In this sermon, Pastor Babij concludes the teaching through 1 Peter by drawing out numerous reasons why suffering is allowed in a Christian’s life and what benefits result from suffering. Pastor Babij then exhorts Christians to stand firm in the faith.
Okay, let’s take our Bibles this morning and turn to First Peter. We are concluding today the book of First Peter. Every time I’m done with a book, I feel like I’m leaving an old friend.
Because you really get to know the author when you get into the text. And most of the time people don’t even preach on the conclusions of books, but I have to turn over every stone.
1 Peter 5:12-14 says:
Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.
Let’s pray before we begin. Father, this morning we thank You again as we come to Your incredible Word. It is so much like a scalpel that cuts deep into the intents and thoughts of our hearts and exposes us for who we are. It breaks us down and yet always builds us back up and always puts us on solid ground.
It always drives out the error and the lies, and replaces it with the truth. This gives us the ability to be able to live in this world for Christ, no matter what is going on, and to actually do something for Him.
So I pray, Lord, that as we conclude this epistle, that the teachings from it would resonate in our minds and hearts throughout the weeks and the months in the years ahead of us. And that we would always come back to be reminded of who we are to be and what we are to do and even when suffering comes our way. I pray that it would not be something that would throw us off track, but it would be something which we already know about.
We don’t think it’s strange that we have suffering, Lord. You never said we wouldn’t go through suffering, actually You promised we would. So I pray that we would always live for You no matter what, and with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our soul, and with all our strength. I pray this in Christ’s name, amen.
Okay, so we’re going to look at some concluding remarks this morning. In 1 Peter, we’re at the end of verse number 12, and it says “stand firm in [the true graces of God].”
These are concluding remarks to stand firm. The apostle thought it was very important when he laid out this book in the Spirit that God gave him, that these truths would be used to understand three major areas in times of persecution and suffering.
You got to know what salvation is as well as the area of submission while we’re in this world. We have to submit to the people God has placed over us, and we have to put ourselves willingly underneath them, especially God’s ordained authorities.
And then there is this third area of suffering. There’s always a mystery connected to suffering that one may never be able to explain fully when you’re going through it.
It’s like trying to explain getting the flu shot to a three-year-old. They need it and it’ll be good for them, but you can’t really explain it to them. The same thing is true with suffering. Suffering is something that is needed in the Christian life, but it’s very hard to be able to explain in words. Forget the explanation! Just trust God and His character. His promises are worthy of trust.
So the solution to suffering and the doubt it raises is not found in arguments or in the questions. It is found in learning to rest on and to trust in God’s character and power. Even when the suffering is mysterious, overwhelming and when the circumstances defy understanding. Holding on to our confidence in the reality of the power and the presence and the promises of God, will lift us in our experience and shed light on what’s happening and cause us to ask ourselves some questions. “Lord, what do you want me to do in this situation? And how can I represent You the best in this situation? So the trustworthiness of God is one of the lessons learned best in the crucible of suffering.
Last time, I ended with these four things that is promised to those who are going through suffering. They are that God will outfit us, He will confirm us, He will strengthen us, and He will enable us.
The first is that God will outfit us, He will establish us. That’s what he promised to us. This area includes the expectation for humility, and the expectation for vigilance, and the exhortation for resistance of the enemy and to be able to stand firm in the faith.
These are all are what believers need to do while we’re in this world. The present circumstances of the Apostle Peter’s original audience include believers who are coming under persecution for their faith.
The present sufferings were the result of an outburst of fanatical hatred against Christians and satanic opposition against those who are in Christ. So they receive this message from the Scripture that Peter mentioned very clearly.
He said in 1 Peter 4:12:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.
So Peter points out that suffering is a part of the Christian life, and that God has an imperishable reward for those who trust Him. In other words, there’s no such thing as problem-free Christianity. You will not find it in Scripture and you will not find it in genuine Christianity.
So Peter’s main purpose for writing is exhortation. If you noticed in 1 Peters 5:12, it says:
I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God.
As he closes his epistle, he is exhorting them, this scattered group of Christians who are under fiery trials, to continue on in the faith.
He is also saying that you are to have purity toward the world, to stand firm against Satan, and then also to have great trust and faithfulness in Jesus Christ. God knows all that is occurring and it is His eternal plan which will work everything out for the best, which is ultimately for His glory and for His children.
So we must simply trust Him and live with our eyes lifted up to heaven, realizing that our home is not here. It’s not on Earth, it’s with the Lord and this Earth is never going to be our final home.
So there’s always going to be a sense of being uncomfortable here. In fact, the more you grow in Christ, the more you mature in Christ, the less comfortable you feel here because your soul begins to yearn for the very presence of God.
That’s what happens. That’s what the Spirit of God is doing in our lives. Job said that said it’s like this in the middle of his sufferings. In Job 23:14, it says:
For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such decrees are with Him.
In other words, he understood that God planned his suffering for him. He understood that God plans the crooked paths, as well as the straight.
This is often considered the providences of God. Providence is an old-fashioned word which comes from the Latin. The Latin word, videmus, is the word video. It means to see beforehand, which is the marvelous working of God by which all the events and happenings in His universe accomplish the purpose He has in mind.
Nobody can hold that purpose back. If you just look forward to Ephesians 1:11 right there at the beginning of that epistle, Paul says:
Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.
See that’s what the Lord does, He’s going to accomplish what He set out to accomplish and absolutely no one could stop Him in carrying all that out.
There are four things about providence that I want you to know. Before I look at our text, I think it’s important for you to know that providence actually means that the plan is perfect. It will ultimately lead to the greater glory of God.
Also it means that the plan is exhaustive. It extends to the smallest most casual things. Like what was written in Matthew 10:29 says:
Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
The Father knows about the sparrow and He knows when the fastest sparrow will fall to the ground. It says in that same passage that the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear ,you are more valuable than many sparrows. God will definitely take care of the smallest detail.
Thirdly, we know that this plan is for our ultimate good. We all know about Romans 8:28, which says:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
The last thing is that it’s secret. Of course, if you’re a believer part of the secret is revealed. But like Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
So it’s secret as far as even when it comes to suffering, we will not have a full explanation on why all the suffering may come into our life. But it’s about trusting the Lord through it because He is a good and a kind Lord and that suffering is definitely planned for a purpose.
The Old Testament wisdom book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, directs our attention to seriously think about God’s design of things when he penned this in Ecclesiastes 7:13-14:
Consider the work of God, For who is able to straighten what He has bent? n the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider– God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.
So God has the prerogative to do things secretly and not let us in on everything. But everything we need to know as believers is right in the Word of God, right? We know way more than anyone else who is not a believer and doesn’t know the Word of God. We continue to learn every time we open up the Word to learn more and more of who God is and what God wants us to do. That is something that is really a blessing and a gift to God’s children that we know things. That’s why when you look in the Word of God, you’ll find that little statement, you really know very well. But I still have to say, how come we don’t know it well enough? We ought to know it, right? Because we have the Word of God.
So God has a significant purpose for providential suffering. He has a significant purpose and here are some of the purposes that He has these sufferings. For one thing, they are there to try us.
Also sufferings are to expose our sins. Sometimes we don’t deal with our sins the way we ought to and God brings in suffering to our life to expose our hearts and then sufferings are also used to build character.
This building up of character is mentioned in Romans 5:3-4 where the Bible tells us:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.
In other words, we can’t even have perseverance to the extent that we should have it. We can’t even have our character developed unless there’s pressure in our life and unless things come into our life that really try us and stretch us and test us to see whether we are believers who are really maturing and growing in the Lord.
This word in this passage for tribulation is used to describe the crushing of grapes and olives in order to produce sweet wine and smooth oil. The figure suggests that heavy pressure of our troubles and inward anguish produces patient endurance, which is the ability to stay with it and not fall apart. That means the pressure brings forth something more suitable and useful.
For the Master, He makes us useful in this world. So the next thing in God’s provident sufferings are to know God better. Also suffering produces fruit in our lives and prepares us for usefulness.
In other words, sufferings often bring us to the place in which we are challenged to stop resisting the will of God. Stop saying no to God and start using your spiritual gift. Stop sitting there doing nothing. Stop resisting what God wants to do in your life. A lot of times you are frustrated as a believer because you are not doing what God wants you to do.
Your’e resisting His will and you’re deciding what things are to be done instead of God deciding. Therefore you are not responding and may stay there until God turns up the heat a little bit more and He makes you useful in His church and in His Kingdom.
Of course, sufferings also lead us and to prepare us for glory. If you’re right there in 1 Peter 1:4, it says:
To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.
So why we are here on this Earth? We have our brothers and our sisters in Christ to pray with, to serve with, to care with, and to worship with. And we have this as we all live together in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
So the Lord really also provides to us and that’s what brings me through this last section of 1 Peter. He also provides other basic things to enable us to stand.
When the suffering comes to enable us to stand and notice what it says in 1 Peter 5:12 again:
Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!
In other words, God gives us people right here that you can count on who actually encourage you to stand firm. And of course that’s part of the church. So Silvanus and Silas are the same person. Silvanus is the one who is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and Silas is probably a short name for Silvanus. Just to show you the quality of persons that the church of Jerusalem was going to send out with letters because Silvanus is taking this letter that Peter has written it and distributing it to the churches.
Some believe that Silvanus had the gift of somebody who was an administrator, so possibly he helped Peter pen this epistle. Now that is something that is a possibility because of who he was but it also could be contrasting Silvanus, or Silas, with the character of the false teachers who were self sent instead of God sent.
Now, who was Silas or Silvanus here? He was a prominent member of the church of Jerusalem.
Let’s turn to Acts 15 real quickly and let me just show you some of the things the Bible says about this man. Now here he’s mentioned in Acts as Silas and it says first of all that he was definitely a leader in the church of Jerusalem. In Acts 15:22 it says:
Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas– Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.
So Silas was a leading person within the church and in Acts 15:32, he was considered to be a new testament prophet where it says in the verse:
Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.
I like that in the message you are able to sit there and listen to the preaching of the Word of God and engage yourself with it. That’s expository preaching, not just sitting with your arms folded in in but you’re engaged in it. So Silas was a new testament prophet.
What do that mean that he was getting direct revelation from God and he was telling it to the people? All right. A prophet was somebody who did that and then the Word of God tells us also that in Acts 15:26 that he was a soldier. It says:
Men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So he was a soldier, in another words that he was in the Lord’s army and understood that anything surrounding the preaching of the Gospel the ministry of Jesus Christ had risk to it.
So we need more risk takers in the body of Christ and I could even say this he was a Marine. I have to bring that in there. Well, alright, he wasn’t a marine, but surely he had a handle on faithfulness. I want to direct your attention to 1 Peter 5:12. It says:
Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him).
The apostle Peter, as well as Paul, regarded this man as a faithful brother. The Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis. That’s Latin for always faithful.
If you were to sign up with the apostle Paul or Peter, you would have no guarantee of a cakewalk. Silas was faithful to the Lord first and then faithful as well, as we see here, to Peter.
The Living Bible translation puts it like this in 1 Peter 5:12:
I am sending this note to you through the courtesy of Silvanus who is, in my opinion, a very faithful brother who is, in my opinion, a very faithful brother.
I ask a question to you this morning. When God looks at your life, what does He look for? He doesn’t look for perfection. So get that out of your head. Being a Christian is not about being perfect.
Every person has disobeyed God and has been separated from God. Jesus was the only perfect man. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. We get our righteousness before God from Him not ourselves. It is by His perfect sacrifice that we are cleansed from sin.
So once we become believers, what is God looking for? He is not looking for greatness. He’s looking for faithfulness. Can you be faithful? I mean I’m talking about what it says in the gospels.
If you’re faithful with the little things, you know what God says? He says that He’ll give you greater things. So in other words, the reward for faithfulness is actually more work.
I know you may be afraid of that. But that is true. If you are faithful in the little things, God will give you more work to do. We need more faithful workers.
We need people who are going to be just faithful and in attendance faithfully to come to Sunday School. David is doing this tremendous job doing Sunday school lessons, and not all of us come.
We don’t set our time to put the Lord first. See, that’s not a sign of faithfulness. That’s a sign of “maybe negligence.” God wants his faithfulness.
So, why does the letter end this with naming people? Because this guy Silas is a guy who encourages them when Paul was absent. As a matter of fact, Silas was in prison with Paul on the second missionary journey. Well, you know what you get pretty close to somebody if you spend some time in prison with them, right? And so Paul says this guy Silas has got the right kind of character.
I think Peter may be saying something like we need to be more like him. Anybody can be a Silas, anybody can be this particular man. Why? Because God is looking for your faithfulness to use your gifts.
So when you use your gift, you encourage other people. When you use your gifts, other people see your faithfulness. They see the work you’re doing and when they see that and you do it consistently and that you do it through thick and thin, they get encouraged. They might say, “Well that person could do it. I can do that too.”
That’s exactly what is supposed to happen when you use your gifts. So that is what happens you have a bunch of people who are just faithful.
As a matter fact, if you ever get a chance to put something on your tombstone, put this “he or she was faithful to the Lord and to His people.” That is probably the highest thing you can put on your gravestone.
So God’s given us each other to encourage us and to be one of those people. Secondly if you look in our text, it says in 1 Peter 5:12:
I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!
So he again comes alongside and he says to them, “Listen, this is a true statement of the way God blesses you and what is what he mean by this suffering.”
Tribulation and trials are God’s grace to you. Well that doesn’t make sense, not at least in the flesh. But in the Spirit, that’s exactly what he is saying here.
He said “stand firm” when these things happen because it’s only going to strengthen you. Remember grace is that good will of what God has done. Grace means that God is giving you what you do not deserve, at least initially in Salvation.
But remember it’s not just saving grace we;re talking about, it’s also sustaining grace. It’s great for everyday grace that God is going to give you when you need it.
You don’t need it all the time, but you do need it when you go through difficult times. See as Christians, we receive sustaining grace now. There’s something strange though that the Christian experiences the grace of God in a new and in varied ways when they actually go through suffering.
When they go through trials and when they go through difficult times in their life, the experience of that compassionate mercy of God’s empowering presence makes it possible for you and I to live our Christian life in a pleasing manner before the eyes of God.
Also some could have been communicating to the Christians in the midst of their suffering that they were not in the gracious hands of God, but they were in fact excluded from divine grace because they were going through suffering now. That is definitely something Satan uses against us.
But that’s a big fat lie. That’s one of the lies that when we encounter it, we put up our shield of faith. See, Christians know that the sovereign plan of God includes suffering in difficult times.
And when we go through it, they in fact experience genuine grace of a loving God. That’s what we experience when we go through it, and you won’t experience it until you go through it.
So when God looks at your life while you’re going through trials and suffering, what does he say? He doesn’t want to see grumbling or complaining, or cursing under your breath, or justifying your bad behavior or justifying the way you are because of this or that or because of this person or those circumstances. No. You want to know what He wants you to do?
In our passage it says Got wants for you to stand firm in His sustaining grace. That’s what He’s looking for. He’s looking for faithful people who will stand firm when the pressure is raised in our life and everything seems like it is against us.
We’re going to trust God and we’re not going to change in our attitude toward God. But we are going to rest in Him. Now take your Bibles for a minute because I want you to see this passage of Scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.
Remember the apostle Paul was given by God a thorn in the flesh? Remember Paul was taken up to the third heaven and he saw things that he wasn’t even able to communicate after he got done with that. And so God gave him a thorn in the flesh for this reason. So other people would not exalt him and put him on a pedestal. But of course, we don’t really know exactly what it was but Paul prayed three times “Lord, please take this away.”
Let’s look at the passage:
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Who is strong when you’re weak? God! I feel that that’s when God is going to show you that it is not about your strength, it is about His strength. It is about what He can do in your weakness and when He does things when we are the weakest who gets the glory? He does! That’s when people really see God in your life when those things happen and He gives us the grace that causes us to stand firm in during times of suffering.
The next thing he gives us is understanding. Brethren, look back at 1 Peter 5:13. Now look at what it says:
She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.
You may be thrown off by that, and you should be in some ways. What does he mean by Babylon? Well, some people say that Babylon here is thought of by many to be Peter’s wife to whom he refers to in other passages.
Well, that’s not the case. Others believe that this verse should read, “Your sister church here in Babylon salute you and so does my son Mark.” Now, that’s a possibility. But Babylon was a Christian nickname for Rome. In other words, the church here at Rome is your sister in the Lord, and send you greetings.
Basically, God gives us other brethren. Who are the elect as it says in our passage of Scripture? He’s talking about those who are the elect and remember 1 Peter 1:1 talks about the elect from God’s people who have been scattered throughout all the regions.
So see this epistle is written to people who are scattered. They’re under persecution. They don’t have a home address. They were cast out of the synagogue when a lot of things happened in the Gentile and the Jewish community which put them in a place where they needed encouragement.
They got this encouragement from the rest of the church because they understood what they were going through.
“She who is at Babylon is likewise chosen” is likely that Babylon is a reference to when people of Judah were taken from Jerusalem to be exiled to Babylon, and refers to God’s people living as pilgrims and exiles in a foreign land.
Remember in the Old Testament when the Babylonians came again against the southern kingdom of Israel or Judah and they pull them into a foreign country because of their sin? God raised up a country and brought them into that country and they live there as pilgrims and aliens. So this reference to Babylon brings one’s mind back to the fact that this is not been a new thing that God often puts His people through. He doesn’t often put His people in a place where they are pilgrims and exiles in a foreign land, which is how we kind of feel like when we’re on this Earth.
So God gives the church greetings to those who are going through suffering. Why? Because they’re going through the same thing. They understand it. Right? But look at the next person that says it. “Who is my son Mark?” you may ask yourself.
My question is why is Silvanus, or Silas, and Mark mentioned in this passage of Scripture? Well, let me just let you know about what’s going on here with Mark.
When Mark abandoned the apostle Paul, it was Silvanas, or Silas, that took his place. Now they are both mentioned as faithful and profitable servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, but for John Mark that was not the case.
John Mark on the first missionary journey when he abandoned Paul. The reasons we can gather from Scripture that he abandoned him, is that on the second missionary journey, Paul was going to go into Asia Minor and travel into a part of the region that was known to be dangerous.
There were notorious ambushes there and there were bandits and robbers that were there. It says this in Acts 13:13-14:
Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem. But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
And here is where John got cold feet. He probably was not mature enough to be involved with what was going to happen on that next leg of the journey.
But if you go back into the book of Acts, you know, you’re going to find out that John Mark was right there when the church started. He was right there in the church of Jerusalem.
When all these people are getting saved, he was right there when the apostle Paul was rescued from the prison and was knocking at the Mary’s door. His mother and the disciples were all gathered there praying which means that John grew up in the church.
He was around some of the greatest apostles. He was around the mighty work of God often and yet he bolted. He thought he couldn’t do any of it and left Paul.
So who takes his place? Silas. A soldier takes place, right? Because that’s what Paul was going to need on this next next leg of the journey. What is so interesting is that not only does Peter mention him, but after he deserted Paul, John Mark is now accepted by both Paul and Peter.
And in fact, this is what it says about John Mark from writing to young Timothy. It says in 2 Timothy 4:11:
Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.
So in other words, some believers may start off their Christian life pretty well and then all sudden hit rocky times, and they start waffling in their commitment to Christ. They get knocked off their base and instead of being a faithful servant, they become a hindrance to God’s faithful servants. That’s what happened to Mark.
Somewhere down the line, he grew and became stronger. He wrote the Gospel of Mark and now he’s profitable for service by the apostle Paul and now is mentioned here in Scripture as someone who is greeting and encouraging the churches.
So Mark matures and becomes profitable for Christian service, so that he can redeem himself and prove himself to be a real soldier. At the end Paul wanted John Mark in his foxhole.
No, when we say I want you in my foxhole what does that mean? When you get in the foxhole, that means the bullets are already flying right? If you don’t get in there you’re going to get shot.
So you dig a hole and get in there and hopefully you don’t fall right? But one thing that you learn as a soldier is there are some people you don’t want in your foxhole because they don’t pay attention to things and they’re sloppy and they may get you both killed in the foxhole.
I want somebody in my foxhole that I can trust and knows they have my back and can take care of me if I get wounded. That’s what Silvans and John Mark were like.
They were people that you would want in your foxhole, maybe not in the beginning. But as God matures them, He brings them to the place where someone can turn to them and say, “I want this person with me in my foxhole.”
Here’s a question I have for you. Are you foxhole material? Can I depend on you to pray for me? And the church to pray for each other? Can I depend on you when service needs to be done? Can I trust that you’re there no matter what?
Can the Lord depend on us to be in the foxhole when the bullets start flying over our heads or are we going to run? Are we going to run and say we didn’t sign up for this? Are we going to say, “I’m out of here like Vladimir?”
Alright, so see how we are to respond. It’s all in all these past Scriptures as he closes this epistle. He’s encouraging the church to be faithful and to be encouraging to other brethren by their service. They are encouraged to be strong soldiers and to stand firm and be in the foxhole, and then he ends it like this in verse number 14.
He says this last thing, he mentions three things in 1 Peter 5:14. He says:
Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.
Now as I looked at this, I think that what’s going on here is that he’s saying to them, “Where else does God give you a mutual love? He gives you deeper peace than the world could never have and He gives you secure position where you are mentioned in Christ that strengthens you to stand firm.
Now, look at what it says here. It says, “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” That was the the standard greeting back then in fact, if you go to the Middle East and other countries today, you’ll find that this is the greeting where people would kiss people on the forehead or on their cheeks, but not on your lips or anything like that. This is a form of greeting today, like giving each other a handshake of Christian love, or bumping knuckles. We’re greeting each other not only to say hi, but to say that we’re in Christ together.
This is really the primary Christian virtue. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says:
But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
This can only be displayed to a degree that the Christian themselves have been profoundly touched by God’s loving Christ. The first object of our love of course is the Lord Himself. But we do know that there is a growing love for God which will expand and increase our love for people it’s not reversed.
If you thought you loved people before, you didn’t. When you learn the love of Christ, the Spirit of God teaches us to love like Christ. That love is a always a sacrificial love and is always esteeming others higher than ourselves.
When we learned that then we have an increase of love for people. These are people who are our immediate brothers and sisters in the faith because they’re believers. All people from all tribes and nations are our brothers and sisters in Christ that you and I love.
When we are thanking God for one another, when we are praying for one another, when we are serving one another, when we are living holy before one another, and when we are practicing love to each other, we are all flushing it out another words. It was the apostle Paul who said after very heavy doctrines in Romans that we need to love one another. It says in Romans 13:8:
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
If you owe anything, that’s what you owe as a believer. You owe your love towards others in Christ for he who loves his neighbor will fulfill the law. What does love do to a brother and sister in Christ? According to 1 Corinthians 13, it suffers long, it’s kind, it does not envy or promote itself.
It is also correct in behavior and is not selfish. It is not easily provoked. It does not think evil. No one has mastered this characteristic. We all need to grow in our love for the Lord and each other.
Your love for him will deepen and then when Christ takes up residence in the the center of our personality and the seat of our affections and our thoughts and our understanding and our volition, all these things will be moved when Christ becomes the dominating factor of our whole life. He will control it and direct it. Be sure of this that a genuine and deep perception of the love of Christ rarely comes for a person who is not spending time in the Scriptures and in prayer and in growing in their faith.
They know nothing of it to some extent but then it says back in 1 Peter 5:14, “peace to you all in Christ.” So not only do we have an experience of mutual love but we have a deeper experience of peace.
Why would a believer have a greeting of saying “peace be to you all who are in Christ?” Well, it is because peace is a gift from God for us to experience and to enjoy. This is the war everybody’s looking for. Peace.
How do you get peace inside your heart? You get peace inside first so that you can be at peace with God, right? That’s how you first get it.
The firm awareness that there is nothing between you and God but a peace found with God only through Jesus Christ Our Lord a peace that comes by His shed blood that washes away our sin and makes us clean before the Father who now gives us a Spirit and that in turn gives us the ground to have a peace that no one could take away.
Second thing is that we now have peace with God and we have the peace of God in the firm awareness that you have God’s peace within your soul.
It’s like what is written in Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So the peace of God transcends all understanding and in other words, God’s peace in your soul is like a platoon of Special Force Warriors guarding the entrance to your home.
So your mind preventing any enemies that would disrupt that peace to enter. It is a peace that is from above and therefore rises above the difficulties that you may find yourself and which surround you with this undefinable rest in your soul that comes from your relationship to Jesus Christ.
And of course leaving your entire concentration on being able to live the Christian life in a pleasing manner. Now that you have peace with God and with others, you also have the firm awareness that you do not wrestle against flesh and blood. You have peace with others from all different social classes and all different ethnicities that means the fight is not with each other.
Romans 12:18 says:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
So I have the ability because I’m a believer and because you are a believer to actually have peace with people in the future. In the past , I used to have war with or didn’t like or I couldn’t have certain people in my presence.
But now that the Lord has given me peace and changed my whole perspective on people and who they are, we all got red blood running through our veins right? We’re all created in the image of God so therefore I am to express love to and peace with everyone.
It says in Hebrews 12:14-15:
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
So those are the things the Lord gives His people. He gives us Grace His grace to rely on especially during times of suffering. He gives his understanding to brethren who are going through the same difficult things.
He gives us His love, He gives us His peace, and He gives us security and of course that word security is found in the Word.
All you who are in Christ, once you are in Christ no one can take you out of Christ. You are secure there. So there is a security in Christ. And so now we are all to go stand firm.
That’s the whole point, stand firm. Keep going, keep serving, keep learning, keep being useful, keep being faithful, and be a person who you can get into the foxhole with someone else and do the work to bring glory to God.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Remember you’re going to have opportunities this holiday to see people in your family that are not believers. Start praying today that God would allow you to open up your mouth boldly to be able to share the mysteries of the gospel with them and that the Spirit of God would give you that Divine opportunity to bring the gospel to them and that He would use that either to plant a seed to water a seed or to bring the increase, right? He wants to use you to do that.
Let’s stand together and recite this passage. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 says:
We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.
Thank you. Let’s pray. Father, we thank You for Your people. We thank You, Lord, for Your church and if we got up every day and we made a list of things we would be thankful for, I guess we would have to run out of paper.
So Lord, make us mindful of all the blessings in our life and I pray as we consider these things this morning that You would truly make us people who are like Silvanus and like Mark and like those people that this epistle was written to back then. I pray that we would stand firm and believe in the faith and be useful in the Kingdom of God, and I pray this in Christ’s Name, amen.