, the world hates this type of living. People who live biblically right, good and holy lives interfere with those who desire to live for sin. When the two different lifestyles converge, at home, work or school, there is bound to be conflict and suffering. We have seen in I Peter that we must never cause suffering, and at the same time we are to be biblically prepared to receive it.

This will require the believer to possess a strength and courage to persevere. Thanks be to God that He gives this strength to each believer through the Holy Spirit. Have a blessed new day as you strive to live for the will and glory of God.

Soli deo Gloria!