To God be the Glory
How do you think you should live during these times?
As we observe the world around us, at least for me, it is hard to see things continue much longer if we consider along our current path. It seems to me that we are on a course to destruction. The leadership of our country has promoted a doctrine of antichristian sentiment. And that is spreading. But not only this, our country appears on the verge of economic and social collapse. We are now to the point where we call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). Most in our country are calling on the politicians to fix the problem. But the politicians caused our problems in the first place…why would we trust those who created the problem to fix the problem?
It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican. Both parties are taking us to the same destination–over the cliff. You see it’s as if we are all on a train moving rapidly down the tracks. Up ahead is deep canyon and the bridge is out. The Democrats are in the front of the train saying, “Faster! Faster!” as we approach the ravine. The Republicans are in the rear of the trains saying, “Slower! Slower!” as we approach the same chasm. The end result is the same…the train falls to its destruction.
We have been methodically going through Peter’s first epistle. Peter has been telling his readers to watch the way they live. Last week we discussed, among other details, 1 Peter 4:5-6. That passage says, “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason, the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” It points out that God is ready to judge the living and the dead. Who gives an account of their works?
- Christians. They will face Jesus, the Christ at His Judgment Seat. Romans 14:10-12 tells us that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ so that each of us can give an account of himself to God. This should give us cause to live in a way that is pleasing to God. Then, in 2 Corinthians 5:10 we learn that we will appear before the judgement seat of Christ so that each one of us may receive reward or loss of reward for the things we have done in the body, whether good or bad, respectively.
- Non-Christians. They will also be judged but their judgment will be before the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:12). Those who fail to trust God for His provision for salvation–believing in His Son, Jesus, the Christ–will be judged according to their works. But all will be insufficient and they will be cast into the lake of fire.
Our responsibility is to recognize the times in which we live. We know that one day we will all face judgment. Peter continues his epistle by emphasizing how we should now live in light of the current direction of the world. First Peter 4:7-11 says,
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore, be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Peter begins by reminding us that the end of all things is at hand. To what end is he referring? This is a reminder to Christians, therefore it should be in relation to Christians. Since the reminder includes a number of aspects for living in the current age, this certainly appears to mean that each of us must be prepared for judgment, i.e. the judgment seat of Christ (Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10). That is where Christians will be judged for what they have done; whether good or bad. James also reminds us that the end is near (James 5:8). So, this appears to be a warning that the return of Christ for His Church is imminent (John 14:1-4). The shortness of time remaining is motivation to live for Christ (1 Peter 4:2). Peter is about to present a prescription of how a Christian should live with an end-time perspective.
Some confusion arises because Peter says, “…the end of all things…” This leads one to wonder what time Peter is describing. There are perhaps four possibilities:
- The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 – this would be a judgment of the unpardonable sin. It seems to me that if this were the case, the passage would be of little use to us, since we would not be under that warning.
- The rapture of the church – though this is not the end of all things in the world, it is a sign for the end of all earthly things for Christians alive at that time.
- The second coming of Christ to establish His Millennial Kingdom – again this is not the end of all things.
- The destruction of the heavens and the earth at the end of the Millennium – though this is the end of all things as we know them, there would be little need to tell us how to live since all who enter the eternal state will be in glorified bodies.
Since Peter is discussing this with Christians, it stands to reason that he is discussing the coming judgment of Christians at the judgment seat of Christ; therefore, he would be warning Christians to live with an end-time perspective while waiting for the rapture of the church. But, there are many more qualified than I that represent the other perspective very well. Regardless of the timing to which Peter is referring, he does make it clear that everything is in place for the judgment to begin (“…is at hand…”), therefore, our lives should be lived appropriately as we live with our end-time perspective.
So, what does living with an end-time perspective look like from Peter’s point-of-view?
Enhanced prayer life
As we await our Lord’s coming for His Church, our prayer life should take on a new vitality. This occurs in two areas. First we should be soberly wise in prayer…this is a command. We should be clear-minded, that is of sound mind in our prayer. The Christian should have a practical understanding of matters in the world around us, and therefore, be able to act sensibly. This implies that one has sound judgment, to be sensible, and to use good sense. We can accomplish this because God has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Second, we need to get self-control; we need to sober up. This means that we are to be in control of our thought processes and thus not to be in danger of irrational thinking. Paul also tells us to watch and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6). What should we be watching for? We should be watching for Christ’s return… we should recognize the day and be watching for the return of Christ… because the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Finally, we should be careful not to grow weary in our waiting for His return (2 Peter 3:4 ff.).
We should exhibit a diligent and on-going love for one another. This is a deep love. It is unselfish and requires effort and sacrifice. Our love should be a forgiving love. Our love for one-another should overpower any sin committed by others. Certainly, we see the faults of other, but our love accepts those faults (Proverbs 10:12).
Our love should be characterized by a hospitality for all people. We should particularly show hospitality to strangers. We should demonstrate hospitality to all without grumbling or complaining.
Faithful use of spiritual gifts
We also demonstrate our love when we use and apply our spiritual gifts. The proper application of our gifts are a measure of our stewardship. Our gifts originate from the grace of God. Therefore, we need to recognize that our spiritual gifts are from God and they should not be used for selfish gain, but to His glory.
Thus, we should minister to one-another through the use of our gifts. Our gifts should be used to serve God to the benefit of others in the Church. God’s grace shows itself in various ways; each person is unique and their giftedness is unique. Therefore, the application of our spiritual gifts is unique. No one can do exactly what you were gifted by God to do.
Peter gives a couple of examples.
If one has the gift of preaching or teaching, then the words he speaks are to be the very words God would have him say on that particular occasion. That means not only that one must speak from the Bible (and one must know the Bible to do that), but also that the message he presents is specific to the audience to which he is speaking.
Also, our gift of service must be done using the special abilities God has given us. He empowers us. When we do this, God is the one who receives the glory–He alone deserves this glory. Our goal should be that God is glorified through all the things we do. Our service is then to be done through Jesus Christ. This leaves no room for personal pride regardless of how wonderfully gifted we are. All service should be done in such a way that God receives the credit.
To this Peter adds, “Amen.”
So, how are you doing?
Are you living with an end-time perspective? Are you eagerly looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)?
Are you joyfully, without grumbling and complaining showing hospitality to others?
Are you unwavering in you service to God, giving Him all the glory?