Second Clock: Living in Light of the Fast Approaching End - 1 Peter 4:7-11 (Sermon)


WELCOME 

Hi, my name is pastor Rob. It is excellent to worship you this morning. Time is important. Isn’t it? Over the years, I have coached soccer and little league. I get into it, ask my wife, especially at the end of the game. I am getting better. This COVID thing makes it easier. I ramp up at that last inning or the fourth quarter or the end of the second half. Time is critical. The same is true in life. If we know we only have limited time, we make every second count. 

TEXT 

As a church, we are working through 1 Peter. Peter is near the end. Like a good coach, he puts his thoughts into perspective writing, the “End of all things is at hand. He is not writing about his letter or their life per se. He is getting at something more relevant and extraordinary. The Bible predicts a cataclysmic unraveling of things that will culminate at an unknown hour with Jesus coming back to judge the living and the dead. That reality is like a shot clock counting down. I could say more and will. Yet, why don’t we pause and hear Peter for ourselves in 1 Peter chapter 4, starting at verse 7? Follow along with me, if you have a Bible. We will be reading verses 7 through 11. I asked D. and J. D. to read for us. We have a tradition of standing in honor of God’s Word. Would you stand with me now? D&J will be on the video. Thank you.  

READER

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 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. (1 Peter 4:7–11)

PRAYER 

Will you pray with me? God, thank you for your Word. I am desperate for you. I and my people here love you. We need you. We can say Maranatha or come, Lord Jesus, quickly come. We need help in how we speak, live, and think. God, help us to live for you and you alone. Help us to live in light of your returning. Speak today for your glory and our joy. In Jesus's name. AMEN. You may be seated. 

RECAP

The overall big idea of Peter’s letter is, “Our sure hope in Christ enables us to live in a way that displays God’s glory in all circumstances.” He begins explaining the church’s blessings in Christ and transitions in chapter 2 to talk about obedience to Christ, particularly in submitting to those over us. This theme emulates Christ, who subjected himself to his Father, suffering the scorn of the cross. Peter continues the theme in chapters 3 and 4. 

CHAPTER 4

Last week, Jeff taught us from chapter 4 that we should “Let suffering wean us from sin and redirect us to God’s will.” This week, verses 7 through 11 teach the end is fast approaching, so act in a way that recognizes that and results in praise to God. I baked those ideas into three points: 

  1. The End is Fast Approaching
  2. Act in a way that Recognizes that End
  3. And Results in Praise to God

The end is fast approaching, act in a way that recognizes that end and results in praise to God. We live at a time when it is of utmost importance for us to take heed of what the Bible says. Why? Because time is running out.

TIMING 

Point number one, 

  1. The End is Fast Approaching
  2. Act in a way that Recognizes the End
  3. Results in Praise to God

Peter tells us 

The end of all things is at hand (1 Peter 4:7). 

What does he mean? Was he being poetic, hyperbolic, or exaggerating? Was he saying life is short, obey God? He writes, “The end of all things is at hand,” “All things.” Context is key. Remember, in verse 13 of chapter 1; he talks about the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” He is talking about Jesus coming back. Look at verse 5. Jesus is coming back. Peter speaks of Jesus coming to judge the living and the dead. 

1 THESSALONIANS 

Paul talks about this 1 Thessalonians. If you have your Bibles, let me encourage you to bookmark 1 Peter and read chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians. That is 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, starting at verse 1.   

1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11)

Brothers and sisters, you are children of the light and day. God called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light. Stay awake. Be sober. The end of all things is at hand. 

TEN VIRGINS (MATTHEW 25)

Jesus told a story illustrating this. Ten young ladies needed to be ready for a wedding feast. They used oil in their torches to get to the feast from the groom’s home. On the night of the feast, the ten went to the grooms’ house to get him. He delayed. Five had enough oil to wait it out while five did not. The ones who had less asked if they could borrow some. The ones with more told the others to buy their own since they only have enough for themselves. They all waited. The groom took his time (typical of guys. Women are always waiting, while the men are doing their hair or getting primped or looking in the mirror.) During this time, the bridesmaids fell asleep. When the groom was finally ready, they woke, and five ran out of oil. When the five without oil arrived at the feast, they were locked out: it was too late. Bible scholar, D.A. Carson, wrote about this story saying, “Those without a torch would be assumed to be party crashers or even brigands [bandit] p.513). Jesus told this story to illustrate that we don’t know when the bridegroom will be ready, so be prepared.  

WHEN IS OUR END?

That being the case, are you? It is the boy scout motto, and it should be yours as well. Martin Luther once said, “There are only two days on my calendar: today and that day.” What if Jesus came back today? Are you ready? If today was the last day: 

  • How would you spend your time? 
  • If you were to meet your judge and maker today, what would you do?
  • Whom would you thank? 
  • Who would you tell you, love? 
  • Who would you share the gospel with? 
  • What would you want to do with your remaining time? 

VERSE 7

We have no idea when Jesus will come back, but he does and will. The end is fast approaching. It won’t be long. Peter gives his readers five things to do in light of eternity. Jeff mentioned two of them last week. 

ACTIVITY

  1. The End is Fast Approaching
  2. Act in a way that Recognizes that End
  3. And Results in Praise to God

Here are Peter’s top five: 

  1. Be Self-Controlled 
  2. Be Sober-Minded 
  3. Be Loving 
  4. Be Hospitable 
  5. Be Good Stewards 

God empowers all of these actions. God wants us to grow in them and pursue them. 

Self-Controlled

The first thing he mentions, in verse seven, is to be self-controlled. 

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled (1 Peter 4:7). 

Are you self-controlled? 

  1. How is your tongue? 
  2. How is your texting? 
  3. How is your tone? 
  4. How is your internet browsing? 
  5. How is your thought life? 

I need to grow in my self-control. Do you? I think Peter brings this up because no one had arrived. We all need to strive to follow God’s direction. That raises the question, “How do we grow in self-control?” Friends, we need God’s help. He gives us self-control through the Spirit. The Bible says self-control is a fruit of the Spirit as well as something we exercise. What can you do to be self-controlled today? For me, I need accountability. I talk with my wife and close guy friends and life group to fight sin and gain God-control. We also need God’s Word. Are you in the Bible? It doesn’t have to be hours and hours, but be in the book sometime during the day. Psalm 119:9–11 states, 

    How can a young man keep his way pure? 

      By guarding it according to your word. 

With my whole heart I seek you; 

      let me not wander from your commandments! 

            I have stored up your word in my heart, 

      that I might not sin against you.  

Jesus began his ministry with a personal retreat in the desert. It wasn’t like the Hilton; it was a wasteland. He didn’t eat or drink for forty days. He was starving. Satan himself tempted him. He pointed to the stones and said, make some bread. Jesus responded, saying, “It is written, a man should not live by bread alone, but by every word the comes from the mouth of God.” Satan tempted Jesus showing him all the world and offering it to him if he bows down and worships him. Jesus went back to the Bible and said worship the Lord and him only you shall serve. Finally, Satan took him to the Temple and told him to throw himself down from the heights quoting Scripture saying that God will protect him with his angels. Jesus quoted back Scripture saying, don’t put the Lord your God to the test. 

SOBER-MINDED 

The second thing Peter says we are to do is to be sober-minded? Be self-controlled and be sober-minded. What is that? On one level, that means we should not be drunk. I don’t think that is the narrow focus of this word. I think it means that and something broader.  

DRUNKENNESS

At the same time, let me address drunkenness for a moment. I realize sobriety for some in our church is easier said than done. Some of us here have had drinking problems. If you have a drinking problem right now, let me encourage you to get help. You can’t do this alone. Alcoholism, like any chemical addiction, can be hard to admit. Ask those close to you what they think. Submit yourself to wiser people than yourself. It is not as easy as just stopping. You and I need God’s help, and a spiritual community to fight sin. If you need assistance, talk to us pastors and elders and church leaders. You are not alone. God cares for you, and so do we. 

MINDED 

If you don’t struggle with alcoholism, let me say, sober-mindedness is bigger than drunkenness. I think Peter is calling us all to be razor-sharp in our thinking. Jesus said we are to be innocent as doves and as wise as serpents. Be smart, Church. Peter mentioned this before in chapter 1, verse 13. 

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being 

sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will 

be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 

1:13).

Peter mentions sober-mindedness again in chapter 5, verse 8. 

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Brothers and Sisters, our enemies, the devil, the world, our flesh delude us into thinking this life is all there is. We are fine. Sin is not that big of a deal. True. God is loving and forgiving if we do sin. But don’t buy the lies that our actions don’t have consequences. This world is not all there is. Coasting through life is not oaky. Sin is wrong and deadly. We are at war, a spiritual war. And we need to be sober-minded in this life. Are you? Be careful, be watchful, and be ready. Why? The end of all things is at hand. But that is not all. Peter connects our thinking to our praying. If you are trapped in sin, then your thoughts will not be on God. You will be wrapped up in you. Don’t fall into animal instinct; be self-controlled and sober-minded. 

ABOVE ALL

The next three activities precede with the words, “Above all” (1 Peter 4:8). Peter raises the stakes and says, pay attention to how you live these days. 

LOVE 

Peter highlights love first and foremost. Do you love earnestly? We have talked about this before in previous messages. Love is not a feeling. It can be a feeling, but it is more than that. It is an action. Jesus said they [the world] would know you are Christians by your love (John 13:34). What are you known for? Do people think of you as a lover or hater? Are you a grouchy old curmudgeon or a gentle, caring saint? All of us can grow in love. How? Like the virtue of self-control, love is a fruit of the Spirit. You can pray to be more loving, and you can seek to be loving. Take a step in that direction and be filled with the Spirit. Walk in the Spirit. Love people today. And you will find by God’s grace, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Why would we want to be more loving or keep loving each other? First, God tells us to. Second, Peter gives us a simple motivation. Look at verse 8. 

Keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

That means love helps us overlook the molehills of sin all around us. It binds our diverse community together despite the imperfections. If you are in our church for any amount of time, you will see sin and sin. Much of it we need to overlook. Not all of it, but much of it. Let us be gracious and charitable in light of our coming Savior and love one another and cover our sin with his blood.

HOSPITALITY

Next, Peter adds to the list: hospitality. He writes, 

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 

Peter 4:9). 

We are to be self-controlled, sober-minded, loving, and hospitable. Are you? What if you can’t? What if you don’t have a spouse that is up for it or home that is fit for it or a home? What if you don’t have money? Let me encourage you in several ways: 

  • Lower Your Bar
  • Keep It Simple 
  • Use What You Got
  • Be Open 

  1. Lower your bar. You don’t need to have everything clean to have people over. People don’t care, and if they do, it is usually their issue.  
  2. Keep it simple. You don’t need a five-course meal. We can eat leftovers. People feel loved just being invited. 
  3. Use what you got. You don’t need much space. Meet outside or a public venue. Keep a meeting short, if you are cramped. Make it a time for appetizers or dessert, and when it is done, your done. 
  4. Be open. Seek to get to know new people. Think of questions you can ask. Consider what it is like to be an outsider. We were all on the outskirts at one time. How do people get to know the church? Let’s make it a joy to be new at church. 

There are seasons where you just can’t have people over. I get that. God understands. Take an interest in other people. Make room in your hearts for them. This openness may mean you leave margin in your life to be intentional about being flexible to follow the opportunities God puts in your path. Too often, we are over-committed, overworked, over-utilized, leaving us burned out, bummed out, and booked out. We need space in our lives for others. Youth, as well as adults, need to be hospitable. That is one of the blessings of COVID-19, we have margin. 

The Bible says, “Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others” (Philippians 2:4). Are you looking into other’s interests? Be hospitable without grumbling. 

GOOD STEWARDS

Finally, Peter encourages the church to be good stewards of the various gifts God gives them. Some people have gifts that are speaking, and others are acts of service both come from God. He gets the credit. Look at verse 10.  

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God (1 Peter 4:10).

What are oracles? This isn’t talking about Larry Ellison’s company, Oracle. Peter is talking about speaking in a way that is like God himself. He is talking about what we see in Acts as people exhort and encourage one another. Have you ever had a sense that you may need to say something to someone? Have you felt God giving you a word to share with someone? A couple of times during our Sunday evening service, a few weeks back, people testified that God spoke to them about personal things, confessional things. God speaks. He gives impressions and senses that align with Scripture. They must be tested with the Bible. Reason and experience can help discern validity and veracity, yet God speaks today. What is he saying? Steward your gifts. Maybe you sign up to teach a Sunday school or nursery class, perhaps you lead your Life Group or a small group in women’s and men’s ministry. Maybe you encourage someone. Be an encourager. If you find yourself being effective, brag on God. 

SERVING 

Peter talks about a second gift, serving. Look at verse 11. He writes, 

Whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11).

His point is that serving and speaking both are gifts of God’s varied grace. It is his strength. If you are a follower of Christ, use your gifts for God. Serve him. Maybe God has given you the gift of giving, faith, or mercy. We have people who faithfully help with physical ministries, children’s ministries, women’s ministry, and Life Group ministry, and behind the scenes. We need everyone to pitch in and help out. Some people use formal opportunities to exercise their gifts in the body, and others use informal ones. One of the great things about this church is that if you have a passion, gifting, and a biblical vision to use that here, we can help you exercise that gifting. How has God gifted you to serve? Perhaps you don’t know. Ask those close to you what your gifting is. Experiment with volunteering in different ministries. You may find you have gifts and talents you didn’t know. Ultimately, when you find your niche, don’t brag. It is by the power of God that strengthens and equips us to serve.

THIRD POINT

That brings us to Peter’s last point here: Praise of God.  

  1. The End is Fast Approaching
  2. Act in a way that Recognizes that End
  3. And Results in Praise to God

Look at verse 11. 

In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11).  

The result of obedience should be God’s glory, not our own. That is consistent with Peter’s theme. He wrote and will write,  

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Peter 1:3).
In your hearts honor Christ the Lord (1 Peter 3:15).
To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity (2 Peter 3:18 ).  

Think of Peter as a coach. He is shouting from the sidelines, “The time is almost up! Keep your head in the game, your eyes on the ball. Be a team player. Use your strengths for God’s glory!” Peter is not throwing his clipboard down, jumping, and yelling, but he is emphatic. Friends, we are one year, one month, one day, one hour closer to meeting Jesus. Are you ready? Use the time you have left to be self-controlled, sober-minded, loving, hospitable, and stewarding well the gifts God has given you for his glory. Maybe you don’t feel ready for God to come back. God is a God of mercy. He offers new grace each morning. The reason he died is we can’t do this life correctly. We sin. The only way we can live in ways that are self-controlled, sober-minded, loving, hospitable, or operate some gifting, is by God’s grace. Trust in his redeeming work today and step out in faith. 

GOSPEL 

He is worth it. He has saved us. Let us serve him. 

PRAYER 

Let’s pray.


*Use by permission. All rights reserved.  

Comments

  1. Thank you for typing the text. Watching a video is less likely to happen with kids at my feet than reading the text. Beautiful message full of truth!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Mandy. I love how God's Word continually offers us insight and guidance for the day. You are very kind. Blessings to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete

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