1 PETER SERIES (WEEK 4/9: GODLY LIVING THROUGH SUBMISSION)

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1 1 PETER SERIES (WEEK 4/9: GODLY LIVING THROUGH SUBMISSION) SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS CONNECT: Share some good deeds you have seen others doing and pray for opportunities to serve and bless those around you? WARM-UP Question 1. Why do you think the world struggles to see submission as a way of living? In what way do we ever find it difficult to live out? 2. Why do you think we often idealise rebels in our culture? Does that say anything about ourselves? 3. How have you seen weakness actually be demonstrated as great strength? READ 1 Peter 2: What are the various groups that Peter uses as case studies to show the power of submission? 5. In what ways could slaves submitting to their masters be such a powerful example of God s grace? 6. Did this mean that they should do things that would contradict obedience to God? 7. As people submitted themselves as citizens and slaves, who were they ultimately submitting to? 8. How do you think submission could be a powerful demonstration of grace in your workplace or in another aspect of your life? How can you discern if what is being asked is in line with God? 9. How has faithful Christian witness and submission over many years radically transformed unjust structures in society? How will God bring complete justice to even the most unjust of situations? 10. How can we differentiate between submission and being exposed to abuse? READ 1 Peter 2: What is significant about how Peter reorders the references from Isaiah 53? 12. How did Jesus innocence actually qualify him to suffer for us? 13. In what way is Jesus sacrifice the ultimate example of how we are to submit our lives? 14. How does our living hope and the certainty of our future enable us to live so counter-culturally? 15. What aspect of imitating Jesus do you find most challenging? 16. How can we encourage one another to be better imitators of our Lord? APPLY (to this week): What is one key aspect of your life in which you can imitate Christ through (what the world would recognise as) weakness? PRAY: Loving God, we thank you that even though innocent, Jesus submitted himself to the cross in order that we would be set free. Please help us to submit in aspects of our lives, in order that we might point to Jesus. Please bring justice to where there is injustice, sustaining those who serve you faithfully even with great suffering. In Jesus name, Amen. For sermons and additional resources, visit STBARTS.COM.AU

2 1 PETER SERIES (WEEK 4/9: GODLY LIVING THROUGH SUBMISSION) GOING DEEPER RESOURCES & SUGGESTIONS Each week we provide additional resources that help to go deeper with whatever series we re currently focusing on as a church. Resources could include recommended books, articles, online sermons, courses, or videos. These are optional extras! Please don t feel under pressure to look at every resource, but consider what could be useful to. Talks & Other Audio AUDIO: How then shall we live? A sermon by Don Carson AUDIO: Principle and Pattern of Submission A sermon by Richard Coekin AUDIO: Principle and Pattern of Submission, Part 3 : A sermon by Alistair Begg AUDIO: In the world but not of it A sermon by Stephen Nicols AUDIO: Relating to the Boss A sermon by Jonny Dyer Video VIDEO: 1 Peter by the Bible Project: Submit to every human institution a sermon by Ray Galea Following Jesus far from home A sermon by Mary Willson Articles and Other Reading Submitting and Suffering Like Jesus a detailed Bible study on 1 Peter 2: Bible study notes for 1 Peter 2:13-25 from Word of Life UK BOOK: 1 & 2 Peter and Jude for Everyone by N.T Wright For sermons and additional resources, visit STBARTS.COM.AU

3 Talk 4/9 (1 Peter Series: Exiles Living in Hope): 06/08/17 Godly Living by the Rev d Adam Lowe Bible Passage: 1 Peter 2:13-25 Over the last few weeks we ve been exploring the first letter of Peter, and what it means to be a people with a living hope. Not just a people with a really positive outlook, but that because Jesus has risen from the dead, we can be confident about our future, and therefore, enabled to live for God and his coming Kingdom today. Jesus past actions, guarantee our future, transforming our today. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (vv.2-3) That s the glorious foundation of Peter s letter. And it s this platform, it s this premise, from which Peter launches into challenging us about what that actually means for our lives. We need to keep coming back to this foundation, because of the implications that follow. We ve already seen: Peter s call for us to live holy lives: a people driven by God s order of things instead of our own.!2

4 We ve already seen: Peter s call for us to live as a chosen people: a people being built into a spiritual house on Christ who is the cornerstone. But this week, we see Peter s call for us to be a people characterised by submission, of being willing to subject our lives to someone else s authority for a greater cause. Peter uses three (first century) culturally-relevant case studies of what that looks like Christians and rulers; slaves and masters; husbands and wives. And by choosing these three examples, we ll look at the first two today, husbands and wives next week, but by choosing these three examples, Peter is really addressing three of the main domains, or spheres, that together make up the basic building blocks of society in the Graeco-Roman world. Peter is saying, our living hope addresses all of these important areas, and may mean laying down our lives, even in ways that are costly and hard. Now if you re like me, that doesn t really sound very fun! As Australians we generally don t like submitting ourselves to authority. Just think about two of the greatest heroes in the makeup of Australian culture, are: Exhibit A: Ned Kelly. A thief with metal clothing, determined to never let the law win. Exhibit B: A jolly swagman, who nicked a sheep, and would rather drown himself in a billabong then face the consequences of the law.!3 Combine that with being a highly individualised culture, the entire notion of submission is wildly counter-cultural, yet that s exactly what we re looking at today. When I think of Godly Living, submission is not what immediately comes to mind, but as we look at this section of 1 Peter, we ll see why it is actually so important, and why it is such a struggle for us. And so today as we consider submission as a key part of Godly living, we re going to consider three things: To WHOM we Submit (vv.13-20); For WHAT PURPOSE we Submit (vv.13-20); and WHO we IMITATE through Submission (vv.21-25).!4

5 #1 TO WHOM WE SUBMIT \\ VERSES So first, to whom we submit. Well, you might think that's obvious: masters and government. But we also note the extent of the submission. So first we read in verses 13 and 14: Submit yourselves for the Lord s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors (vv.13-14) Christians are to submit themselves to the ruling powers. We re citizens! Remember that we re not 100% sure who the emperor was at the time, but we do know that persecution against Christians was escalating. Yet here Peter says: submit yourselves to every human authority. Not just the ones who like you, but even the ones who despise you. And then in verse 18, in a different facet of society:!5 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. (v.18) It s important for us to understand that in the Graeco-Roman world, slavery was very common, it was systematic and legalised. Slaves were not considered as people, they were considered property of their owner. And whilst they would be provided with enough board and lodging to survive, how they could be treated was really at the will of their master. Slavery was one of the key ways that the middle class were employed, they included all types of jobs that we would consider professions today. It would have been an entirely foreign concept for people at the time to even consider a world that didn t involve slavery, it would be like us considering a society in which no one studied or worked. And so, for most of the recipients, Peter is addressing how they are to act in their workplace. He s note endorsing it, or suggesting that Christians should submit to doing anything. He s simply recognising the missional context in which they have been placed. And we know that, not only because of the purpose of the submission, (which we ll get to soon), but also because of who they ultimately submit to.!6

6 See, quite radically, Peter knows that the Christians know, that whilst in this foreign world, they might submit to emperors and masters, like we submit to our government and bosses, their ultimate submission is to God. We see that threaded all throughout the passage. So verse 13, submit yourselves for the LORD s sake, to human authorities; that despite having emperors, verse 16, live as GOD s slaves; or in verse 17, whilst we honour the emperor, we are to fear GOD. And by God being the one to whom they ultimately submit, that changes things. First, it means that as they submit to these earthly masters, Peter is in not endorsing slavery, he s just instructing how they can witness in their everyday environment. In a world that is full of pain, that Jesus has addressed and will be over turned. Later we read that Jesus entrusted himself to God as the true judge. He didn t, despite all that he was facing have to become judge, because he knew there would be judgment. Second, if God commands our ultimate submission, then our submission to the authorities can only ever be when it s not in conflict with obeying God. In fact, even Peter in Acts (along with the apostles), when faced with ungodly submission, said: We must obey God rather than human beings! (Acts 5:29)!7 So that means, if your boss is being difficult, and you want to retaliate, you shouldn t. But if your boss tells you to lie about something, then you need to test that against God. Wherever you are, in the great security that you have because of Jesus, insomuch that it does not contradict your obedience to the Lord, live honourably in service of those in authority. Part of the issue that Peter is addressing is that sometimes when people would become Christians, they thought they could just throw away all of the other basic principles of their society, could act without any honour, and do what they liked. They could say, well now that Jesus is my True King, the emperor means nothing; or now that Jesus is the Lord of my life, I can completely disregard my master. From my previous work, I know of people who would get a new job with a new boss, but whilst they were in the old job, they d act like their existing bosses had no authority. It was all-too-tempting for some Christians, to construe their loyalties to Christ, as a license for rebellion against everyone else. But Peter is saying no. You have a new, ultimate, and lasting Lord, but you must also submit to the temporary ones in your life now too. You re dual citizens, of the Kingdom of Heaven, but also where you are right now, submit to those who have authority over you, so long that it does not undermine your obedience to God.!8

7 #2 FOR WHAT PURPOSE WE SUBMIT \\ VERSES So our submission should flow out of our submission to God, that s to whom we submit. Second, we do that because of a greater PURPOSE. Peter is saying: you have this opportunity to use your freedom for a greater purpose: the Gospel. We ve already established that it s to God we ultimately submit, it s in reverence for him, it s for the Lord s sake we do it, therefore, it s also for his purposes. That s why is worth it. In fact, Peter says in effect, you ve been afforded a great freedom in Christ, it s not a freedom to do whatever you want, that s what he means in verse 15 by, as a cover-up for evil, but it is freedom for God s service. // You might be thinking, but what possible purpose for God, could a slave, who is being treated poorly possibly achieve. With our 21st century eyes, being concerned with our rights and comfort, we suggest, well Peter got it wrong, he should be encouraging all of the slaves, to get together, form an army, and defeat the regime to whom they were enslaved.!9 If I m honest, when I ve undergone trial, I would much prefer try to escape the difficulty, or form a committee to address the problem, then graciously endure it! We re tempted to look at this situation and see the biggest need as slavery, but Peter looks at the situation and sees the bigger need of salvation. They weren t in a position to change society from the top down, but every Christian, even the most powerless slave, could help create change from the inside-out, one relationship at a time. Living distinctively, doing good, even when it was costly. But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (v.20b) It is better for the Gospel to do good and be treated badly, then to rebel and still be treated badly. Some time ago a friend I knew was having a really difficult time in his workplace - everyone would give him grief because he was a Christian. From time-to-time his boss would explode at him. My friend desperately wanted to retaliate, just like everyone else did, but instead, time-and-time again he just showed his boss grace. Each and every time, even if only a very dim sketch, he was showing him what Jesus looked like. And when his boss faced personal trouble, he went only to one employee.!10

8 Throughout various histories, you can read of the way in which through apparent weakness, in the face of serious persecution, Christians boldly proclaimed the Gospel. It was often said, that Christians died well, that in the face even of persecution, their response was so not expected, that people couldn t help but see their living hope. But if Christians railed against the earthly authorities, they would simply be dismissed as trouble makers. But if the recipients here submitted even in the face of difficulty, it had the power of the resurrection to change the world. That s why Paul when he was imprisoned, he said don t worry about me, The Good News is reaching the highest courts. That s why the peaceful way that changed an empire was not through the sword, a sword that even Peter wanted to use the night Jesus was arrested, but through a costly and sacrificial way of life, that quietly screams just how real their living hope was. Let me be clear: This in no way is fodder for someone who wants to take advantage of others. The Bible that speaks very clearly against that. Peter is simply recognising the context of their mission, as citizens and employees.!11 The key clue for understanding that is right back in verse 11, they are foreigners and exiles. You can t just walk into China and tell the government how to run things. But you can go - and live in a way, even at great cost, and make the Gospel clear. // Over time, as Christianity spread, as individual hearts turned to Jesus, then gradually we saw the entire social construct come undone. If you want to see what it looks like for a Christian master to wrestle with what a Christian response is to do with a slave who ran away, read the letter to Philemon. There s no doubt that we should be a people who seek justice lovingly, but it s also clear, that often the path that we are to follow, it a gentle and meek path of submission, that shows the face of Christ even in the most challenging of circumstances.!12

9 #3 WHO WE IMITATE \\ VERSES We submit ultimately to God, for God s purposes, and finally, we do it, in IMITATION of his son. The only way, we can possibly even begin to live this way, or make sense of this way, is to take hold of the future that is certain, and rely on the one who submitted his whole life for us. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (vv.21-24) Peter, quoting Isaiah, is doing something quite amazing. He not only quotes from Isaiah 53, and he rearranges it in the order of events surrounding Jesus crucifixion.!13 He s placing the description of the suffering foretold, in parallel with what happened to Jesus, and saying: don t you see! That we can walk this path, not only because Jesus has set the way, but because it s through his suffering that we ve been set free. Peter knows this well. He was the one who when he recognised who Jesus really was, Jesus soon told him that as Messiah, he was going to going suffer, when Peter heard this, he could not process that possibility, he rebuked Jesus. Peter simply couldn t understand how triumph would come out of suffering. Jesus innocence didn t disqualify him from suffering, it qualified him for it. Because it was through the greatest injustice that the world has ever known, that the very best good thing was done, so that the greatest act of grace could ever be offered. And Peter never forgot it.//!14

10 CONCLUSION \\ IMITATORS AS A DIM REFLECTION Right from the beginning, radical submission was at the core of Christianity. Ignatious of Antioch, who went on to be martyred, wrote this: allow them to be instructed by you, at least by your deeds. In response to their anger, be gentle; in response to their boasts, be humble; in response to their slander, offer prayers; in response to their errors, be steadfast in the faith; in response to their cruelty, be civilized; do not be eager to imitate them. Let use show by our forbearance that we are their brothers and sisters, and let us be eager to be imitators of the Lord (To the Ephesians 10:1-3) We submit to God, for God, and as imitators of him, that everyone might know that the power of grace, triumphs over the way of the world.!15

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