“LIVING IN LIGHT OF THE END”
(A Chosen People – Series in I Peter)
Westgate Chapel 2/04/01 I Peter 4:7-11
PROPOSITION: The follower of Christ is called to live today in the clear light of an eternity, which could be ushered in at any moment now.
- EVERYTHING has and end...including this world as we know it.
- THIS fact is not just the ranting of some Gospel preacher. Scientists tell us that things, left to themselves, run down...rust and arthritis are only two proofs (Einstein’s 2nd law of thermal dynamics).
- SO, this world is going to end….the Bible says so and modern scientists say so.
- WHEN Adam and Eve were the first humans on planet earth, it is safe to say that it was not the time of the end.
* In Genesis 3, at the time that Adam and Eve were being separated from God’s presence by their sin, God made a promise that some time in the future there would be a male child born of a woman who would crush Satan’s authority and power.
* And Adam and Eve lived in anticipation of that child of deliverance, but He was not born in their lifetime.
* So, it was not the time of the end.
- WHEN Abraham was alive, it was not the time of the end.
* God had promised that out of Abraham’s seed God would raise up a nation, a covenant people in a promised land, through whom God would reveal His love for all nations.
* Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all lived in anticipation of that covenant nation…but it didn’t happen in their lifetimes.
* So, it was not the time of the end.
- WHEN Moses was leading the brand new nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt…on their way to Canaan land….it was not the time of the end.
* Somewhere along the way, out in the desert, God gave Moses instructions to build a tent/tabernacle for the glory of God’s presence to dwell in the camp.
* Moses obeyed but knew that there would come a day when God’s presence would dwell, not in a tent, but in a permanent place in Canaan.
* Moses lived in anticipation of that day!
* He never saw it.
* So, it was not the time of the end.
- WHEN King David was on the throne of Israel….it was not the time of the end.
* God had promised him that one day there would be a king on the throne of Israel (the Messiah) who would reign over an eternal kingdom of peace, a kingdom that would never end.
* And David died without seeing the plan for an eternal king on his throne fulfilled.
* So, it was not the time of the end.
- AND then one day, about 2,000 years ago, God said it was time to set the final stage of His plans for the world in motion!
- PAUL puts it this way in Galatians 4:4-5,
“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, (5) to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
- JESUS is the completion of God’s plan designed before the foundations of the world.
- JESUS is the child of Genesis 3:15, who crushed Satan’s head.
- JESUS is the seed promised Abraham, in Genesis 18:18, through whom all nations of the world would be blessed.
- JESUS is the glory of God that rested between the cherubim in the tabernacle and the Temple, where God’s Name rested among men…..He is Immanuel, God With Us!
- JESUS is the King, of the lineage of David, who reigns, and about whom it will someday soon be said,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
- NO wonder the writer of the Hebrews says,
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1&2)
- EVERY promise God made, from Adam and Eve, to King David and the prophets….every promise was ultimately fulfilled.
- JESUS is God’s last, final, and complete Word!
- THERE is no other deliverer to look for.
- THERE is no other covenant to anticipate.
- THERE is no other sanctuary to be built.
- THERE is no other dispensation of world history to be fulfilled.
- THERE is no other king, but Jesus.
- GOD has done it all.
- JESUS is the culmination of God’s plan.
- WE are living in the year of the Lord’s grave and favor….the season of world history where the gate of salvation is open to all who would come.
- WE are not waiting for anything else in God’s plan of salvation.
- AND NOW, with everything cleared off God’s schedule, the only thing left is the end.
- WHEN Jesus was born in that manger, the beginning of the end arrived.
- NOTHING stands in God’s way.
- THE finale could be at any moment.
- THE angel’s trumpet could sound this afternoon!
- WE ARE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS.
- HEBREWS 1:2 tells us that Jesus ushered in the “last days.”
- ON the day of Pentecost Peter announced prophetically that the church was birthed in power by the Holy Spirit in the “last days.”
- THE apostle John, in I John 2:18, writes to the churches in Asia Minor in the first century,
“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”
ii. christ is coming again
- THIS is the context of our passage from I Peter 4 this morning.
- AND it is very important that you and I be moved by the immediacy of living in “the last days” with nothing of any real significance ahead of us but the final consummation of the kingdom of God.
- THAT is exactly what was moving the apostle Peter, in I Peter 4:7, where he writes (page 1203),
“The end of all things is near.”
- THOSE New Testament leaders and believers were convinced that they would see “the end” in their lifetimes.
- THE END!
* The dead in Christ raised first, then we who are alive and remain also caught up to meet Him in the air (I Thessalonians 4:17)
* Seven years of tribulation for those who are left behind. The earth under the rule of the Antichrist.
* The Battle of Armadeggon.
* Satan cast into the lake of fire.
* The Great White Throne Judgement.
* Those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life…also cast into the lake of fire.
* The old sinful earth purged of all sin and darkness, as by fire.
* “(John the Revelator sees) a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (2) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.(4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (5) He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:1-5)
- THIS is what lies ahead of every true follower of Christ.
- AND it is near!
- IT is the next thing on God’s agenda.
- GOD’S finale for all those on planet earth!
- THE God who has pulled off everything else He has promised for the past six thousand years, has one more promise about “the end.”
iii. WE MUST LIVE SO AS TO BE READY
- BACK to I Peter 4:7,
- AND what follows between verses 7 and 11 hold the key to being ready for the finale.
- THIS is how we are to live as we await the fulfillment of God’s final promise to humankind.
- THIS is how we are to live in order to be ready to meet God……because “this” is how life IS in the kingdom He is going to usher in!
1. “Be clear-minded and self-controlled” (verse 7)
- CLEAR-minded literally means, be in your right mind. Be thoughtful, reflective, not scattered.
- SELF-controlled means to have your thoughts, your appetites, your life in check.
- THE sum of both words literally means, “don’t be intoxicated.”
- WE live in a world that is godless, sinful, self-indulgent, greedy, and getting worse by the second.
- THAT is intoxicating stuff.
* More money.
* More raises.
* More stuff.
* More sexual gratification.
* More power.
* More titles.
* More perversion.
* More for me.
- THIS is the world we live in, and the TV and movies we watch, are frantically promoting this agenda.
- EVERYTHING sacred, everything holy, everything eternal is under direct attack in the media and all around us in the world.
- THIS is not the place and not the time for a follower of Christ to lose their balance….get wobbly on our feet. The cliffs on both sides of our path end in death.
- DON”T get intoxicated.
- “BE sober-minded and self-controlled in a drunken world”….. says Peter…..
“…so that you can pray.” (Verse 7)
- PETER may be remembering the day in the Garden of Gethsemane when he couldn’t stay awake for an hour and pray with Jesus.
- TOO tired to pray.
- TOO busy to pray.
- TOO distracted to pray.
- TOO intoxicated with the world to pray.
- BUT prayer is what disciples of Jesus do who are living in anticipation of His coming kingdom….because they want to be ready, and they want those around them to be ready.
- PRAYER puts us in contact with God….because He says that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
- PRAYER lines us up with His heart and agenda for our lives.
- PRAYER involves us in a holy dialogue with the One who has all wisdom and all power over our lives, our circumstances, and our future.
- PRAYER arranges our lives around God’s priorities.
- PRAYER strengthens us for the time of temptation.
- THAT is why prayer is the first thing to go. The devil will see to it! That way he gets an open door.
- WITHOUT prayer a Christian is weak and defenseless against the enemy.
- WITHOUT prayer a church is simply a compendium of programs that do good, but don’t change lives.
- LISTEN to the word of Jesus on this very subject in Luke 21:36,
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. (35) For it will come upon 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.”
- THE end is near! So, avoid everything that dissipates the spirit of prayer in your life!
- LET’S move on with more on how we live, since the end is near.
2. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)
- PETER is assuming that Christians love one another here.
- IN fact, the apostle John goes to far as to say that if we don’t love one another we are not Christians….period! Any questions?
- BUT in this verse Peter gives “love for one another” pre-eminence in the church.
- IT is to “crown all other activity” as we get closer and closer to the end. He says, “Above all….”
- THEN Peter says, “love each other deeply….”
- THE Greek word for “deeply”, is not emotional intensity. It literally means “through strenuous and sustained effort.”
- THE imagery is of an athlete in training, using up every ounce of energy over a sustained period of time.
- THAT is the kind of focus and force to be invested in loving one another.
- AND Peter says that this kind of intense love… “covers over a multitude of sins.”
* It is ready to forgive, seventy times seven.
* It shelters and protects the wrong-doer.
…..because that is what Jesus has done for you and me.
- ALSO, because the end is near, and you and I will be standing before the One who judges the living and the dead.
- BUT wait, there is something else we do because of how soon God’s kingdom is to become a reality on earth.
3. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
- IN Peter’s day, many of the Christians had lost their homes, lost their family, lost their jobs, and their friends because of their faith.
- AND as they traveled the Roman empire, in search of a spiritual family where they could grow in their faith, they had no place to stay.
- ALL public places in those days, like inns, were either too dangerous for a Christian, or the temptations there were too great.
- SO the only options in those days for a place of safety and shelter….were the homes of those Christians who did have a job and a house and a family.
- OUR circumstances may be different today, but I still believe that there are broken and hurting people thronging our cities, our work places, our schools….who desperately need a place that offers safety and shelter, where they can be healed.
- NOW a church building and ministry can do some of that…but not nearly as effectively as your home and mine.
- BUT what about my privacy?
- WHAT about my family time?
- WHAT about my food budget?
- WHAT about my sports?
- WHAT about…..
- PETER says, “Do it without grumbling!”
- IN fact, listen to Paul cover the same basic subject concerning our attitude in ministry….
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, (15) so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (16) as you hold out the word of life.”
- YOU see, when you grumble you suck all the joy right out of everything you are doing and for those who have joined you in the ministry.
- HERE is the last thing we do because the end of all things is near.
4. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. (11) If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides…” (I Peter 4:10-11)
- THE first point to make note of is that “each one” has a gift. No believer is left out.
- SECOND, the purpose of that gift is to serve others. It is not about you and me.
- NEXT, it must be noted that the gifts come from God…..and come in various forms.
* There are 20 or more listed between I Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4….and I don’t think the Holy Spirit meant those lists to be exhaustive.
- THEN Peter uses two gifts, just to make his point.
i) The speaking gifts...which can be in public discourse or personal dialogue.
• When you speak, let God give you the words.
• Yield your thoughts to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who knows the heart of God in all matters.
• He will guide you in what to say, so that God can get a word into the situation.
• And since they will be the words of God, don’t get cocky about yourself, and don’t seek praise. It wasn’t you!
ii) The serving gifts…which are simply conduits for God’s grace, channeled tirelessly to human needs.
• Peter says in verse 11 that you serve in the strength that God provides.
• That keeps you from over-committing yourself.
• It keeps you from getting tired or burned out. How can you if you are working in God’s strength?
• It also keeps you from being irritable, impatient, resentful of others who are not working as hard as you, or condescending to those you have been sent to serve.
- THIS is what we do….because the end of all things is near.
- SO, as we see the Day of the Lord approaching……
1. We stay sober minded so we can pray.
2. We make love a crowning priority over all we do.
3. We open our lives and homes as place of safety and shelter for the wounded.
4. We use the gifts we have been given by God to serve others.
- AND the last part of verse 11 says that we do all this for one reason alone….
“…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.”
- HOW about it?
- ARE you ready for Christ’s return, if you use the measure of the apostle Peter’s instructions?
- ARE you living in anticipation of the coming kingdom…..selecting those activities and priorities that characterize that coming kingdom?
- THAT is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?
- WILL you join me in bringing your life into alignment with God’s Word…by the power of His Spirit in you?