Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Everyday Living in the Shadow of the Cross" - sermon notes for 31/1/10

(hear the sermon here)

1 Peter 2.13-25

1.“Honour everyone” - v13-17

Note: Peter starts at the top of pile: the Emperor; not condemning the ultimate authority, nor demanding all believers seek to overthrow him. P says “be subject to”/”honour” (to hold in high respect). If he's telling us to submit to the guy at the top, then it goes without saying: honour all beneath him too. If we're called to submit to the PM, then MP's, councillors, employers, etc too. Rom 13.1: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

This is a call to honour ALL, so our lives advertise & glorify Christ within us. And the will of God is: v15= “SILENCE ignorant talk” ('silence' = lit. to “muzzle” yelping dogs!)

v15-16: “Live as free men” = not absolute freedom! TERTULLIAN: “as Christ was crucified between 2 thieves, so the doctrine of justification (the Gospel) is ever crucified between 2 opposite errors” = Legalism/Antinomianism (“anti-law”) = we are free to submit/obey. See the difference?

2.“Suffer well” - v18-20

Peter's stressing to slaves that although they're saved, it does not give them veto to announce their own political freedom (1 Cor 7.20-24). We still have a God-given station in life, whether we like or not. Peter's message = understanding suffering & position in life (if you're always comparing yourself with others, you'll always end up full of pride or jealousy)

Our lives are meant to advertise the Gospel. We're called to live honourable lives: easy when it's Obama/Brown. But Hitler/Stalin/Idi Amin/Mugabe? Surely there's a get-out clause? God's Word does not give us that.

Take another look at v20b: “a gracious thing in sight of God”: we must remember that perspective! Our life is a life of faith – the things we do not see. This world is focussed on what is seen/stuff and we get sucked into same line of thinking. We must remember what the Holy Spirit shows us, the bigger picture that our physical eyes can't comprehend.

3.“Christ: our example” - v21-25

The cross is described as “the great jewel of the Christian faith”: all precious jewels have many facets. Christ's work on on the cross means He's our sacrifice, our ransom, our expiation, our propitiation, our victor, our reconciliation, and so on... and our example. Christ was slighted over & over again, to the point of beating, torture, death. And still He lived honourably.

Phil 2.5-8 and Heb 12.2-3

Ever been rejected? Despised? Accused? Discriminated? Treated unfairly? Abandoned? Called names? Bereaved? Jesus was. And how did He respond?

But it's easy for our reaction to be, “Yeah, but He was Jesus, He was God.” Note: He was “fully God and fully man” (“hypostatic union”) It took the church 100's of years to get to grips with this. The two dangers are treating Him as only man = liberal, dangerous, wrong; or as a kind of Superman. Again, wrong! Answer this: if He was simply GOD in flesh and bone, then why sweat blood before His arrest? Why the need to sleep? Why would an unchanging eternal God be described as growing in wisdom and stature (Lk2)? Get hungry (Matt22.18)? Thirsty on the cross (Jn19.28)? Because he chose not to lean on His divinity.

So, what's His secret? How did Jesus the man, not leaning on His Divinity, live the life He lived? It was by the Holy Spirit:

Lk1-2: conceived by the Spirit
Lk3: John declared Jesus would baptise in Spirit & Spirit descended on Jesus @ baptism
Lk4: “full of the Holy Spirit” & “led by the Holy Spirit”
Lk4: began His 3-yr ministry by reading “Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me”
Lk4: returned to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit”
Then came healings, raisings from dead, calming storms, casting out demons...
Lk10.21: “rejoiced in the HS”
Then His arrest & death, and then He rose again BY THE HOLY SPIRIT (Rom 8.11)

This same Spirit that empowered Christ to live such a great example is available to us. You really think His Word would tell us to follow His example and not let it be possible?

So, just as Christ exemplified, we are called to sacrifice self daily/hourly/continually. As we turn the other cheek, as we honour those who may not deserve it, we present the Gospel in our actions. It is NOT weakness. It may look like that to the world, but why should we care? We do, but shouldn't. It's how Christ lived – and as far as I'm concerned He's the strongest, most forthright, most honourable man the world would ever know. What an example. And it is Biblically possible to follow in His footsteps.

(Jeff Vanderstelt on 1 Peter 3.15): “To 'be prepared to give an answer... for the hope that is in you' starts with living a life that demands a Gospel explanation.”

Cell Q's:

1.Share personal testimony of times you've suffered unjustly or as a result of circumstances and how you reacted (be honest and brave!)
2.How has the sermon enabled you to change your perspective on any current situations/circumstances?
3.Do you feel your life demands a Gospel explanation? What do you think you can do to enable that? Think of specific areas in your life.
4.Minister to each other for an increased outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your lives.

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