Living in the End Times
1 Peter 4: 7 -11
Our text today is a bit prophetic because of the term “the end of all things is at hand”. I’m not so sure whether Peter was foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem or the Second coming of the Lord but anyway at present, with all the troubles, difficulties, terrorism, etc., happening around the world, we can certainly say that “the end of all things is at hand”. Christ’s coming is imminent. Knowing this, Peter gives us commands and one final goal.
I. Be Sober, and watch unto prayer (1 Pet. 4:7).
A. The N.T. term “sober” means to be in control of one’s mind and life to the end of obeying the Lord in all things.
B. It refers to spiritual alertness and seriousness of purpose; prudence; temperance (1Th. 5:6, 8; 1Pet. 1:13; 5:8).
C. This is to characterize every Christian, from the young to the old (Tit. 2:4, 6, 12). It is a qualification for Christian service (1Tim. 3:2, 11; Tit. 1:8).
D. With a sober mind, the Bible Doctrine of the imminent return of Christ, should make the Christian to live a holy life, serve faithfully, and wait patiently, for His return. He should not go up the mountain and just wait without doing anything.
E. Ten times in the Pastoral Epistles, Paul admonished people to “be sober-minded.” It is one of the qualifications for pastors (1 Tim. 3:2) and for the members of the church (Titus 2:1-6). In a world that is susceptible to wild thinking, the church must be sober-minded.
F. We are to watch and pray.
G. “Watch and pray” simply means to “be alert in our praying, to be controlled.” There is no place in the Christian life for lazy, listless routine praying. We must have an alert attitude and be on guard, just like the workers in Nehemiah’s day (Neh. 4:9).
H. The word “watch” carries with it the idea of alertness and self-control. It is the opposite of being drunk or asleep (1 Thess. 5:6-8). this admonition had special meaning to Peter, because he went to sleep when he should have been “watching unto prayer” (Mark 14:37-40).
Illustration: One Day at a Time
Once there was a rich man who had a son to whom he promised an annual allowance. Every year on the same day, he would give his son the entire amount. After a while, it happened that the only time the father saw his son was on the day of allowance. So the father changed his plan and only gave the son enough for the day. Then the next day the son would return. From then on, the father saw his son every day. This is the way God dealt with Israel. It is the way God deals with us.
II. Have fervent charity among yourselves (1 Pet. 4:8)
A. Fervent charity is fervent love. Fervent means without ceasing.
B. In 1 Pet. 1:22 we are commanded to love one another with a pure heart fervently.
C. Here in our text, the term “above all things” gives love the first priority above all other virtues.
D. Love is the most important virtue (Jn. 13:34, 1 Jn. 4:7-8, 3:14) and is very necessary for Christian relationship.
E. Sacrificial love is the number one priority in living out our relationship with others.
F. Sacrificial love is the very essence of God’s love (Jn. 3:16) and God is love (1 Jn. 4:8).
G. This kind of love puts another person’s good ahead of his own personal desires even if they are treated unfairly, unkindly, maybe even violently.
H. The term “charity shall cover the multitude of sins” means that Christians should overlook sins. What I mean is that, we should forgive and forget whatever sin is done against us by our fellow Christians.
Illustration 1: Love Was the Motivation
Love reaches for the hurt and takes bold steps without self-interest. It can accomplish unbelievable things merely because it is so void of self-interest.
Some time ago, a teenager, Arthur Hinkley, lifted a 3,000-pound tractor with bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, but his friend, Lloyd Bachelder, 18, was pinned under a tractor on a farm near Rome, Maine. Hearing Lloyd scream, Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle out.
Love was the real motivation.
Illustration 2: The Importance of Love
God’s benevolent concern for humankind. All religions have some idea of the importance of love. Christian theology stresses the importance of love because God has revealed that he is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Love is both what God is and what he has done; God always acts in love.
Love is a transitive reality—that is, it requires an object. In the Bible, love is described as personal (between persons) and selfless (desiring the best for others). Christians see God’s love in sending his Son to die on the cross to save sinners (Rom. 5:8; John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). Christians are to be known by the fact that they love God and others (John (13:34-35). Their love is not to be like the love the world has (Luke 6:32, 35). Love is best seen in actions and in most cases is to be identified with what we do—in our compassion and commitment to those around us, regardless of the object’s virtue (1 John 4:19). Our loving attitudes and behavior are to reflect God’s love. Jesus said that only two commands are needed to govern our lives: love of God and love of neighbour. If such love is demonstrated, all the law and prophets are fulfilled.
III. Be Hospitable (1 Pet. 4:9)
A. To be hospitable means to be friendly to strangers or guests (1 Tim. 3:2, Tit. 1:8)
B. Hospitality includes opening one’s home and caring for other needy Christians such as missionaries or travelling preachers.
C. Hospitality at present time may include opening your home for church activities such as Bible Studies, prayer meetings, and other church activities.
D. The term “one to another” means we must be hospitable to everybody not just to people that are lovable or friendly. It refers to all Christians whose attitude and behaviour may not always be lovable or friendly.
E. Grumbling means to murmur or speak secretly. The idea is to express discontent or displeasure.
F. We are to do hospitality without complaint.
Illustration: Giving Last Slice of Bread
“I have seen Christians in communist prisons with 50 pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red hot iron pokers in whose throats spoonful of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering from cold, and praying with fervour for the communist…Afterward, the communist come to prison too.
Now the tortured and the torturers were in the same cell. And while the non-Christian beat them (torturers). Christians took their defence. I have seen Christians giving away their last slice of bread (we had at that time one slice a week) and the medicine which could save their lives to a sick communist torturer who was now a fellow-prisoner. –Wurmbrand (Encyclopaedia of 7700 Illustrations)
IV. Minister or serve one to another.
A. We are to serve. We are saved to serve.
B. Each Christian has one specific spiritual gift. Sometimes combination of other gifts, given uniquely for each believer.
C. Gifts were given by the Lord not for the exaltation of the one with the gift but for the benefit of others in the church. (1 Cor. 12:7).
D. Our spiritual gift or gifts were given freely by grace that is we did nothing to get it. So, we should minister our gifts with grace.
E. The term “one to another” tells us that our gifts are for others, not for ourselves.
Illustration: Willing to do Little Things
A good many are kept out of the service of Christ, deprived of the luxury of working for God, because they are trying to do some great thing. Let us be willing to do little things. And let us remember that nothing is small in which God is the source. (D. L. Moody, quoted in The Berean Call, Bend, Oregon, March, 1997).
V. Final goal (1 Pet. 4:11)
A. In everything, God gets the glory. (2 Cor. 4:7, 1 Cor. 10:31, Phil. 2:11)
B. “Through” indicates that Jesus Christ is the instrument by which God glorifies Himself, not us.
C. God gives glory to Himself through Christ in three doxologies. (Rom. 16:27, Jude 25, 1 Pet. 4:11).
D. Glory is given to Christ in Rom. 16:27, Rev. 1:6, 5:13, 7:10, 2 Pet. 3:18, 2 Tim. 4:18, and Heb. 13:21.
Knowing these four commands and the final goal which is to glorify God through Jesus Christ, will you obey and do these things? Will you be willing to serve others and use your spiritual gifts especially now that the time is at hand?