Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stand Firm In The True Grace Of God


Stand Firm In The True Grace Of God
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.  1PETER 5:12-14

The most comfortable posture through which the body is most stable and able to exert the greatest effort is while standing. Apostle therefore concludes his letter, that he considers brief, by an exhortation to stand firm in the true grace of God. What exactly is he telling us to do? When you read this letter what are you to be left considering as your responsibility to do? Whenever you hear the Word of God, you have to always ask yourself, what the message means for you and what is it that you have to work on in view of the Word of God you have heard. In this case Peter expects his readers, not to relax but to take a specific position that will make them to be able to be firm. He wrote to exhort and encourage these scattered Christians since they were and will ever face fiery trials, but have to remain firm.
How do you stand firm in the true grace of God? This is view of the fact that we are still in a wicked world of sin, where Peter has just pointed out the great adversary, the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He has already told us of those who are watching over our souls – the elders and the manner in which they are to do their pastoral work. He has explained the manner in which we are to relate with them as well as with each other in the church. The Christian’s clothing is humility and it is necessary for his character essential for the Christians to obtain God’s favor. A believer is expected to resist the devil and remain firm in faith, even after suffering. There is a assurance that God will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish those who have such an attitude of faith.
Peter is therefore concerned is concerned that his readers will hold on to the truth and remain immovable in faith. They have heard and so received the gospel of God’s grace and so he expects them to stand firm in it. The question vital for us here and now is, how can we stand firm in the true grace of God? We are to stand on the truths of the grace of God not on philosophy or vain morality or carnal reason or anything that seems the most attractive – we are to cling to God and His grace and nothing more or less.Clearly this is dependent on two factors – it is dependent on the grace of God and your own responsibility.

1.     God has to work this for you to stand
Since it is God’s grace no one can stand firm without God. The grace of God is not what you have done for God but what God has done for you in Christ.
·         Being chosen of God
God started His wonderful work of grace in you even before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3). This was before you had done anything good or bad and therefore it is totally dependent on God. How can stand in the grace of God when you do not deserve it? If anyone thinks that he is standing on the grace of God when he is trusting on his own merit or righteousness, he will be found to be false and will be told by God, “Go away for I never knew you!”
Peter had begun by pointing out that he was writing to the “… elect exiles… according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in the sanctification of the Spirit …”. He then praised God who, “… has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1:2, 3). He stated that those who are in the salvation of grace are those who have been called
It is therefore wonderful to read here that there is ‘She who is in Babylon who is chosen (by God) together with you” (v.13). It first shows that this choosing is the work of God because He is the One who has done the choice. Both ‘she who is in Babylon’ and those described as being ‘together with you’ in this verse are passive in this work and without the choosing of God have no role to play. It does not matter the ethnicity or the background or race or color – God made a choice of His people from every tribe, language, and people and nation (Rev. 5:9). Imagine He has people even from Babylon – of all the places! God does not show partiality as Peter preached in Cornelius’ house in Acts 10:34.
Clearly this is the most basic in the outworking of the grace of God. And this shows how much we are indebted to God and His grace and mercy. This then demands that we are to praise the Lord for His rich mercy and grace out-poured on us in our salvation. We are to praise Him for His wonderful astounding benevolence on us. That we live a life of praise and honor to God is exemplified by a devout life of worship to God. Brethren, standing firm is a call for godliness and piety. We worship God because of who He is – He is worthy of all worship and honor as we have it in Revelation 4:8 but also we worship Him for what He has done –see Rev. 4:11. We worship Him by corporate worship and also by personal holiness because He chose us to His royal priests that we offer praises of Him who called us from darkness into His marvelous light (2:9. Are you chosen by God? Then you can’t help but honor Him in word and indeed.
·         The peace of God
When we talk of the peace of God we are referring to the peace that comes from God who is Himself a peaceful God and also the peace that you need in order to be able to live in a world so full of upheaval and wickedness. When a person is saved or has been justified by faith in Christ, he is given a full measure of peace with God (Romans 5:1)
 Peter in his benediction wishes all of them ‘peace to all of you who are in Christ’. The form of greetings that the Hebrews had were to do with wishing others peace, while the Greeks wished others grace. But both of them did not now know the peace of God that is in Christ Jesus and so Peter here closes his letter to them by wishing them the true and gospel peace, that Christ left with His disciples. The basis for which this sort of faith is obtained is by being ‘in Christ’. Union with Christ is the most unique relationship that a person can enjoy when he puts his trust and confidence in Christ. Being ‘In Christ’ is the most important thing because then one no longer lives but his life is hidden in Christ. He becomes a completely new creature so that the old is gone and there is a total transformation.
The reason why God ‘foreknew’ and therefore chose us is so that He “predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).  But this union with Christ is not just being conformed to the image of Christ but to be in Christ so deeply that words fail to describe this relationship.
But what God requires of you in all these wonderful privileges are is that you may stand firm immovable in the grace that He has given you. The problem with many of you is that you are very unstable in your faith. Very much given to lack of a clear, firm and straight way of life. Many are so unstable in their words and have loose tongues. Many lack consistency and faithfulness. Many make their promises and vows but do not keep them. Do you think it is stability that so many Christians are Sunday morning Christians? They only time they give for worship is on a Sunday morning for 1 ½ hours… no time for Christian community who are the people of God the apple of His eye? Many treat even corporate with disgust by the fact that they may receive their calls, can do during the service etc.? Does it not show that we do not care about the true god but another god – money? If God has graciously chosen you and you do not regard Him and you do not regard His Son or the Spirit and so you grieve Him again and again, if you have no time for God’s word, not do you have time to commune with Him in prayer, what stability do you have? Many of you are constantly being reminded by the elders again and again that you are not going in the right direction but you know that you are not heeding the admonition – are you standing firm?
2.      You have to take the responsibility personally
Where the bible said that you work out your salvation with fear and trembling shows that you have to live a responsible life of faith in order to stand firm in your Christian life in order to stand firm in the grace of God failure to live as such shows that you are not in the grace of God. Or if you are not acting like that then you are not in the true grace of God but in something else that you think that it is the grace of God.
In this passage we find three things that fall within the responsibilities of believers to stand firm having obtained the grace of God:
·         Faithfulness
May I then seek to show your responsibility in as far at standing firm is concerned. We read here that Silvanus who was most likely the bearer of this letter or may be the secretary who wrote for Peter is described as “a faithful brother” Peter regarded Silvanus, also called Silas as a faithful to show that he was stable mature and dependable Christian. You would regard a person who is not standing firm as faithful. Faithfulness here is first of all to the Lord as Lydia told Paul and Silas in Philippi in Acts 16 for then they stayed in her house as she had requested them.
This is the recommendation for Silvanus who would then be the messenger delivering the letter to these brethren scatted all over the Asia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pontus and Galatia. For he was going to represent Peter faithfully and he had to recommend to be taken by the readers as they would take Peter himself. Silvanus was a close companion of Paul.
Why is it that people are unable to be faithful? Because it takes effort to be faithful. It does not take much effort to be careless and carefree. All you need is neglect of duty and responsibility and you would be unfaithful. This is why you find unfaithfulness among spouses because they become careless and do not love their spouses.
·         Regarding exhortation from others
This passage shows Peter who is concerned about the believers in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Bithynia and Asia and he would like to profit them spiritually and takes time to profit them. He wanted to encourage them and to strengthen them in the light of the persecution and so many afflictions that they were going through. He wanted them to remain steadfast in the Lord for whom He is in their lives and for what He had done for them. They had reasons to remain steadfast as hard and difficulty as it was.
It is the responsibility of the believers to encourage others to remain faithful and firm in the grace of God especially when there are persecutions. Let them know that what they are going through is only what is common to a man. Peter had told them that the same kind of suffering were being experienced by other brethren all over the world. He encouraged that the suffering were only temporary and so they are to remain firm meanwhile as they waited upon the Lord.
Were supposed to not only exhort others but also listen to the exhortation from others. We would be foolish to suppose that we are an island – we do not need the help from others. We are meant to not only watch others backs but also let others watch ours. Many mistakes that we make is that we are good listeners. Do you listen to the counsel from others or you have even conceivable excuse why they are wrong and so you would not listen to them?

 Sincere love for others
Do we have warm and close love and affection for others? We are here told to “Greet one another with the kiss of love.” Notice that this is not just an handshake – it is more than that. It is not a hug – it is something close to that but more than that! We are to have brotherly love for one another as he has already said that although we are to honor everyone, we are to “love the brotherhood” (2:17). A Christian church has to be united in mind, sympathy, brotherly love (3:8).
The reason why brother love is so much emphasized in this letter and in all of the New Testament is because first of all, Christians have been made to be children of one Father, have been made to be the brothers of Christ, the Redeemed of the Lord and have so much in common that there can be no other way of thinking.
We are to live in sincere love for God and for others because this is what we shall experience for ever in heaven – the love of God to us and we will in return love everyone as we ourselves are loved! This why we are told the most excellent way to live as Christians is the the way of love. When all the spiritual gifts have been evaluated, three remain – faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. It is love because it is needed in this life and in the one to come!
Therefore let us be those who give ourselves to others  sacrificially for the glory of God and for the profit of others.

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