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Life Together at the End of All Things

April 10, 2022

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:7–11

Life Together at the End of All Things

1 Peter 4:7–11 – Perspective: 1 Peter Series – April 10, 2022

Introduction

On this Palm Sunday we’ll be continuing in our 1 Peter series. This Friday our Good Friday service. And then next Sunday we celebrate the resurrection. On Friday night and Sunday morning we’ll be looking at the gospel of Matthew. 

If you want to track along this week in the gospel of Matthew look at our blog. I posted a series of readings there. 

A reading of 1 Peter 4:7–11.

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

‘Well, this is the end, Sam Gamgee,’ said a voice by his side. And there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away. There was the dear master of the sweet days in the Shire.

‘Master!’ cried Sam. and fell upon his knees. In all that ruin of the world for the moment he felt only joy, great joy. The burden was gone. His master had been saved; he was himself again, he was free. And then Sam caught sight of the maimed and bleeding hand.

‘Your poor hand!’ he said. ‘And I have nothing to bind it with, or comfort it. I would have spared him a whole hand of mine rather. But he’s gone now beyond recall, gone for ever.’

‘Yes,’ said Frodo. ‘But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.’
J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King

See strength through friendship. What we see in the Sam/Frodo friendship throughout the trilogy: strength through friendship to accomplish mission.

Snapshot of what we’re talking about today. God brings strength in the context of our relationships with Christians. His strength = grace. All to accomplish mission.

This series is called Perspective. In our text Peter is giving us perspective on how to be faithful in light of the end-times. His answer might surprise us.

We’re looking at 1 Peter—written by apostle from Rome in AD 60s. Few years before his death (and Paul’s). 30 years after resurrection of Christ and Pentecost.

Sermon: Life together at the end of all things: (1) Loving each other, (2) Being Stewards of God’s grace, (3) Speaking and Serving with Our Gifts.

We’ll go quickly over the first part of the passage and focus on VV10–11.

Prayer  

  1. Loving Each Other at the End of All Things

We start with Peter’s massive declaration:

  1. “The end of all things is at hand” (V7)

“End of all things” is imminent. About to happen. Saw this last week in 1 Peter 4:5 and we’ll see it again in 4:17:

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Pet 4:17)

On the end times calendar, two major things left: (1) Man of lawlessness – 2 Thess 2; and (2) Return of Christ (1 Thess 4; Rev 19). 

  • Man of lawlessness is a final incarnation of the antichrist that leads to a great apostasy in the church. 

  • Also the “beast from the bottomless pit” (the abyss) in Rev 17:8. 

  • But this beast could come at any time and could come immediately before the return of Christ. 

  • THEN Christ will return—Descending on the clouds on a white horse. Every eye will see him. 

  • Peter’s saying that day “is at hand.”

  1. Then his massive “THEREFORE”—What are we asked to do at the “end of all things”?

That’s what we get in VV7–11. The massive THEREFORE after his massive statement has to do with how we live together in the church.

  • See the repetition of “one another”—“loving one another” (V8), “hospitality to one another” (V9), “serve one another” (V10).

  • How we treat other Christians.

  • We might expect a worldwide evangelism project, since “the end of all things” gets so much attention.

  • But it’s actually a worldwide church building project.

  • But of course—when you build up the church it RESULTS in a worldwide evangelism project!

We’ll do a quick flyover of these four commands and then dive into the fourth one in more detail. Each except one has a rationale:

  • Command #1: 

    • “Be self-controlled and sober-minded” (V7)—No panicky chaos.

    • Rationale #1: “for the sake of your prayers” (V7).

  • Command #2: 

    • “Keep loving one another earnestly” (V8). Lit., “having an earnest love for one another.” “Have love” = Cf. John 13:35; 15:13.

    • Rationale #2: “since love covers a multitude of sins” (V8).

    • If there’s love then even where there’s sin peace and love continue.

  • Command #3: 

    • “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (V9).

    • One of the reasons the early church survived was hospitality.

    • Many of the churches met in people’s homes.

    • When teachers, prophets, and apostles traveled they stayed in people’s homes.

    • A way to express our faith—but also how the church would flourish.

  • Command #4: 

    • “Serve one another…in order that in everything God may be glorified” (VV10, 11).

A SURPRISE: See what we’re asked to do in light of the fact “the end of all things is near.” 

  • We’re asked to serve others in the church.

  • To love them, be hospitable to them, use our gifts in serving them.

  • That’s surprising, isn’t it?

  • We might expect him to speak of reaching an unreached people group.

Okay, the 4th command…

  1. Being Stewards of God’s Grace at the End of All Things

Read 1 Peter 4:10–11. 

  1. These two verses give us a big-picture look at spiritual gifts. 

In V10, “GIFT” is charisma and “GRACE” is charis. That connection between GIFT and GRACE and is important. A spiritual gift is like a little bit of God’s grace. He gives it to you and then you give it to others.

“Steward” here is a “house steward,” an “administrator.” Someone UNDER AUTHORITY but who also has some area of RESPONSIBILITY. 

God comes to us and says, “I have some grace I’d like to give to people. And I want you to deliver it.”

You’re the UPS guy (We don’t talk about FedEx here). God has sent grace to people, and you’re the one he wants to deliver it. 

Your job? To get that grace to the right person. Don’t get lost. Don’t lose the package. Bring the grace! 

The big deal is the grace that’s being delivered. Not really the guy delivering it, right? Though we appreciate him! 

  1. “God’s varied grace.”

  • Within God’s grace is an enormous variety, everything customizable.

  • God sends the precise GRACE needed in our hour of need. 

  • Any Christian can be a BRINGER of grace to others.

  • Any Christian can be a RECEIVER of grace from other Christians.

If we stick to the UPS analogy, God’s there in the warehouse. 

  • Knows precisely what GRACE a person needs. 

  • Puts it in the package.

  • Knows precisely the best way to deliver that grace. 

  • Sends the right person at the right time.

  1. Spiritual gifts — Not rare in the church. They’re everywhere! “Each has received a gift.”

This is one of the great changes in the new covenant.

  • Old covenant — God’s Spirit was at work! 

  • But in terms of spiritual gifts, picture is that they were rare and specially given on special occasions.

  • Gideon, Samson, Saul among the prophets.

But in the OT this promise in Minor Prophet Joel 2 was made that it wouldn’t always be this way:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)

This was fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts 2—and Peter was there! 

Now Peter’s saying that this wasn’t just a Pentecost thing. It’s a church thing: “Each has received a gift…”

  1. Application

  1. Speaking and Serving with Our Gifts at the End of All Things

Now we want to dive down into the two categories of spiritual gifts Peter gives us.

  1. Peter tells us “God’s varied grace” works through us in two kinds of ways.

It works through our SPEAKING and our SERVING.

  • When you’re bringing grace to people, it’s in how you speak to them.

  • Or it’s in the things you do for them.

A helpful distinction.

  • Easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of spiritual gifts in the Bible.

  • Depending on how you list them there’s about two dozen.

  • Can get wrapped in parsing out whether your gift is the gift of “mercy” in Romans 12 or the gift of “helping” in 1 Cor 12.

  • Sometimes good to step back and use Peter’s two categories.

  • Just say this is a gift of SERVING and not really SPEAKING.

  1. First, “Whoever speaks”

Let’s think about these speaking gifts: “Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God.”

Peter isn’t saying all our words are “oracles of God.” It’s only in the Bible where you say ALL these words are “oracles of God.”

But as we use our spiritual gifts of speaking to minister grace to others, God is going to use those words. 

Sometimes it will be as if God himself is speaking to a person. 

Peter’s telling us, if your spiritual gift is a speaking gift, speak AS IF you’re speaking oracles of God.

  • Be confident.

  • Be careful.

  • Within these words is God’s grace, sent by him to minister to someone in need.

The NT picture from the least dramatic to the most:

“WHOEVER SPEAKS” (NT SPEAKING GIFTS):

1.  Exhortation (Rom 12:8)

2.  Teaching (Rom 12:7; 1 Cor 12:28–29)

3.  Prophecy (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10)

4.  Word of Wisdom/Word of Knowledge (1 Cor 12:8)

5.  Tongues/Interpretation of Tongues (1 Cor 12:10)

SELF-ASSESSMENT:

  • Are you able to affect people with your words? (Positively, of course!)

  • Are you able to INSPIRE and ENCOURAGE? (Exhortation)

  • Are you able to EXPLAIN? (Teacher)

  • Do you sometimes get WORDS FROM GOD to speak to others? Or a knowledge of a situation or person no one gave you but was straight from God? (Prophecy, Word of Wisdom/Knowledge)

  • Tongues a little more obvious—speaking in a language you don’t know. (Tongues/Interpretation)

***These gifts could be one-on-one, small group, or a large group.

  1. Second, “whoever serves”

Peter’s second category is “SERVING.”

  • With every gift the call is to serve others.

  • But here he means ACTIONS WE DO that positively affect others.

  • An action could be LEADING a group of people toward some goal.

  • Could be ORGANIZING a ministry.

  • Could be extending PRACTICAL HELP to someone.

  • Could be using your money and possessions in unusually GENEROUS ways.

  • We can also add the MORE MIRACULOUS types of gifts—our prayers for dramatic things that get answered.

  • And ministry ROLES we might fill—teacher, deacon, elder, evangelist, church planter

NT Serving Gifts again from most familiar to most dramatic:

“WHOEVER SERVES” (NT SERVING GIFTS):

1.  Giving, Serving, Mercy, Helping (Rom 12:7–8; 1 Cor 12:28)

2.  Leading, Administrating (Rom 12:8; 1 Cor 12:28)

3.  Elder, Deacon, Teacher, Evangelist, Prophet, Apostle/Church Planter (Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 3:8–13; 1 Cor 12:28–29)

4.  Faith, Gifts of Healing, Miracles, Discerning of Spirits (1 Cor 12:9–10)

SELF-ASSESSMENT:

  • Do you have a long-term track record of GIVING GENEROUSLY (beyond a tithe) to your church, other Christians, and Christian ministries? (Giving)

  • Are there ways that you are more attuned to PEOPLE’S NEEDS than most and are quickly find ways to meet them? (Serving, Mercy, Helping)

  • Do you tend to be a part of HELPING GROUPS OR ORGANIZATIONS become more efficient and effective toward reaching worthy goals? (Leading, Administrating)

  • Are other people blessed and helped when you serve in significant POSITIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY at church? (Teacher, Deacon, Elder)

  • Do you find your PRAYERS EVEN FOR BIG OR MIRACULOUS THINGS are answered somewhat regularly? (Faith, Gifts of healings, Miracles)

  1. Maybe you don’t know where to start. Wisdom of Sam Storms:

Look for a need and meet it. Find a hurt and heal it. Be alert to the cry for help and answer it. Listen for the voice of God and speak it. Identify someone’s weakness and overcome it. Look for what’s missing and supply it. When you do, the power of God—the energizing, enabling, charismatic activity of the Holy Spirit—will equip you, perhaps only once, but possibly forever, to minister hope and encouragement to those in need. So, if you’re still wondering what your gift(s) might be, act first and ask later.
Sam Storms, The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts

Conclusion

Why bother? Doxology! 

When you minister with your spiritual gift, it’s good to remember why we call it a gift. We call it a gift not because YOU are the gift. We call it a gift because GOD THE GIVER has given the GIFT to us. 

Again, we’re just the UPS guy. We thank the UPS guy. But it’s the GIVER who sent the gift that really gets the glory. 

We SPEAK and SERVE…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet 4:11)

Spiritual gifts aren’t for OUR GLORY but God’s. He’s the GIVER. 

MINISTRY TIME – 3 AREAS:

  • “Filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 5:19)

  • “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (1 Cor 14:1)

  • Particular area where you need grace – “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16)

Prayer

 

  1. Miscellaneous

Excerpt of Return of the King from https://ae-lib.org.ua/texts-c/tolkien__the_lord_of_the_rings_3__en.htm 

Sam got up. He was dazed, and blood streaming from his head dripped in his eyes. He groped forward, and then he saw a strange and terrible thing. Gollum on the edge of the abyss was fighting like a mad thing with an unseen foe. To and fro he swayed, now so near the brink that almost he tumbled in, now dragging back, falling to the ground, rising, and falling again. And all the while he hissed but spoke no words.

The fires below awoke in anger, the red light blazed, and all the cavern was filled with a great glare and heat. Suddenly Sam saw Gollum’s long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then snapped as they bit. Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm’s edge. But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle. It shone now as if verily it was wrought of living fire.

‘Precious, precious, precious!’ Gollum cried. ‘My Precious! O my Precious!’ And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, and he was gone.

There was a roar and a great confusion of noise. Fires leaped up and licked the roof. The throbbing grew to a great tumult, and the Mountain shook. Sam ran to Frodo and picked him up and carried him. out to the door. And there upon the dark threshold of the Sammath Naur, high above the plains of Mordor, such wonder and terror came on him that he stood still forgetting all else, and gazed as one turned to stone.

A brief vision he had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled. Fire belched from its riven summit. The skies burst into thunder seared with lightning. Down like lashing whips fell a torrent of black rain. And into the heart of the storm, with a cry that pierced all other sounds, tearing the clouds asunder, the Nazgûl came, shooting like flaming bolts, as caught in the fiery ruin of hill and sky they crackled, withered, and went out.

‘Well, this is the end, Sam Gamgee,’ said a voice by his side. And there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away. There was the dear master of the sweet days in the Shire.

‘Master!’ cried Sam. and fell upon his knees. In all that ruin of the world for the moment he felt only joy, great joy. The burden was gone. His master had been saved; he was himself again, he was free. And then Sam caught sight of the maimed and bleeding hand.

‘Your poor hand!’ he said. ‘And I have nothing to bind it with, or comfort it. I would have spared him a whole hand of mine rather. But he’s gone now beyond recall, gone for ever.’

‘Yes,’ said Frodo. ‘But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.’

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