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He Himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you 1Peter 5:10 - 14

January 28, 2018 Speaker: Jim Galli Series: 1 & 2 Peter

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: 1 Peter 5:10–5:14

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      10  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11  To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

      12  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! 13  She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.
      Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

These are Peter's final words to these persecuted folks scattered around Asia minor.  And I don't know about you but I have had a wonderful time studying these past few weeks.  

We've had a regular mini series about our adversary the devil.  Who he is, how he works, and what our defensive strategy is so that when his storms overtake us, we can still be standing strong and unmoved when the storm is past.  Those previous messages are at our web site if you need a review.

Satan tends to come at the church like a hurricane.  A hundred year storm.  He tries to destroy.  And he has a thousand strategies.  Persecution.  Ignorance of God's book.  Confusion.  False teachers.  False shepherds.  False doctrine.  And many other ways, tailored to the individual.  

I worry more about the relatively placid and blessed life that me and Pam have enjoyed.  We've had challenges like anyone else, it isn't just like TV.  We aren't the Donna Reed show.  But all in all, compared to christians in other parts of the world, we haven't been on the front lines.

But the devil is sort of like living in New Orleans below mean sea level.  There's always another storm.  And another, and another.  That's the reality of living there.  And the reality of being a christian, an enemy combatant in the war on satan, on his turf, is that the storms will keep coming.

And in a way, Peter will address that in these final words.  The one thing I can say I have experienced over 47 years of being a christian is a deep sense often of dicouragement.  Lack of victory over sin.  Like I missed the bus when I was 20 and stood at the bus stop for 40 years.  Nothing got done.

Gary Flood describes the same thing.  Like wandering in the desert for 40 years like the Israelites did.  I've had that despair.  When I should have been a faithful soldier behind Joshua and entered the land, somehow I missed that opportunity and 40 years went by.

Now in God's grace they have been 40 good years.  We implemented a minimum of faithfulness in our home and God returned a maximum of blessing.  We have a wonderful family.  We've enjoyed each other, and our children, and now our grandchildren.  Love is alive in our home.  And security.  

But;  in all of that, I've always had a sense that God had to set me aside.  For years I felt like a Gomer christian.  You say what's a Gomer christian?  Remember God's lesson that Hosea the prophet lived.  A picture of Israels unfaithfulness.  Gomer was the unfaithful wife.  And Hosea redeemed her again a second time out of her self inflicted slavery and whoredom, but the normal marriage relationship was over.  She was put away.  For many days.

Israel has lived that out.  For 2000 years they have been set aside.  Still God's chosen people, but set aside.  For now.  God will finish dealing with them.  Every promise will be fulfilled.  But now, they exist without a husband.  

I had years of discouragement where I felt like that.  And you get weary.  Another week of failure.  Another week of no victory.  Another week of no fruit for the glory of God.  Another week set aside on the shelf.  How long, Lord.  Discouragement and weariness were my storm I had to weather.

And these folks that Peter is writing to, who are under a lot more real pressure than I ever was are struggling with weariness.  Is this how it's supposed to be?  How long?  These folks were enduring real persectution.  Loss of property.  Some went to prison.  Some lost their lives.  Peter himself would suffer and be crucified upside down not too long from when he wrote these things.

Is that normal?  How long do you have to withstand the onslaught?  And Peter is going to address that for us in these final words of comfort.

10  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

How long is a little while?  After you have suffered for a little while  
So as usual when I have questions and want answers, I dig a little deeper.  Can we get anything concrete from this term, a little while?  Even in my minimal discouragements I have often repeated the words, how long Oh Lord, how long.  A little while.  A small time.

The word is used in the story where Jesus gets in the boat because of the pressing crowd, and moves out from the shore a little ways.  It always seems to be a relative word.  Compared to the width of the Sea of Galilee, 20 feet is little.  By relative comparison.

I began thinking about Joni Eareckson Tada.  She spoke at a conference last year about 50 years of being a quadriplegic.  She was 17 when she broke her neck in a diving accident.  She's 68 now.  Is that God's idea of a little while?  51 years of 68 and still counting through daily chronic pain and cancer and a list of other debilitating problems that are life threatening?

I urge every one of you to go today and type her name in google and read an article titled;  Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of My Diving Accident

God's little while doesn't compute the same way ours does.  He lives in eternity.  Our lives are 5 minutes long.  Remember, I said the word is always used in a relative way.  We think suffering should only last 5 minutes.  God says;  OK.  Compared to eternity, Joni has only suffered a tiny amount of time.  A little while.

I discovered something shocking while I studied these words of Peter's.  The word order in the greek is laid out differently than our translations.  In the greek the order is something like this;  

Moreover, the God of all grace, who having called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, you having suffered a little while, He himself will perfect you, will confirm you, will strengthen you, and will establish you.

In the order of the verse in the greek, the four things we want, the perfecting, the confirming, the strengthening, and the establishing, are inextricably connected to the suffering.  

The complete idea, if I can get it across without murdering it too badly is this.  God who is gracious, has selected you and called you to enjoy His eternal glory in Christ Jesus forever, and is using a comparitively small amount of suffering now, to accomplish good things in your life.  The four things Peter lists.

Suffering is the fast track to accomplish those four eternal blessings.  So let's unpack those 4 descriptive words.  But first, let's backtrack.

If Satan is going to attack me like a palm tree in a 120 mile an hour hurricane, he's going to try to destroy me, blow me away for good, once and for all, what four things do I need to withstand that storm?  perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish

He Himself will perfect you.  Maturity, ie perfection.  What an interesting word.  Look it up.  Literally it means tweaking.  Adjusting.  Putting something in proper order.  Adam's race is broken.  Out of order.  Discombobulated.

30 years ago when we were really poor, running the Sears catalog store and starving to death, I noticed in the paper one day that our Ford dealer had a Ford Fiesta they would sell for $175.  I called their saleman and told him if it could make it 3 blocks to the Sears store I'd give him $175.  About 10 minutes later, the salesman shows up in a coughing smoking barely running Ford Fiesta.  It was sort of Ford's version of the Yugo.  I gave him the $175 bucks.

I knew from the black smoke that it was running far too rich.  Too much gas, not enough air.  So I took the carburetor apart and discovered inside, there were 2 brass jets that meter gasoline.  Identical in shape and size and thread.  One with a large hole, one with a small hole.  I swapped them out, put the big one where the small one was and vice versa.  It took about half an hour.

When I started up the Fiesta after the tweaking, it ran perfectly.  Pam drove it for 2 or 3 years, happily, until one day she slid down a snowy hill into a school bus.  We weren't quite as poor by then and I bought her some other pile of junk.  A little Chevy station wagon that I never did get tweaked quite right.

That's what this word means.  When we're brand new baby christians, we need tweaking.  We've just come out of this world, and we carry a whole bunch of baggage with us.  We need adjusting.  We need to be re-ordered.  

We need to be fit together properly, fitted for God's kingdom, not Satan's.  That's a maturing process.  God tweaks us into shape.  His shape.  I'm not a baby christian, I've got some maturity.  I've distanced myself somewhat from how this world's citizens think and react.  I eat meat, not milk.  That process is described by this word, perfection.

Some day, in the twinkling of an eye, when I see Jesus for the first time, that process will be instantaneously completed.  But until then, it's ongoing.  We have a 5 syllable word for this idea.  Sanctification.  It means seperation from this world and it's habits and norms, and refitted, re-adjusted, tweaked, to be like Jesus.

He Himself will confirm you.  Confirmation.  This word means to fix something solidly.  We see those pictures of old churches in Europe and the walls could not stand by themselves and so the architects in medieval times would add buttresses so that the wall would stand firm.  The buttress comes out from the wall at a 90 degree angle and it supports the wall.

I am firmly fixed in my faith.  Established.  Strengthened.  Confirmed. Immovable.   Jesus is my buttress that holds the wall up.

He Himself will strengthen you.  Strengthen.  This word has an athletic component.  A pole vaulter builds up his upper body so that he can throw the weight of his body up and over the pole.  A boxer trains in order to strengthen himself both to give and take a beating.  

A runner builds up his legs and his lungs so he can run faster and farther than any other runner.  A figure skater must be incredibly strong in order to make her movements flow like water.  Her strength gives her the control to make her beautiful motion look effortless.  

This word encompasses conditioning for effectiveness.  Now convert all of those physical strengths into spiritual ones.  Jesus takes flabby weak baby christians and conditions them for spiritual battle.  He strengthens them for service.  He makes us effective.  He conditions us like athletes.  He strengthens us.

And He Himself will establish you.  This is the word for foundation.  How are you fixed to the ground?  This is the word Jesus used in the illustration of the two houses in the flash flood.

Matt. 7:25  "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded (same word) on the rock.

Jesus Himself will be your foundation.  He is the rock that our spiritual house is built on.  

The palm tree has a root system in solid ground so it can withstand the 120 mph winds.  The word means foundation.  How firmly are you established, fixed to your faith.  What is your foundation.  

The old Lutheran hymn writer who wrote these words may well have been contemplating 1 Peter 5.  This is why I love the old hymns.  There is substance here;

 1. How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge, to Jesus have fled?

3. "Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

4. "When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

5. "When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

7. "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never, forsake!"

When we first read vs. 10, it sounds to us like, if you endure the suffering, I'll repay with these blessings.  But when you dig it out, the order is different.  These 4 promised blessings are given to us in suffering.  In suffering.

10  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Those 4 things that Jesus supplies to His lambs, His sheep are the reason that we're still here after 47 years.

Now then, with that to consider, I have to ask.  Did Satan get smarter?  Read the first couple of chapters of the book of Job.  Satan comes along and says, Job is no big deal.  Let me take his stuff away and he'll be gone gone gone.  

Wham in one day, everything gone.  House, children, cattle, everything; gone.  Except his wife.  Because she was actually working on Satan's behalf.  Curse God and die is her advice.  But Job weathers the storm.

Again Satan has a conversation with God and he says;  Let me at him.  Let me destroy his health.  Then he'll be gone.  And God says, everything but his life.  And that storm comes and poor old Job is sitting in an ash pile scraping the boils on his skin.  From the crown of his head to the souls of his feet.  And what does Job say?  Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

Fast forward 4,500 years or so.  Consider modern evangelicalism in America and other places also;  Did Satan wise up and take a different tack?  Did he read these verses and finally figure out, when I come at them like a hurricane, God supplies plenteous amounts of perfection, confirmation, strengthening and establishing

So the 120 mph wind may blow the phony christians away but it just does everything I don't want to the real ones.  So the logical thing to do is give them;  easy believism, no cost christianity, no pressure, ease, comfort, security, entertainment, toys golore, fat retirement accounts.  Like spiritual cholesterol.

If I do that I'll fill the churches up to overflowing with people who think they're going to be OK but they don't have real salvation.  And then, false teachers and false doctrine will be necessary to keep all of the babies from crying.  

What a disaster that will be.  And I think that's about where we're at.  No pain, no gain.  What a plan.  And mass confusion from false teachers and false doctrine.  We'll devise a thousand plans to make the book . . . well, we'll make it seem rediculous.  

A silly old book that anyone with good sense will know is just crazy talk.  For ignorant rediculous people.  Written by goat herds with half their teeth missing who had no clue about what science has taught us in the mean time.

Think about it.  Look around you.  If distress provides these four strengths, what does no distress accomplish.  Well, it'll be hard to find a blade of real wheat in the tare field, that's what.

OK, we need to keep moving, because I think I promised you we'd finish 1 Peter this morning.  So, if that is Satan's plan, and I think it is, just from my observation of the christian world around me, who wins.  If Satan has figured out the real way to destroy the church of God, who wins?  What happens after that?  

Vs. 11  To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Now where did Peter get an idea like that?  Does it seem to you that with Peter, we get a weekly retour, a weekly revisit to the Lord's Prayer?

Our Father, who art in heaven,  Hallowed be thy name;
Thy Kingdom;  (Thy authority to reign on this earth as opposed to Satan,) come;  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  

FOR Thine IS the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory Forever.  Amen

Peter exults in what Christ supplies for us in our season of trouble, and he looks beyond this time, when Satan rules and reigns and causes us trouble to the day when we will reign with Christ forever and ever.

And it's not about us, it's about Him.  All of the authority, all of the power, all of the Glory belongs to Him, and we will be with Him to rejoice and worship Him forever and ever.

Just think about that for a moment and compare that to some little season of suffering now, and we begin to get an idea of the relative relationship to suffering now, which is not joyous, it can be sorrowful, but Jesus comes along side and supplies all of our needs, and then think about the Glory and pleasures and joy we will share with Him whose dominion is forever and ever.

When you look at it that way, sorrows now, limited;  joy later, with Him, unlimited.

Paul says the same thing.  As usual.  Paul and Peter are like an echo in the room.  In Romans 8:18 a most familiar verse,   For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Sorrow now, limited and we do not bear it alone.  Glory later, unlimited and really, to our minds, not even really fathomable.  1 Cor. 2:9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  The glory is beyond our wildest dreams.  Yet to be revealed.

Satan may be throwing hurricane's at us now, but we stand in this truth;
To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Vs. 12  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!

OK, this again is a wonderful, valuable promise for us.  Stand firm in it!
That's what we want to do.  We've been studying this concept for 3 or 4 weeks.  When the hurricane comes, and the flash flood and the tidal wave slams against us, we want to be found after the storm, standing firm.  

Peter says; Stand firm in it!  Stand firm in what?  The grace of God.  Peter says;  This is the grace of God.  This is the stuff you need to stand firm.

What.  What is the grace of God he's talking about?  Well, we'll keep working backwards in this verse until we find out what the cause is that supplies the grace that causes the effect we want.  To stand firm.

Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you

What is the grace of God that can cause us to be found faithful, standing firm after the storms?  The writings.  The words of the apostles.  The word of God.  This complete inspired, God breathed book.  Stand firm in IT.

I know, I know, like a broken record.  Think maybe this book is important?  We keep coming back to that same thing over and over.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  This book is how we stand firm in the storms.

This verse, these words of Peters strike me as perhaps even a little bit combative.  They sound to me like Jude's words.  3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Jude says;  I was going to write a nice letter, but I felt I needed to get in your face and instead tell you that you need to fight, contend for; (in the greek,) the once for all delivered to the saints faith.

I think I hear that same tone in Peter's words.  12  Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying (earnestly contending)  that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!  This book is worth fighting for.  This book is our life line.  This book is the tether that ties us to the space craft.

Well, just a few last things, and then the benediction.

13  She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.
      Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

Even in these final words there is hidden beauty.  Lessons for us.  Quickly;  Babylon was code word for Rome.  Here and in Revelation, both Peter and John refer to Rome as Babylon.

Babylon was wicked, and it was also the original seat of a false mother and child religion that has made it's way all through the ancient world and now lives in Rome.  There's a satanic connection to the beginnings of false religion in Babylon all the way undiminished to Rome.  At the time of this writing and also in the future, Rome is the seat of evil.

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings,

Who is she?  This is the church at Rome.  These are the ones who have been chosen, who have come out of Babylon and who belong to God, who dwell at Rome.

Peter and John, and of course Paul, are the original Calvinists.  The language they use, consistently, is that God chooses us, we don't choose Him.

It's also in verse 10.  I was too busy making other points there to pause and point it out;  10  After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ

Did we call Him, or did He call us?  Which is first, the chicken or the egg?  Well, in this book, it's always presented this way.  We are the called out ones.  We are christians because He chose us and called us out of this world to belong to Him.

How does that work?  I have no idea.  She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings  These folks are seperated from the world for just the same reason the readers and indeed, you folks in this room also, because they are chosen.  Chosen together.  We'll see the same thing next week again in 2 Peter 1.

The true church is called out of this world.  God does that.  Reformed doctrine is all over these writings.  If we ever study the book of John, fasten your seat belts.  

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings  and so does my son, Mark.  Why is Mark seperate from the church at Rome?  Because we believe and church tradition tells us this is John-Mark.  Author of the gospel of Mark, which we also are told was dictated to him by Peter.  Mark is a Jerusalem christian.

This is the same Mark that left on the missionary journey with Paul; and he couldn't cut it and went back home.  Then on the next journey Barnabas wanted to take Mark and Paul said; no way.  And the dis-agreement was such that Paul and Barnabas split up and went seperate ways.  Mark with Barnabas.  

It's a very hopeful story for us.  Mark couldn't cut it and failed.  But God wasn't finished with Mark, even if Paul thought he was.  Mark becomes the amanuensis of Peter.  We have books in our Bible because of who?  Mark.

And it gets better.  At the end of his life, who does Paul ask for?  He says please send Mark, for he is useful to me.  

This is so hopeful for those of us who fail.  Mark couldn't keep up the pace with Paul when he was young.  But God kept on tweaking.  And 30 years later, Paul says, I could sure use Mark.  Can you send Mark to me?

I don't know about you, but that gives me hope.  Peter says;  my son Mark
That sounds like there's a story there.  Who discipled Mark and helped him to mature to usefulness.  The indication here is that Peter had that relationship with Mark.

14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.
      Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

Christians who meet other christians always have this commonality.  The love is instant.  We are brothers and sisters to each other.  Family.

I'm glad that we don't take this too literally.  I'm damaged goods and have spent a lifetime holding people at arms length.  Hugging is difficult for me.  A kiss would be more so.  I'm a great hand shaker.  I don't think we need to change a thing in this fellowship.  Our greeting time honors this verse.  

And the parting word.  Peace.  This world is a tempest.  A hurricane.  But we are founded on a Rock and in the midst of the tempest, we have peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The commonality we have with any other christian we meet in any other place is this.  Peace.  Inner peace.  Jesus calls us out of this world, and He gives us;  His peace.