John Ditty Sunday School Lesson
November 10, 2013
(1 Peter 4:7-11)
One of the most popular genres in recent movies and television is apocalyptic, end of the world, watch out for the zombies kind of shows. Not to slight the video game market, a couple of the big sellers carry the same theme.
Throughout time, humanity has had a fascination with the what-ifs of End Times. What will it be like? Will it be the end or a fresh start? Is it real or just good sci-fi? If it is reality what can be done to forego it or do we need to prepare for it? Is there something to the prepper movement or are these folks just worrywarts with too much time and extra money?
Ask the person on the street and you will get a variety of opinions. Ask a Christian and most will not quibble that someday this world will come to an end. If pressed for a reason for its demise most will agree that God’s patience will run out. Which brings us back to the question: Do we need to prepare for the impending apocalypse?
This is the theme of 1 Peter 4:7-11, the text for this study. The Bible is replete with warnings of the coming of the end. From Old Testament to New, God has spoken through His prophets and the Holy Spirit has moved Bible writers to write that a time will come when time is over.
Take a moment and ponder what preparations should be made for this coming event. Then compare your thoughts with Peter’s words. Living in a day that looked a lot like that described by Jesus (Matthew 24-26), the apostle has solid guidance for the believer who just may be entering the closing moments of time and looking into the face of eternity.
In case you’re wondering what Peter wrote, here it is: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
That’s what he wrote; now let’s take a stroll through it. First, Peter makes a straightforward statement, “The end of all things is near.” Some contemporary readers may scoff at such a proclamation considering that Peter wrote it nearly 2000 years ago. If he thought it was close back then and it still has not happened, then maybe he was mistaken. Maybe he was just trying to scare people into becoming Christians or to get Christians live like they should. That’s doubtful. It is more reasonable to consider that Peter understood the Lord was coming back and that time means little to God. In other words, what difference does a few years make in God’s plans.
The apostle follows the statement with a “therefore” which points backwards and mandates an action linked with the statement. Because the end it coming, a time when all will stand before the judgment seat of God, Peter calls God’s people to several points of preparation. First, they are to be alert and sober, or clear minded and self-controlled (v.7). With the return of Jesus near there is no time to have one’s judgment clouded and life out of control. These things block the way to effective prayer and there are many people in desperate need for effective praying (v.7); praying for the strength to remain faithful in the hard times that accompany the end or to be saved before it is too late.
He also remains Christians of Jesus’ last command before the cross, that being to love each other with all that is in them rather than to pick at each other for shortcomings and offenses (v.8). I don’t think Peter is saying if we love sincerely that that in some way negates our sins. Rather, could he be saying that when we love as Christ does we will not hold the sins of others against them? Instead we will be ready and willing to forgive them?
Peter moves from there to say we should not only love one another but that our love must extent to strangers; this is the idea of hospitality (v.9). This activity must be done with joy and not murmuring or begrudgingly. The end result of this just might be that those to whom hospitality is shown will want to know why it is, thus opening the door to share the Gospel which might result in their timely salvation.
The apostle then exhorts Christians to faithfully use the gifts of the Spirit and be ready to share a word from God (v.10). These acts may result in encouraging believers to be loyal to Christ and open the hearts of the lost to Him. He says that we must serve in the strength God gives “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (v.11). In other words, as the end draws near we do what we should do not for our benefit but for God’s glory.
Peter concludes this teaching concerning the return of Christ with a doxology, a song of praise: “To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” Believers have no reason to fear what is coming. Instead, they should see it as one more opportunity to point people to the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ. So in prepping for the end Christians are shining the light on Christ allowing others to see Him before it is eternally too late. So, that being said how’s your prepping coming?