Sermon Notes & References

Use Your Gifts for Good and God

1 Peter 4:7-11

August 18, 2019

7 But the end of all things has drawn near. Therefore, be healthy minded; be disciplined unto prayers; 8 and first of all, having ‘stretched out’ A. love B. among yourselves, because love covers a multitude of faults C.; 9 hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 According as each one has received a gift D. minister it among yourselves as good dispensers E. of the many-sided grace of God: 11 if any man speaks, let him do so as speaking God’s oracles; if any man ministers, let him do so out of might which God furnishes; in order that in all things, God should be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and the ruling power unto the ages of the ages. Amen. A. Fervent, extensive; B. Agape; C. Sins, failures; D. An ability by grace, charisma; E. Stewards.

A. Introduction

    1. “Leaving the Old Life”

    2. No Vacuum Left

B. Incentive Unto the New Life (verse 7a)

    1. Three-Fold Interpretation

    2. Life Is Short

    3. Christ Is Coming       Footnote

C. Our New Life Doing Good (verses 7b-9)

    1. Healthy-Minded (7b)     Footnote

    2. Prayer-Focussed (7b)

    3. Intensely Loving (8)

    4. Truly Hospitable (9)      Footnote

D. Our New Life Serving God (verses 10-11)

    1. Good Stewardship (10-11a)   Footnote

    2. “Soli Deo Gloria” (11b)

Endnote  1 Peter 4:7-11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Use Your Gifts for Good and God


A. Introduction

    1. Last Week

        a. “Leaving the Old Life”

            (A)    was our sermon title, from the first six verses of this chapter

            (B)    and the premise was that just as Christ suffered to bring salvation

                 (1)    so also those who are saved will suffer with Him

                 (2)    yet this suffering is not a capricious act on God’s part

                 (3)    but something that He allows as part of the refining of our being, just as precious metals are refined to remove impurity

        b. on the basis, then, that when we identified ourselves with Christ

            (A)    as the picture of baptism by immersion illustrates

            (B)    our old life – based on our old nature – was put to death

            (C)   we were, as it were, ‘crucified with Christ’

            (D)   and thereby we died to sin; that it no more have dominion over us

        c. our old, non-Christian friends will not help us in this

            (A)    rather they will be amazed; deeming us now as unsociable

            (B)    but in this their judgement of us

                 (1)    wherein they think our sufferings are our just deserts

                 (2)    they themselves will be judged having to give an account

                 (3)    but believers will be living according to God in the spirit


    2. No Vacuum Left

        a. no, this is not about a household appliance

            (A)    but from the saying, ‘Nature abhors a vacuum”

            (B)    which expresses the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.

            (C)   as any gardener can tell you, that if you leave a cleared space in the garden it will soon be filled with weeds

        b. the Bible does not mean for us to have a vacuum in our lives

            (A)    so that when we are converted, and called upon to put to death our old nature, our old self

            (B)    we are also called upon to nourish and take on the new nature

            (C)   the principle being that which is expressed in several places

            (D)   e.g., “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

        c. so, today we are looking at putting on that new self, that new nature

            (A)    which has two aspects

                 (1)    that of doing good

                 (2)    that of serving God

            (B)    hence the title of today’s message


B. Incentive Unto the New Life (verse 7a)

    1. Three-Fold Interpretation

        a. 7 The end of all things is at hand; …

        b. there are at least three ways of understanding this verse, and each one does not remove the possibility of the others

        c. first, and this would be of particular Jewish concern, as a reference to the coming destruction of Jerusalem and their nation

            (A)    during the passion week, in what is called the ‘Olivet Discourse’, Jesus foretold this event along with others, such as His Return

            (B)    as a result, many of the Christians left Jerusalem before it was destroyed by Titus in 70AD

            (C)   so, for any Jews among the readers of this letter, that prophecy would be in their minds

            (D)   but this does not fit the context nor be an incentive to living the new life to those who had already broken away from Judaism

        d. second, is a reference to the nearness of death to each one

        e. third, is a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ


    2. Life Is Short

        a. the hymn-writer, Charles Mason, expresses this thought

Life at best is very brief,

Like the falling of a leaf,

Like the binding of a sheaf,

Be in time!

Fleeting days are telling fast,

That the die will soon be cast,

And the fatal line be passed,

Be in time! Endnote

        b. certainly this is an incentive to live our new life to its fullest

            (A)    so that this became a general application of the verse

            (B)    death ‘was an event which could not be far distant – perhaps an event that was to be hastened by their trials’

            (C)   but it does not encompass the words ‘the end of all things’


    3. Christ Is Coming

        a. these words, or very similar ones, are used elsewhere in the NT of the Second Coming of Christ in judgement

        b. a judgement of which Peter has been speaking a few verses back

        c. for we are now living in the last days, the final dispensation

            (A)    Peter preached that as the case in Acts 2:17, by applying Joel’s prophecy to the events at Pentecost

            (B)    the writer of Hebrews does the same in referring to the completed work and ascension of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 1:1-4

            (C)   and Peter does so earlier in this letter, 1:20

        d. so that when these days of grace are ended

            (A)    which God prolongs so that people may come to repentance

            (B)    then indeed we shall come to ‘the end of all things’

When Jesus comes to reward His servants,

Whether it be noon or night,

Faithful to Him will He find us watching,

With our lamps all trimmed and bright? Endnote

            (C)   that is the incentive to live our new life for good and for God


C. Our New Life Doing Good (verses 7b-9)

    1. Healthy-Minded (7b)

        a. 7 … therefore, be of sound judgment …

            (A)    other translations are ‘sober, serious, sober-minded, clear minded’

            (B)    literally, ‘sound mind’, with ‘sound’ having the sense of healthy

        b. because the believer understands that Christ is coming again

            (A)    his view of the world, how he views this life, should encompass

                 (1)    the revealed spiritual realities

                 (2)    the priorities that really matter

            (B)    this command is given in such a way to say this is something that we should begin now: that is, ‘start thinking properly’

        c. so that the first step in our new life to do good

            (A)    of being ‘… created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

            (B)    is to get our values straight, our priorities aright


    2. Prayer-Focussed (7b)

        a. 7 … therefore, be of … sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.’

        b. the Bible concept of prayer is not that of ‘saying your prayers’

        c. firstly, it involves a state of mind

            (A)    a ‘sober spirit, a discipline, a watchfulness’

            (B)    though prayer can include ecstatic outbursts of praise as are found in the Psalms

            (C)   they are also to be a thoughtful conversation with our Heavenly Father, expressing our concerns, desires, and needs

        d. the word prayer in the original is actually in the plural

            (A)    such plural encompassing many aspects of prayer

            (B)    of gathering with others for prayer

            (C)   of coming to God paying our vows to Him

            (D)   of attending the house of prayer

        e. starting such a focussed prayer life is part of having the right priorities

        f.  which are a necessary foundation for our good works


    3. Intensely Loving (8)

        a. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

        b. the love here is in particular that within the body of Christ

            (A)    it is for one another, our brothers & sisters in God’s family

            (B)    it is agape love – concern for the good of others

            (C)   the word, ‘fervent’, includes the ideas of warmth, intensity

            (D)   might be understood of mere emotional reaction

            (E)    but it is deeper than that: a considered choice of attitude & action

        c. that is shown by the last part of the verse

            (A)    the covering of a multitude of sins

            (B)    this is not the sins of the one loving, but the one being loved

            (C)   particularly, those wrongs or hurts by the one being loved against the one doing the loving

            (D)   this is family love which includes forgiveness to its fullest

        d. and a necessary part for our doing good


    4. Truly Hospitable (9)

        a. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.’

        b. we are told elsewhere, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

            (A)    normally the word hospitable implies that it is being shown to someone unfamiliar, to strangers

            (B)    it is a friendliness to a person newly met, a demonstration of love because he is a Christian brother

            (C)   though that can be included here, it is to people known that is in view here – of others in the local body of Jesus Christ

        c. it is to be true hospitality

            (A)    towards someone thrust upon you as a guest from necessity

            (B)    like our giving to God, this is to be ‘… not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.’ (2 Corinthians 9:7)

        d. which is one illustration of the right attitude in doing good.


D. Our New Life Serving God (verses 10-11)

    1. Good Stewardship (10-11a)

        a. As Endowed by the Spirit

            (A)    10 As each one has received a [special] gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

            (B)    a steward in NT times was in general a house or property manager

                 (1)    into his hands were placed the various assets of his master

                 (2)    these resources, people and things, were under his control

                 (3)    not for his own benefit, but for the master’s service

                 (4)    such is the case with our gifts and talents

            (C)   we do not have the time this morning to rehearse the various spiritual gifts that are given elsewhere in the NT

                 (1)    but just to note that these gifts are not for our own benefit

                 (2)    but rather for the benefit of the body of Jesus Christ of which we are a part

                 (3)    and Peter gives us two examples to clarify this

        b. In Speaking

            (A)    11 Whoever speaks, [let him speak,] as it were, the utterances of God;

            (B)    the ‘utterances of God’

                 (1)    could be a reference to the NT prophetic gift

                 (2)    but equally well to the handling of the Scriptures

            (C)   so that this might be restricted to spiritual leaders, to evangelists or to pastor-teachers

            (D)   but, in my opinion, it applies to every believer so that he or she be conversant in God’s word so as to be able to share their faith

        c. In Serving

            (A)    11 … whoever serves, [let him do so] as by the strength which God supplies; …

            (B)    the word ‘serves’ is our old friend, diakonew

                 (1)    in Acts 6:2, 4, we find that it covers a range of service

                 (2)    verse 2: ‘... “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve (diakonew) tables”’

                 (3)    verse 4: ‘“But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry (diakonew) of the word.”’

            (C)   thus not matter what the form of service is

                 (1)    whether in the forefront of visibility

                 (2)    or in the background

                 (3)    we can do so because of God’s strength, who like a choir-master divies out all the parts as he deems wisest


    2. “Soli Deo Gloria” (11b)

        a. 11 … so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

        b. Our Purpose

            (A)    is very simply stated

            (B)    we are not doing these things to receive praise

            (C)   but that God may be glorified in all that we do

            (D)   because glory and dominion belong to God

            (E)    Amen: so let that be

        c. Our Means – Jesus Christ

            (A)    the Holy Spirit gives to the believer abilities, talents and gifts

            (B)    but these cannot be done in our own strength and power

            (C)   Paul had to be reminded by Jesus that ‘my strength is sufficient’

            (D)   and let us remind ourselves likewise of our need to abide in Christ