Faithlife Sermons

Living in View of Eternity

Exiles of Hope  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When I was in high school I started to listen to Christian music. Back then it was Petra, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant. But then someone introduced me to Steven Curtis Chapman. Something about his music really drew me - it was authentic and always directed me to Christ.
Steven wrote a song in 2007 called Cinderella. He wrote it after a situation that made him realize how short life really is. One night He was giving his girls a bath and putting them to bed and was convicted after he shut the door to their room that he had been too distracted - focused on other things he had to do - rather than on his daughters who were trying to prolong bedtime by putting on cinderella dresses. He thought about his older daughter and how fast she grew up. These little girls too would soon be gone.
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Steven had no idea how soon that would happen. Less than a year later, one of those girls, Maria Sue, died in the Chapman’s driveway, accidentally run over by her brother.
Life is too short to waste on trivial things. We don’t know many days we or those we love have left on this earth. So why settle? Why be content with living life mainly for ourselves? Why be okay with a relationship with Jesus that isn’t growing? Why live thinking life is about our self-fulfillment? Why settle for living with a mindset of “because I can” instead of cultivating a heart that has others in mind and desires to please God?
The banner over the passage we’re looking at is verse 7, “The end of all things is near.” (). We are living in the last days. Jesus has come once and established his kingdom here, but it will not be compete until he comes back a second time - which could be any second. Until then, our eyes are to be fixed on Jesus and our eternal home with him, living as exiles on this earth knowing that where God is is our true home.
1 Peter 4:7 NIV
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
The end of all things is near therefore. Peter is saying, if you have the mentality that Jesus could bring all things to a close at any time, that is going to change the way you live now. You’re going to pray differently. You’re going to love differently. And you’re going to serve differently.
Pray in View of Eternity
Lets start with verse 7 “The end of all things is near.” () therefore, “be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” (). The fact that the end is near should motivate us for prayer.
1 Peter 4:7 NIV
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
Why should that be? What about nearness of the end should cause us to pray? Think about some things Mr. Fulks said last week, about Christians experiencing suffering. God was using the suffering that Christians were experiencing in Peter’s day to grow their faith.
Down in verse 12 God says through Peter, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” ()
1 Peter 4:12 NIV
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
And then in verse “16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. ()
1 Peter 4:16 NIV
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
In these last days between Christ’s first coming and his second is a time of being on full alert - it’s not life as usual. The king is coming soon. There’s a battle raging for the souls of men and women. And God is at work through it all refining our faith and character through suffering.
Knowing that we are in these days of trial should affect the way we pray, right?
Jesus said “34 Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” ()
Luke 21:34–36 NIV
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
There is a sense of urgency in the time in which we live that should drive us to pray. When we are aware of the evil that is going on around us, and get laughed at for living for Christ - shouldn’t it drive us to prayer?
1 Peter 4:7 NIV
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
1 peter 4:
What about those two words in verse 7 translated be alert and sober minded? What does it mean to be alert? That we are awake and aware of what’s going on around us. Then sober minded? Well the opposite would be to be drunk minded - staggering around, not seeing well, not reacting to what’s going on around us. These words are getting at the same thing. Wake up to the reality around us. This is not Disney World. This world is passing away and a kingdom is coming, and in fact is already here that will last forever.
So take this mindset into your prayer life. Let it affect how you pray - with a sense of urgency. And what you pray for. If you knew this was your last day on earth, how would you pray differently?
Here’s the Zande believers that Mr. Entwistle showed us last week. Many of them lost everything they owned on earth. They gather together with armed guards, risking their lives to be identified with Jesus. How do you think their prayer gatherings are different? Do you think there’s a sense of urgency to their prayers? Do you think they are asking for their earthly stuff back, or is there the taste of heaven in their prayers?
Bring the nearness of eternity into your prayer life! I guarantee you will pray differently.
Love In View of Eternity
Another thing that Peter says should be affected by having an eternal perspective is our love and hospitality for one another.
“8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9” ()
1 Peter 4:8 NIV
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Love is very important to Peter - because it’s important to God. He already mentioned loving one another earnestly from a pure heart in 1:22. Love for God should be reflected in our love for one another. We could look at a lot of other verses in the NT on love!
So how should an awareness of eternity affect the way we love one another? Again, it should put a sense of urgency into our relationships. It means being intentional with each other - not just taking each other for granted or the time that we get to spend together.
Would you spend your time with a friend any differently if you knew they would be gone tomorrow? What would you do differently? How would you speak to each other differently? If your friend doesn’t know Jesus, would you find greater courage to speak about Him?
Notice it says that love covers over a multitude of sins. What does that mean? Here’s what it does not mean. It doesn’t mean that if you love someone enough you can remove their sins, or yours. Peter’s writing with the awareness that people are going to hurt us, even those who call themselves Christians. They will say and do things that are going to cause us pain. We’re going to want to hurt them back.
How does love respond? It is patient. It tries to understand why someone would hurt us. Maybe they are hurting themselves. Love instead of retaliating offers to forgive. It chooses to cover over the sin with a lavish love that can only come from Christ.
Please understand. This does not mean being a doormat. If someone is abusing you, get out of there and find help. There are sins that can’t just be overlooked. We can’t control the repentance of another person, but we are all called to walk through an effort to reconcile and ultimately to forgive.
If you want an amazing example of this, listen to former olympic gymnast Rachael Denhollander as she addresses a man who did some horrible things to her and other women. See how she calls him out on his sin, but also offers him mercy and forgiveness through Christ.
What courageous love in the face of evil!
Having an eternal mentality should also affect how we offer hospitality as an expression of love. Verse 9 “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (). There are many ways we can do this - let me suggest one. RVA is our home for three months at a time. Who are guests that come on campus every day? Are we conscious of being hospitable to our national staff who come to where we live? I’ll leave that to you to think about ways we can do this outside of Service Day.
1 Peter 4:9 NIV
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Serve in View of Eternity
Verses 10-11 talk about using the grace-gifts God has given for serving one another.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” ()
1 Peter 4:10–11 NIV
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
There are a couple ways to think about gifts. One way is thinking that because it is our gift, we can use it any way we want. If I’ve been given the gift of speaking, I can use it to make lots of money and spend it to enjoy life.
The other way is to receive it as a gift that in a way still belongs to the Giver - and is to be used for His purposes, not ours. We are responsible to the Giver for how we use it.
And here’s how an eternal mentality goes into our using the gifts that God has given us. Think of these days as days of wartime and not of peacetime. In peacetime our gifts can be used to make ice-cream. But in wartime, every gift is put into the war effort.
We’re in wartime. Whatever gift we have been given - whether gifts that involve speaking or gifts that involve serving - are given for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ before he comes again.
In the few minutes I have left I want to put these things together - living for eternity, loving each other, and using what God has given us for his purposes and not ours. I want to talk about swearing among this body.
Some of us see this issue as an area of Christian freedom. The Bible doesn’t seem to say much about specific swear words, so it really shouldn’t matter. Words are just words. Why make such a big deal?
I know this mindset. I grew up on a farm. I heard every four letter word from the young men that worked for my dad. And I started to use them as I got older and went out cruising the town with my friends.
Those words still come back to haunt me when I lose control. The fact is, the Bible says quite a bit about our words and how we use them.
The problem is, if we’re approaching the Christian life as a bunch of rules to be followed - we’re missing the point. It’s not about having a desire to do something and looking in the Bible to see if we can or not.
Being a Christian is not following a list. It’s about living from a transformed heart. A heart that’s been transformed by God’s grace. So it’s not what can I do and get away with, but how can I live for an even greater joy - building others up and glorifying God.
Exodus 20:7 NIV
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
The most specific command on this in the Bible is to not take God’s name in vain. But it’s not just about saying G-O-D as a swear word. It means to honor God as God - not viewing him as common, ordinary. So a person might never use God’s name as a curse, but still live in a way that belittles God. We are to honor God as God from our heart, not just our words.
Let’s look at some other texts:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up” ()
Ephesians 4:29 NIV
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Do swear words count as corrupting talk? The better question to ask is the second part of the verse - do our words build up those around us? I can guarantee, throwing in a few swear words to your conversation does not build up those around you. It shows how focused you are on yourself - trying to make yourself look a certain way with zero care for anyone else.
Jesus said our language is deeper than our mouths.
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” ()
Luke 6:45 NIV
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Think about this. What you say reveals your heart. Every time. If I plant an apple tree and it begins to produce something other than apples, there’s something wrong at the very root of the tree.
Every time you spew out a bunch of obscenities you are declaring to everyone around you, “I have something wrong with the very core of who I am.” Maybe you’re not connected to the True Root, Jesus Christ.
Or maybe you think you are - and this message is a warning to you that there is something deeply wrong with the fact that you don’t think this matters.
To which you might again respond to me, what about Christian freedom? Didn’t Paul say Christians had the freedom to eat meat and to drink wine? So why can’t I say what I want?
Yes he did say that. Christian freedom is a beautiful thing. But we also have that Christian freedom within a community of other Christians. Here’s a couple things Paul said:
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” ()
Galatians 5:13 NIV
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
““All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” ()
1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
So yes, we have freedom. All things are lawful. But we need to ask another question. Why do we feel the need to swear? Think about it! Are we using that swear word to lovingly serve another person? Or does it come from our sinful flesh. Is it a way of complaining? An expression of anger (be careful about justifying that)? Are we trying to get someone’s attention? Are we trying to look cool in front of our friends? Is it way of rebelling against parents, or teachers, RVA, God?
What you might think is making you stand out as unique - the person that doesn’t go along with the crowd - is actually making you stand out as someone who does go along with the crowd. It doesn’t take much courage to swear, believe me, I know. It takes courage not to. It takes courage to care about those around you. It takes courage to say “I’m sorry I said that - I’m trying to stop.”
Paul says not all things we can do are helpful. The other day I was driving fast over the speed bumps going up the hill from Kijabe. And my wife asked me to consider the purpose of the speed bumps. I responded that by going over the speed bumps fast you don’t feel them. She replied, but isn’t the purpose of the speed bumps so you slow down and don’t scare or hurt the people around?
Oops. I was only looking at what was best for me. Just because it helped me to go over them fast didn’t mean I should. Just because we can say certain words doesn’t mean it will be helpful. God gave us words for a purpose. If life is about loving God and loving others, then what words we use and how they come across to others matters.
Some of you are dominated by this area of your life - and I’m not just talking about your words. I’m not just after your changed behavior - I’m after your heart. Your words reveal that something is not right in your heart. Good news. Jesus died for sinners. Is it the worst sin? No. The problem is some of you just don’t see it as a problem, and therefore there’s no repentance, and no change.
Words still come to my mind and my mouth that aren’t honoring to others or pleasing to God. I care about that. I know that Jesus died for those sins, but he also died so that I would fight to put them to death - not to say that they’re my right.
The end is near. How we live every day of our lives matters. Are we using our time and the gifts God has given us to store up treasures here on earth, where they will disappear? Or are we living every moment storing up treasures in heaven, where our joy will increase forever?
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