Living as the Church in Light of Our Lord’s Return
1 Peter 4:7-11
Truth Taught – We must be busy serving others within the local Church because the Last Days are upon us
Last week we saw Peter’s military strategy and God’s Art of War. The point he makes is since we are in a war as God’s people, we must engage in the battle and be armed with the mind of Christ then fight aggressively against our passions, which are waging war against our souls. With this wartime mentality we must do battle now because our passions are currently waging war within us. Delaying or putting it off is not an option for the Christian desiring to glorify God.
Today, Peter shows us why we must be using our spiritual gifts in the local church now. We cannot delay or put off using our gifts because Jesus is coming again. The best way to have the Lord’s bride, the church, ready when He comes is to build up the bride through working within the realm of our giftedness. How are you using your gifts for the good of the church?
I’ve pastored for twenty years now and have found this to be true. There is a small percentage of people within the local church who are using their gifts for the good of the body, and then there is a large percentage who think their gift to the church is their presence on Sunday mornings. Your attendance is expected but not a spiritual gift.
As we begin, it’s important to see that exercising spiritual gifts is a very good way to anticipate the Lord’s return then also conclude that to not exercise them is to live not anticipating Jesus’ return. So, we must ask ourselves, Am I living for God’s glory and am I motivated by the imminent return of Jesus?
Last time we looked at the ways of the lost world around us . . .
1 Peter 4:3–4 (ESV)
3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;
As I get ready to read today’s text notice with me how we are to live differently than the lost world especially in light of Jesus’ return.
-The lost world lives their life in drunkenness, and God calls us to live with sober minds.
– They give themselves over to lawlessness, but we are to live in sincere love.
– They give themselves over to orgies yet we are to show hospitality.
– They malign others; we must serve others.
1 Peter 4:7–11 (ESV)
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7 The end of all things is at hand
There is a misconception with today’s heightened zeal for eschatology. The zeal without knowledge is very evident when people can tell you all the intricate details of premillennial eschatology, but the same person cannot explain the basics of the Gospel. Beware of the person who has the Daily Times in one hand and the Book of Revelation in the other. I’ve spoken to and pastored these types before. They wear me out because if they were really looking for Jesus’ return, they would be the most loving and hardest workers in the church. Instead all they want to do is live in a make-believe world and pretend that they have figured out what God is up to, and honestly, they have forfeited true Christianity for trivial knowledge. The danger of spending too much time seeking to discover the answers to when and how Jesus is returning becomes an obsession because it is all theoretical and there are no demands to live a certain way. Whatever your take on the return of Christ is, does it promote an earnest passionate life of overcoming sin and serving others? If it doesn’t, then your end times view is flawed.
Here, Peter fills us in on true end times. He says they have already started. The reality is that the Last Days began when Jesus rose from the grave. We have been living in the Last Days all our lives. The Last Days will be fully consummated at our Lord’s return. We are in the Last Days right now.
God calls his church, in every generation, to live in light of this remarkable truth: nothing now stands in the way of Jesus’s return. After his perfect life, sacrificial death for us, resurrection from the grave, and ascension to heaven to pour out his Spirit on his church, the next major movement in the history of the world is the second coming of Christ.
1 Peter 1:20 (ESV)
20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
God’s great reminder here is that we are currently living in the Last Days, so, what significance does that have for us? What should our lives look like in light of Christ’s imminent return?
therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers
Since we are in the Last Days, live a life that will allow our prayers to be most effective. Peter has already mentioned prayer a couple of times.
The inconsiderate husband’s prayers are not heard.
1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
The Lord’s ears are open to the righteous.
It’s important here that we realize that the effectiveness of our prayers is in direct proportion to how we live our lives.
We must live in a way that our temperament is under control. We must be self-controlled. We are to also be sober-minded. The lost live for escape. They live for the weekend or for the time when they get off work so that they can turn off their minds. They live for debauchery as stated previously by Peter. Drunkenness, orgies, parties and other things offer the lost an escape from their reality. We, on the other hand, must always live for the present in a sober self-controlled way.
What does Peter say will be one amazing result? Live this way for the sake of your prayers.
A sober-minded and self-controlled life will result in more praying. The frequency of our times of prayer will be greater. When we assess this world correctly and respond soberly the effect will be more and more times of prayer. These prayers will also be of greater intensity. As we realize time is short, we will pray more frequently and more intensely. We won’t daydream through our praying but more often weep while praying. Burdens will be greater the more we realize Jesus is returning.
I’ve often heard it said that if a person knew Jesus was coming back today what they would do differently. Would they witness more, pray more, love others more? This is the way Peter wants us to think and pray.
As we live this way our prayers are even more effective.
James 5:16 (ESV)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
So, quite clearly then, how we live affects our prayers. God desires that our praying be effective so live soberly and with self-control so your praying will be greatly effective.
Are your prayers effective? Ask yourself am I living in a way that will promote effective prayers?
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Of the utmost importance is that a local congregation show real love to each other. The word earnestly here is also translated as fervently. It’s the idea of loving others with brotherly affections to a degree that causes us to be exhausted. It’s going out of our way, seeking their good in ways that cause us to exert maximum effort. The original is like an athlete straining for the finish line.
This kind of brotherly love is not just seeing the members of the church on Sundays; it’s not just saying how are you today? It’s not casual acquaintances; it’s not any of these things. Earnest and fervent love for one another is the type of love the world longs for but cannot achieve. It’s a love that goes out of its way and greatly commits to the wellbeing of its fellow Christian brother or sister.
This sort of love will overlook many sins. In other words, true brotherly love within the Church does not say things like, well, you should have known better or you’re just going to have to suffer the consequences of your actions. It can overlook those types of sins in order to seek the best for fellow members.
Now, I realize sometimes it is best to allow some suffering for the greater good. In general, brotherly love that is fervent will not pick the person apart but will serve them and care for them as needed even if there is great cost involved.
In the course of loving one another, there will be occasion to be hospitable. Peter tells us to show hospitality without grumbling. This is the type of hospitality that may last a while not just inviting someone to dinner.
Probably my top ten movies include “What about Bob” Bob will not leave Richard Dreyfuss’ vacation home. He tries everything to get Bob to leave and he won’t. Bob is sleeping in his PJs, using his spare toothbrush, and eating all the food and still won’t leave. Dreyfuss does a lot of whining and complaining. Peter tells us to be hospitable without complaining. True brotherly love shares toothbrushes and PJs. This is what it means to be hospitable.
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
We all, as Christians, have spiritual gifts that God desires us to use within the Church body. I’m sure many here have taken a spiritual gift inventory of some kind that was meant to show you your gift. I would use caution with those because there are some serious flaws with those. First, a lost person can take one and it show what gift they have. Second, spiritual gifts are not your own talents and natural skills etc. Third, to consistently use your gift requires faith. Forth, they bear an uncanny resemblance to the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator tests so common in schools and the workforce.
With these things in mind, I want us to look at a short passage that teaches about spiritual gifts.
Romans 12:3–8 (ESV)
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
The gifts here are distributed by God for the purpose of a well-balanced and functioning Church. Much like salvation that is given by God, so too gifts are given. We cannot earn them, pray for them, or somehow generate them but they are given by God.
As a Christian, if you are not using your gift here in this Church then we are not complete. We are lacking your gift.
1 Corinthians 12:12–20 (ESV)
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
There are gifts that are more regularly notable such as preaching and teaching. There are gifts that are more behind the scene such as serving and giving but none are more or less important.
There are basically two general categories of gifts. There are speaking gifts and serving gifts. The speaker must utter God’s truth, and the server must serve in God’s power.
A question I had to ask myself is this: Is there any Biblical models for searching for spiritual gifts?
I can’t find one single Scripture that says finding our gift was EVER a problem for the Church.
I can’t find one single Scripture that instructs us how to find our gift.
I can’t find any historical account that finding our gift was a problem for the Church.
I can’t find any historical account that finding our gift was a problem for Church Fathers.
Anything we do in Christ is not through our strengths but is perfected in weakness.
I can’t find one single Scripture, which uses a subjective balance of weighing our strengths and weaknesses to determine our Gift(s) of the Holy Spirit.
I can’t find one single Scripture that uses personality or personality theory to determine our course in Christ or in the Church.
You may be thinking today that you’re not sure what your gift is. How do you discover your gift?
If you want to learn what your spiritual gifts are, the best place to begin would be with reading the Bible and praying. Allow God to speak to you through His Word, showing you where He has gifted you. Ask Him to give you a passion for your gift and to provide desire and opportunity for you to exercise this gift. And having done that, ask your Christian friends and family, me as your Pastor, and elders, what they think your gifting is.
I would also ask you to consider what needs we have as a local body. Here’s what I call the sovereignty test. God has brought you here for a purpose. We have needs. So, perhaps one of the needs we have you are supposed to fill because you’re here and so is the need.
The bottom line is this . . . If you’re a Christian, you have a gift. Since you’re here God wants you to use your gift. Jesus is returning, and the Last Days are upon us what are you waiting for?
Teaching 1 Peter by Angus MaCleay
1 Peter by Karen Jobes
1 Peter by David Helm
1 Peter by John MacArthur
1 Peter by Peter Davids
1 Peter by Wayne Grudem
1 Peter by Edmond Clowney