Lesson Eleven – The Elect Administering God’s Grace

Administering God’s Grace by the Elect

Lesson Text:  I Pet. 4:7-11; 5:1-10.

Lesson Aim:  To attain a divine pattern of how the church of God “in Christ” functions in our time.

Introduction

All spiritual entities can only be described by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit.  What Deity says IS, is the truth; all of what might be said by the wisdom of man does not exist in the spiritual realm.  The habitat of God’s elect is “in Christ.”  Although there are many institutions whose identification includes the word “Christian,” it is only the “elect of God” who are administering God’s graces (I Pet. 2:4, 5, 9, 10; 4:10).

This will be the final lesson in our study of Peter’s first letter.  Our next lesson text will be the first eleven verses of his second letter.  The content of II Peter, Chapters Two and Three, describe the approaching peril that prompted Peter’s letters (II Pet 3:1).  These chapters are the exegetical background for the remainder of the lessons.  Please continue to review the historical and literary analysis in the first three lessons in Part II as we complete our hermeneutical work in the first letter in this lesson.

Lesson

“The end of all things is near.”  Peter was not referring to his own impending death.  He had received his physical death notice from Jesus before writing his second letter (II Pet. 1:13-15).  Jesus had repeatedly emphasized “the end is near” principle for Christians’ calendars while living on earth.  He was persistent in His teaching about His return, the end of time and our physical death.

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  Luke 12:35, 36

  Sometimes leaders use this type of banner to scare their flock.  Their motive is generally to promote obedience.  Parents sometimes use scare tactics to protect their children about dangers that are extremely rare.  This method may do more immediate damage to the child’s character than the actual danger could have done – assuming it ever happened.  We can be sure this was not Jesus’ or Peter’s motive.

Jesus did teach about hell as well as heaven; God and Satan; life and death.  These are facts about the reality in which we live.  Jesus brought grace and truth for mankind (John 1:17).  Grace is an act of love.  God is love.  Fear is unhealthy (I John 4:18).  The truth is that we live in the last days and we are not guaranteed another hour.  These are facts that allow reality to become transparent.  Once Adam became aware there was no going back.  Men and women have become aware of good and evil.  We cannot go back to our “age of innocence.” Jesus understood Christians may have a problem with procrastination;  He continued.

But understand this: ‘If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.’  You must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.  Luke 12:39-40

Procrastination may represent “the thief in the night” for some of us.  How many times might we have heard ourselves say, or at least think; “As soon as I finish this project I will give more time for serving Jesus’ mission?”  Christians are being protected by God based on our faith so we can have our inheritance (I Pet. 1:4, 5).  Our faith is in a spiritual kingdom, but it is no less real.  Our inheritance of eternal life and a permanent place in God’s kingdom with the status of sons of God will fully satisfy our innate needs for praise, glory and honor (I Pet. 1:7).  Our needs are real; therefore, we must have a real kingdom for our hope of satisfaction.  This world is passing away (II Pet. 3:10).

Christians now have a “secure position” because Jesus Christ is the living Stone, the stone in Zion (I Pet. 2:4-6; II Pet. 3:17).  We have tasted the Lord is good in so many ways.  Therefore, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  I Pet. 4:10.  The Apostle Paul sent a list of ways the saints in Rome could choose to serve others in the body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-8).   In Part II, Lesson Nine, we learned Christians can understand and accept our responsibilities to join Jesus’ mission to “seek and save the lost.”  Luke 19:10.  We need to think like God thinks about the seven billion people in the world today whose spirits all came from God.  He is “not wanting anyone to perish.”  II Pet. 3:9.  The will of God is Christians’ will; therefore, evangelism on some level is not an option.

God’s word is one of His graces by which we have been benefitted.  It is truth.  Therefore, we learn to read the Bible according to the same principles we use to read profane literature.  God speaks to us in literature, only.  Our faith is in what we read in the Bible literature (Rom. 10:17).  We are admonished to “correctly handle the word of truth.”  II Tim. 2:15.  In this way we can administer God’s grace to people who are ignorant about truth.  “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” I Pet. 4:11.  Anything other than “the very words of God” is the cause for letting greedy false teachers take over what is billed as “Christianity.”  Churches and preachers who use their own wisdom cannot faithfully administer God’s grace by their teaching.

Peter wrote to warn the church about just such people (II Pet. 3:3, 4).  James sounded the alarm about Christians making long range plans for living “in Adam.” Jas. 4:13-17.  See the lesson entitled “The Rich and the Proud,” Part I, Lesson Twelve.  Peter followed his pronouncement of “the end of all things is near” with; “Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”  NIV.  The KJV reads, “Be therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”  The Greek word, sophromeo, has been translated sober and self-controlled, respectively.  It means to be of sound mind, i. e. sane; “so that you can pray.”  This is the second time Peter has mentioned prayer from the standpoint of Christians “making sense” when we speak to God.

Our prayers should be in touch with reality.  Husbands and wives prayers may be hindered from being properly heard if they each pray about the same thing with a different paradigm (I Pet. 3:7).  Suppose she is asking for a new dress and her husband, at the same time, is asking the Lord to help her be satisfied with what she has, this would surely hinder both of their prayers.  The reality for mankind is like “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  Jas. 4:14.  People who have not come to grips with their own physical death may not be able to pray in a sane manner.  Jesus cautioned about praying like “babbling pagans.”  Matt. 6:7.   We cannot pray to God in a sober, or sane manner, if we do not view spiritual reality with God’s view.

Following these personal admonitions in verse eight of our text, Peter turned our attention to Christians’ interpersonal lives in the body of Christ.  God has chosen each member of the church to function in a prescribed manner in Christ’s body.  Paul elaborated on this after he said; “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.”  See I Cor. 12:12-27.  How we view the church is the issue.  If we have accepted the world view of “church,” we will not be in tune with what a church is from God’s view.  His view has been presented by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit to Peter, Paul, James, John and others who authored the New Testament (II Pet. 1:20, 21).

Peter foreshadowed our text with an eternal view of the church when he said; “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”  I Pet. 1:23.  Please read verses 22-25.  Paul gave us the emotional relationship necessary for a body of believers to maintain an eternal fellowship in Rom. 12:9-21.  “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  I Pet. 4:8.  At our very best, Christians are justified sinners.  We are maturing in our ability to discern what is good and evil (Heb. 5:14).

We received the capacity to be aware of this knowledge because Adam and Eve broke God’s covenant.  However, having the capacity is not the same as discerning what is good and evil in our daily relationships with fellow members.  We do all “fall short of the glory of God” and this is sin.  Because Christians enjoy the grace of justification by faith we are not guilt ridden by our failures because of ignorance and weakness.  We have peace with God while we work on our weakness and ignorance (Rom. 5:1).  This empowers us to forgive our brothers and sisters of their sins that flow from their ignorance and weakness.  God’s forgiveness stimulates Christians to forgive and love those who sin against us.

“If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God supplies.”  The strength God supplies came to us because of His many blessings.  Christians have “every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Eph. 1:3.  The strength that comes from our new birth is just the beginning.  In our new birth we were freed from sin and death.  We are free to develop as children of God.  God designed us to develop as His children (Jas. 3:9).  God’s promise of our inheritance integrates all of our hopes in one direction.  We have a faith program of hope for the satisfaction of our inherent needs that transcends death.  This means Christians have a living hope that sustains us even in the final sickness that will cause our physical death.  We do have the capacity to know good and evil; consequently, we are responsible for choosing good.  Our blessing is that we have the truth about what is good and evil in God’s word.  We praise God through Jesus Christ.  This is God’s view of the church in our first text.  Now let us consider the second text for this lesson.

Peter’s view of the elect of God as they function in the body of Christ before the false teachers invaded may help us to see the church Jesus desires to build for God.  It is organized and functions according to the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:20-25).  Most of what has been organized in what is called the “Christian religion” in history is different.  It has been developed for over two millenniums by the wisdom of men.  These wise men first removed the plurality leadership theology of the church.  God does not care for a monarch type leadership on the human level (Acts 14:23; 20; 20:28; Phil. 1:1).  The kings and high priests were the source for most of Israel’s downfall.  Men, it seems, have a tendency to boast (I Cor. 3:19-21).

Peter’s view of the “elect of God” was elders shepherding each congregation.  Peter was a fellow elder of those who belonged to this office (I Pet. 5:1).  These men served the church with shepherd type leaders.  They served with the “towel and wash basin” mentality versus the chief seat (John 13:5).  They were eager and willing to serve the elect with a generativist attitude.  That is, they had been successful parents; therefore, they desired to serve the younger members in God’s family, the church (I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9).  Greed for glory and money was not their motive for desiring to become elders.  It does not take much thought to see the wisdom of God in this kind of leadership for His family.

Why do Christians allow the devil to prowl around local congregations of God’s children with the intent of replacing God’s wisdom about church leaders?  What is the answer?  We know it has happened in many groups who identify themselves as churches.  It could not happen unless the members allow, or want it to happen.  We might suspect that members of these groups may be allowing someone else to study the Bible for them.  It could be a case of laziness or seeking to escape from the “freedom of choice” God has granted to human beings.  This opens the door for the devil’s vast army of men and women who espouse to the “chief seat mentality.”  They take a political approach to church leadership.  Consequently, most Christian groups have decided to let one person usurp and thus denigrate the plurality leadership Jesus ordained in all of God’s churches.  It would have been a different world if the devil had lost the battle of leadership mentality in the congregations of the elect.  The wisdom of God was what Jesus taught about the principle of leadership to His disciples.  He taught this by personally washing their feet a few hours before He went to the cross to pay the price for God’s elect.

“Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.”  Perhaps from his own experience in his younger days, Peter directed his attention to the young men in the church.  Men were created to lead their own families; therefore, we may assume God instilled a need in males to lead.  Young people want to move from dependence to independence.  However, leading in the interdependent body of Christ requires that a person be competent in handling the word of God and trustworthy in character.  God desires for men to develop themselves with the help of their wives to be shepherds of His elect.  Humility is their “clothing” in their youth and they never lay it aside (I Pet. 1:5, 6).  Elders wait for God to lift them up and He will.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”  I Pet. 5:7.  Anxiety attacks are common occurrences with busy people.  We have a tendency to worry a lot about what might happen but rarely does.  This happens in our quests to attain satisfaction for our innate needs.   We need to find a way to keep these urges satisfied, or at least, provision by hope.  Jesus suggested the problem is; we not only want satisfaction for today, we worry about tomorrow and then all of our tomorrows – even those that may not happen.  Please read Matt. 6:25-34 for His solution to anxiety.  The Greek word is merimna.  It has been translated “care” in I Pet. 5:7.  (NIV & KJV).  In Matt. 6:25, 28, it was translated worry (NIV) and take no thought (KJV).  Merimna, that is anxiety, means to have a distracting care.  We all care about attaining satisfaction for our innate urges; however, when the programs we have chosen thwarts one of our other urges in order to satisfy the one at hand, we have a distraction.

When we let our emotions get in charge of our “satisfaction for innate needs program,” we will have many distractions.  They can lead to anxiety attacks.  We become mentally ill.  Peter said, “Cast all your care on Him because He cares for you.”  In other words, as Jesus said, God knows how He created us and He has a program to satisfy the needs He created in us (Matt. 6:25-34).  Jesus taught the correct principles.  These principles will not distract us.  They work in a way that they will not thwart one need while satisfying another.  We will find the principles for living on earth, and eternally, in the new covenant (Heb. 8:10-12).  Jesus is life and the light of our lives (I John 1:1-4).  He revealed and taught the law that gives liberty (Rom. 8:1, 2).

The following scripture appears to describe a Christian who has their “faith made perfect” by testing right up to, and including the day they died.  This appears to describe one who has been awarded their inheritance.   This hypothesis might be true because Christians will continue in joyful suffering for our spiritual growth as long as we live “in Adam.”  It is God’s only course for developing children for His eternal kingdom – as per Heb. 12:1-14.

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen.  I Pet. 5:10, 11

Questions for Discussion

 1.  Jesus often proclaimed what Peter said during His time on earth;  “The end of all things is near.”  What was Jesus’ motive?  Does truth hurt?  What is the value of living a transparent life?  Is it possible to scare people out of hell and to get them into heaven?

2.  How might procrastination be one of Satan’s tools for keeping the world ignorant about why and how they were created?

3.  Explain how a Christian’s secure position is in the role in which they function in the body of Christ.  Is there a security position for a non-functional member of a physical body?

4.  What is the spiritual view of the activity in the body of God’s elect?  How does this spiritual view get carried on into heaven when Jesus turns the kingdom back to God?  Why are Christians encouraged to love one another deeply?  Please fit your answer into your view of church members in the eternal kingdom of God.

5.  List some of the gifts Christians have received.  How can we use them to serve others?

6.  Why has divine church government been abandoned by most “Christian religious groups?”  What is the value of the form of church government Jesus commanded the apostles to ordain?

7.  Explain the possible cause of anxiety developing in a person.

8.  Please read I Pet. 1:6-9 and I Pet. 5:10.  What is the common entity in these scriptures?  Assuming Peter might not be restating at the close of his letter what he wrote at the beginning about Christian’s suffering: How far into the future has he placed the context for his closing statement about the value of suffering to grow spiritually?

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