1 Peter

Stand in God's Grace

September 2, 2012 Series: Scripture: 1 Peter 5:12-14 by Chris Strevel

Postscripts and Amanuenses (v. 12)

While it is tempting to pass quickly over the conclusions of our New Testament epistles, doing so impoverishes our faith. Peter’s conclusion, for example, does not contain the lofty themes that are in the body of his letter, yet it is useful and edifying. Of chief concern is the way in which the apostles communicated with the precious souls under their care and guarded the commission given to them by the Lord. Many testimonies of their vigilance are given in their postscripts. The first thing that strikes us here is the surprising reappearance of Silvanus, or Silas. Originally, he was an eminent servant and prophet in the Jerusalem congregation (Acts 15:22,27). With Barnabas, he became attached to Paul and accompanied him first to Antioch to deliver the decrees of the Jerusalem Council, and later on his missionary travels (Acts 15:34,40; 16:25; 17:7,10,15; 2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Thess. 1:1; Rom. 16:22). He is now with Peter on an errand from Paul. He is also the carrier of Peter’s letter, and very likely his amanuensis, or scribe. The apostles sometimes used trusted secretaries to write the revelation they received from the Lord. Even so, “I have written” is accurate, for the apostles supervised the work of their scribes and attested its accuracy before sending out (2 Thess. 3:17). That Silas was also a prophet of God gives us further confirmation that this letter is truly God’s holy word to his church.

That Peter speaks of Silas as a faithful brother teaches us two things. First, we may trust the authenticity of the letter, for it comes from a verified member of the immediate apostolic circle. We possess complete confidence that this letter was faithfully copied and delivered, for Silas was of utmost reliability. This is no small comfort to us, for we must know that God’s word has been handed down to us faithfully and handled carefully. Even in those earliest days, the apostolic writings were considered “Scripture” and the “commandments of the Lord” (2 Pet. 3:15; 1 Cor. 14:37); they were treated as such. The second point of interest is the practice of the apostles to speak of one another and of their immediate associates as “brother:” no lofty titles, no pomp, no official distancing of themselves from “underlings”: simply “brother” (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7,9; 2 Pet. 3:15). The apostles were men who carefully guarded the authority of the Lord; among themselves, there was humility and brotherly affection. Gone are the days of “which one among us shall be the greatest?” They have learned, as we must, that “he must increase, but we must decrease” (John 3:30). They serve the one Lord; they were all brothers (Matt. 23:8). This should put an end to any idea that the government of the early church was hierarchical. If Peter, an apostle, delighted to commend Silas, a prophet of God, as a brother, so we ought to cherish the most fervent affection and practice the deepest humility toward one another.

The Form and Purpose of Peter’s Letter (v. 12)

Though brief, Peter’s letter is full of “exhortation and testimony.” The first of these words means encouragement; much of this letter has been a heartfelt appeal to these believers to be faithful in the midst of their “fiery trials,” including suffering patiently in the hope of their inheritance in heaven. The second word indicates that this exhortation is based upon Peter’s faithful witness to the glorious truths of the gospel. Before we can or will be faithful in the midst of our warfare, we must know to what we are to be faithful, and why. This is the reason he explained to them that they are God’s kingdom of priests and holy nation, the purpose of their refining afflictions, and the great privilege of suffering like and for Jesus Christ. Both exhortation and testimony are necessary if we are to be mature in faith. Perhaps we should like to hear only rousing sermons and read only stirring books. An elevated emotional state, however, is not the only path we walk as Christians. We are called to descend into the valley of the cross and suffering. The only thing that will sustain us in living for our Savior’s honor and eternal kingdom is a firm grasp of God’s truth, especially who we are in Christ and our union with him. It is not simply to be lamented, then, that doctrinal preaching and literature are almost universally neglected in the present life of the church. The grand truths of Scripture are treated as secondary to emotional well-being, to being relevant, and to living practically. Yet, we cannot be accurately practical if we are ignorant of the apostolic testimony; nor can we be certain that our emotions are correct or that we are truly relevant to a lost and dying world unless we possess a firm and certain knowledge of God’s truth. Doctrine and practice ever go together. We cannot have godly practice if we are not built upon the doctrine “foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). Doctrine without practice makes us cold and primed for pride. It raises the question of whether we have truly learned anything at all if our lives are not being transformed by God’s holy truth.

Stand in God’s Grace (v. 12)

Peter summarizes his epistle by the word “grace,” the wondrous gospel of our Savior. We must be careful not to empty “grace” of content and reduce it to a sentiment or a slogan. This is commonly done today. Many speak and live as if “grace” frees us from honestly facing the sins in our lives, as if the word were something of a lucky charm against all preaching of duty and responsibility, as if we should never judge sin or stand for righteousness. “Grace” is often the comeback whenever we feel a preacher has stepped on our toes: “We need to hear more about grace.” If grace means that we should never be confronted by our sins, that we should hear only polite, uplifting messages without pressing applications to our conscience, we know little of grace. We are showing a preference for license: the freedom to live as I please, sprinkling my life with a few spiritual principles and truths without any deep sense of obligation to Christ and his kingdom. The very mention of grace should strike a holy, adoring fear in our hearts, for we have been saved from the terrors of death and horrors of hell only because the holy God has extended wholly undeserved kindness to us. A sense of having received grace binds us to God in life with a holy, consuming love. To settle for a substance-less grace is to empty grace of its glory, as well as of its power.

Consider the grace to which Peter has born noble, compelling testimony in this letter. He began on the high notes of election, sanctification, and cleansing, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son; these are the foundations of grace and peace (1:2). Our heavenly Father has treated us with such kindness that he has “begotten us to a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” and to “an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading” (1:3-4). This grace, this undeserved kindness of God to condemned sinners, was ardently longed for by the prophets of old; it is now ours in Jesus (1:10). It was extended to us at the high price of his “precious blood” (1:19). That we partake of it is to be attributed to the sovereign, regenerating work of God (1:22-25). This grace makes us God’s own dwelling place, his living temple (2:1-10). What glory! We have been redeemed from filth so that we might enjoy fellowship with God! Cheap grace is an insult to the true grace of God. It ignores God’s glory, Christ’s sufferings, and the Spirit’s holy presence in our lives. It turns Christianity into a farce, a feel-good religion of pithy stories, personal fulfillment, and self-improvement. Yet how can a grace that required the precious blood of the Lamb ever be anything but humbling to us, leaving us grateful, amazed, and filled with ardent love for the God of all grace who has so loved us?

This grace, then, a sense of wonderment at God’s kindness to us, is the animating principle behind all obedience and explains the heavily practical thrust of this letter. We shall never suffer on earth and live for heaven unless the grace of God takes firm root in our breasts. How can we “turn the other cheek,” bearing unjust injury patiently for the sake of Jesus Christ, unless we are humbled by his cross, revel in the glory of his crown, and assume the responsibility of the sons and daughters of the glorious God (2:19-25)? Women shall never be modest or wives submissive to their husbands unless God’s grace reigning in them tames their tongues and subdues their wills, enabling them to consider their obedience as given to Christ himself (3:1-6). Husbands cannot love until they have tasted of our Savior’s kindness to them, that he loves the unlovable (3:7). We cannot be unified among ourselves unless we are transformed by the power of God’s grace; the Son of God humbled himself to make us one with God, with him, with each other (3:8-9). Holiness of life and consistency of Christian witness in the world likewise find all their strength in God’s kindness to us: humbled by his goodness, inspired by his faithfulness, and devoted to him who loved us and gave himself for us (3:10-16). Can we fight against the filth in our hearts, live with heaven in mind, and patiently receive God’s chastening strokes upon his church without establishing all our happiness in him who has been so kind to us? (4:1-7).

Every practical exhortation Peter gives assumes God’s grace in us: strength we do not possess in ourselves, hope he alone can give, and constancy that comes from knowing and rejoicing in his love for us in Jesus. Use grace, if you will, to be a simple summary of the whole gospel, but do not forget all that this grace includes. Do not forget that we are called to taste of our Lord’s kindness, to rejoice in it, to allow it to shape and mold our affections, enlighten our dark minds, and set our wills firmly on the path of his eternal kingdom. This is grace that transforms; it is grace that humbles; it is grace that never leaves us barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ but fills us with holy passion for him, love for the God of love, and desire to serve him, whatever we are called to endure on our way to his glory and kingdom.

Only by this grace do we stand. This is the reason that reducing grace to slogans and sentiments is dangerous to us and dishonoring to God. It is too precious to be treated so meanly, so cavalierly. “Stand” is not a command but a description. Peter is confident that these believers are standing in this grace. He has not written to them because they are not standing in it but to encourage them to hold fast to it. Just as the world cannot understand grace, so it cannot tolerate it. Do not think it strange if the world makes the same response to Christ’s grace-filled church as it did to him: accusation, mockery, and persecution. Satan ever prowls to make grace – election, sanctification, heaven, inheritance, and Christ triumphant and cleansing us by his stripes – obscure, unreliable, and irrelevant. We resist his efforts and overcome the world by standing in grace: nowhere else – full, free, insuperable, inexhaustible, blood-purchased grace. It makes us holy, thus silencing the world’s accusations and making our witness compelling. It gives us joy in our hearts, light in our minds, and love toward one another – what a privilege to share this gift with fellow-sinners, to live in the power and hope of God’s kindness to us in Jesus Christ! Grace changes everything. It silences guilt, empowers obedience, gives patience in suffering, and fills us with the sure hope of our heavenly inheritance. God did not simply give us a one-line gospel. When he gave us his Son, he gave us everything: now and later, earth and heaven, history and faith. His grace is abundant and deserves to be carefully studied and properly lived out in the world.

The Church at Babylon (v. 13)

Peter was working east of Palestine, in Babylon, when he wrote this letter. There is nothing to indicate a symbolic reference to the city of Rome. Roman Catholicism desperately clings to this interpretation, else there is no proof that Peter was in Rome for the twenty-five years they often claim. This lacks any historical or exegetical foundation. Peter was working to extend the gospel in that old city that was located in the region now occupied by Iran and Iraq. He describes the believers there as “elected together with you,” a reminder that we share in God’s rich grace and ought never to think of ourselves as alone in the battle. How powerful is the gospel! In less than a generation, there was a congregation of believers established where the Assyrian Empire used to hold sway. Mark was there with him. This is the John Mark of the gospel narrative, the amanuensis through whom our Gospel of Mark was written. This is the apostolic tie to this beloved section of Scripture. It was really Peter’s gospel, though Mark wrote it down. This church salutes the believers to whom Peter wrote. Are we not convicted by this small reference that the isolation and, God forbid, animosity that often exists between congregations whose only boast is the grace of God in Christ is a great evil? It can only be remedied as we taste deeply of the waters of life and abide in Christ.

Kiss One Another (v. 14)

The apostles often tell us to kiss one another in Christian love (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:26). The greeting with a kiss of charity is imperative. It will not do to say that that race was more expressive in their friendships, though this is certainly true in comparison to us. Peter is not telling them to obey common custom but to express their love for one another outwardly, warmly, and sincerely. While a hug or handshake may seem preferable in today’s climate, for kisses have been corrupted by our culture, we must never forget that we believe and worship with brothers and sisters, yes, but also with kings and queens, those with whom we are “co-heirs of the grace of life.” Was not Jesus kissed by those devoted to him (Luke 7:45)? It is unimaginable that his love did not flow down in their hearts to one another. The same must be true of us if we have tasted that he is gracious (1 Pet. 2:3). Of course, if one cannot give this kiss of charity without sensual thoughts, if brother cannot hug and kiss brother, the problem is not with the kiss but with the corruption of our hearts by the world. It may simply be that we are not sanctified sufficiently for this kiss to be given not as a form or ritual but from sincere love for one another and without embarrassment. While we cannot prescribe this as part of worship – and it is certainly inappropriate for indiscriminate kissing to be going on within the body, especially young men to young women (1 Tim. 5:2) – we must ask: do we love like this? Love is not an idea or a feeling. Love cannot be planned or choreographed. Christian kissing is the natural feeling of oneness for those with whom have cried before the cross, rejoiced in the reigning Lamb, and determined to walk in love and obedience, as Christ did. When we grow in grace, we shall grow in love, and in holy expressions of that love to one another.

Benediction of Peace (v. 14)

Peter concludes with a benediction of peace through Jesus Christ. He is our peace (Heb. 2:14). He bore the chastisement required for us to have peace with God (Isa. 53:5). We enjoy the sweetness of that peace in our hearts as we abide in Christ. The gospel of grace is the only key that will turn the lock of conscience and allow the condemned not only to go free but also to feel their true liberty through Christ’s blood and righteousness. This is the reason Peter extends the benediction to “those who are in Christ. There is no other peace except through faith in him. Though our world craves peace, there is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22). “Peace on earth” was the cry of the angels; it is given and enjoyed ony through the gospel of grace. And as this peace comes in the form of a benediction with the apostolic “A-men” sealing it, we are to understand this as God’s own pledge that if we look to the Son, we have life, forgiveness of sins, and righteousness before his holy throne. This is an authoritative peace. It is the only peace that will keep us secure and joyful in a world of trials and turbulence. Let us learn to abide in Christ more, and we shall feel more of the peace he purchased for us with his own blood. Let us speak of peace to others: from sin’s horrid guilt, from the flesh’s enslaving corruption, from the world’s wars, from the darkness of science, philosophy, and governments who run furiously away from God trying to find peace on man’s terms. This is a deadly delusion. There is peace only in Jesus.

These sermons are now at an end. Through the mercy of God, I pray Peter’s letter will abide with us, that the truth of God will grow and multiply in us as we give ourselves wholly to it. Our need is great for God’s living and eternal word. We know not when the Lord may be pleased to bring us through fiery trials and cause us to feel the cross more acutely. This should not frighten us. We live “near the end.” Satan’s time is short. His malice will increase as the days grow shorter before our Lord returns in glory, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not his gospel” (2 Thess. 1:8). Courage, hope, incredible freedom from worry, patience in suffering, and faithfulness are found through building our lives upon the truths we have learned in this epistle. Our Father is full of grace. Our Savior shed his precious blood for us. The Holy Spirit indwells us as God’s temple. We cannot fail to arrive as our reserved inheritance in heaven if we abide in the gospel of the glorious God. Our victory is secure. Let us speak and live as those who will soon stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

God's Promises, Our Chief Support in Battle

August 26, 2012 Series: Scripture: 1 Peter 5:8-11 by Chris Strevel

God’s Promises Our Chief Support in the Battle (vv. 9-11)

Since it is a fierce enemy whom we must strenuously resist, we need encouragement to enlist under our Savior’s banner and fight manfully. Peter reminds us that these same sufferings – troubles of various kinds, persecution, inner temptation from the flesh, and the world’s attacks against God’s truth that so vex our souls and try our faith – are being accomplished throughout the brotherhood of Jesus’ servants. We learn from this in the first place that we are not alone in the battle. It is true that for most of us the battle is fought on small fronts in which we feel alone: overcoming that thorny, besetting sin, seeking marital and household peace and righteousness, serving our Lord in a workplace where you may be greatly outnumbered. Even so, we must think of these small battle fronts as significant parts of larger ones, with Christ as our Captain leading and strengthening his troops throughout the world. Then, despair and loneliness would not weaken us as they often do. We will be much more joyful, knowing that we are doing our part to serve our Savior and build his church and kingdom. Modern life increases a sense of isolation, for we have so specialized, suburbanized, and mechanized our daily existence that it is easy to feel insignificant. You are not. You are part of a fighting brotherhood, God’s holy nation and priesthood. He has placed you exactly where he wants you to make a determined campaign against sin and the devil.

“Accomplished” is a compelling way of describing our battle and its sufferings. They are unavoidable, necessary, almost like an appointment God calls us to keep (Acts 14:22). He has ordained suffering and warfare for his glory and our good. They are vital to our sanctification and even more to our Savior’s honor. They will accomplish or effect the growth of his kingdom. Through them, we are drawn more to him in dependence and faith. Our affections are set more on things above, where he is. It was necessary for him to enter into our sorrows and to fight and win the battle we had abandoned in our sinfulness. He had to endure the cross before wearing the crown. Since he is our Elder Brother, our very life, our enjoyment of him –seeing his strength in our lives, knowing that he is hearing and answering our prayers, finding him to be a true and powerful Lord and Defender, having his joy fulfilled in us through obedience – depends upon our keeping this appointment with warfare. We belong to Christ “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:6). It is true that we are not called to fight in the same places, and the church needs her “seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal” as much as her Elijahs, Luthers, and Calvins. Our Lord shows his power and fulfills his purposes in battles great and small, in affairs high and low. We draw great encouragement from the confidence that if we do our part in his battle, we are his faithful brothers. He is forming his image in us. We are bearing his cross. The heart of the city of man is being eaten out and its resistance beaten down through the faithfulness of the brotherhood of the Lamb.

Therefore, we must never think of ourselves as alone in the battle. In his wise providence, our Father does not always provide us with the fellowship of the saints that we would like. If we are single, we are tempted to despair through loneliness. The same is true of mothers at home with children, the elderly and those who spouses have died. We must not be taken off the battlefield through weariness or despair. Despair is sinful, especially since we are told we have our share in the brotherhood and our part in our Savior’s victory parade (2 Cor. 2:14). It is easy for Satan to weaken the church and pick off sheep who marginalize themselves with despair, fear, and worldliness. Let us rather be animated and encouraged by the confidence that we have a part, whatever our circumstances, in God’s great war. Mothers must think of this when they are at home raising children – “I am preparing the next generation to stand for Christ.” You are not keeping your house as much as you are keeping his and laying a foundation for our Savior’s house long after you are gone. Single believers must devote themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, as Paul teaches: undistracted by the world, without the cares and responsibilities of family life (1 Cor. 7:32-33). Pastors of smaller congregations must not pine away after wider fields of labor but stand faithfully where the Lord has called them, knowing that he is the Lord of his flock and its under-shepherds. The whole body grows only as each member does his part (Eph. 4:16).

So that we may be inspired and encouraged to do our part, Peter concludes this section with wondrous promises that have no other purpose than to fire our love and strengthen our faith. If we look only at the fury of our adversary and the number of his minions in whom he is working throughout the world, we shall quail in fear. We shall likely attempt to slide by with as little fighting as possible, as many do. Some opt for a sentimental faith that makes little difference in their daily life. Others reduce the claims of Christ to the affairs of the heart, thus giving the battlefield of history to the enemy. Too few self-consciously pursue their home-life, daily work, and personal relationships with a sense that they are doing the Lord’s work, fighting his battles, and promoting his honor in the world. We will never undertake this work unless we are supported by a firm confidence in his promises. Thus, Peter reminds us that we serve the “God of all grace.” Whatever strength we need, he is more than sufficient. Though we are sinners, he regards us with a kind and fatherly heart. He is ever armed to come to our aid. Let nothing keep us from coming to him, believing that he loves us, and trusting in his wisdom. “Grace” reminds us that though the world of wicked men rises against us, the hosts of heaven are armed to the teeth for our defense. Whatever personal or public battles we must fight, wisdom and endurance we require, and help we need, our God is full of grace. He is our Father. He will not let us be tempted beyond our ability to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). He is longsuffering with our many failings. He loves us: at all times, in the heat of the battle, when we feel our sinfulness intensely. We would fight better if we would believe his love more. We would be more faithful if we sought his grace with greater confidence in his promise.

That we may be more believing and more faithful, Peter brings before us that our gracious Father has “called us unto eternal glory by Christ Jesus.” We are Christians not because we made a decision or had a change of religious viewpoint or decided to clean up our lives a little. If we are true members of the holy brotherhood, it is because he effectually called us to himself. We should think of this sovereign call with awe. We have heard the voice of the Son of God (John 5:24-25)! He called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. His voice is irresistible; it is gracious; it is life-giving. By it he gave us a new heart, one that pants after his word and believes in God’s promise of life and salvation through Jesus Christ. He gave us faith in place of our deadness so that we could believe the gospel, look in faith to the Lord Jesus and his righteousness, and receive the adoption of sons. God’s calling always comes to fruition. He never calls in vain. His call never fails to accomplish the purpose for which he gives it; his word is as alive as he is (Heb. 4:12). He has called us to glory. We shall make it there. Let Satan come upon us directly, with all his malice and deception, in a moment of lowest weakness, as he did our Lord, and he will be vanquished! Glory will be ours! This is not only true personally but historically and corporately. The church will share in the glory of our Head, Jesus Christ. He prays for this (John 17:22,24).Satan cannot prevent it; he knows this. And the way to glory is through our warfare, our appointment with suffering. The very trials and troubles he would use to overthrow our faith and swamp the world in darkness are the means God has ordained to sanctify and lead the brotherhood to victory and everlasting glory. Should we not continually call to mind God’s calling to glory? This is nothing but his own pledge to bring us through the battle safely to his eternal kingdom. We are as secure as the glory in which Christ Jesus our Savior now reigns.

This calling is “in him.” He has overcome; we shall overcome. Yes, his robes are splattered with blood from the contest, and some of it shall spray on us. But he has ascended to heaven and entered his glory and kingdom to secure a place for us, to intercede continually for us, and to be the anchor of our soul in the midst of our troubles and sufferings. No wonder the Christian life is nothing but a “looking unto Jesus.” We are called into his fellowship (1 Cor. 1:9). His warfare will be accomplished in us; his power, glory, and dominion will be revealed in us. What joy is ours! What unassailable hope! What inexhaustible supplies of strength if we will but abide in Christ! Should this not stir us to make the Bible our constant friend, to have our minds and lives filled with his word, which is nothing but to be filled with Christ himself (John 15:7; Col. 3:16)? If we were more filled with the joy of our calling, sin would be less attractive to us. All our attraction would be toward sharing in our Savior’s conquests and watching his power support us in our weakness. We would pray more fervently, more confidently, knowing that this was our Savior’s support as he fought singlehandedly against all the malice of Satan and the blindness of the world. We are called in Christ. Our lives are nothing but existence in him: abundant life in him: “no longer I but Christ who lives in me;” “for me, to live is Christ.” Abide in Christ, struggling believer. Arm yourself with his weaponry: the word of God and prayer. Remember who you are: a saint called to the brotherhood of the cross, to the victory of the Lamb, and to the eternal glory that his people shall enjoy with him forever. Set your heart there (Col. 3:1-3)! Be armed with his confidence! Resist the devil with the badges of your calling – love for Christ, commitment to the word of God, earnest prayer – and he will flee. He is called to doom and destruction. The lake of fire is his destiny. He knows it. Our destiny is to put our foot upon his neck – only in Jesus, only by grace, only through faithfulness.

Such a calling certainly makes our earthly contest and sufferings seem but a little while, very light in comparison to the glory that awaits us (2 Cor. 4:17). Still, we must understand that God’s calling includes warfare against sin and Satan; it includes suffering. There is no other way. He will march out his weak, “despised in the eyes of the world” band and obtain his victory through them. He will have the same humility and obedience by which our Savior overcame the world accomplish a similar victory in his church. He will refine us, test us, sometimes seemingly beyond our ability to bear it. He will show the “strength of his weakness” and the “wisdom of his foolishness” that no flesh may glory in his presence (1 Cor. 1:27-31). We must endure, therefore, through this “little while.” It is the way he perfects us, completes the work of our Savior in us (Heb. 13:21). When we feel like fainting, his word of grace comes with freshness. When we are overrun by enemies, he will lift up his standard afresh. All the perfection, the completeness of God’s work in us, will be realized through the path of the cross and of suffering.

He promises to keep us constant and firm so that we can endure. Strength belongs not to the mighty or to the many but to the Lord (1 Sam. 14:6; Ps. 28:8; 37:39; Jer. 9:23-24). All the steadfastness he requires of us he promises to give us as we seek him. He loves to strengthen the weak (Isa. 40:31). Our Savior’s power has this goal: to empty us of all confidence in ourselves, so that even if we are utterly beyond all human help and hope of endurance, his power comes to us, upholds us, and causes us to gain the victory over sin and Satan (2 Cor. 12:9). But we must wait upon him and courageously believe his promises (Ps. 27:14). He helps the weak who honestly confess their weakness and sinfulness to him, plead his promises, and trust his faithfulness.

It is his strength that settles us. Is this true of us? Do we feel stronger and more secure when we have all the money we think we need, or because we have his promise never to leave or forsake us? Is our peace dependent upon the promises of politicians or the promises he has made to us through his Son? We grow unsettled, weak, faint, and despairing when we put more stock in our own resources and man’s help and schemes than we do in the promise of God. Do you see that Peter, as he draws near to the end of his letter, is calling us to a more God-centered life? A more believing life? A life in which God is more real to us than anything we see with our eyes? This is the only way we can resist the devil, fight the good fight, and obtain the victory. What God is doing and what he has promised must be our daily food and hope, even our song and all our joy. This is his battle. He calls us to fight it his way – not by sight but by faith; not by human wisdom but by teachableness before his. Cling to these promises. They are the lifeline of victory. They are the food of the brotherhood. They are the blessing of being in Christ, knowing Christ, and seeking his honor, his cross and crown, in this world.

We can never feel as blessed as we should to have such promises! He has laid out his battle plan before us in these verses. As if this were not enough, he now brings us into the inner sanctum. Peter states it in verse eleven as a doxology, almost a conclusion to the letter. He knows these believers are called to fight against the devil and his hosts, weak and besieged, their only hope being in the Lord’s promises. Will they take up the challenge and believe him? Will they seek all their strength to resist Satan in God’s holy word? This they will do if the glory of God is before them as their life. Behind all the warfare we see – and how often the church has gotten sidetracked with Satan’s deceptive schemes, thinking that “flesh and blood,” human parties, institutions, and programs are the real battle – there is something always percolating, something God never forgets, the reason he would have fight in this way: clothed with the humility of our Lord, despised in the eyes of the world, armed with such – according to human judgment – pathetic weapons. We halt, trembling, uncertain. Will faith beat the devil? God’s word? An old Bible? Prayer? This seems the most foolish thing imaginable, even to do nothing.

But when our eyes look up and behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, everything changes. When we remember that this is his battle, that he wants it fought in a certain way so that he will receive all the praise, so that all his enemies will be utterly confounded when the thing that beats them is what they dismissed as irrelevant – his Word. Satan has been deceiving men on this point from the beginning. Much of the church has been deceived. No, we think, something else is needed: the right program, the right leader, the right method of persuasion. We forget that God has one thing in mind: his own glory. He will reveal it. He will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). And as he hastens that great day when his glory shall be revealed and admired by all those that love the Lord Jesus, he will have us endure by seeing him: his glory and power, his dominion and might, his grace and love. He does this also for our good, for we are never happy until he is all our happiness. We are never strong until he is all our strength: never wise until we submit to his wisdom; never secure until we are secure in him; always restless until we rest in him. Why is this? Because he is the glorious God! This world is his; we are his. His Son laid down his own life because nothing, absolutely nothing is as important as the glory of God’s grace and justice, his love and mercy, and the certainty of his word. He will have us settle all our peace and joy in his glory: majesty, wonder, beauty, holiness, power, faithfulness, and love. He will reveal the strength of his arm and the faithfulness of his covenant. Help us, Lord. You are so high and wonderful. Yet he is near and wonderful to us in Jesus Christ. Abide in him. Cling to him. Believe his promises, and hear him pray: “that they may behold my glory, which thou gavest me before the foundation of the world.” This is the destiny of the brotherhood: the glory of God in the lovely face of Jesus Christ.

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