1Peter 3:8-18

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 12, 2001

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Yesterday morning, we as a country have witnessed the most horrific, terrible episode of terrorism that the world has ever known.  With four commercial airliners being highjacked and used as missiles, untold thousands were killed as the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked.  Our nation is in a state of war, and what’s most frustrating is that we don’t really know yet who we’re at war with.

We in America have had a false sense of security over the years.  Though we’ve been involved in wars, we in our lifetime have never seen anything like this touch our continent.

As we turn on the TV, we see over and over again the images of an airliner plowing into a high rise tower, and then watch as the towers eventually collapse and thousands of people run for their lives.

What does it all mean?  Is this the end of the world?  Is this the beginning of the end?  What does God want from us as Christians?

Hopefully, we’ll address some of those questions tonight.

Peter wrote this first letter to the church at large during a time when the church was beginning to go through intense persecution.  It was written to a people who were beginning to know suffering up close.

:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

be ye all of one mindhomophron – of one mind, concordant

It’s interesting to see what’s happening in Washington during this national crisis.  On Monday, the congressional leaders were arguing and bickering over just about everything.  On Tuesday afternoon, they were gathered on the steps of the capitol to express their unity and support for the President.  Then spontaneously, they began to sing “God Bless America”.  Amazing.

having compassion one of anothersumpathes (“sympathy”) – suffering or feeling the like with another, sympathetic

People need compassion and sympathy right now.

Give blood. 
Pray.  Some of the men from Calvary Chapel Old Bridge in New Jersey work in the World Trade Center and as of yesterday their families had not heard from them.
Listen.  There are going to be people around you who are scared and disoriented.  They don’t now what to do.  Be there.

love as brethrenphiladelphos – loving brother or sister

be pitifuleusplagchnos – having strong bowels; compassionate, tender hearted

It’s easy during times like this to withdraw and only care about ourselves.  We need to be concerned about others.

be courteousphilophron (“friend” or “loving” + “mind”) – friendly, kind

There are a lot of people on edge right now.  We need to go the extra mind to be kind.

:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

My son had a homework assignment this afternoon

“Can you name situations in your city or country where disrespect for others occurs?”

We talked about it and then it hit us, “What bigger show of disrespect can you have than flying a commercial airliner into a skyscraper?”

We are not to return “evil for evil”.

Does this mean that it is wrong for our nation to strike back at the terrorists?

No.  God gives that kind of authority to nations, but not to individuals.  As individuals, we need to learn to turn the other cheek.  But governments are set up by God to handle taking care of evil in the world:

(Rom 13:4 NLT)  The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong.

I think we need to take the lead in being careful not to harbor anger and hatred towards Arab or Muslim people.  Mohammed taught his people to hate, Jesus teaches His followers to love.

:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

Peter is quoting the Old Testament, Psalm 34:12-16

guile - deceit

:11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

eschew  turn away from ekklino – to turn aside, to turn away from

ensue – pursue dioko – to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after; to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal

:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

There will be a growing sense of anger, frustration, and hatred in our nation as we wait for our military to give “payback” to the terrorists.

We need to be careful that we, as Christians, let it go.  We need to put it into God’s hands.

God will judge those who have done evil.  Even if we as a nation were to never find out who did this or were never able to bring punishment against them, God will.  One day they will stand before God.

:13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye:

:14  be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:

terrorphobos – fear, dread, terror

be not afraidphobeo – to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to fear, be afraid; to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm

Or, “do not be terrorized by their terror

be troubledtarasso – to agitate, trouble (a thing, by the movement of its parts to and fro); to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of mind, disturb his equanimity; to disquiet, make restless; to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread; to render anxious or distressed

This is what terrorists want, to strike us with terror.  They want us to feel unsafe wherever we are.  They want to paralyze us with fear.

sanctifyhagiazo – to set aside as holy

The verses should actually be broken up like this.  We know this because Peter is quoting from Isaiah, and this is the quote itself.

Peter is quoting from Isaiah 8:12-13 –

(Isa 8:11-14 KJV) For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, {12} Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. {13} Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. {14} And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

In the circumstances of Isaiah 8, the southern kingdom of Judah, and it’s king, Ahaz, were under threat by two enemies: the northern kingdom of Israel, and the kingdom of Syria.
Both Ahaz and the people had this great idea, that they would use their money to hire a big bully to help them, the kingdom of Assyria. But God tells Isaiah, “Don’t be thinking like the people”. God says, “Don’t give so much respect to the Assyrians, you need to be giving Me respect”. The people ought to be fearing and respecting only ONE person, the Lord God.

God goes on to promise to Isaiah that He will be a “sanctuary … a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence …”

Peter has already quoted this part of Isaiah 8 (back in 1Peter 2:8). This makes me think that Peter must have recently been studying Isaiah 8, or maybe even had it open on his desk as he was writing.
For those who make God their fear, He becomes a place of safety for them. For those who reject Him, He becomes something they’ll trip over to their own hurt. He’s either your biggest asset or your worst nightmare.


Only fear God

Fear can be a good thing or a bad thing.  It is a feeling that will motivate us either in the right direction or the wrong direction.
If you are afraid of water, you might not ever take a bath.  This is a bad thing.
If you are afraid of burning yourself, you will handle pots and pans on the stove with great care.  This is a good thing.
If we are afraid of people in the wrong way, they can paralyze us and keep us from doing what is good.  But if we understand that God is the one whose feelings we ought to really be concerned about, then we will hopefully do what is right.
Jesus said,
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

:15  and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

meeknessprautes – mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness

fearphobos – fear, dread, terror

(1 Pet 3:15 NIV)  …Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

God is not just concerned that we have answers for people, but that we give the answers with the proper attitude.  We don’t need to be angry or look down on people who are asking the questions.  We need to care about them and answer their questions.


Be ready to share

There are a lot of hurting people right now.  There are going to be a lot of people all around us who are going to begin to question their lives and wonder what it’s all about.
Is this the “end of the world”?
Yes and no.
No, because I am not aware of how the attack on America would necessarily fit into some kind of prophetic scenario.  It may be possible, but I’m not aware of it.

I think about the closest thing I’ve wondered about is the destruction of Babylon recorded in Revelation 18, where the world’s commercial system is destroyed in “one hour” and the kings of the earth stand at a distance and watch the smoke rising from the city’s destruction.  The merchants of the earth will weep too, and it was interesting that what was destroyed was known as the “World Trade Center”.

But was yesterday’s tragedy a fulfillment of Revelation 18?

I don’t think so.  Revelation 18 speaks of an entire city’s destruction, not the destruction of a few buildings, though they were huge buildings.  Revelation 18 speaks of a permanent destruction, whereas I expect New York will rebuild and rebuild bigger and better.  The destruction of Babylon is described in Revelation 17 as being done by the “ten kings” who are allied with the antichrist, both of which I do not see on the world scene as yet.

I may be wrong, but I see the terrorist attack on New York as a very small picture though interesting picture of what will happen in Revelation 18.

Yes, because we’ve been at the “end of the world” for a number of years.

The very fact of the existence of a nation of Israel should be the greatest wake up call to the world to the fact that we are in the end times.  A nation that has not existed since AD 70, the very nation that God calls His “chosen people”, a nation that is clearly to be around in the last days, came out of nothing in 1948.

The issue isn’t “Are we at the end of the world?”  The issue is, “Are you ready?”

(Luke 12:16-21 KJV)  And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: {17} And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? {18} And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. {19} And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. {20} But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? {21} So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

You never know when your life is going to end.  The lives of thousands of families have been made tragically aware of this yesterday.

The issue isn’t, “Do I have a couple more days to party?”  The issue is, “Are you ready right now?”

You never know when your time is up.

:16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.


Bad things happen to good people

There are bad people in the world.  There is sin in the world.
We may ask ourselves or be asked by others, “If God is a God of love, why is there evil and suffering in the world?”
The answer is that God has chosen to allow man to have free will.  God has allowed man to either choose to do good or to do evil.  God has allowed man to either choose to serve and follow Him or to follow Satan.  And when a person is following Satan, they will do what Satan does:

(John 10:10 KJV)  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.


Suffer for well doing

On the news last night there came a line across the bottom of the screen that said that there were 300 fire fighters missing in New York, presumably lost when the World Trade Center collapsed.  These men had gone into the towers to evacuate them, and ended up losing their lives in the process.
There was a news report today regarding one of the downed highjacked planes.  On the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, there was a cell phone call from one of the passengers to a friend.  They told the friend that the men on the plane had gotten together and taken a vote and had decided to over power the highjackers.  The person put the phone down and they weren’t heard from again.
You will find that in your life, when you do something good, you may not always be rewarded with nice things but may in fact be rewarded by suffering.


Don’t suffer for for evil doing

Sometimes we bring “suffering” to our lives because we are doing something wrong.
(1 Pet 4:14-16 NLT)  Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you. {15} If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs. {16} But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name!

If this is the case, we shouldn’t be quick to complain.  God isn’t thrilled with what you are doing.

:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Jesus was the ultimate example of someone suffering for doing good, someone who suffered according to the will of God.

When He died, He died to accomplish a purpose.  He died to pay for our sins.  He was the “just” man and He died to take the place of the unjust, us.  He did this so that we could be able to know God.

If you are wondering whether or not you know God, you need to know.  If you were to die tonight, would you know absolutely for sure where you would spend eternity?  There is not reason for not knowing for sure.  God wants you to know for sure.

(1 John 5:11-13 KJV)  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. {12} He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. {13} These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

If you open your heart to Jesus, you will have eternal life.