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Sunday, October 17, 2021

“But Now You Are...” [Matt's Messages]

“But Now You Are...”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
October 17, 2021 :: 1 Peter 2:4-10

Something wonderful has happened to us.

Something wonderful has happened to you and me, and it has changed our status.

It has changed our identity. 

Something wonderful has happened to us that has changed who we really are.

And Peter wants to tell us about it.

Peter is just bursting with the news. He wants us to know what we have become.

In many ways, 1 Peter is full of bad news, or at least difficult news to absorb. Peter often has hard things he needs to tell us, things we don’t necessarily want to hear. He has to tell us about some very hard things that we are called to do. And about some very hard things that we are going to endure.

He’s already told us that we are going to go through fiery trials. That does not sound like fun! And Peter says that they are normal and to be expected. There are more fiery trials on the way. And he’s already told us that we are displaced. That we are not home yet. That we are exiles, aliens, strangers, foreigners not in our true homeland.

He’s going to hit that even harder in verse 11 when we get it to it next time.

But Peter has also told us some glorious wonderful beautiful things about us already, as well.

He’s told us about our inheritance. About that living hope that we’ve been born again into. About how perfectly safe our inheritance is being kept for us in heaven. And about how we are receiving the goal of our faith the very salvation of our souls. Prophets searched intently to understand and angels long to look into these things.

But he’s got even more to say about these wonderful things that have happened to us and how it has changed our very identity.

If you look on the back of your worship bulletin, you’ll see that I’ve entitled this message with four words that are lifted right out of our last verse for today, chapter 2 verse 10. 

“But Now You Are...”

You had been one thing, but now you are something completely different, and it’s completely wonderful!

All because of Jesus Christ.


“But Now You Are...”

#1. LIVING STONES.

In this message, I’ve going to try to summarize verses 4 through 10 in just two big ideas. And the first is from verses 4 through 8 which teaches the wonderful truth that Peter’s readers including you and I are now “living stones.”

Now that is a strange combination of words if I ever heard one!

Living. Stones.

Stones that are alive.

That should make you sit up and think a little bit.

Why living stones?

By the way, it’s a metaphor (or actually a simile). We are not literally made out of stones. We may be living, but we’re not actually stones. We’re like living stones.

I think that Peter wants to bring together the idea of stability and power. Strength and life. A stone is something solid and stable and strong. And life is, well, life! It’s vibrant and animated and powerful. 

And he’s also drawing his imagery from his beloved Old Testament. 

I’ve mentioned several times already this Fall that the Apostle Peter loved his Old Testament. He has just come off of alluding to Psalm 34 in verse 3, “now that you have tasted that Lord is good.”

Now, Peter reaches back into Isaiah 28, Psalm 118, and Isaiah 8 all of which talk about stones. Let’s see what he says. First verse. Chapter 2, verse 4. 

“As you come to him, the living Stone [there is One “the Living Stone!”]–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him–you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Stop there for a second.

Do you get a picture start to form in your head?

There’s One great big stone that is alive. It’s Personal. It’s a Person. But He’s so solid and stable and strong that He’s also a Rock.

And Peter says that his readers (that we) are coming to Him. And in the previous verse the him was the Lord. He’s the Living Stone.

He was rejected by men (more on that in verse 7), but He was chosen by God and precious to Him.

“This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”

And as we come to Him, which happened at our conversion and happens every time and every day as we move towards Christ in faith, we are living stones ourselves. Our lives have stability and even more than that we are being used in a great spiritual building project!

We’re part of a glorious construction project.

Peter says (v.5), we are “being built into a spiritual house.” I think like a temple.

A house for the Spirit.

Do you think of yourself as building material?

Something you might pick up at Lowes or YBC?

In the ancient world, they didn’t have concrete block. When I preached this same book 20 years ago, we were in the process of building our home in Lanse. And I stole one of the building blocks for the foundation and brought it up here to the pulpit to illustrate the point.

But they didn’t have concrete block. They had stones. The best builders would look for the best, most solid, most strong stones to join together to make the foundation and even the walls of the building they were building.
And they would especially look for one great big strong stone to be the cornerstone.

And build everything off of that. Look at verse 6. Peter is quoting Isaiah chapter 28  when the Lord Himself announced a great building project upon which He was embarking. Verse 6.

“For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”

We know that this building project is the Kingdom of God and we know Who the cornerstone is, as well. Don’t we?

Who is it?

It’s Jesus. Notice that it says that He is “precious.” Same word as verse 4. 

And the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.

Doesn’t that sound good? 

These precious people that Peter was writing to were probably experiencing shame being put them. Foreigners often are. Foreigners are often shamed.

But Peter says that Isaiah says that God says that if you put your trust in Jesus (The Living Stone!) you will never be put to shame before Him.

However, you will be put shame if you refuse to put your trust in Him. V.7

“Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’” 

There he’s quoting Psalm 118 and Isaiah 8.

Jesus Himself used Psalm 118 to describe Himself. Peter probably heard Him say it Himself many times.

The builders looked around for a cornerstone, looked for a capstone, and they found Jesus! But then they threw Him out. They crucified Him on the Cross. They rejected that Living Stone.

But Jesus was Chosen by God and precious to Him.

The stone at the tomb was rolled away, and this Stone lived again.

And became the capstone!

Notice how consequential those decisions are. 

If you reject Jesus, you stumble and fall. 

But if you trust in Him, then you will never be put to shame. 

Have you come to trust in Jesus?

I invite you to do so right here and right now.

He’s the Living Stone!

He’s what you want to build you life upon.

And even more than that, He transforms you and me into a wonderful part of His glorious building project.

Here’s what you are if you are trusting in Christ:

Living Stones. V.5 again.

“[Y]ou also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

This is wonderful.

It’s a little foreign to our ears, but just think about it a little bit.

I think he’s saying that you and I are each a stone in a great big temple being built.

A place filled with the Spirit, filled with the worship of God.

Paul talks in a very similar way in Ephesians chapter 2. You might want to read it this afternoon.

And one of the things I love about that is that you and I are not in the temple, but we are the temple. We are the living stones that make up the spiritual house.

Turn to the person next to you and say, “We are living stones.”

See we don’t need a building. Buildings are nice to have. This is a great building. But this isn’t the church. This is the church. The folks out there are the church. The folks in here are the church.”

“We are living stones.”

We are a part of something supernatural and wonderful.

And we are in this together.

These people may have been foreigners but they were foreigners together, right?

Last week, “love one another deeply from the heart.” Because we are in this together.

We are like bricks being placed right up next to each other. Or those stones out front of our building. As we come to Him, He is taking each one of us and building something beautiful out of us. Together!

And then in verse 5, he mixes the metaphor. He says that we are being built into a spiritual house “to be a holy priesthood.”

So it’s a house that is also a group of priests. 

It’s not one or the other. It’s both/and. We’re both the temple and the priests inside of it kind of I guess. 

Do you think of yourself as part of a holy priesthood? You better! Because that’s what Peter says your being included into.

Priests represent God to humans and humans to God. And so do we.

I’m not a priest any more than you are, but we both together are! 

And here’s what we supposed to do. Application. V.5

- Offer Spiritual Sacrifices Acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

That’s what we get to do! We get to offer spiritual sacrifices (not physical ones, not bulls and goats and lambs and all of that Old Testament stuff but spiritual sacrifices) pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.

Like what?

Like our bodies. Romans 12:1“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Or like our money. Philippians 4:18-19, “I have received ... [the monetary] gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Or like our praises. Hebrews 13:15-16, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

See, we get to make those sacrifices now. We get to offer those sacrifices.

Because we are living stones TO BE a holy priesthood.

What sacrifices are you offering today?

What sacrifices are you to offer this week?

Not to impress God! Not to earn anything. These sacrifices are “through Jesus Christ.” He’s the One who has already impressed God! He’s already made the propitiating sacrifice. We just add ours as grateful worship through Him. 

Because we are living stones. 

Unless you aren’t. Some people hear all of this, and they reject Jesus. V.8 

“They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for. [But not Peter’s readers and hopefully not you and me. V.9] But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

#2. GOD’S OWN PEOPLE.

“But now you are the people of God.”

Not just living stones, but God’s own chosen, royal, priestly, holy, special, people upon whom He has bestowed His sweet mercy.

I love these verses!

I told Heather Joy yesterday that I didn’t want to preach this message because I love these words so much and I know that I can’t begin to do them justice.

Something wonderful has happened to us.

This is who we are.

It’s important to know who you are.

If you don’t know who you are, somebody will slap a label on you and tell you who they want you to be.

This is who we are. Look down at verses 9 and 10. This is who we are.

Together. This is a corporate reality. This is the whole Church, not just us each of us as individuals. V.9 again.

“But you are a chosen people...” 

Some of you have “chosen race” there. The Greek word is “genos,” and it is sometimes translated, “family, race, nation, people, offspring, descendants, sort, or kind.”

Remember, the Christians were not all of one racial or ethnic group. They were from all over. Maybe originally from Judea. Maybe originally from Rome.

But they were scattered throughout Asia Minor. “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia...”

But Peter says that they are all one people in Christ, whatever their race.

And they are chosen. They are elect. They are wanted. They are accepted. They are beloved. 

If you are in Christ, you are in the chosen people of God. Feel that!

But there’s more. Peter says, “But you are” “a royal priesthood.”

Verse 5 said that we are a holy priesthood. Verse 9 says that we are royal.

The language here is drawn from Exodus chapter 19, verses 5 and 6.

The people of Israel were supposed to be a holy priesthood that had a holy priesthood.

And now the Church is living up to all that Israel was supposed to be.

We are a royal priesthood.

Try those words on for size. What an honor! Do you know that you are royalty? You are a Son of the King of the Universe. You are a Daughter of the King of the Universe. You are in the royal family.

And you’re not just royal. You are priestly. You represent God to other humans.

We do. Together! All of us. “The priesthood of all believers.”

This is who we are!

Think about the honor this is. Think about the privilege. Think about the status of this.

I know it doesn’t feel like it. Let me tell you: It did not feel like it to the people whom Peter was writing to.

They were getting kicked around for being Christians. And Peter said that more of that was on the way.

And he doesn’t say to fight back. To stand on your rights.

But he does say to hold up your head high. You are a part of a royal priesthood.

You may be a foreigner with very little status here. But in your homeland? You are royalty! 

There’s more. Next phrase, “But you are...a holy nation.”

That’s the word “ethnos” in the Greek. From which we get ethnic groups. Nationalities. Cultural collections of people.

It’s the same word in the Great Commission that we’re supposed to reach with the gospel and make disciples of all “ethnay” for Jesus Christ.

Well, when you become a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are placed in a new “ethnay” a holy one. 

There he goes again. Peter wants us to be holy in all that we do. Be holy as the Lord is holy. Why? Because we are holy.

In fact we are (v.9) “a people belonging to God.”

That’s it right there. We are His special possession.

We belong to God.

That’s who we are.

Those whose we are.

Even more fundamental than knowing who you are is to know whose you are.

And we became that ay because of God’s mercy. Look at verse 10.

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Does that sound familiar?

Peter is quoting the Old Testament again. This time it’s the prophecy of Hosea (chapter 2).

Hosea told wayward Israel that they were no longer considered God’s people because of their spiritual adultery in idolatry.

But he prophesied of a day when God’s mercy would rest on them and bring them back.

And the New Testament tells us that that prophecy was fully fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

And not just for ethnic Israel, but for Jew and Gentile together in the Church!

For us.

Something wonderful has happened to us.

We used to be “not a people.” We used to be not have mercy.

But now we are God’s own people!

Because of Jesus Christ, we have received mercy.

Isn’t that wonderful?!

We are God’s own people.

Turn to the person next to you and say, "We are God's own people!"

What do you do with that?

Well, Peter tells us that, too. He says there’s a reason, a purpose to our being God’s own special possession. Look again at verse 9.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Application? 

Declare the praises of Jesus Christ.

Praise Jesus for saving you. Calling you out of darkness and into HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT. Doesn’t that just sound beautiful??!

Declare the praises of Jesus Christ.

Not just here. 

But out there.

And don’t mean under the tent or in the parking lot.

I mean out there in the big bad world.

Peter says that we have been included in God’s own people so that we will declare the praises of Jesus Christ for bringing us out of darkness and into His wonderful light.

Are we going to do that?

I feel like I’ve agreed with everything I’ve heard and said today, but then at the very end, I’m not sure I’m really willing to do that.

I mean, I’m doing it up here.  But out there?

Who could you declare the praises of Jesus to this afternoon?

Who could you declare how great Jesus is for calling you out of darkness and into His wonderful light tomorrow or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday or Friday?

Have you been shown mercy?

Are you a living stone?

Have you gone from darkness to light?

Tell somebody. 

Declare it to somebody, in fact.

Get on social media this afternoon and declare how great Jesus is for saving you.
Get on the phone.
Tell somebody over the neighboring fence.
Tell somebody at the water cooler.
Tell somebody at their locker.
Tell somebody on the street.

Something wonderful has happened to us. 

And it’s all because of Jesus. 

Offer spiritual sacrifices through Jesus and declare the praises of Jesus.


***

Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angels Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12
04. "Be Holy In All You Do" 1 Peter 1:13-16
05. "Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" 1 Peter 1:17-21

Sunday, October 10, 2021

I passed my ordination council! (20 years ago)

Exactly 20 years ago this very weekend, I sat for my ordination examination council by pastors and leaders from across the Allegheny District and members of Lanse Evangelical Free Church. And I passed! 

Two decades later, I am grateful for the gospel-centered doctrinal faithfulness of the Evangelical Free Church of America and am privileged to help lead the effort to provide credentials for those in vocational ministry in our association. I love the accountability and interdependence that our EFCA credentials provide.

If you are in the EFCA and haven't jumped into it yet, I commend our EFCA credentialing process to you.

If you are in our Allegheny District, check out the 4 step guide we have created to lead you through the process.

“Love One Another Deeply, From the Heart” [Matt's Messages]

“Love One Another Deeply, From the Heart”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
October 10, 2021 :: 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”

Those are the words of the Apostle Peter in chapter 1, verse 22.
And they are the title of our message for today.
And they are God’s Word to us today.

This is what He wants us to hear and to obey:

“Lanse Free Church, love one another deeply from the heart.”

Let those words roll around a little inside of you:

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”

The first thing I noticed is that it’s a command.

This isn’t something that we do naturally. It’s something that we have to be told to do.

And, at least on some level, we can choose to do this. It’s something that we either obey or disobey, we either obey or do not obey.

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”

It also doesn’t sound, at first, counter-cultural. These words don’t sound as strange as last week’s command from verse 17, “Live your lives as [foreigners] here in reverent fear.”

That sounds strange in the ears of our culture, as did the big command right before that one back in verse 15, “Be holy in all you do.”

Those two sound much more counter-cultural, but this one doesn’t, “Love one another deeply, from the heart.”

Of course, it is counter-cultural, isn’t it? If you actually do it. Our culture is not known for actually loving each other, deeply from the heart.

Sadly, so often, professing Christians are not known for it either...

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”

This is clearly something that can be done poorly.

The opposite of “deeply” would be shallowly, right?

The Greek word translated “deeply” in verse 22 is also translated in other English Versions as “earnestly,” “fervently,” “constantly.”

Peter obviously wants real active love here, and not fake love.

He wants his readers to love one another from their hearts. Not just on the outside. Not just a superficial “love.” Not just a theoretical “love.” Not just a “love” when it’s convenient. But “deeply, from the” real you inside of you, from the deepest part of you. From the heart.

All of a sudden, what sounds so nice, you realize is not so easy after all.

Especially when you think about whom you are called to love.

Whom does Peter tell his readers to love deeply, from the heart?

“One another.”

Peter is commanding the elect exiles, the chosen foreigners scattered throughout Asia Minor to love one another. 

Christians loving each other deeply from the heart.

I want you to take a second and look around you for a minute at the other people around you.

If you are inside, the people on the pew beside you and in front of you and look behind you.

And the same for you folks under the tent. Look all the way around you.

Look across the room. Look across the tent.

If you are in the parking lot, look at the people in the cars and trucks around you that you can see. Or think about the people that you saw walk into the building this morning. Or came out to greet you and bring you a worship bulletin.

Make this very personal today.

These are some of the people that Peter is telling you and me to love deeply, earnestly, fervently, constantly from your heart.

How’re you doing at that?


Foreigners need one another.

Foreigners, exiles, need one another, don’t they?

If you are an exile, living in a land which is not your homeland, and you find other exiles, other foreigners, like you living in that land, you should latch onto each other shouldn’t you? Especially if you speak the same language!

You could help one another to navigate living in that foreign land.

Foreigners need one another.

And, remember, Peter says that you and I are foreigners here.

And so we need to hang together, and more than that, to love one another deeply from the heart.

What does that look like?

Well, it’s going to look different in different situations.

You’re going to love some of the people in this room in some ways and some in other ways depending on a lot of circumstances.

But in none of the circumstances are we called to un-love or to hate or to be indifferent to one another.

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”

What does that look like?

Well, the rest of the New Testament fills out the command to love one another with a whole bunch of other things that we are supposed to do to and for one another.

There’s at least 50. Let me give you just a few:

At the end of this letter, Peter is going to say, “Greet one another” (1 Peter 5:14).

That’s a way of loving one another. Just simply greeting one another on Sundays or whenever you see other Christians.

Did you greet some people this morning? Some of you are introverts who get depleted by greeting others. I understand. I commend you for expending yourself in that way, deeply from your heart. You might only get one genuine greeting in on a Sunday, but it might be the one person who really needs that. And you gave it to them.

By the way, if you are worshiping from your vehicles on Sunday mornings, what can you do out there to greet other Christians in this kind of Christian love?

You might have to get creative. COVID has caused us all to have to get creative. But  we all have to find our way to obedience to this command, “Love one another deeply, from the heart.” Maybe you can jump out of your car and greet folks at 6 foot distance before and after church.

Here’s another one: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (that’s Romans 12:10).

Whom have you honored recently? What fellow Christian have you given honor to in recent days? Is there someone sitting near you that you can praise God for and tell somebody else how much you appreciate them? 

Here’s another one: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” (Romans 15:7). Welcome them. Take them as they are. Receive them. 

Even if they are different from you! Especially, if they’re different from you. Christians are not all the same. The Christians in this room [just look at them!] are very different from one another. But we all have Christ in common so we accept one another.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). This is the way the we’re supposed to speak to one another. To treat one another as fellow Christians. Yes, we’re supposed to do that to nonChristians, too. But just start with the church. Are you being kind and compassionate and loving people deeply from the heart?

Don’t ask if others have been kind and compassionate to you. Ask if you have been kind and compassionate to the other Christians in your life?

Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Putting up with each other. Being longsuffering.

“Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

“Spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). Don’t leave that up to the worship leaders up front.       

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).

This is what it means to “love one another deeply, from the heart.”

One more from 1 Peter, chapter 4, verse 9. “Offer hospitality to one another.” Have each other in your homes. Get each other on the phone. Jump on Zoom together. Get on Facetime. Eat together. Hospitality. We’ll talk about that more when we get to chapter 4.

Do you see how active this is?

This isn’t just a feeling. 

It’s not just “have warm fuzzies for other Christians.”

Our Lord Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all [people] will know that you are my [followers]” (John 13:34-35).

And Peter is just underlining that and putting it in all caps and 40 point font.

“Love one another deeply [earnestly, fervently, constantly], from the heart.”

Of course, that’s not all that Peter says here. It’s just the central thrust, the main command. 

He also tells us WHY and HOW to love one another like this.

Let’s start with why, and let’s read the whole verse and verse 23. 1 Peter 1:22-23.

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Peter says that we should love one another deeply from the heart because:

#1. WE WERE BORN AGAIN FOR THIS.

Did you ever think about why you were born again?

Why God gave you new birth by His Holy Spirit?

I mean, there’s a lot of reasons. Yes, it was for our forgiveness.

As verse 22 says, “You have purified yourselves by obeying the truth.” I think that’s talking about the truth of the gospel and their conversions to being true believers.

They have put their trust in the Lord Jesus and His gospel for their salvation and have been purified. Remember verse 2, we have been “been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying (purifying) work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood...”

But verse 22 says that we have been purified like this SO THAT we “have sincere love for [our] brothers.” The Greek word for that is “Philadelphian.” Brotherly love. The real thing. Sincere love.

Think about this: You were born again to love other Christians.

You were born again to love the brethren.

You were born again, not just for yourself, but for rest of the Church.

And of course, it takes that kind of new birth to actually do this kind of loving.

It’s not natural. It’s supernatural.

That’s the point of verse 23.

“[L]ove one another deeply, from the heart. [WHY?] For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Peter loves that word “imperishable.” It’s in verse 4, “never perish” about our inheritance. He’s going to use it again in chapter 3.

Here he says that we have been born again from an imperishable seed.

I think that means a supernatural undying seed. 

Perishable seed is like human seed. When we are naturally born of human seed, we live and then we die.

So our natural life has a natural end. It’s very temporary and transitory and limited.

And if that’s all we have, our love is going to be very temporary and transitory and limited.

That’s all the kind of love that the world can muster up.

But Christians have not just been born; we have been born again. Born anew.

And born to live and then live some more and then live some more and then live some more. And even if we die, to live some more and then some more and then some more and then some more!

Because this seed is imperishable. It’s the seed of the Word of God.

And that’s living and enduring.

And to prove that, Peter reaches back into his beloved Old Testament and quotes Isaiah chapter 40. V.24.

“For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you.”

It’s Autumn right now which is my favorite season. I like all 3 of the good seasons, Spring, Summer, and Fall. But Fall has always been my favorite.

The leaves the change. It’s so beautiful. The harvest comes in. There’s a crispness in the air. Football season. I was the drum major for the marching band in high school. Loved to get out there on the field and perform. And Autumn was also the time you get to go back to school! Which has always been a favorite thing for me. New books and teachers to tell you which books are the best ones to read. Woohoo!

But as the Fall comes, then comes that other season, the season of death. We won’t name it here today.

But it’s the time when we are reminded of death and how transitory and temporary and weak we are. We are like grass and all of OUR glory is like the flowers of the field which withers and falls.

But the Word of God stands forever!

And that’s the word that has been preached to you and put inside of you as a seed to give you a new birth not just into a living hope but a sincere love for other Christians!

You have been born again to love this way and given an undying power to do it!

You have an undying power to love other Christians!

If you are a genuine Christian.

You have an undying power to love other Christians. Inside of you.

So you can love them deeply, from the heart. We were born again for this!

That’s WHY and bit of HOW. Here’s some more how. Look at chapter 2, verse 1.

“Therefore [because of this living and enduring powerful word implanted in you], rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”

This is the manner in which we are to love deeply:

#2. WE RID OURSELVES OF UN-LOVE.

Some translations say, “Lay aside” or “Throw off” or “Be done with” these things.

I like the NIV’s “rid yourselves.”’

We have a phrase around here in Western Pennsylvania that I didn’t grow up with.

Do you say, “Rid up” or “Rid out?”

Like “I’m going to rid up the garage this weekend.”

Which has the idea of organizing, but also getting rid of things that don’t belong in there, right?

These things do not belong in the Church or in an individual Christian:

“Malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”

Malice is harboring hate or spite or venom in your heart towards another Christian.

Deceit is lies.

Hypocrisy is being fake.

Envy is coveting what someone else has.

Slander is spreading falsehoods or gossip, talking against your fellow Christian in a damaging way.

These are all un-love. And they have to go.

And we all agree with that, right?

Until the Spirit puts His finger on us and says, “That’s you right now. And it’s gotta go.”

Ask Him to help you rid up your heart of these un-loving attitudes and actions.

And then one more word about HOW to do this loving deeply. You do it by drinking down the pure spiritual milk of the Word.

#3. WE GREEDILY CONSUME THE WORD OF GOD. V.2

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Peter loves his Old Testament. That’s quote a from Psalm 34 that we studied together back in April.

We have tasted the Lord is good.

So now we seek even more.

Peter says that we ought to be like babies!

I think that’s great. Be like babies.

If somebody asks you what you learned in the sermon today, you can say, “The Bible says that we ought to act like babies!”

In one way, at least.

We have a lot of babies in this church right now. I count at least 6 about one year or less.

Do any of those little ones like to eat?
Do they let you know when they’re hungry?
Does it seem like they’re hungry a lot?

Especially, when they’re newborns, right? They eat all of the time.

Their little tummies are so hungry!

Peter says, “Be like a baby.”

You’ve tasted how good the Lord is?

Start yelling for more.

“More, please!”

You can find it in here. “More, please. “Please, more of this good, pure stuff.”

Are you wondering where you will get the wherewithal, the sustenance, to love some of these people?

You know, some of these people are not easy to love.

I know that I can be hard to love at times.

Christians can be hard to love.

So we greedily consume more and more and more and more of the word of God.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Are you growing up in your salvation?

You can tell if you are loving your brothers and sisters deeply, from you heart.


***

Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angels Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12
04. "Be Holy In All You Do" 1 Peter 1:13-16
05. "Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" 1 Peter 1:17-21

Sunday, October 03, 2021

"Live Your Lives As Strangers Here In Reverent Fear" [Matt's Messages]

“Live Your Lives as Strangers Here in Reverent Fear”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
October 3, 2021 :: 1 Peter 1:17-21
Is it good to live in fear?

Well, the answer must be, “It depends.”

My initial instinct, I don’t know about you, is to say that it is bad to live in fear.

Fear can be crippling. It can be paralyzing. It can make you cringe and make bad decisions.

But there apparently is also a healthy kind of fear that is good and right and even freeing and can lead to healthy, holy, and good decisions.

It must be so because we read these words (our message title for today) in 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 17, “Live Your Lives as Strangers Here in Reverent Fear.”

Take out all the modifying words in the middle, and that clause boils down to “live in fear.”

That’s what Peter wants us to do. “Live in fear.”

Which flows right out of the call of what we studied last time, “Be holy in all you do.”
In some way, it is good and right and healthy and holy to live your life in fear.

Now, the NIV has “in reverent” fear which is helpful because it points to who is being feared here in verse 17. It is God the Father. This is a holy kind of fear of a holy God.

But there is no actual Greek word for “reverent” in the Greek of verse 17. “It’s just "phobos. “Fear.” That “reverent” is just added in there in the English to clarify what kind fear it really is.

It is not a slavish kind of fear. Not a sinful kind of fear. Not a cringing kind of fear.

But it is a trembling kind of fear. A worshipful kind of fear. A trembling in wonder and worship and reverence and awe. A reverent fever.

But a fear nonetheless.

What the Bible calls in other places “the fear of the Lord.”

So living in fear can obviously be a very good thing.       


A proper fear of fearful things will help you to make wise choices.


Do you think it would help or hurt for Drew have no fear whatsoever of hot metal or heavy hammers?

Should he not be careful around them? 

Should Drew handle those glowing sticks of steel in any way that he gets into his head?

Just however he feels at any moment? Grab whatever, wherever, swing it however?

Or should Drew have a proper fear of hot metal and heavy hammers?

I think it’s obvious. 

But so often we do not live with a proper fear of something so much more fearful, so often we do not live with a proper fear of God!

The opposite of this kind of reverent fear is irreverence, flippancy, or carelessness or thoughtlessness towards God.

It is going through life with no regard for God. No thought of God as you live your daily life. 

Or just a perfunctory one. We may acknowledge God with our lips. We may even open our day with prayer, but we do not live as if He is actually real and that we will have to one day actually give to Him an account.

Now, right here right now is the easy moment to start thinking about other people.

Other people and their failings in the fear of the Lord. “Those people.”

It’s easy to see this in other people’s lives. Those foolish people not thinking about God! Just look at them. Shaking our heads here.

But don’t start there. Ask yourself today how you yourself are doing at living your life as a stranger here in reverent fear.

Those words “as strangers here” are very important, too, in verse 17.

The ESV has “in the time of your exile.”
The KJV has, “the time of your sojourning.”

The 2011 NIV has “foreigners” instead of “strangers.” That’s really helpful. “Live out your time as foreigners here.”

It’s the same root word in Greek as in our current memory verse from chapter 2, verse 11. “Dear friends, I urge you as FOREIGNERS and EXILES, to abstain from sinful desires...”

Remember from chapter 1, verse 1, that Peter wants us to think of our ourselves as VERY DISPLACED? As not at home. Not living in our true homeland. As resident aliens.

Do you think of yourself as a foreigner in this world?

As somebody who is supposed to live differently?

Have you ever felt out of place somewhere?

Like you don’t really fit in there?

We say, “Like a fish out of water.”

Well, Peter’s first readers were apparently displaced foreigners themselves in some way, perhaps as literal exiles from either Israel or Rome. 

And Peter builds on their experience as foreigners to say, “Lean into that. That’s a great way to think of yourself here in this world. Not just in this country but in this broken world itself.”

We’re strangers; we’re foreigners.

Now, if you don’t fit in, if you are a foreigner, then you could be tempted to live in fear of your neighbors. Right?

I mean if the people around you are saying, “You’re not from around here, are you?” then you might be tempted to fear them and try to live your life to please them, right?

And to fit in. And just do what everybody around you is doing.

But Peter says, “Don’t give in to that temptation. Lean into your identity as a foreigner and fear God the Father instead.”

In other words, be different because God is watching.

Be different because your Father God is watching.

Be different from those around you (be a stranger) because you belong to a holy God.

“Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”

How are you doing at that?

If you were to spend some time today evaluating your life against these words from the apostle Peter, how would you measure up?

Again, don’t think first about other people. Think about yourself here. Don’t look at the guy next to you. Look at yourself.

And this is about every area of your life.

For example, worship at church. Do you worship here in reverent fear?

Or are you flippant about it? Do you just stroll in and half-heartedly sing? Or not sing at all? Or think about something else when it’s time to sing? 

Or not prioritize gathered worship at all? Just doing it when it seems convenient. When it’s fun. Only when you feel like it.

Or do you fear God?

Or at work. Do you live your life as a foreigner at work in reverent fear?

Do you just go to work and do your job like everybody else?

Or do you worship at work? Do you do your job as unto the Lord in the fear of the Lord?

Do you seem different from your co-workers?

Are you something of a foreigner there?

Christians should be the best employees but also seem a little weird. A little strange. A little foreign.

Like they’re not there primarily for the paycheck.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“Your work is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. That’s weird! That’s foreign around here.”

How about your talk? How about the way you communicate on social media or in private conversation?

Do you post and text and message “as a foreigner here in reverent fear?” Or just like everybody else on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram?

Do you know that God reads every one of your posts?

I saw a post somewhere recently that said to remember that “The Lord follows you on social media.” And He reads every one of your DM’s, private messages, texts.

Do you sound like everybody else in your social media feed?

Or do you sound like “a stranger?”

Do you sound like a foreigner who is living here in reverent fear?

What are you doing with your sexuality?

Are you living just like the rest of the world with your private thoughts and your private parts?

Or are you living like a foreigner to this world in reverent fear?

Pursuing a holy sexuality. Private thoughts and private parts directed in the ways that God designed at creation.

It’s easy to point the finger at others and what they are doing with their sexuality.

How are you doing with yours? Where do you need to repent and to change?

“Live your lives as [foreigners] here in reverent fear.”

Don’t just bounce around thoughtlessly in conformity with the people around you and with no regard to the holiness of God in every area of your life.

Now, Peter doesn’t just tell us to do this. He also gives us very good reasons for  doing this which also reveal the power available to live this way.

I’m going to summarize it under two headings, and here’s number one.

Live your lives as foreigners here in reverent fear:

#1. BECAUSE OF YOUR IMPARTIAL FATHER.

We haven’t actually read yet from the beginning of verse 17; let’s do that now.

“Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”

The most important word there in the first clause has to be the word “Father.”

That word controls the whole idea of fear in this verse.

That word “Father” shows that we are not supposed to be scared of God. No cringing.

If you are a little child and you have a good father, you’re not scared of him.

But you do fear him.

You want to please him. You don’t want to cross him. You don’t want to get out of fellowship with him. You don’t want his frown. You want his smile.

And you know that you’re going to have to answer to him.

If you have a good father, you’re going to have to give an account.

When you were a kid, did you ever have to do a painful debriefing with your parents about something you’d done? Kids, have you had to do that recently?

Peter reminds his readers that they too will have to give account to God the Father for all of their deeds. And so will we.

Now, notice, He’s still their Father. This is not whether or not they are going to be saved.

We are not saved based on our works. We are saved based on what we’re going to see in the very next verse. What we’ve been singing about all morning and what we’re going to celebrate at Lord’s Table together today.

We are saved by grace, but our works will be judged.

We will have to give an account for all of our choices in this life.

To our Father.

And He doesn’t play around. Verse 17 says we call, we pray to a Father who judges each of our works impartially. He doesn’t wink at sin. He doesn’t play favorites.

He doesn’t say, “Oh don’t worry about that. No biggie. Who cares? Whatever.”

This Father doesn’t just shrug. He wants us to be holy in all that we do.

He wants us to live as foreigners, differently, in reverent fear of Him.

So keep that in mind as you go about your life this week.

As you spend your money. Remember, you’re going to be audited.

Maybe not by the IRS, but by your heavenly Father.

You’re going to have to go over your accounts and talk about each purchase.

You’re going to have to explain to your Father what you were doing there.

Same thing with your entertainment choices.

Same thing with your relationships. Your friendships. Your enemy-ships. Your social media. Your sexuality. Your votes in the voting booth. Your ethical choices. Your medical choices. Your work. Your play. Your rest. Your care for creation. Your environmental choices.

You’re going to have to go over all of that with Him.

So think about that as you go through your week.

Live your life as a foreigner here in reverent fear.

Not to earn God’s love! You’ve got that. He’s your Father.

But because of God’s love. He’s your Father! You call on Him. Right?

You pray, right? That same God that you ask to work powerfully in your life is asking you to live as a stranger in this world and in reverent fear of Him.

Holy love casts out unholy fear, yes.

But we know that holy love also creates holy fear in us.

And we know something more.

We know that we have been forgiven and that we will be forgiven and have been freed and wil be freed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 18.

“[Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.] For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

#2. BECAUSE OF YOUR PRECIOUS SAVIOR.

Live as a foreigners here in reverent fear because of your impartial Father and because your precious Savior.

Do you see the logic there in those verses?

We don’t live healthily fear-filled lives to earn God’s forgiveness or to be set free. It doesn’t work that way.

We live healthily fear-filled lives because we have been forgiven. Because we have been set free!

This holy fear comes from being wholly forgiven.
This holy fear comes from being wholly free.

I love how Peter highlights the precious blood of Christ by contrasting it with silver or gold. Look again at verse 18.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold [We don’t think of silver and gold which are elements[!] as perishable things, but from God’s standpoint they are. Money passes away. It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold... ] that you were redeemed [bought back, freedom purchased] from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers [whether pagan forefathers with empty idols or Jewish forefathers with an empty devotion lawkeeping. Those are worthless. That’s how the rest of the world lives, and it’s futile. Those won’t save you!], but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
 
There is nothing more precious than the blood of Jesus Christ. Like the sacrificial Lamb of the Old Testament sacrificial system. His blood is more than enough to pay for every sin that you have ever committed and ever will.

And this blood sets us free. It redeems us. We are not just foreigners. We are freed slaves. Freed from an empty way of life so that we can live life to the fullest in reverent fear.

If you have been saved, then you are now free to fear.

Free to fear the Father!

Free of the fear of sin and death and judgment.

Free of the fear of Satan and of Hell.

But you are also now free to walk in the fear of the Lord.
Because of the precious blood of the Lamb.

And this is Plan A, not Plan B or Plan Z.

It was not hastily assembled at the last second. V.20

“He [Christ] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him [through Christ] you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

Because of your precious Savior.

Who was set to come before the world was created and then showed up at just at the right time. Notice that we are living in the last times! We have been ever since Jesus came the first time, and now we’re just waiting for His return.

Because of your precious Savior you believe in God who raised Jesus from the dead and glorified Him, so your faith and your hope are in God.

There he goes again about HOPE, right?


It’s not here yet, but it is just as sure as if it was.

Because Jesus has come back from the dead!

And so we are forgiven and freed by what He did for us on the Cross.

Freed from an empty way of life to live a life full of holy trembling fear.

Freed from how our forefathers lived to now live as foreigners here in reverent fear.

So, yes, it is good to live in fear because of our impartial Father and because of our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

May He get all of the glory.


***

Previous Messages in This Series

01. "Elect Exiles" 1 Peter 1:1-2
02. "A Living Hope" 1 Peter 1:3-7
03. "Angels Long To Look Into These Things" 1 Peter 1:8-12
04. "Be Holy In All You Do" 1 Peter 1:13-16