Update

So you likely noticed it has been a while since my last post. My wife and I just had a son so life has been busy, but I have also shifted my focus. I will continue the commentaries, and I did finally post the full Galatians commentary, but I will be taking a small break to focus on finishing my book. The title is What Christians Must Do and it talks about having a true relationship with God and how that means doing all that God asks of us in Scripture. As always it will be available for free PDF download. I would encourage all of you to read it when it is finally finished. It should be soon, I am aiming for the the beginning of June. I may post a chapter or two for preview, but the book is much better read as a whole. I pray God continues to teach and uplift you. Feel free to ask questions or give suggestions. God Bless.

Your Brother in Christ,

Ethan VanAernam

1 Peter Chapter 5

Here we are in the last chapter of 1 Peter. Here he wraps up his letter by talking to the elders specifically. He then uses that to talk about how others need to act and how we must be alert. Now, let’s dive in.

1 Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Here Peter takes the opportunity to remind the elders that they are supposed to be watching over the church. This is to be done of their own choice and not out of force. Moreover, this is to be done under God’s will, not just our own desire. He goes on to say that an elder is not to teach out of a desire for money, but out of eagerness to teach God’s words to others. They are to be in charge, but not to abuse that power or use it to intimidate. They are to be examples for other Christians to imitate. All of this is to be done, remembering that God will hold them accountable for how they lead. You may be wondering what your part is in this if you are not a leader. Your part is to make sure your leaders are doing what God has commanded them to and to know the standards they must follow, because most of them are applied to all Christians throughout the New Testament.

5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

Now here is something a little more specific to those who are not leaders. Peter reminds them that they are to listen to the elders and subject themselves to their judgement. Likewise, we are called to be humble to one another, knowing that God resists the proud, but will give underserved grace to those who humble themselves. This means treating others better than ourselves and not having a high opinion of ourselves. If we humble ourselves, God will exalt us in His time, be that in this life or in eternity. As part of this, God asks us to cast our cares and burdens on Him as He will strengthen and sustain us.

8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.

Now Peter gives an emphatic point. We are called to be aware and on the lookout for Satan and his attacks. He desires to destroy us, or if he cannot do that, to make us useless for the gospel. We must resist him, crying to God for strength. Hold firm, remembering that this is happening to all believers and it is not just you. You are not alone. God will restore us, establish us, strengthen us, and support us. There is nothing better than that, as everything is under God’s authority.

12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13 The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Here we get a small explanation as to why Peter wrote this letter. He was seeking to encourage the believers and testify to the truth of God’s grace. He tells them to take their stand in it. He then gives greetings and prays peace for all of them.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 Leaders, shepherd your people the way God has commanded, and everyone else must strive to meet the same standards and to know what their leaders are supposed to do.

2 Subject yourself to the elders of your church.

3 Continue to humble yourself, considering other people more important and seeking to serve them more than yourself.

4 Go to God in pray and tell Him of your fears, worries and burdens and ask Him for strength. If you pray and give Him these things He will strengthen you and give you peace.

5 Be on the lookout for the Devil and his schemes. He will try to tempt you from following Jesus or he will try to keep you from advancing the gospel. Stand firm, turn to God, and He will give you victory.

 

1 Peter Chapter 4

Here we are drawing close to the end of another book. In this chapter, Peter continues his thoughts on suffering. If you recall, in the last chapter he told us that we are to suffer with Christ and now he explains more what that looks like. Let’s get right to it!

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin— 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was also preached to those who are now dead, so that, although they might be judged by men in the fleshly realm, they might live by God in the spiritual realm.

Peter tells us that we are to suffer in the flesh because Jesus has suffered in the flesh. We must have the same resolve and choose to suffer in the flesh rather than give in to fleshly desires. Thus we put sin to death and instead of seeking fleshly desire, we seek God’s desire. He reminds us that we have already wasted enough time of vain and lustful pleasure and that we must focus on God. The world is surprised by this. The world has no hope for the future, or else they believe what is done here does not truly matter, and so the only logical thing to do is whatever makes you feel good. They get drunk, they have sex outside of marriage, and they do drugs. Now obviously not all unbelievers participate in all of these, some may even abstain all together, but that is not the point Peter is making. He is not literally saying all unbelievers do all these things all the time, he is giving it as a general statement. His point is the world in general does these things, and they are surprised when believers do not. As believers, we are not to live wildly, not to be drunk, not fulfill evil desires, not to cause damage and mayhem, and not to participate in the unrestrained sexual experiences outside of marriage. If we keep from these activities, and others not listed here, then we will be slandered by others. I am sure some of your reading this have experienced that. They sayings things like, oh holier than though, or prude. However, what they say or think does not matter. God Himself will judge all that is done and He is by far more important. Remember that in all we do, the goal is to please God. That is why the gospel is given, so that man can be restored to God and seek His desires.

7 Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. 8 Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Here is a point many people get confused. 2 Peter 3:3-9 tells us that many will mock us, asking when the end times will come, but we must remember that God does not look at time the way we do, and that God is allowing more time so that more people may be reached. With that said the end really could come at any moment and as the Bible warns we must be ready. Peter tells us in light of the end we must be serious and alert. We are also called to be disciplined in prayer! How many of us suffer in this area? It is so easy to get distracted or busy, but Peter is highlighting its importance. God is coming back and He wants us to be in prayer. He also calls us to love each other, which means living in forgiveness. As Peter says, it covers a multitude of sins. We are also called to be hospitable to each other without complaining. Lastly, Peter talks about the various gifts we all have. Whatever our gift, we are to use it to serve God and others. It is not just limited to Peter’s list; any gift should be used for God. However, Peter gives a small correction to all of us that think it is by our strength, and reminds us that any service we preform is to be done by God’s strength as He is the one who accomplishes it. Since that is the case, we are also told we must glorify God for His strength. All glory and power belong to Him.

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? 18 And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? 19 So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.

Now we go back to the topic of suffering. Peter tells us not to be surprised when ordeals come and we are to suffer. After all, as he already told us we are called to suffer with Jesus. What is even harder, we are called to rejoice in our suffering, something I confess I find difficult. What is even stranger is that being ridiculed for our faith is in fact a sign that God is with us. However, if we suffer because of our sin or wrongs that we have committed, then it is not a sign of blessing, but necessary discipline that we may come back to God. But, if we do suffer with a clear conscience, then we should not be ashamed. We instead are to glorify God for the name He has given us, because of which we suffer. Another point of interest is that judgement is first brought on the followers of God. We are judged by our love and obedience to Jesus before anyone else. It mirrors the operation of the church, being responsible for judging and remove those who are members, but not those outside of it who do not know God. However, Peter points out that in this judgement by God, judgement will come to the unbeliever. After all, that is God’s responsibility and not ours. Those who do not obey the gospel will find judgment, and since the righteous are saved with difficulty, what will happen to the unsaved sinner? Believers are called to entrust themselves to God and endure suffering.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 We are called to live out God’s desires and not to live wildly, get drunk, fulfill evil desires, cause damage and mayhem, or to participate in the unrestrained sexual experiences outside of marriage.

2 We are also called to be disciplined in prayer! Take time daily to talk to God in prayer. Lay your burdens on Him and tell Him your requests.

3 He also calls us to love each other, which means forgiving. Do not live in anger.

4 We are also called to be hospitable to each other without complaining. Invite a believer over and have fellowship.

5 Use your gift for God. Think through the talents and skills you have been blessed with and ask if they can be used at your local church, the answer is likely yes.

6 Depend on God, remembering His is the strength behind all we do, and as such praise and glorify Him for all of it.

7 When we suffer we are to rejoice, knowing God uses it to build our faith in Him.

8 Do not be ashamed of bearing God’s name, and be careful to obey the gospel.

Easter

Easter is without a doubt the most important event in all of Christianity. There are many reasons why, but it is best summarized as this. Easter is the main focus of the Biblical narrative and the climactic point to which everything builds and flows out of. What is that in English? Simply put, the Bible not only gives commands and directions, but tells a true story. The most important story ever recorded, man’s salvation. Have you ever stopped stopped think about the Bible as one continuing narrative? From Genesis to Revelations the Bible tells us about God and man’s relationship.

In Genesis we see the events of creation and the relationship that first existed between God and mankind, that they literally walk with God. We also see mankind’s choice to rebel against God. This action broke the relationship between God and mankind. However, even in the midst of such failure God offers hope. God tells them that one will be born from the like of Adam and Eve who would bring restoration. From there on we see examples of broken relationship with God, but we also see God reach out to fix the brokenness. God chooses Abraham from all the people in the world and promises to make him a nation. This nation only comes about from God’s intervention and through it God builds His nation. God sets them free of those around them and bring them to the land He promised. God gives them His law and the Passover, symbols of what is to come. He uses priests, prophets and judges to instruct the people and teach them about Himself. He also continues to tell the people of Messiah who will come to fix man’s relationship with God. Israel sins and draws far from God and finally He disciplines them, but still preserves a remnant. God brings them back to their land and is faithful to help them. Still they wait for the Messiah, who they think will bring His kingdom to Earth through military force, destroying all their enemies. However, God is focused on the Spiritual victory that they truly need, while as always, they only see the physical.

Finally, after thousands of years the Messiah comes. Jesus is born and fulfills every prophecy given by the prophets. He dies, taking all sin on Himself, and rises victorious over death. The whole Old Testament points forward to this. As Jesus said it testified to His coming. However, the story does not end there. Because of prophecy being fulfilled and the good news of a restored relationship with God, the disciples and early believers are mobilized by the Holy Spirit to bring the good news to all people. They suffer, preach, and most are killed for their faith. This too is rooted in Jesus. Everything they do and accomplish is because of His death and resurrection. The Bible as a whole is about this. The Old Testament looks forward to His coming and the New Testament reacts to the good news and the commands He gives. The Bible is the story of man’s relationship with God, how it was broken, and how God fixed it. Without Jesus, none of the Bible would matter as we would still be separated from God and without hope of restoration.

Easter is the time of year we remember the truth of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. We remember the astounding cost Jesus paid, and we must be thankful for the restoration with God. We were once separated from Him, but now we can call Him father. Do not just pass this day by, and do not read the Bible as just a collection of stories. Every passage, every book, every word points to Jesus and the restoration of man to God. Let this truth be part of your life every day, and never take the good news for granted. Have a happy Easter because He has risen.

1 Peter Chapter 3

Welcome back to 1 Peter, we will be picking up at chapter 3. Sorry for the delay, but I dropped my computer and cracked the screen so I had to wait for a new one to come so I could fix it. Anyway, think back with me to the end of chapter 2. Peter talks about how we have been called to suffer with Christ, how died to save us and how we have come under His authority, as he says returning to the shepherd. Chapter 3 picks up right here. Remember, these letters did not originally have chapters and verses, but were one continuous dialogue. Each chapter informs the next and every verse must be examined in light of the whole. Peter moves from submission to the shepherd (God) to submission in marriage. Let’s dig in and see what God’s word has to say.

1 In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live 2 when they observe your pure, reverent lives. 3 Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. 5 For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming. 7 Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

It is extremely important to note that Peter calls for all believers to be submitted to God before he talks about wives and husbands. This is not the kind of submission most people picture. When most women hear this phrasing, they see an overbearing husband that merely silences his wife with no regard for her. This is not the case. Peter first clarifies all believers must be submitted to God, which means all husbands must submit to God. If they do this they will not lord their authority over their wives, but as Paul says they will seek out her good (Ephesians 5:28-30). However, Peter is addressing another situation here. The idea is that women who were already married had turned to Jesus and had been saved, but their husbands had not. Peter calls on these women to submit to them, that by doing so they will be a constant witness to their husbands that may bring them to Jesus. There is a lot of debate that can come up from this passage, but I am not going to address all of it. I just want to point out what Peter is saying. Christians are called to join in suffering with Jesus. The kind of abuse, neglect and loneliness suffered by Him is incomparable. Jesus calls us to live sacrificially. Therefore, those that are married to an unbeliever are called to endure their ungodly and selfish leadership as a testimony of what God has done. Does this mean God commands that you must stay with an abusive husband? I do not believe so, but it gives you a guideline. Endure what you can in the hopes of leading your husband to the Lord, but on the same token Jesus never commands believers to stay in an abusive relationship. He told His disciples to leave towns that would not welcome them. Regardless of what you do and what happens, we are called to live a life worthy of the gospel as a witness to those that harm us or seek to destroy us. Is this easy? No, it is very hard, especially for us who have not endured persecution. Thankfully our strength does not come from us, but from God and He strengthens us to stand for His name.

Peter gives an example of submission in the form of Sarah. Now Sarah did submit to her husband, but Abraham did not lord it over her. He took care of her and listen to her. Submission of a wife is not permission for husbands to abuse them. It is the exact opposite. Peter tells husbands that if they are not treating their wives well it will hinder their prayers. Paul tells us we are called to love our wives as Jesus loved the church, willing to die for them. That is the kind of love and caring God expects of godly husbands.

8 Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. 10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and he must turn away from evil and do what is good. He must seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.

Peter then jumps into this next section, giving several instructions to the believers as to how they are to act. Peter calls for unity in the body, that they will be on the same page, be sympathetic of others, that they must love other believers, and that they are to be compassionate and humble. Humility is putting others first which includes not repaying wrongs, but loving and forgiving people who have wronged us. We are called not to lie or be deceitful. We are called to turn from evil and practice good. We are called to seek peace, because God is watching us. If we seek God’s will and do what He asks we can be confident that He is open to our prayers, but if we live in sin or wrong then God will be set against us.

13 And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.

Peter makes another point here saying, ‘who will try to hurt you if you are trying to do good for all?’ People we bless and care for are not likely going to attack us, but even if they do Peter points out that if we suffer for doing what is righteous then we are blessed. We are to suffer for doing good, but it is no benefit to us if we suffer because of our own sin. We are not to be afraid, but instead focus on pleasing God and being able to explain to people why we trust in God. We are not called to abrasively yell the truth at people, but to do so with gentleness. We are to do this remembering that Jesus suffered for us to make us alive through the Spirit.

19 In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison 20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 22 Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.

Now this part is confusing and has met with much debate. Peter tells us that Jesus preached to the dead who were disobedient. Some take this to mean Jesus was preaching to give them a second, but this is not supported by the rest of Scripture. Others take it to mean that He descended to the land of the dead (or hell) to proclaim His victory over death, redemption for those who believed in Him, and to confirm that the sentence past on them was just because of His victory. There is endless debate over this point, but frankly it does not dramatically affect us here and now. Some take it to mean they too will get a second chance when they die, but if you do not want Jesus now, you will not want Him then. This live is where we set our course, if we reject Jesus here, we will always reject Him.

Peter then draws a connection between Noah and baptism. The water cleansed the people and saved them. However, Peter is quick to point out that the act of being submersed in what is not what saves us, but our devotion to Jesus. It is a symbol, an outward show of an inward condition. This is accomplished by Jesus’ resurrection. He now sits in heaven and everything is subject to Him.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 Wives with unbelieving husbands are called to submit to them as a witness of what Jesus has done in their lives. As long as your husband is not endangering your life or your children’s lives then you should stay with them, trying to bring them to Jesus through your actions.

2 We must love fellow believers, seeking to do good and be at peace. If we do so God will be open to our prayers, but if not He will be set against us.

3 Do not lie and do not be deceitful. Be honest and trustworthy in all you do so that people will see Christ in you.

4 Be prepared to tell people why you have faith and hope in Jesus, giving them the reason for your faith.

5 Enduring suffering as a testimony to unbelievers.

6 Be baptized, but remember it is not baptism that saves, but faith and devotion to God. It is way to express who we have become on the inside to the whole world.

1 Peter Chapter 2

Welcome back as we start the second chapter of 1 Peter. You may remember that chapter 1 ended with the knowledge of redemption that comes through the gospel. Peter moves on to tell us how that gospel ought to change our lives. Let’s get started.

1 So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, 3 since you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! 7 So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected—this One has become the cornerstone, 8 and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this.

Peter primed this section by reminding us about God’s grace and told us that it should have changed our lives. Because of the enormous grace God has given us we must get rid of anger, hate, lies, trickery, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. In its place, we are to desire ‘spiritual milk’ or spiritual nutrients like scripture and discipleship. You should grow by it, knowing the Lord is good. We must come to Jesus. He is the cornerstone of our faith. Jesus was rejected by men but He was chosen by God. Peter continues with an analogy. Jesus is the cornerstone and we are living stones that are being built on Him into His temple. Those who believe in Jesus will never be put to shame. The Old Testament said this long before Jesus came. Those who do not believe, who rejected Jesus, will trip and stumble over Jesus. They will not obey His words.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Those who do not accept Christ will fall, but those who do believe in Christ become part of Jesus body, described as a royal priesthood. Each of us has access to God like the priests in the Old Testament. We are called to this so that we may praise God for His grace, calling us from darkness to light and giving us mercy.

11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor. 18 Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. 19 For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly.

This life is only a temporary shelter and not our home. We are called to resist the war that is against us fought by fleshly desire. We are called to act honorably among unbelievers that way even when they speak against us they will know our good works and this will bring glory to God. To live honorably among unbelievers, we must obey authority that is over us. We are called to do good and to silence our enemies by doing good. We are allowed to live as free people, but in the context of being slaves to God. We must never use our freedom in Jesus as a way to do evil. Honor all people, love your brothers and sisters, fear God. We are to submit to masters, both good and cruel. In doing all of this it brings favor to God.

20 For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. 21 For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. 22 He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; 23 when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly. 24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

            If we suffer for our sin then what good is it? But if we suffer for no reason and endure, God sees this and blesses us. We are called to endure suffering as Jesus endured suffering. Jesus did not sin and lived a life that put His enemies to shame. He suffered to the point of bearing our sin to the point of death. We are healed and forgiven by Jesus wounds. We all had gone from God and lived in sin, but He called us back and paid for our sin.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 God’s grace ought to change our lives and push us to let go of malice, deceit, slander and other evils that live in our hearts. We are called to let go of hatred and lies and instead show God’s love.

2 We are called as a royal priesthood so that we will praise God. We all must do a better job praising God.

3 Remember that this world and life are not our homes. Our home is in heaven and we must not lose sight of that.

4 Resist fleshly desires.

5 Obey all human authority unless it directly defies God’s standards for our lives.

6 Never use freedom in Christ to do evil.

7 Endure unjust suffering, knowing Jesus endured even worse for our sake.

Well thank you for pushing though this chapter. I hope you see what Peter is trying to say about the power of the gospel and the change it ought to inspire. Have a blessed day.

1 Peter Chapter 1

Welcome to the start of 1 Peter. Last week we talked briefly about the background of this letter and now we will pick up in chapter one. Remember that Peter is writing to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles and that he is trying to encourage and instruct them. Let’s begin.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

As has already been said this is a letter from Peter, possibly written in Rome, to churches throughout the region of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. Peter states that the believers are chosen by God. They are chosen because of God’s foreknowledge. That is just of fancy way of saying God knows what is going to happen before it does. They were chosen and then they were set apart by the Spirit. They were set apart that they would obey, as all of us should, and that they would be cleansed by Jesus blood. Peter wraps his greeting up by wishing for grace and peace for the believers.

Side Note: Many people use these verses as definitive proof of predestination and the lack of free will. To do so is a mistake for three reasons. First, this ignores the wealth of passages that talk about man’s free choice and the accountability for those choices. Secondly, this ignores the context of the passage itself. They were chosen because God knew what they would choose, this still conveys choice. Thirdly, the assumption of both predestination and free will ignore that fact that God uses both in a way we cannot fully grasp. It seems contradictory to the human mind, but think about it. An all-powerful God can use man’s free choices to accomplish His own will. That is the simple truth.

3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Take a second to reread verses 3 and 4. Are we ever truly thankful for the mercy God has shown, or do we take it for granted? We were given new life through the resurrection of Jesus. We get an inheritance that cannot be destroyed or corrupted. As part of this, God protects us through our faith. We are to rejoice in this. We will go through various trials and through them God will refine and prove our faith. This faith, tested and proven, is far more valuable than anything on earth. That genuine faith results in praise, glory, and honor for Jesus. Our lives, if lived as God desires, glorify God. One more point to bring up is that Peter talks about what the goal of our faith is. He points out that the goal of faith is the salvation of our soul.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things. 13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

Peter uses this next section to dive into salvation. He points out how the prophets, like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and more, searched carefully to know more. God revealed to them details of what would happen long in advance of when they did (these Biblical texts have been confirmed in the Dead Sea Scrolls which were dated nearly 200 years before Christ was born) and Jesus fulfilled all of them, bring grace to all of us. These prophets were told they would not live to see the fulfillment of what they were told, and so what they did was a service to us and others. This fulfillment was revealed to them, and us, through the preaching of others and by the Holy Spirit. Angels themselves wish to look into these things. Now, because we have been given this assurance and revelation, we must be serious and put all our hope on Jesus. We are called to be obedient, as children of God. As such we are not to pursue our former desires, or the desires of our flesh. Then Peter quotes the Old Testament, reminding his audience that we are called to be Holy, because God Himself is holy. Again Peter tells us that we must live obediently to God.

17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.

Peter points out that God is an impartial judge and that He will judge our work. Because of this, we again are called to be obedient and do all that God asks us. We are only here for a short time, and then we will be in eternity. This life is little indeed when put in that light. We were redeemed from the worthless things we once did, not by anything like gold, but only by Jesus’ blood. This had been planned by God before the world ever existed and revealed to us. God raised Him from the dead and so our faith must be in Him. By obedience we are called to love one another earnestly from a pure heart. We have been born again, and unlike the flowers of the field, this new birth will not perish. God’s word will endure forever, and these words will continue to be preached to us all.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 All believers have been set apart by the Holy Spirit with the purpose of obeying God. As believer’s we are called to obedience. We must read through God’s word and apply His commands to our lives.

2 We are called to glorify God. If we live in the way He desires, then others will see this and give glory to God. Live in such a way that your actions glorify God.

3 In light of what God has done we are called to live in obedience. I cannot stress the importance of this. It is directly stated at least three times in this chapter alone!

Hurrah! You made it through the whole thing. I hope you take this word seriously and truly grasp the importance of learning what God desires of us and doing it. I am currently putting together a book that focuses on all the things God desires of us. I hope to have it available for you soon. Until next time, God bless!

1 Peter Background

Well here we go into another book! Sorry it has been awhile, I have been traveling. We are now going to start 1 Peter and then we will do 2 Peter right after. These letters have much to say about what God desires of us. Take a brief moment to read the background and next week we will dive into chapter 1.

Background

As the name suggest 1 Peter was written by Peter through Silvanus. In verse 1 we see it was written to the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These were areas in Asia Minor, known as modern day Turkey. The letter was likely written from Rome. Peter refers to it as Babylon, but most scholars agree this is just a metaphorical use as a reference to Rome’s growing sin and coming judgement. To date the letter, we need to look at the contents. Peter does not mention the death of Paul, so it is probable that he wrote before Paul’s death in 64 AD. The best presented arguments agree that Peter wrote sometime between 63 and 64 AD. It was written to both a Jewish and Gentile audience over a wide range of places. Looking at the letter as a whole it can be seen that Peter wrote for the purpose of reassuring their salvation, warning of persecution, and exhorting them to stand tall and to do good works. This letter has much to say on the type of works expected of Jesus’ followers. As you read, note these commands and seek to apply them to your own life.

Galatians Chapter 6

Welcome back, we are heading into the last chapter of Galatians! Paul continues to give instructions to the Galatians on how they should act. Let’s dive right in.

1 Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. 2 Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else. 5 For each person will have to carry his own load.

After telling them to be good Paul goes to the end important point. If you see your brother sin you are to correct them. You are to do this with grace and gentleness be I alert so that you will not be tempted by the sin. We are to care for our brothers and sisters and help them carry their burdens. On the flip side Paul points out that if someone thinks they are a Christian then they should look at their works to see if they confirm it. Then Paul reminds us we should only look at ourselves as we know all the things we do and we should avoid comparing ourselves to our neighbor and instead compare ourselves to God’s standards.

6 The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher. 7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.

Paul moves on to comment that those who teach the gospel are entitled to payment. After this Paul reminds them that what they give is what they will get because God knows what they do. Therefore, we must not grow tired of doing good works but continue knowing it is for God and that we will spend eternity with Him. Do not give up because as you invest in others the time will come when your works in the Spirit will bring others to God. Since we know this we must work for the good of all.

11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting. 12 Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised—but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh. 14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation. 16 May peace come to all those who follow this standard, and mercy to the Israel of God! 17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I bear on my body scars for the cause of Jesus. 18 Brothers, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Paul then uses the next verse to let people know it is truly from him and not a false teacher Iain his name.  These false teachers are the ones tell I them to be circumcised. Paul knows they do this to avoid persecution and not for the good of God’s church. They cannot keep the law themselves but want the gentiles circumcised so they can boast about it. But Paul will boast only in God as should we all. Everything is made nothing in light of the cross. Circumcision means nothing as God brings in His new creation. He then prays for peace to all who follow Jesus and prays God will have mercy on Israel. He then closes the letter by telling them not to let anyone trouble them and to live in the Grace of God.

So What Do I Do With This Now?

All the information is great, but what do I do with it now?

1 If we see a brother or sister in Christ in sin we are commanded by God to confront them. We need to do so in grace and humility knowing that we too are open to temptation.

2 Do not compare yourself to others, but look at your own works and the standards of Christ.

3 Give to teachers and preachers as they are entitled to it.

4 Continue to do good works, do not give up on them as God will bring them to completion and use them in His time, and He will reward you.

5 Do not be concerned about impressing people, but crucify everything and follow God

Well thanks for sticking with me. We have made it through yet another book of the Bible and hopefully have learned and applied something as we went. Join me next week as we start a new book!

Chapter 1-Faith, Works, and God’s Call

Well it is time to keep moving forward with my book. It is a little rough as I have not had time to double back and check it thanks to being sick. Still, I wanted to put it out so people could read it and ask questions, that way I can continue to upgrade and edit it before I put it into a final form. I really want this book to speak into people’s lives and convict them so I want to make sure it is as easily understood as possible. Before I dive into any of God’s commands I choose to focus on the issue of works and on faith and how to please God as you continue in a relationship with Him. It may be a bit deep at times, but I kept it fairy short. Please let me know what you think and enjoy!

Chapter 1

            Chances are you have heard about the debate between works and faith. If you have not do not feel bad, you really have not missed anything important. This debate is primarily a misunderstanding. The debate is over salvation. There are many who know salvation is by faith alone. However, there are passages that talk about faith and works. The problem is that people have taken it to mean works are required for salvation. In response, some who know it is by faith have gone to an extreme to combat it and will not even talk about works. My goal in this chapter is show how faith and works play into a relationship with God. At the back of this book are several tables with verses. I will not use every verse as we talk about faith and works, but the table is there to show you every reference I found organized by the subject it talks about. It also has a table for Romans, Galatians, and a small part of James as these are the three major books that talk about faith and works.

Let us first establish what has often been said, that faith is the basis of salvation not works. Romans 3:27-31 talks about works and faith (the works it mentions are connected to the law of Moses seen in the book of Exodus and Leviticus). He shows through a long argument throughout the first eleven chapters that we are justified by faith not works. It is summed up in Romans 3:28 “For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” There is no argument about the basis of salvation, but there comes another part to Paul’s argument.

Starting in chapter 12 Paul transitions using the word therefore. Now anytime you see the word therefore you have to ask ‘what is it there for?’ I will try not to get too technical, but in this case therefore serves as a connector and transition from the first eleven chapters to the last five chapters. Paul first makes His argument for faith over the works of the law, but then finishes the argument talking about the huge grace God has shown us. Then he uses the word therefore. From there he goes into the second focus of the book, telling people how they should act and behave as children of God. What he is saying is literally ‘since we are saved by faith and have been given this astounding grace from God then it needs to impact us and change us, pushing us to do what we should.’ Now, I am not going to cover what he tells us to do here, as that will be addressed later. Right now, just follow the argument. Paul says that in faith we believe in God and He gives salvation, and that because of that grace we should be changed and desire to behave as God wants us to.

Romans is not the only place this is seen. Galatians is another book that deals largely with faith and works. After arguing for his authority in the first chapter and a half, Paul presents an argument nearly identical to the one in Romans. Again, he points out the law (and works) cannot save a person and that due to our own inability to follow the law we are condemned by it. However, God died and justified us by faith. The main point can be summarized by Galatians 3:2 “I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?” Now, like Romans after he finishes his argument for faith he moves on to a secondary point. Paul points out the freedom of Christ and then asks the Galatians what has stopped them from obeying the truth. From there he uses another transitioning statement, ‘I say then,’ and then goes on to list behaviors and practices that they should be doing. This functions the same way as the therefore in Romans, connecting the first and second half of the letter. Again, he says, ‘We are saved by faith through God’s grace and as a result we ought to behave as He asks us to.’ Again, we have the logical result. Saving faith ought to change our lives in such a way that we desire to live as God wants us to.

This attitude of living a life that is worthy of the saving grace God has given us is an element that not only occurs in Galatians and Romans, but appears in six other letters of Paul. In fact, Paul tells his readers to walk worthy of the gospel they were called by in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, Ephesians 4:17-5:5, Colossians 1:9-10, Philippians 1:27-28, 1 Thessalonians 1:11-12, and Titus 3:1-7. What is the point of bring all these up? Simple, to show you that Paul, the biggest advocate of faith and grace, nearly always put a second argument in those same letters about how that grace and faith ought to push us to do good works. He did not divorce faith from good works, only pointed out that it is not the works that save us. He was concerned with Christians works as it showed their trust in the gospel. Likewise, we cannot afford to separate the two, but must remember that works are not the cause of salvation.

Now we move into the book of James. Most people seem to think James is at odds with Romans and Galatians, but the truth is that it only adds to the point. James argument can be summed up in James 2:17, “In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.” People take these verses to mean that you are saved by works not faith, or works and faith. However, this is not the case. James makes his point clear in 2:19 when he says “You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.” James is saying that if you have ‘faith,’ and yet your life has not changed from it, it is a dead faith. The point he makes is that if you truly have faith in God, in a real relationship with God, then it must change your life. Works are the evidence that you truly have faith. If your ‘faith’ does not impact your life, then what good is it?

This is likewise confirmed in other books of the New Testament. 1 John 2:3 reads, “This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.” Similarly 5:2 says, “This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands.” In case you think this is just John then look at the words of Jesus. Matthew 7:15-20 reads:

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging

wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or

figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree

produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce

good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the

fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.”

How do you know if a teacher or leader is truly of God? By their fruit, or as we now call it, works. The point is still true for all believers. If you look at the chart in the back, you can see the many verses that say the same thing. Jesus evens says “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.” Faith is what brings salvation, but can you truly say you have faith if you do not desire to follow God’s words?

Now you see the issue that lay at the heart of these passages, love for God. The point of faith is not just to say you believe there is a God in control, but to be in relationship with Him. Jesus died on the cross not only to bring forgiveness, but to restore our relationship with God. Everything we strive to do must be done in that light, remembering it is a relationship. If we love God we will do what He wants us to do. God asks us to do these things because He desires to see us grow and thrive. He wants to see us desiring good and doing the things that please Him. When we seek our own ends, we are left bankrupt, feeling hollow and unsatisfied, but in following God we have His peace and satisfaction. We show our love and faith through obedience to God.

Now, if we have accepted this then we must do as God asks. Will we fail from time to time? Yes, but that is to be expected. However, we are not to continue in sin. If you continue in sin without concern, then you are showing an unrepentant heart. This just means that you show you do not love God. On the other hand, if you stumble, but ask forgiveness and continue to pursue God and deny sin. This is the attitude of repentance. If you are repentant of sin God is faithful to forgive and will strengthen you to stand against temptation. The only time it becomes a problem is when you stop trying to fight.

I hope that this chapter has given you a better picture of the Christian life and its focus on loving God. If you have, you will likely do what God desires of you. But how do you learn what God desires of you? That is what I will address in the rest of this book. I want everyone to see the commands of God and strive to obey them, but I am only human. I may miss something in scripture. I encourage you to read this book and apply it, but I also encourage you to read the Bible for yourself. To know God, you must know and apply His word. To apply His word, you must read it. Spend time every day reading God’s word and seeking to apply it, and pray to God each day for the strength to carry it out. The two most effective things you can do is to read your Bible and pray daily.