Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1 Peter: Lesson 7

Title: 1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times

Author: Sue Edwards

Year: 2011

Publisher: Kregel Publishers

Review posted at the following address:

Lesson 7 (pages 58-64) Stand Strong when Wronged

1 Peter 3:13-4:6

The lesson for this week focused on a few different concepts. The first was how we should respond when we are wronged. The second concept was about evangelizing. The third concept was to keep a clear conscience. Out of all the lessons in this study, this one was too focused on “abstracts” and not enough meat of the Word. While application is good for us to bring what we learned into practice, there must first be a good amount of time spent in the Word.

First, how should we respond when we are wronged? Well, how do we define being “wronged”? Do we define it by feelings, words, actions, or by someone else? If we focus on Jesus, I think our being “wronged” doesn’t even come close. He went through being mistreated by his own family. Just remember at one time they thought He had lost His mind! Let us go even further back in biblical history and ask why would the Son of God, the Son of Man, leave heaven to come as a baby to be “wronged” by sinful man, to save sinful man? I know for me this is the biggest challenge. I get lost in the horizontal day-to-day events. I tend to react before I come close to responding. So before I consider myself “wronged”, I look at Jesus and I can’t help but feel sorrow at the petty things that I let bother me, when He really suffered “wrongs” for me. Perhaps, the Body of Christ should do as Peter does in this passage--encourage each other while going through a time or season, stay faithful, seek God. Peter exhorts his readers to look at the bigger picture in our lives. People will wonder how we can have hope when there is no earthly reason for us to have it.

Second, the author gives questions and scenarios so that we can perhaps “prepare” ourselves to give an answer defending our faith. The author makes a valid point that the person who is asking for us to give a reason is the “other” person in our conversation. While this is helpful, wouldn’t it be wise to know Him, the one whom we are giving as the reason for our hope? Perhaps the reason most believers fear sharing their faith is rejection, but it is also the fear of not having the “right” answer. We should allow ourselves to be stretched to find the answers to questions to which we don’t know the answer. It is okay to say, “Good question, I don’t know the answer to that one. Let me do some research and get back to you.” We won’t always have the answer, but we know Who has the answer.

Third, a clear conscience is one thing Peter talks about us having. Here is what the whole passage states as written in the HCSB:”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. 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.

Chapter 4 Following Christ 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.”

In really pouring over this section and looking up some words to find the original meaning, I was struck by the fact that how our conscience affects our Christian life. It is worded differently in the NIV, “keeping a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” I wonder if we feared the Lord more than man, would our actions be different? Would our consciences be more “tender” as we live our day-to-day lives? I personally believe mine would. I will let you answer those questions for yourselves.

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