"Standing Firm in Grace"
As Peter closes this letter he tells them the purpose of this letter was to encourage them in the true grace of God. Grace, true grace, calls us to stand firm for it is our sustaining power from God.
Standing Firm in Grace
(1 Pet. 5:12-14)
A. Why are we as Christians having a difficult time learning to live like aliens in this world? For many of us, the desires of this world are so great that we don’t really believe God can offer us the same joy and happiness that the things of this world can offer us. We know verses like 1 John 2:15-17. But do these verses mean anything to our lives on days other than Sunday?
B. Some in the Christian world teach a very easy Christianity. All you really need to do is say that you accept Jesus and in doing so you accept his forgiveness. We all sin and guilt is not what Jesus offered but love and grace. So give yourself to Jesus and don’t get too caught up in change. There is a problem with cheap grace – it’s not biblical even though it quotes Bible.
C. Then there is a teaching that you have to give yourself to the local church if you are going to be a Christian. If you say enough prayers, attend enough services, go to enough activities, and give enough money. Or quote passages like “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” It is a duty bound, guilt driven, works oriented salvation and uses just enough blood for Jesus to do what you can’t do on your own. That teaching is also not biblical.
D. We have the “name-it-and-claim-it” gospel and the “God-is-my-genie” teaching of “if you have enough faith God will give you the desires of your heart. If you faith is weak you will be stricken with difficulties in this life. This teaching also misses the mark of God’s complete word.
E. So what are we to do in this world? I like the things around me, the religious teachings that sound good and make me feel good are not always sound and good biblical teachings. So what am I to do? Where do I stand?
I. Stand In Grace
A. Let’s come back to our text. We sing the song, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” The foolish man’s house fell because he did not build upon the rock. If we are going to stand than it will have to be through God’s grace.
B. When Christians in Rome were not getting along, Paul reminded them of who is the master. It was not the person they were angry with or themselves. Rom. 14:4. God can make even the weak stand. But he doesn’t leave them weak.
C. The calling to stand is connected to our understanding of salvation and grace. 2 Thes. 2:13-17.
D. Peter tells us the same thing in our text today. Peter says think of the whole letter. Look at the whole writing he has given and see how God, the God of all grace has called you to eternal glory. You don’t have to have a mediocre life, you can have an abundant life. When God himself restores you and makes you strong, firm and steadfast, you have a life worth living – and a life worth dying.
E. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a very exceptional person, a Christian clergyman who challenged Hitler publicly (even returning to Germany after having escaped for a time first to England and then to America). The Nazis arrested him in 1943 and Himmler himself ordered him hanged in April, 1945, just a few weeks before the allied liberation of his concentration camp. He wrote a book called “The Cost of Discipleship” in which made this statement: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, (it is) baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Bonhoeffer was willing to stand in grace, even grace that would cost him his physical life. Is that the type of grace in which you stand?
F. The grace to which Peter calls us is one of living as a stranger in this world, living in submission, living in suffering, and living as a church family. Grace is not a get out spiritual jail free card so that we can go back and keep on sinning. Where does God’s grace end? I don’t know. The Hebrew writer says (Heb. 10:26-29).
II. One Another
A. I want to touch on another part of this passage that spoke to me. Peter gave his final greeting by telling them that this letter was written with the help of Silas, his faithful brother. He also mentioned that “She who is in Babylon” sends you her greetings” and so does Mark, his spiritual son.
B. I find it comforting that an apostle of Jesus Christ also found it helpful to surround himself with spiritual people. There is a saying that “misery loves company.” I am not trying to rain on your parade, but it is nice to know that there are people in my life that I can go to when rain falls and the wind blows against my spiritual house. The “Via Delarosa” is supposedly the path that Jesus traveled with the cross through Jerusalem to Golgotha. The phrase simply means “the way of suffering.” Peter told them that after they had suffered a little while God would make them strong.
C. But brethren, we don’t get strong alone. In fact it is being alone that often brings us into the greatest times of temptation. We are stronger when we surround ourselves with people like Silas, mark and she who is in Babylon. Who is the woman in Babylon? Many believe it is the church in Babylon itself. Some would say it is a coded word for Rome, meaning the church in Rome. No matter what it was, Babylon was a place of captivity, bondage, exile. It draws up thoughts that bring about a painful time in Israel’s history. But there was a church there – either literal Babylon or Rome - that wanted to share its love for these Christians who were scattered because of their faith. We need each other.
D. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” Paul uses the phrase “Greet one another with a holy kiss” four times. We don’t do much holy kissing around here. But the goal should be to do a lot of holy loving on one another. That command was given to these suffering saints. In this church family led by elders, love was the bond that held them together. A kiss of love was an extension of fellowship, family and unity.
A. I pray you are standing in grace. Not a cheap unbiblical grace, but one that recognizes all that God has done to save you and call you into his eternal glory. I pray you feel the love of this church family or at least individuals here. I believe loving one another is an area this congregation needs to do better. But we are family and we need each other. I cannot survive alone, nor was I recreated by God to be alone. I need your strength, love and support. Let’s stand in the grace of God together and praise him as we stand and sing.