Ministry Resources

First Peter: Contemplate Your Response

Over the last few articles, we have been looking at a letter the Apostle Peter wrote to the first century church.

Today, we are going to conclude our study and discover one more time why it is so important that we recognize our identity in Christ is not only something that benefits us personally, but also benefits the church Christ called us into.

Peter uses a great illustration in the beginning of his letter saying that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God.

Peter goes on to say that while once we were not a people, now we are a people belonging to God.

All through the letter, Peter emphasizes how our citizenship in this new people group should challenge and change our behavior. Now, he closes his letter this way:

I Peter 5:12-14

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Here Peter wraps up his comments to us by saying that he declared the true grace of God, that we should stand firm. He also reminds us that we are in relationship with each other, so we should greet each other as family members do, with a kiss. Finally, he wishes us all peace.

Let’s talk about each of these things for a moment.

First, there is a difference between the true grace of God and cheap grace. Cheap grace refers to a believer who uses Christ’s selfless offer of salvation as an excuse to continue living as they had before they found salvation in Jesus. These people know the difference between right and wrong and choose to live as they will, engaging in all kinds of wrong behaviors in the name of “grace.”

Real grace, true grace is understanding that because Christ set us free from the bondage of sin and death, we live differently. We live in the realization that we are called to be like Jesus. We turn our backs on the old way of living and live an entirely new way, the way Christ would live through us.

Peter’s call to true grace is important because when hard times come, those who relied on cheap grace will fall away and not see God’s deliverance. Those who have chosen real grace will find God’s presence in the midst of the difficulties and experience God’s reward in heaven. It is a serious call to action!

Peter also tells us to “stand firm.” What an important statement.

Sometimes, in the midst of trials, we are tempted to give up our faith and go the easy way. Peter’s entire purpose in this letter is to remind believers that hard times can and do come and that in those difficult moments, we can take a stand for Jesus Christ.

Again, that is why Peter put such an important emphasis on our new status as part of Christ’s tribe, His nation. We belong to God in community as well as individually. Churches can and must provide support for those who face difficult times. We can and should help support those who are tempted to give up and go back the old way of living. We can and should lock arms to ensure that we protect those who fall and those who are wounded.

Consider this: If a person sees a car accident and tries to help, he or she may find supernatural strength in that moment to single-handedly get the injured out of the vehicle before further harm occurs. But, most of the time, it is a group of people working together who rescue the injured. So it is with the church. We are called to rescue one another through our intentional partnership.

When the church functions as it should, people rally around each other, caring for the immediate needs. We care about one another and we fend off those who would do further harm. Peter is calling the church to action and he won’t take “no” for an answer.

Peter closes this first letter by sending greetings to the church from his coworkers.

He first names Silvanus, the person who assisted him in writing the letter. Church tradition teaches that Peter wrote this letter while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was quite old ad the time and Silvanus stepped into assist Peter in making sure that this message got out. He also sent greetings from the “she who is in Babylon.” There is some debate about who this is, but the two best options are his wife and the church who gathered in Rome. He also sent greetings from Mark, another worker in Rome.

Finally, Peter urges the church to one last action: “pray for peace.” This is a timely reminder to believers everywhere, that we intercede on behalf of our world to find peace. Where does that peace come from? Directly from God.

Let me ask you a simple question: As you journeyed through I Peter with me, has God spoken into your life? Hopefully, you have a better understanding now that in Jesus Christ, we are really all part of the same people group. Because of Jesus we are now a holy priesthood, a people belonging to God.

Has that truth become yours? If so, you will see the church in a whole new way. The people you worship with each week , like you, have been adopted by God into His family. We are going to spend eternity together and so we need to learn how to live in peace with each other today. It may not always be easy, but we need to respect and honor those Christ redeemed even as we want respect an honor ourselves.

This message is as important today as it was 2000 years ago. Perhaps you would let me give you one more call to action today. Will you commit to strengthening your church in every way possible? God will bless your efforts!

Well, we have closed our study on I Peter, but there is something to look forward to in the weeks ahead. Next time, we will begin our study in II Peter and learn more from the simple fisherman who became a great Apostle.

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