Faithlife Sermons

Perseverance with Purpose

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Prayer

Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and take them to heart that, by the patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life. … through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Suffering Love

Dr. Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is a British order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later King George IV,[1][2] while he was acting as regent for his father, King George III.
It is named in honour of two military saints, St Michael and St George.
The Order of St Michael and St George was originally awarded to those holding commands or high position in the Mediterranean territories acquired in the Napoleonic Wars, and was subsequently extended to holders of similar office or position in other territories of the British Empire.[2] It is at present awarded to men and women who hold high office or who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country, and can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs.[2]
Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, KCMG (28 February 1865 – 9 October 1940) was a medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador.[1]
Wilfred Grenfell was once asked what influenced him to give himself unreservedly to Christian missions. Slowly he told this story: “Into a hospital where I was a resident physician, a woman was brought one night terribly burned. Immediately it was evident there was no hope for her. Her husband had come home drunk and had thrown a paraffin lamp over her. The police were summoned and at last they brought in the half-sobered husband. The magistrate leaned over the bed and insisted that the patient tell the police exactly what happened. He impressed upon her the importance of telling the whole truth as she only had a little while to live.
“The poor soul turned her face from side to side, avoiding facing her husband, who stood at the foot of the bed. Finally her eyes rested on his strong hands, following them up his arms and shoulders and then across to his face. Their eyes met. Her expression of suffering momentarily disappeared, as tenderness and love colored her countenance. She looked at the magistrate and calmly said, ‘Sir, it was just an accident,’ and fell back on her pillow, dead.”
Grenfell added: “This was like God, and God is like that. His love sees through our sins.”
Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 55). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Today’s Word from the Lord: 6th Sunday of Easter

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

παροξύνομαι - pass. become irritated, angry. From παροξύνω (ὀξύνω ‘sharpen’, then ‘provoke’)
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 780). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Our sermon text begins with God asking a rhetorical question:
1 Peter 3:13 ESV
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 780). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
In general, people say that they desire the good; they support those who are working for the good. We pray for and look for political officials who will seek ‘the good’ of the community. We want teachers who have a passion for ‘the good’ of our children. We want police officers who work, not out of a sadistic desire to control others, but out of a holy desire to defend justice in our community. We try to elect mayors, governors, and Presidents who are motivated, not by the opportunity for personal gain, but to serve the public trust. We seek for pastors who will not seek to “fleece the flock,” only to flee at the first sign of difficulty. Instead, they will be constrained by the love of Christ to preach the pure Gospel, serve the flock, build up the broken down, chastise the complacent, and be examples of faith, hope, and love in Christ.
In general, people say that they desire the good; they support those who are working for the good. We pray for and look for political officials who will seek ‘the good’ of the community. We want teachers who have a passion for ‘the good’ of our children. We want police officers who work, not out of a sadistic desire to control others, but out of a holy desire to defend justice in our community. We try to elect mayors, governors, and Presidents who are motivated, not by the opportunity for personal gain, but to serve the public trust. We seek for pastors who will not seek to “fleece the flock,” only to flee at the first sign of difficulty. Instead, they will be constrained by the love of Christ to preach the pure Gospel, serve the flock, build up the broken down, chastise the complacent, and be examples of faith, hope, and love in Christ.
Our sermon text begins with God asking the rhetorical question through Peter, “And who is going to harm you if you should become zealous concerning ‘the good’?” In general, people say that they desire the good; they support those who are working for the good. We pray for and look for political officials who will seek ‘the good’ of the community. We want teachers who have a passion for ‘the good’ of our children. We want police officers who work, not out of a sadistic desire to control others, but out of a holy desire to defend justice in our community. We try to elect mayors, governors, and Presidents who are motivated, not by the opportunity for personal gain, but to serve the public trust. We seek for pastors who will not seek to “fleece the flock,” only to flee at the first sign of difficulty. Instead, they will be constrained by the love of Christ to preach the pure Gospel, serve the flock, build up the broken down, chastise the complacent, and be examples of faith, hope, and love in Christ.
There is an even greater blessing in this passage, however, than this assertion about human behavior. The fact is, there are times when your efforts for the good will be perceived as a threat to someone, leading them to respond with hostility. Dr. Luther wrote about this, commenting on v 15-16 of our epistle text:
Luther’s Works, Volume 30 16. And Keep Your Conscience Clear, so that When You are Abused, Those Who Revile Your Good Behavior in Christ May Be Put to Shame.

If we are zealous for what is right, that is, do not repay evil with evil but are sincere and friendly, etc., then no one could harm us. For even if we are deprived of honor, life, and goods, yet we are unharmed, since we have a possession that cannot be compared to what can be taken away from us. But those who persecute us have nothing but their possessions on earth. Afterwards they have eternal damnation. We, on the other hand, have an eternal, imperishable possession, even if we lose a small temporal possession.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 30: The Catholic Epistles. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 30, p. 102). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Paul had that kind of passion, and it was stirred up when he came to Athens and saw the spiritual darkness in which the Athenians were bound. When he lived the life of an observant Pharisee, he would have likely either ignored them or sneered at them in contempt, but now, empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, he was motivated to preach rather than to criticize, seeking transformation rather than condemnation.
Acts 17:32–34 ESV
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
While it is true that there are times when we see massive results from ministry, there are also times when the seeds don’t immediately spring up unto harvest. The same Lord who watched over His Word to perform it in Jerusalem was watching over it in Athens, and earlier in Philippi, when Paul and Silas ended up in jail (). Paul gave consistency in ministry, even though there was inconsistency in response, because he wasn[t motivated by the earthly response, but by the heavenly promise.
1 Peter 3:14–17 ESV
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
So much to unpack here - we really should do a Bible study on it! In fact, if you stopped by the office this week with questions about this passage, especially about vv 18-22. I wouldn’t be mad at you. Even Dr. Luther said that this passage was deep:
Luther’s Works, Volume 30 22. Who Has Gone into Heaven and is at the Right Hand of God, with Angels, Authorities, and Powers Subject to Him.

This is a strange text and certainly a more obscure passage than any other passage in the New Testament. I still do not know for sure what the apostle means.

On this Sunday morning, though, I just want to focus on three things:
We have a good conscience (v 16)
Christ “suffered once for sins…that He might bring us to God.” (v 18)
“Baptism…now saves you… as the appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ...” (V 21)
In this letter, Peter moves upward. For your comfort today, I want to move downward, starting with #3. Alone among Christians, we believe that baptism actually saves you, but not as a work of obedience. Instead, it saves because God has connected His promise of salvation to this. Baptism is a means by which the grace of God is delivered to you - that’s why we call it a “means of grace.” As Peter presents it, baptism is an “antitype” that saves.
Antitype (n): a person or thing that represents the opposite of another.

antitype

■ noun a person or thing that represents the opposite of another

Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (Eds.). (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

As used of correspondences between the testaments, the New Testament event, person, or entity paralleled and pictured by an Old Testament feature;

To what does “baptism” correspond? To the κιβωτός - the ark? No, for although God placed them inside the ark, just as God places us inside the Church, the Body of Christ, it wasn’t that ark that saved them from the evil days of Noah. They were saved - διεσώθησαν - through water - διʼ ὕδατος! The water that judged the iniquity of that age was the means of grace that brought Noah and his family into a new life!
Christ suffered once - He needs to suffer no more, and His work on the cross was effectual. There is nothing that we need to add to it, and, to quote from George Clinton, “the desired effect is what you get” - He brought us to God. What the Law neither offered nor promised, what human intellect could not achieve, nor mysticism attain, Christ accomplished, though His death on the cross. He fulfilled the promise that God made to Adam in -
“He shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
That promise, fulfilled and manifested in the Gospel of Christ (), not only takes away our guilt from sin, but empowers us to love and serve our neighbor in righteousness, as together, we work to stand against injustice and iniquity, in ourselves and our communities. With Paul, the Apostles, and the saints who came before us, we sing in the words of -
“we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”
Romans 6:3–4 ESV
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 8:11 ESV
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
What can the light and momentary afflictions of this life mean to us? If you take all of this world’s goods from us, we have all of heaven awaiting us. Those who seek to dominate by rejecting Christ’s righteousness will, like the weeping that they might produce, “endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning!”
In our Gospel text, Jesus gives a powerful, comforting promise. While some restrict some elements of this to the Apostles, it is, at least, beyond argument that verses 21 and 23 contain nothing that restricts their applicability, and everything that enables all who hear these words to take refuge under their wings.
John 14:21 ESV
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:23 ESV
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
As I taught you before, Jesus said “τηρέω” - keep and treasure - not “ποιέω” - do. Paul writes, in , about the righteousness that comes through the Law:
Romans 10:5 ESV
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.
Christ is not pointing you to , but Himself, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. By the power of His Word, He grants to us power, to “be My witnesses” under the power of the Holy Spirit. Born of water and the Spirit, we are the sons of God:
Romans 6:3–4 ESV
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
We walk in peace, because we have a good conscience, “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (). Others may have to still their conscience by focusing on the splinters in the eyes of others (), by throwing themselves into sacrificial causes (), or by indulging their flesh in hopes that the corruption they are reaping is all that there is (Gal 6:8). We know, because Christ is in heaven now, that their hope is vain.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.. Others may have to still their conscience by focusing on the splinters in the eyes of others, by throwing themselves into sacrificial causes, or by indulging their flesh in hopes that the corruption they are reaping is all that there is. We know, because Christ is in heaven now, that their hope is vain.
Psalm 146:3–4 ESV
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Jesus is risen, and is the first-fruits of those who sleep.
Jesus is risen, and is the first-fruits of those who sleep.
Luther’s Works, Volume 30 Who Has Gone into Heaven and is at the Right Hand of God, with Angels, Authorities, and Powers Subject to Him.

For Christ also had to ascend into heaven and become Lord over all creatures and wherever there is power, in order that He might also lead us to heaven and make us lords. Now this is said for our comfort, in order that we may know that all power in heaven and on earth, even death and the devil, must serve and aid us, just as everything must serve the Lord Christ and lie at His feet. This is the third chapter. The fourth follows.

If you only have your hope in this life, it isn’t too late, because right now, you’re still breathing. If you think that man may yet find a way to attain to what God offers through Christ without Him, you have more faith than I do, because man has been trying for centuries, and we see the results all around us. If God’s Word has touched you today, and you need the blessed assurance of God’s “Yes” and “Amen,” “Here is water.” Nothing hinders you from joining the Ethiopian eunuch in the waters of baptism.
Finally, for those who are remembering their baptism, Let the peace of God, that passes understanding, guard your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ, Amen
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