Essentials in Life and Ministry (1 Pet 5:12-14)

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
Sermon Series: 1 Peter

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Essentials in Life and Ministry

1 Peter 5:12-14–The final message of 1 Peter

 

Are your priorities straight?  A couple I heard about in Atlanta read that the musical, My Fair Lady, was still playing on Broadway in New York City.  They wanted to go so badly, so they bought their tickets months ahead of time and planned their vacation.  The long-awaited day came, and they flew into New York City.  They presented their tickets, walked in, and sat down in wonderful seats, seven rows from the front, near the orchestra.

To the man’s amazement, the entire place filled up except for the seat right next to him.  He was curious about that.  At the intermission, he leaned over in conversation with the lady in the second seat away from him, and commented how they had to wait so many months to get tickets to a performance.  When there was such a demand for seats, why would someone not come?  Did she have any idea?

She said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, these two seats are mine–this one and that one.”  She explained further, “You see, that seat belonged to my husband, but he died.”

The man said, “I’m . . . I’m terribly sorry,” then suggested, “but could you have invited a friend to come with you?”

Her answer was classic.  She said, “No, they’re all at the funeral home right now!”

Now are you wondering, like me, if her priorities are straight?  Is she living the essentials?

A frightened woman on the Titanic found her place in the lifeboat that was about to be dropped into the raging North Atlantic.  She thought suddenly of something she needed, in light of the death that was breathing down her neck.  She asked for permission to go to her state room.  She was granted just a moment or so, or they would have to leave without her.  She ran across a deck that was already slanted at a dangerous angle.  She ran through the gambling room that had money pushed in one corner ankle deep.  She came to her stateroom, shoved her jewelry aside, and reached above her bed and got three small oranges, and found her way back to the lifeboat and got in.

Death had boarded the Titanic.  One blast of its awful breath had transformed all priorities.  Instantaneously, priceless things had become worthless, and worthless things had become priceless.  And in that moment, she preferred three small oranges for food, and needed vitamin C more than a crateful of diamonds, or all the money she could carry.

Death and suffering have a way of reshaping our priorities, helping us to distinguish that which is really trivial from that which is essential.  And it is the same with 1 Peter 5, and the final verses Peter uses to close this awesome letter.  Open your Bibles to 1 Peter 5, and follow along in your outline.  The churches Peter is writing have been experiencing so much tragedy that Peter writes them to keep focused on that which is most important . . .

Stay focused on your SALVATION–chapters 1 and 2

Remain SUBMISSIVE to your authorities–chapters 2 and 3

Continue to live holy in the midst of SUFFERING–chapters 3 and 4

And stay faithful in SERVICE to God’s people–chapters 4 and 5

Now as he wraps up this incredible letter, and he concludes with two major topics . . .

#1  Why he wrote, and #2  Greet the saints.  But as he does, Peter emphasizes that which is essential.  Peter exposes his heart, and from that you learn what is truly crucial in life and ministry.  Some of the best training is done at lunch, when your guard is down and you speak from the heart.  The passions come through, and those things that are most important bubble to the surface.

The same could be said of the endings of many of the New Testament letters–there hearts are exposed, priorities are shared, and essential commitments are manifested.  And that is what we have here in chapter 5, verses 12 to 14.  Again Peter’s main focus in these final verses is first, the purpose of the letter, and second, the final greeting to the various saints.  But in the midst of those two main purposes, Peter exposes his heart, sharing truths that are important to him.  He gives us essentials for our lives and ministry.

What are your priorities–take a moment to write out your top five.  What are they?  Can you share one–not the top one, but one of them?  Today, evaluate your life against the life of Peter.  Compare your priorities against Peter’s priorities.  Do you value the same things that Peter does?  Do you esteem the same priorities God displays through Peter?  Are you even close to pursuing the same priorities God values?

Let’s find out by looking at the final verses of 1 Peter 5:12 to 14, “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.”  The first closing topic of Peter is . . .

I.  THE COMMUNICATION OF THE LETTER

Peter wants his readers to know who helped him write the letter, how he wrote it and what he wrote about.  In doing so, he shows us three of the things he values most–truths that hopefully you value just as much as Peter does.  What are they?

#1  Faithful brothers who serve

Read verse 12, “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him)”–who was Silvanus?  Silvanus was an amazing, little known, highly involved servant of God.  Not only is he ministering to Peter here, but he is also closely related to Paul’s apostolic ministry.  Read 2 Corinthians 1:19, “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.”  Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1, “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.”

Silvanus was tied into Paul’s ministry.  In fact, Silvanus is the same person Luke calls Silas.  (There is a Chris, then Christopher–a Silas, then Silvanus.  They are the same person).  Silas is so active in the beginnings of the New Testament Church he is mentioned a total of twelve times between Acts 15 and 18.  The New Testament tells us Silas was intimately involved in the recording and early communication of the Scripture, even as the New Testament was being formed.

He actually was gifted as a New Testament prophet according to Acts 15:32, Judas and Silas also being prophets themselves encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.  But not only a prophet, also a gifted writer and a Roman citizen, in Acts 16:37 Paul said of himself and Silas, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison.”  And for this letter, 1 Peter, Silas was Peter’s amanuensis (say that word) or a unique secretary, he recorded the apostle’s words and most likely later delivered the letter of 1 Peter to its intended recipients in various churches in Asia Minor.

All the inspired letters of the New Testament were written by apostles or those under their authority.  God set them apart as those who would write our supernatural New Testament, which is 100% God’s Word and 100% apostolic involvement, giving us God’s breathed words, the very words of God, the living and active Word of God.

At times an apostle would have a gifted believer, a great writer, a committed servant, write down their words as the apostle spoke orally.  The amanuensis would record them in writing, which would then be reviewed and approved by the apostle.  Many times the apostle would then conclude the letter in the final verses in his own hand, writing on the original document. Many believe because of the distinct grammar and vocabulary changes, that Peter personally wrote verses 12 to 14, writing it in his own hand.

I love Peter–he was a rugged fisherman, a blue collar Galilean with little or no schooling.  Yet Silas was a cultured Roman Citizen, well-educated and well-traveled.  So along with his other gifts and abilities, the apostles used Silvanus as an amanuensis.  Silvanus was an incredibly useful servant–not an apostle, but a great man of God.  So much so that Peter calls Silas in verse 12 a faithful brother.

Christians of FBC–one of the most important qualities of a Christian is to be faithful.  One of the greatest attributes to cultivate is faithfulness.  One of the main characteristics God wants from you is faithfulness.  One thing you must be known for at work, school and on your team is faithfulness.  And one of the missing qualities in Christians today is faithfulness.  Are you a faithful Christian?

To put feet to your understanding–when people you work with, go to school with, or minister with describe you, do they say things like, “Chris is so dependable, reliable, trustworthy, or responsible, you can always count on him, his yes is his yes, and his no is his no–he does what he says, he says what he means, he keeps his commitments unless he is sick or dying, he will always be where he has committed himself to be”?  Is that you?  Are you faithful?

Look at Daniel’s faithfulness–read Daniel 6:4, “Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.”

Listen to the truths of faithfulness in the New Testament.  Faithfulness is so important, it doesn’t matter if you set up chairs, or teach a Sunday school class, or preach to thousands–you are to be trustworthy, dependable and reliable.  You are to be a person who can be counted on to do your best in everything you do.

Read Luke 16:10 to 12, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? 12 And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

Why should you be faithful?  Because according to 1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful.”  We bring God glory when we are faithful, and we mar His glory when we are unfaithful.  Silas was a faithful brother in his service to Peter here, and Peter doesn’t consider Silas his servant, though Silas serves Peter.  Peter doesn’t view Silas as a lesser saint, though Silas is not an apostle.  Peter views Silas as (verse 12)–see it?   A brother . . . a fellow-Christian, a part of the brotherhood Peter described at the end of verse 9, the “brethren who are in the world.”  He’s one of us.

He, like us, was plucked from the family of sinful humanity to become a part of the family of God, making us brothers.  And Silas is one of those special brothers, a faithful brother.  In fact, Peter had a high opinion of Silas–did you see what Peter says about Silvanus in verse 12 (“for so I regard him”)?  This is a strong statement in Greek.  Peter says this is a fact–I myself continually consider Silas a faithful brother.

Peter is telling you his strong impression, his settled feelings, and his loyal opinion of Silas.  You’ve said what Peter is saying here–you say, “Wow, Chris Bauer, Steve Schweizer, or Mark Paulinski–those guys are faithful servants.”  And everyone around you says, “Yes.”  You’re affirming to others what they already know about these men.

Many of the readers of 1 Peter knew Silas, since Peter calls him our faithful brother.  The book of Acts tells us that Silas actually traveled with Paul through the very region that Peter directs this letter to.  These churches all knew Silas was a faithful brother and Peter is affirming what they already knew.  Do you value and affirm faithful brothers?  Do you have faithful brothers or sisters in your life?

Are you pursuing becoming a faithful brother or sister?  God highly esteems faithfulness–it is essential.  How do you start becoming faithful?  Clean up your calendar and write out a budget—then live by them.  Work at it until it works for you.  Keep your commitments no matter what.  When you serve, treat it like a job–be on time, work hard, do your best.  Plus, Christian, value those in our midst who are faithful, and commit to becoming a faithful brother or sister who serves.  As Peter continues to review the communication of this letter, he also points to the essential of . . .

#2  Saturation in the Word of God

Verse 12, “I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying”—let me make this clear.  Peter says, I wrote the Word of God down through Silas, I am continually calling you to obey it, (exhorting) and I am continually sharing with you examples from my own life, my blessings and my failures, along with the examples of other believers, on how to follow the Word of God (testifying).

Do you want to impact someone with God’s Word—a child, a spouse or a friend?  Then write it down, read it, make it known, share it–next, exhort them to obey it, not you, but God’s authoritative Word.  Finally show them how, testify, be personal and share examples.  It is all about the Word–not what I feel, not what I think, and not what I experience.  Christians need the Word daily for food, to know the Word for wisdom, to train with the Word to grow, make decisions by the Word, develop relationships by the Word, work by the Word, parent by the Word and grow a marriage by the Word.

Peter wrote them God’s Word.  The verb “I have written” tells us it is a fact, a certainty–I wrote you God’s Word.  Then it was to all the Christians in all the churches, since “to you” is plural, Peter includes everyone.  Peter wasn’t lengthy, but brief, and he exhorted them to follow God’s Word, testifying by showing them how to live it.

Do you trust this Book more than your thinking, your feelings, your ideas, your programs and your experiences?  Are you saturated in God’s Word?  As Spurgeon said, when someone cuts you, do you bleed bibline?  Peter trusted God’s Word even over His own true experiences.  In 2 Peter 1:17 to 19, Peter describes himself being on the Mount of Transfiguration, seeing the unveiled Son of God in all His glory, hearing God the Father speak words of affirmation of His Son.  Peter experienced it–it was true, real, a genuine experience.

But what does Peter say about his true, confirmed experience?  Read 2 Peter 1:19, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”  The Word of God is more sure, more certain, more reliable than my own true experience, let alone an unconfirmed experience, like a dream.

Stop living by what you feel.  Stop living by what you think.  Start living by what you know, and what you know is God’s Word.  To do that, you have to be in God’s Word more than today.  Take that outline and leave it on the table where you eat, and review it.  Read through the Bible and pray, even if it’s only five minutes a day.  Get a theology book this summer and read through it as we go through all systematic theology this summer.

Put the verses that speak to your heart or deal with your temptations on 3 X 5 cards, and carry them around.  Twitter your verse of the day, FaceBook it, read it, live it, think about it, but be saturated in God’s Word–not merely when you are being attacked, like the recipients of 1 Peter were, but every day.  Be on the alert, stay well-fed, be ready with the Sword of the Spirit by being saturated in the Word of God.

Now what was Peter’s message all about, what was the main goal, and what was the Word addressing in their lives?  As he communicates about this letter, what was it filled with?

#3  A Passion for God’s grace

Verse 12, “that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!”  This is the theme of the entire letter–stand firm in God’s grace.  God’s grace is the message of the contents of 1 Peter.  This letter has been filled with Gospel truth–focusing on what God has done for you that you could never do for yourself.  It’s about God giving each one of His children what they don’t deserve–G.R.A.C.E.=God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  And it is God’s grace.

It was God’s grace that caused you to be born again—salvation.  It was God’s grace saving you through the sacrifice of His Son, dying on the cross, taking the punishment for sins you deserved.  It was God’s grace moving God to call you out of the rapid river of rebellion to God, and rescuing you from the certain doom you deserved.  It was all God’s grace that empowers you to be able to submit to your authorities, respond righteously when suffering, and to serve one another like Christ did, when He washed the disciples’ feet.  It is God’s grace that saves you and God’s grace that grows you.  You are saved by grace and you live by grace.

Notice Peter calls it the true grace of God.  In five chapters, Peter has been writing about, exhorting about, and personally testifying about God’s grace–it is true, real, confirmed, binding, honest–God’s grace defines the only way of salvation.  False salvation calls you to act religious and work your way, earn your salvation, live good, be kind, talk Jesus, be nice and God will hopefully save you (are you firm on that?).

True grace is you can’t earn anything, do anything, or say anything to gain God’s favor, but God reaches down and changes your heart so you are now born again and want to follow Christ.  Peter told you this truth at the beginning of 1 Peter.  Read 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

God caused you–He did the work, to be born again.  God was gracious to you, who deserved nothing but punishment.  So Peter commands them and you today, stand firm in it.  Verse 9 told you to be firm in our faith, which is firm in God’s Word against the devil, and here we are to stand firm in God’s grace.  Firm means to be resolved, steadfast–solid, like a rock.  You don’t bend, give an inch, falter, or compromise–you are firm.

This is funny–Peter says we are to be gracious . . . that’s giving, caring, one-sided loving, doing beyond what is needed.  Yet the Greek word for firm is used in the New Testament to communicate being rigid, obstinate, hard, stiff or strong.  Be absolutely unbending and rigid about being gracious.  Like saying, I will stab myself if I am not loving.  Never compromise the Word, but be super gracious about it.  Say confrontive truths, but be really tender about how you say it.  Speak difficult principles, but be really loving about it.  Hold the truths of God’s Word here in 1 Peter with conviction, but never, ever be ungracious about it.

In this letter, Peter said remember God’s grace to you in salvation–when you submit, do so with grace.  When you suffer, demonstrate God’s grace.  As you serve others in the Church, like a slave does his Master, show forth God’s many-colored grace.

Let me ask you–are you a truth person, or a grace person?  Are you one who stands on truth, but you are not gracious?  Or are you one who is gracious, but compromises truth?  Here is your target, Christian—be like Christ.  John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Your target is to be full of grace and full of truth–to be someone like Christ who is truth, who never compromised truth, yet was so gracious He attracted children, harlots and tax gatherers to Himself.  Do you have a passion for grace?  Test yourself.  Peter says, be firm in God’s grace, and Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1, “My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

We are not only saved by grace, but we live by grace.  And a Christian who lives by God’s grace is one who does not compare themselves to others.  A gracious person stops striving and trying so much, and is increasingly dependent and reliantly obedient to the Word of God by the power of the Spirit in everything, is steadily more sickened by their own sinfulness, but increasingly delighting in God’s great love for them, continually lives repentantly, but also rejoicing in God’s righteousness given to them through the cross of Christ.  Are you firm in God’s grace?  Stand firm in God’s grace.

First Peter was written by God through Peter with Silvanus to a group of churches that were struggling.  As he does, he reminds them of the importance of faithfulness, of being saturated with God’s Word, and of developing a passion for God’s grace.  Now because God’s grace consumes Peter, he can’t stop himself from expressing his love for those he writes and currently fellowships with, which leads us to . . .

II  THE CARING OF THE GREETING

Read verses 13 and 14, “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.”  Again, as Peter writes His greeting, leaking out of his heart are his values, priorities and essentials to live by.  It’s as if these churches are the sinking Titanic as they battle with persecution, and Peter runs back and gets that which is most important to God–what is it?

#4  A devoted church to belong to and be loved by

Read verse 13, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together [co-elect] with you, sends you greetings.”  There are some who suggest Peter is describing his wife here, and that Peter’s wife’s name is Chosen, or in Greek, Elektra—cool.  It is much more probable, textually, that Peter, by using the term Babylon is referring to the Church in Rome.  Peter uses the term Babylon as a code word or alias for Rome.

Since the heat is on Christians from Rome, and persecution is coming from the Roman government, it is perfectly natural Peter would use the term Babylon.  The apostles, particularly John, used the name Babylon to represent the entire world system controlled by the anti-Christ, and Rome would have been a center of false religion in that day.  With persecution intensifying, Peter would be careful not to endanger the Christians in Rome, so he calls the church “she” who resides in Babylon, which is the Church in Rome.

In verse 13, the term “chosen together” is “co-elect”.  The very first verse of 1 Peter declared that the Christians Peter writes are those “who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ.”  Christian, you are chosen–you were elected, God selected you.  Election is the action of God where He graciously chooses out from among sinful people the ones who will be saved.

Nothing is more encouraging than being chosen by God–all of humanity lines up, and the biggest + smartest + strongest—but God picks you.  Chosen is eklektois, and is used to describe really good fruit, articles of clothing for that special event, and special troops for a great exploit.  And here it means chosen by God–like Martin Luther said, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him.”

Peter doesn’t hide election.  The very first thing he says to these scattered Christians is they’re elect.  We debate it today–but Peter leads with it, and now concludes with it.  He wants our identity to be, “we are chosen by God.”  And here we are co-chosen, co-elect with other Christians.  For more on election, pick up the CD on verse 1.  The focus of the New Testament is never who chose God, but who did God choose.

And as Peter passes on greetings, He wants them to know they are not alone, there are other Christians in danger–in fact, in more danger than the churches he is writing.  The Roman Christians are living where the seat of government is, and that government is turning hostile towards all Christians.  They live where the fire of persecution will be hottest.  But this group of Christians also has received God’s grace–unmerited favor, blessing and being given what they don’t deserve.  And this is seen in the fact that they are called the co-elect.

Peter says, “chosen together [see it?] with you.”  All Christians are in the same club–the elect of God.  The believers Peter writes and the believers who surround Peter in Rome as he writes this letter are all recipients of God’s grace.  All of humanity is in rebellion to God, helpless and hopeless, and out of that sinful ocean of people, God rescues some from the storm.  And now they belong to each other, together in the same family.

You know Christians at other solid churches, and they know you.  Yet it doesn’t diminish your affection for them, or how you long to be with them, and such is the case here.  Peter belongs to this church, and is loved by this Roman Church, and many of the saints in Rome love those Peter is writing to, so Peter passes on those greetings.  Verse 13 says, “Sends you greetings.”  The verb tells us they themselves pass on this affection.  Do you have that kind of relationship with other Christians?  We work at it here, but we have a long way to go, and hope more of you grow to love others in this church with a deep affection.  How can you start?

1  ATTEND

Commit to be at church every single week, on time, no matter what, unless you are severely sick or dying, or gone on family vacation–don’t miss for scuba classes, bike rides, or beach days.  You are not faithful to Christ unless you are faithful to His bride, and you are not faithful to His bride unless you are faithfully here–period, no exceptions, no excuses.

2  SERVE

Get involved serving in ministry, get tied in, work at relationships–the best way to get discipled and be disciple is to get involved in a ministry where they disciple each other.  Stop sitting on the sidelines and be devoted to Christ’s bride.  The next three go quickly so don’t panic. Essential to life and ministry are . . .

#5  Co-laborers in ministry

Notice verse 13 adds, “and so does my son, Mark.”  The believers in Rome demonstrate God’s grace and love by sending on greetings, and so did Mark, whom Peter calls his son.  This is not an actual son, but like Timothy was to Paul, like I am to John MacArthur and some others, Mark was Peter’s spiritual son.  And what is so encouraging, as Peter exhorts us all to stand firm in God’s grace, it is John Mark, who was mentioned in Acts chapters 12 to 15.

Mark was Barnabas’s cousin, and accompanied Paul and Barney to Antioch and Cyprus.  But when the work got tough, Mark deserted them at Perga, which then caused Paul to refuse to take him along on his second missionary journey, and it resulted in Paul and Silas going one way and Barnabas and Mark going another.  Mark messed up, but by God’s grace even Paul, in his final letter described John Mark as useful to him, in 2 Timothy 4:11.

And here Peter, the apostle of God, by God’s grace, calls Mark his son–a sign of affection and strong relationship as brothers.  And celebrating God’s grace, we know it was this Mark who wrote the gospel of Mark under the oversight of Peter.  Mark messed up big time, yet God was not through with him yet.  Mark also loves these churches and sends his greetings to them.

We all need co-laborers in ministry–people who we serve with, and find a kindred spirit with in this labor of love.  I have that with John Pleasnick, Rod, Robert and Bob–our elders.  I have that with our ministry leaders–men I trust, respect and esteem greatly, men who minister to my heart as we labor together.  Except for marriage, there is no stronger bond than co-laborers in ministry.  Another essential in life exposed in Peter’s greeting is . . .

#6  Genuine affection for one another

Verse 14 commands, “Greet one another [in] with a kiss of love.”  The practice of greeting one another differs from culture to culture.  There is the bow used in the Orient–in Japan, the more status you have, the deeper the bow.  Here in the US, we have the simple handshake, sometimes a warm hug.  In some places you get the kiss, the air-on-the-side-of-your-face kiss.  But still today there are places that give you the full-on lip-to-lip smoocher!

In the ancient East, the practice of kissing each other prevailed, not only in society, but also in the synagogue, and in the Early Church.  Read your New Testament, and you will discover Simon the Pharisee failed to greet Jesus with a kiss, the father kissed the prodigal son, and Judas kissed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In the Gentile church, the Ephesian elders embraced Paul and kissed him goodbye.  The kiss in the ancient world was both a friendly sign of greeting, and an emotional token of farewell.

You say, “Chris, our culture is too sexual and too perverted to practice the kissing thing.”  Really?  Paul exhorts the Christians who lived in perverted Rome, and the Church who existed in super-sexual Corinth to greet one another with a holy kiss in Romans 16 and 1 Corinthians 16.  Church Father, Justin Martyr, in the middle of the 2nd century states, “Christians still greeted one another with a Holy Kiss as brothers and sisters when they gathered for worship each Sunday.”

The root of the word kiss is phileo, or friendship love.  It is the love of caring, affection, concern, and brotherhood.  And here in this final verse in 1 Peter, Peter describes this expression of affection as the kiss of love, or agape sacrifice.  But before you panic, the focus here is to greet each other and to be affectionate.  The outward kiss reflected an inward peace between believers, a sign all injuries were forgiven and forgotten.  And this distinctly Christian kiss was free from romantic overtones.

But before you dismiss the kiss and return to your cold-hearted practices and safe distances, consider what Peter is saying here.  Christians have a natural affection for each other.  The lost are characterized as those without natural family affection.  But every one of you needs to recognize the divine blessings that occur in a church family, which result from such close physical expressions of friendship and fellowship in Christ.  It is much harder to get mad at someone you have just hugged or kissed.  And it is much easier to feel accepted in a fellowship which has given such a warm welcome.  Handshakes don’t cut it.

A warm hug, a Roman handshake, a caring pat on the back, a guys chest bump–something to demonstrate the love of Christ.  Think about it–this world is hard.  Some widows, older saints, and saved teens from unsaved homes rarely, if ever, experience the affection of Christ’s love, unless it is expressed when we gather.  That too is one of the essentials that leaks out of Peter as he closes this incredible letter–and finally . . .

#7  A peace shared with all true believers

Verse 14, the final phrase is, “Peace be to you all [the ones] who are in Christ.”  This is what these believers needed most of all—peace.  Internal peace within, for troubled minds and hearts–and external peace without, when God grants them relief from their sufferings.  The crucial issue Peter concludes with is to be in Christ.  As we are immersed in Christ, then we will have peace.

And the peace Peter wants us to experience is not only with God, but it is with one another–we know that because the words all and you are both plural.  You all enjoy peace with God and each other.  Peter calls for the peace that only comes from Christ to be shared with all those who are truly saved and in Christ.

Do you have that peace today?

Are you in Christ, immersed in Him, where you have all of Him?

Do you merely know facts about Christ, or are you intimate with Him?

Are you striving to please Him, or actually enjoying Him?

Have you surrendered all you are to enjoy all that He is?

Is He your Lord, Master, King and God, and are you His slave, servant, creation and friend?

If you are in Christ, you have peace.  The world knows nothing of this peace, but Christians do.

If you are in Christ, you will have Christ’s peace—turn to Christ today.

Christian, if you are striving, anxious, upset and angry, then depend on Christ, live by grace, saturate yourself with His Word, enjoy Him again in quietness, rest in His love and affection, lean on your brothers and sisters in the church, and watch God calm your heart and change your life to be more like Christ, no matter what trial you are going through.  Like Peter said, “Stand firm in His grace.”  Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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