2017-10-08 After a Little While

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          October 8, 2017

“After a Little While”
Text: 1 Peter 5:10-11

We continue to receive glorious words from God in this portion of Peter’s first letter to the Church at large.  We heard from this chapter in prior weeks that elders are to shepherd the flock of God, and others are to follow them insofar as they follow Christ (1-5).  We also are to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and to cast our every care upon Him, for He cares for us (6-7).  Furthermore, we are to resist our adversary, the devil, who prowls as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (8-9).  Today, we gain precious promises from God, after we have suffered a little while—and I hardly can wait to tell you about them.  Let’s hear them, reflect upon them, and embrace them—even as we embrace the Lord Himself in the reading and the preaching of His holy, inspired, inerrant Word.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Peter, led by the Spirit, invokes the Name of the God of all grace.  Let’s reflect on Peter’s partial description of Him before we move to His glorious promises unto us.  Our God is the God of all grace.  That is, He is the dispenser of matchless, amazing grace.  Recall Paul’s Spirit-led word to the Corinthians—Jesus became sin for us, in order that in Him we may become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians v.21).  Grace can be defined—especially when we talk of God’s grace—as unmerited favor.  Grace is good from God that we have not earned from His hand.  Any blessing we receive from His hand—as well as any calamity that we avert in His good providence—is undeserved good from God’s good hand.  It is this good, gracious God Who promises good things to His redeemed covenant people in Christ.

These good things come, in God’s good providence, after a little while—and the little while may contain suffering for the Christian.  Again, as we noted in earlier messages, this should not surprise the Christian—for Scripture foretells it for us.  Consider the Spirit-led writing of the Apostle John to the church at Smyrna, ca. A. D. 95 (Revelation 2:10).  The Spirit told them that they would endure persecution for ten days (figurative for a short time), but they would obtain the crown of life upon their fidelity unto death.  Paul, in another passage to the Corinthians, alludes to the light and momentary trials that achieve for us an eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).  Truly, in view of the glorious eternity just around the corner for us, our present sufferings lose at least a bit of their sting—if not considerable force indeed.  After this little while of bearing our appointed suffering for Jesus, He delivers infallibly what He promises.  Let’s look at those promises now.

First, the Lord will restore us who are in His Son.  That is, He will put us who are broken back together, and He will set everything to rights at the restoration of all things when He comes.  More than this, we, once restored, are made adequate for every task to which the Lord has called us.[1]  He will restore those who, to quote Mark Schultz’s “He Will Carry Me” (2003), have been wounded in the battle.  This is His promise, and He will fulfill it in a little while.

Second, the Lord will confirm us.  He will ratify us as His own, and He will do this with unspeakable delight.  He also will make us stronger as we walk with Him in faith and in discipleship day by day.  He will give to us ever-increasing certainty that His Word, and that He Himself, is truth.  He will give to us the calm assurance we, with others believing households in His Church, are safe within her—for none can pluck us out of Jesus’ strong hands.  This is how He will confirm us.

Third, the Lord will strengthen us.  He will do this with power, through His Spirit, in our inner beings (Ephesians 3:16).  From this we have power with all the saints to grasp how wide, high, broad, and deep is Christ’s love for us (Ephesians 3:18-19)—and this will be strength to our bones, if not in fact lightning in our veins.  All this strength from on high comes in contrast with, and in remedy of, our weakness.  If He make us strong, then we shall be strong in Him indeed.

Fourth, the Lord will establish us.  He will provide for us a firm foundation for Christian belief and practice—Himself, His Word, right doctrine derived therefrom, His people both jointly and severally, and so forth.  Because of this firm foundation, the Lord will cause us to stand amid all, and to stand firm at that.  He, figurative speaking, will strengthen our ankles, knees, and so forth—in order that we truly may stand before Him and for His glory.

Speaking of God’s glory, Peter ends this text with a doxology.  Peter cries, “To Him be the dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”  Christ, by virtue of His victorious atoning work and His perfect Person, has the right to rule over all things.  Moreover, He has the power to rule over all things.  This is true cognitively, for He has both the intellect and the wisdom to govern His created order aright.  It is also true practically, for He is omnipotent, or all-powerful—and, therefore, can effect anything He pleases.  Christ’s dominion is forever and ever.  He reigns now, to be sure, and there shall be no end to His reign.  Hence, He reigns at every instant of providential history—and He reigns before history became, and He reigns when history is no more.  To this we, with Peter, append our Amen, which means so be it, or truly.

Our difficulties for wearing Christ’s Name in these days may increase in number—and they may deepen in pain.  Yet take heart.  Peter, by the Spirit, calls the duration of these a little while.  He also calls God’s dominion forever and ever.  We stand, by faith in Christ, in His Church forever and ever.  Therefore, we’ll enjoy His pleasures and His blessings to the full forever and ever.  Hence, let us both be consoled by these truth and draw strength from them: at all times, but especially when suffering for the glorious Name of Jesus.  AMEN.

[1] This is an additional sense of the Greek verb katartidzo (katartizw), which the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible here translate with the English verb restore.

 

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