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1 Peter 4:19 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. Take a moment to pray.  Praise God for His Word and ask Him to teach you its truth, just as the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:12-16, “Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.  I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
  2. Read 1 Peter 4:19
  3. STUDY NOTE:  After detailing the certain persecution of Christians, Peter encourages us to “entrust our souls to our faithful Creator.”  This is a beautiful charge that deserves deep meditation by followers of Christ.  In today’s study, we will meditate on this comment deeply.
  4. In 4:19, God is described as our “Faithful Creator.”  This is a unique title of God in the New Testament.  While God is called “creator” or “faithful” in other places, here alone are these two words placed together in a title for God.  Why do you think Peter calls God His “Faithful Creator” here?  What about this title gives hope to Christians who are being persecuted in Jesus’ name?
  5. What does it mean to “entrust one’s soul” to Jesus as you experience persecution?  What would this practically look like in your life?
  6. Not only are Christians to entrust their souls to God, but they are to do this while also “doing good.”  This is a reminder that Christians are not to simply pull out of society and await their future deliverance.  They are to continue to engage in society as good citizens, spouses, workers, etc. (as seen in 1 Peter 2-3) out of reverence for Christ and love for one another.  In what ways have you been challenged to continue to “do good” in this life as a result of your study of 1 Peter over the last couple of months?
  7. In the space below, summarize what you think 1 Peter 4:12-19 is saying concerning the suffering of a Christian.

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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1 Peter 4:17-18 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.  Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24.  “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
  2. Read 1 Peter 4:17-18
  3. What is the “judgment” that is beginning with the household of God (4:17)?  Given the overall context, WHO do you think is executing this judgment on God’s people (and for what reason)?
  4. STUDY NOTE:  It seems that Christians were experiencing judgment/persecution from the world because of their faith in Christ.  This might have tempted some Christians to wonder if it was really worth it to believe in Christ . . . since it had led to their struggle while their non-Christian friends avoided the persecution.  Peter here argues, however, that though Christians suffer now at the hands of the world, they will experience eternal glory.  In a converse way, those who have rejected Christ may glory now, but they will experience a much more severe judgment in eternity.
  5. Notice that though the struggle of Christians at the hands of the world PRECEDES (judgment  “begins at the household of God” (4:17)) the judgment of the world before a holy God, the judgment from God to the world will be more intense and final.  How does this encourage you to have compassion on those who are persecuting Christians?
  6. In 4:18, Peter loosely paraphrases Proverbs 11:31.  The argument is one of the lesser to the greater.  In other words, if this lesser situation happens, we can be even more certain that the greater will happen as well!  The point Peter is making is that each persecution in this life can serve as a reminder that if the world enacts justice as they see fit, certainly God will enact justice as He sees fit in the end times.  Have you ever been tempted to think that “evil wins”?  If so, how does this perspective help encourage you?

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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1 Peter 4:12-16 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”
  2. Read 1 Peter 4:12-16
  3. STUDY NOTE:  In 4:12, Peter describes a coming “fiery trial” for Christians.  While we do not know exactly what this refers to, scholars have tied this proclamation to the start of Roman government sponsored persecution of Christians that began in the mid-60’s, probably around the time this letter was written.  The Roman Emperor Nero had gone mad and wrongly accused Christians of burning down the city of Rome.  He responded by literally burning on crosses Christians in the city of Rome.  Peter knew this “fiery trial” would spread even to the outer reaches of the Roman Empire where the original recipients of this letter lived.
  4. What are some of the fiery trials that face Christians in the world today?
  5. Peter wants his readers to not be surprised when these trials come.  This is similar to what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12 where Paul tells Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life will suffer.”  Persecution of Christians is more the norm than the exception.  Have you ever experienced persecution (in any form) because of your faith in Christ?  If so, what was that experience like?  If not, what does this verse tell you about what to expect in the future?
  6. Persecution comes, Peter says, to “test you.”  This is similar to the language used in 1 Peter 1:7.  The idea is that these trials help reveal our faith.  Over the past two months how trials you have experienced helped to reveal your faith to those around you?
  7. In 4:13, instead of being surprised by “fiery trials” Christians are to rejoice.  What is the reason that Christians should rejoice when persecuted according to Peter?  Is this an encouragement to you?
  8. What is the blessing that comes to Christians who are “insulted for Christ” (4:14)?  Have you ever seen this in your own life or in the life of someone you know?
  9. Peter concludes 4:12-16 with a similar refrain from earlier in his letter . . . don’t rejoice in suffering that comes due to your bad decision making.  Instead, rejoice in the suffering that comes as a result of following Christ.  This is an important distinction for Peter.  What are some examples of the difference between suffering because of OUR sin and suffering because of faith in our Savior?
  10. It is possible for someone to have physical or emotional scars associated with the persecution they had received.  Given human frailty and pride, it is also possible that these scars might cause some to want to hide their scars or their stories from others.  However, Peter encourages Christians who have been persecuted to “not be ashamed” because of their suffering, instead glorify God (4:16).  What would it look like for a person to not be ashamed of their suffering and to glorify God?

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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True Grace (Week 7) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday morning, July 19 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on 1 Peter 4:1-11.  This message was part 7 in the “True Grace” series.  The message is posted below in various formats to listen to, watch or share.

 

To listen to the message online, use the media player below:

 

To download the audio to listen to offline later, click the link below:

True Grace #7

 

To watch the sermon online, view the video via our Vimeo site below:

 

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study, click here.

 

TG 7.001

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True Grace (part 7) Sermon Discussion Questions

This morning, July 19, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on 1 Peter 4:1-11.  This message was part 7 of the “True Grace” series.  Below are a set of questions based on this message designed for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Questions:

  1. Read 1 Peter 4:1-11
  2. In what way do you see our world getting “accustomed to the darkness?”
  3. Have you ever felt yourself tempted by the culture to accept sinful behaviors you used to resist?
  4. How does “arming yourself with the mindset of Christ” inspire you to obey God today?
  5. In general, are you living your life forward (toward your heavenly identity) or backward (toward who you were before trusting in Christ)?
  6. Speaking of 1 Peter 4:4, Warren Wiersbe said, “Unsaved people do not understand the radical change that their friends experience when they trust Christ and become children of God.  They do not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another!  But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!”  Have you ever experienced anything in your own life like this?
  7. Think of someone you know who had a vibrant relationship with Christ, and has physically already died.  If you were able to talk to them right now, what do you think their advice would be to you about following Christ in this life?  In light of where they are in eternity, and the spiritual life they now have eternally, obedience to Christ totally seems worth it . . . don’t you think?
  8. How does prayer help you get past the distractions in this life and focus on living your life forward?
  9. Living forward, also means loving fervently other Christians around you.  Of Peter’s admonitions in 4:8-9, what is most challenging to you?  How can you live out this challenge in your life today?
  10. In what ways has God gifted you for service?  Are you using those gifts to serve others?  Do you tend to have gifts of words or works (or a combo of both)?
  11. What most stood out to you from this message?

To access the entire “True Grace” study, click here.

 

TG 7.001

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Arm Yourself (True Grace Week 7 Devotional)

When I was 15 years old, life was simple.  Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” was the greatest album ever recorded, “Hoosiers” was the greatest movie ever made, and my greatest goal in life was for my hair to stick out the back of my football helmet so friends and family could see how “good” it looked during games.

For going on 20 years now, I have not let my hair get longer than an inch in any direction, but in 1988 I was all about the mullet (business up top with a party in the back).  I had made long hair my goal since seeing how “cool” the varsity quarterback looked with his long-haired ‘do.  When we took the field for two-a-days that summer, indeed I had curly locks hanging out the back of my helmet.

For my adolescent mind, having that hair was part of the reason to even go out for football.  Sure, I liked the game, but I loved the look.  As anyone who has ever played football knows, though, the helmet is far more than a piece of eye candy.  More than an accessory, it is a life-saving device.  Playing football without a helmet is about as safe as surfing in a hurricane . . . do it long enough and your life won’t be so long!  Therefore, before each practice I would arm myself with that helmet and head “into battle.”

In 1 Peter 4:1, Peter invites all of us into the victorious Christian mind.  The mindset found here is not original – it is borrowed from Jesus Christ Himself.  Though He experienced persecution and struggle in His earthly life, Jesus maintained a life of perfect and total obedience to the will of God.  Jesus did not fear what the world wanted Him to fear (1 Peter 3:14), but instead sought to obey God at all costs.  Though it would eventually cost Him His earthly life, God would glorify Jesus and lift Him up, placing Him in authority over all things (3:22).  This mindset of following God regardless of the cost, trusting for God’s greater reward, is the mindset Christians are to “arm” themselves with today.

1 Peter 4:1 says this, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”  In the first half of that verse, believers are called to “arm” themselves with the attitude of Christ as they seek to live a holy life.  The word “arm” in the original language is used only here in the entire New Testament.  Outside the New Testament, this word was used to refer to a soldier putting on their armor for battle.  It is not advisable for a football player to play the game without being “armed” with their helmet.  In the same way, it is not advisable for a Christian to try to live a holy life without “arming” themselves with Christ’s attitude.  Jesus knew there would be opposition to His radical obedience to His heavenly Father, but He persisted in obedience anyway, trusting that God would provide a greater reward.  If Christians are to stand a chance today at living a life honoring to God, they must strap on this same perspective.

Our greatest hopes as Christians at times revolve around seeing victory in some area of weakness.  For some this means finally being free from an addiction to pornography.  For others it means resting in their beauty in Christ, instead of their waist size.  For still others it means being more generous with the money and resources at their disposal.  When confronted with these issues (and many others) our great desire is to see obedience show forth from our lives.  What this passage reminds us of, though, is that one of the keys to obedience is to arm ourselves with the mindset of Jesus as we seek to obey.  Far more than just a mental accessory, arming ourselves in this mindset is essential to our survival in obedience.  When we have strapped on His attitude, then our obedience flows out from underneath for all to see.

In many areas of the Christian life, obeying Christ will not lead to an immediate improvement in circumstances.  In the short-run, following Christ might lead to short-circuiting a carnal desire.  If our mindset is anchored only in the moment, then many times we lack the necessary perspective to take the self-denying step into obedience.  However, when we are armed with the long-term attitude of Christ, we can deny ourselves in the moment knowing that God is being honored as we lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven.

Join us at Wildwood this Sunday morning at 9:30 or 10:50 as I will be preaching part 7 of our “True Grace” Series focusing on 1 Peter 4:1-11.

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study, click here.

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1 Peter 4:10-11 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. Take a moment to pray.  Praise God for His Word and ask Him to teach you its truth, just as the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:12-16, “Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.  I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
  2. Read 1 Peter 4:10-11
  3. Peter begins 1 Peter 4:10 by stating that each Christian has received a “gift.”  What do you know about these gifts by looking at the rest of 4:10?
  4. These gifts are most likely references to the spiritual gift that God has given to Christians to outfit them for specific ministries.  Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 include some of the representative gifts that Christ has given to Christians.  Have you ever stopped to consider what gift Christ has given you?  What do you think this gift is?  (NOTE:  If you are struggling to ascertain what your spiritual gift is, take some time this week to ask a few friends how they see God using you in their lives.  This will be a good clue as to how God has gifted you.)
  5. Some have tried to argue that a Christians gift is for their OWN benefit.  However, 1 Peter 4:10 makes it clear that we are gifted for OTHER’S benefit.  In other words, you are gifted for me, and I am gifted for you.  How has God blessed you through other believers around you?  Take a moment to brainstorm some of the ways you are blessed by others.  Write one note this week to someone God has used to bless you.
  6. Christians serve one another as “stewards” of God’s varied grace.  Of this, Hiebert says, “The Lord of the church has distributed His bounty with masterly variety to enable His people successfully to encounter the ‘manifold trials’  to which they are subjected.”  In what way have you seen the variety of God’s gifts work together to encourage people in this diverse world?
  7. 1 Peter 4:11 speaks of the attitude Christians should have as they are administering their gifts in service to others.  Namely, Christians are to do their service in a way that is in dependence upon God and gives God the glory.  What would it look like for God to get all the credit for the service He does through you?
  8. Peter ends 4:11 with a statement of praise.  For Peter, life is designed to reveal the greatness of Jesus Christ.  Take a moment in prayer and praise Jesus for who He is and for all He has done for you.

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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True Grace (part 6) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, July 12, 2015, at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based out of 1 Peter 3:8-22.  This message was part 6 in the “True Grace” series.  If you missed the message and want to listen to it, or it you heard it and wanted to share it with a friend, the message is posted below in various forms.

 

To listen to the message online, use the media player below:

 

 

To download the audio to listen to later, click on the link below:

True Grace #6

 

 

 

To watch the video on the sermon, use the embedded Vimeo Video below:

 

TG6.001

 

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1 Peter 4:7-9 Questions (True Grace Study)

  1. As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.  Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24.  “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
  2. Read 1 Peter 4:7-9
  3. Peter begins 4:7 by commenting that “the end of all things is at hand.”  In what sense is that true?  What do you think he means by that?  (See also 1 Peter 4:5 for immediate context.)
  4. Eschatological (a word meaning “end times”) realities have ethical implications . . . something 4:7 makes clear.  What are some of the ways Christians respond to our understanding of the “end of all things” according to 4:7-9?
  5. In 1 Peter 4:8, Christians are called to KEEP (i.e. not stop) loving one another “EARNESTLY.”  The word translated “earnestly is used in other ancient writings to describe a sprinter straining for the finish line.  What would it look like for you to love others earnestly this week?
  6. Lenski commented on 1 Peter 4:8’s affirmation that “love covers a multitude of sins” by saying, “Love hides them (other’s sins) from its own sight and not from God’s sight.  Hate does the opposite; it pries about in order to discover some sin or some semblance of sin in a brother and then broadcasts it, even exaggerates it, gloats over it.”  Is there someone or a situation in your life that you need to allow love to lead you to “cover a multitude of sins”?
  7. Hospitality means to show kindness to strangers or those outside your home.  This can be very difficult to do (as Peter concedes by reminding us to show hospitality “without grumbling.”)  What would it look like for you to live a hospitable life?
  8. In these verses, Christians are encouraged to live self-controlled, prayerful, loving, and hospitable lives.  Why do you think it is important for Christians to live this way (beyond just “the Bible told me so”)?

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.

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1 Peter 4:1-6 Questions (True Grace Study)

1.   As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

2.   Read 1 Peter 4:1-6

3.   In 4:1, Peter encourages us to “arm yourselves with the same way of thinking” as Jesus Christ who “suffered in the flesh.”  In your own words, what does it mean for a Christian to “arm themselves” with the example of Jesus Christ?

4.   The phrase  “whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” in 4:1 is a difficult phrase to interpret.  Some possible interpretations of this phrase are:

  • The Christian’s relationship with sin has dramatically changed since trusting in Christ (see Romans 6:1-11 for a parallel passage).  The Christian is “dead” or “done” with sin’s necessary rule in their lives.
  • Jesus work against sin (defeating it and bringing victory) was complete when His suffering was complete on the cross.
  • Those who suffer for Christ experience a level of purification/sanctification as reward for their suffering.

Which of these interpretations is most compelling to you?  What is the main point of this section of 4:1 (to the best of your understanding)?

5.   1 Peter 4:2-3 describes the change in life that a person goes through when they trust in Christ.  Their lives were once characterized by certain “Gentile” (i.e. non-Christian in this context) behaviors. Now, however, these same people live lives in submission to the will of God.  What are some behaviors in your own life that you have seen shift since trusting in Christ?

6.   What do you notice about the list of sins mentioned in 4:3?  Anything stand out compared to your experience with fleshly temptations today?

7.   In 4:4, Christians are reminded that their unsaved neighbors, friends, and family might ridicule them for their change in behavior.  Concerning this verse/concept Warren Wiersbe says, “Unsaved people do not understand the radical change that their friends experience when they trust Christ and become children of God.  They do not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another!  But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!”  In what ways have you experienced this kind of opposition to your faith as your lifestyle has changed?

8.   For Christians who are ridiculed for their change in lifestyle, Peter gives a particular encouragement in 4:5.  What is that encouragement, and how does it encourage you as you receive opposition for living out your faith in Christ?

9.  STUDY NOTE:  1 Peter 4:6 says, “For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.”  This sentence can lead to much confusion, as it appears to affirm a strange practice:  namely preaching to the dead!  However, this verse is not as complicated as it first appears.  The original recipients of this letter had shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those around them.  Some of those who heard the Gospel responded in faith, yet had gone on to already physically die (through persecution or even just natural causes).  Peter writes to encourage us that it is ALWAYS worth it to share Christ, even if responding in faith leads to persecution or ridicule (see 4:4).  In death, the value of the Gospel is actually most clear.  Those who are dead, if they responded in faith to the Gospel while they were alive will CONTINUE TO LIVE IN THE SPIRIT, even if their bodies die physically.  In this way, we have a tremendous encouragement to share Christ even with those who experience difficulty after they believe.

10.  How does 1 Peter 4:6 encourage you to share Christ with those around you today?  Is there someone in your life that you feel God is prompting you to share Jesus with this week?

 

To access the entire “True Grace” study of 1 Peter, click here.