The Universal Challenges of the Gospel

Every truth brings challenges because every truth creates an unchangeable, immovable, unavoidable standard. Think about it. A
has to change. By definition, if anything changes with a truth, it can only do so by giving up part of what makes it a truth, and thus, it is no longer true; it is at best something that is almost true, but nonetheless, no longer true.

For instance, gravity is a truth. Gravity is unchangeable, not in the sense of its strength but in the sense of what it is. There may be less of it on the moon than there is on earth, but it pulling on you when you get on the scales to see how your weight loss program is going. Finally, gravity is unavoidable. No matter where you go on the earth it's pulling on you. You can hide yourself in a bunker a mile under the earth, but you still the same form it exists everywhere else. The reason for this reality is that gravity is a truth, and as such, it becomes a challenge that we must adapt to because it will not adapt to us. Therefore, it is vital that you and I understand God and His Gospel are truth.

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. (Psalm 120: 25-27)

6 "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6)

6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Therefore, it is to no
that are all sourced in the truth that God and His Gospel always, and always will be, who and what they are. Given what Peter has written in his letter is true, the challenge is not for God and His Gospel to respond and adapt, but rather for us! So, what are these challenges that Peter leaves us with?

Proposition: Peter concludes his letter by giving his readers 4 challenges. The 1st challenge is to ...
(1) Live sincerely submitted to one another. (5:5)

5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

prerequisite to being an elder, however, being there is no age requirement in the Bible for being a pastor in the church, only that pastors not be new converts (1 Timothy 3:6), it is therefore better suited to view this statement as one that is somewhat metaphorically associated with verses 1-4. As such, verse five transitions us out of Peter telling elders to essentially oversee the church with humility, to telling the church to respond to pastors/elders with humility. That is, when he tells pastors/elders to not lord their authority over people, and as such use it for their glory, he is practically telling them to lead with humility as opposed to arrogance. But then, before everybody else in the church could use that statement to undermine the job of the pastors to oversee and lead the church, he reminds those under the leadership of the pastors to live in submission to the leadership of the elders and as such live humbly as well. He then pulls back and makes sure everybody understands that what he is church; but rather their position before the Lord! Look again at the second sentence in verse five. Peter writes,

Clothe yourselves, al lot you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Peter says this to ALL of them pastors and parishioners alike!

To clothe yourselves is not to be a hypocrite, that is to simply hide your arrogance with words and actions that appear humble. Instead, to clothe yourselves presents a word picture of who you see yourself to be and how you want yourself to be seen. How you dress tells others not only what you want them to think about you, but also what you think about yourself. The most extreme example of this in our society is in the transgender world. A man with gender dysphoria will clothe himself as a woman to tell everybody he views himself as a woman and that he wants everybody to respond to him accordingly. A person who sees themself as a drug dealing rap star will often dress that way to demonstrate how they feel about themselves and how they want others to respond. A person who sees themself as a hard- working outdoor country type of guy, or a highly successful executive, or a Baptist preacher will often be sure to wear whatever clothes they feel express that view of themselves, and as such elicit the response from others they feel that view deserves.

So, in light of that, Peter says clothe yourselves with humility. That is, however you see yourself and present yourself, be sure its genuinely one who serves others as Christ served us. When you and I understand the Gospel, rationalize anything else. The Bible says,

21Foroursakehemadehimtobesinwhoknewnosin,sothatinhim we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The point being, if you know the Gospel at all, that Christ took upon Himself flesh and dwelt among us, so that He could also take upon Himself our sin, then you also know that truth allows no room for us to justify any other view or treatment of others! It is no surprise then that God, as the judge of the universe, can make no allowance for those who insist on treating others in any other way but the way He treats us! It is no wonder then that God belongs to God all the glory and all the praise! It is no wonder then that God works against those who in their own mind and actions deserve, and as such, justify demanding, that those in their world orbit around them; this even after Christ, who justly deserves that we orbit around Him, instead gave Himself for us!

In our teaching team meeting on this passage my father-in-law, Dr. Keith Zachary, said, yourself less.

Likewise, eloquent and rich,  In the olden times servants wore long white aprons, and the original word here used alludes to that dress. We are not to assume a lordly style but stand aproned with humility, ready to serve our fellow Christians in all lowliness of mind. Some cannot do little things. They must be ordained to great offices, or they will sulk in indolence. Genuine humility makes a man think it a great honor to be a doorkeeper in the house of God, or to be allowed to speak a word to a by Christ to mind the greater duties. Humility is a qualification for those who are not willing to fulfill the lesser offices will never be used greatness. Do you know how to be little? You are learning to be great. Can you submit? You are learning to rule

(2) Live totally surrendered to God. (5:6-7)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

First of all, to myself so that myself can be gratified by all the glory, pleasure and attention

Now here is where we have a problem. Humility is the opposite of pride. If you know anything about pride, then you know getting it off of us is like trying to wipe ketchup off your shirt when your hands are already covered in it. Once


6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

To humble yourself before others is to submit your heart and actions to serving others for their benefit instead of your own. However, until we submit ourselves to God, the pride that cannot be shook off from our nature will only be masked as submission! At the end of the day, you and I are equals. We can serve others all day, but there will always be this thing in the back of our minds telling us serving them, after all, they until that correct thought will run around our head enough times that we start seeing Pride is a sin with a thousand lives; it seems impossible to kill it. It flourishes on that which should be its poison, glorying in its shame. It is a sin with a thousand shapes; by perpetual change it escapes capture. It seems impossible to hold it; the vapory imp slips from you, only to appear in another form and mock your fruitless pursuit. To die to pride and self, one would need to die himself last world on fire This is exactly why Peter wrote what he wrote in verse 6. Let me read it again,

BOOM, pride!

However, Peter follows up his challenge on how we are to see and treat one another with how we are to see and treat God. He says to humble yourself,

under the mighty hand of God. There is literally NOTHING about God that my mind can possibly rightly rationalize as anything less than deserving of my total submission and allegiance to HIM!

When I visualize that statement,
footstool (Isaiah 66:1). not that God props his feet up on the earth, but rather that in comparison to the power and glory of God, the earth is nothing more than His footstool. Therefore, if the earth is His footstool, how powerful and glorious are His hands and the work that they alone can produce!

Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord,

My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together. (Isaiah 48:13)

Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his

Given this reality, there is no rational reason why we should continue on in life with ourselves as the answer to anything! It is our pride that we press on insisting what will be done as opposed to what He wills to be done. To cast all your anxieties on him is to present and future to the Lord. It is to surrender saying not my present, nor my future, but yours, because I AM YOURS!!

When you and I release ourselves to belong to HIM then we no longer have a justification to make others belong to us. That is, once we realize that all the praise and glory in the universe belongs to God, and as such, fall on our knees before Him and acknowledge our humble state before HIM, then we can no longer rationalize the demand that anybody glorify us with their life!

Think about it this way. Imagine a pack of dogs. Each dog is trying to outdo other dogs to get them to submit and eventually the strongest dog will rise to the because he proved it! From that point on that dog will walk around with all the other dogs making him the center of attention; that is until a bear shows up! When a big, huge bear plops down in the pin to take the dogs food, the big dog is in the same condition as the rest of the dogs because the big dog is standing there fearing for his life with the rest of them. One swipe of the bears paw will kill the big dog just as fast as it will kill the little dogs.

So, listen, you and I might think we are a big dog who deserves what we want; but that all changes when you truly get a glimpse of God! When we see the mighty hand of God, we can no longer with any rational sense ever live as if we are anything but one standing under the shadow of the Almighty!

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

What a reward!!! He is not calling us to submit to Him so He can take our food or destroy us, but rather to EXALT US!!! He cares for us! He is calling us to live in submission to Him so He can free us from the death trap of our sinful depraved hearts and into His life!

Imagine living your entire life in a trash dump. You were born in the dump and ever since then you have found your food, shelter and clothing in the trash. One day, as you were looking for food, a man came to you and said,
give you new place to live with fresh water, clean clothes, abundant healthy food, a roof that never leaks, a heater to keep you warm in the winter, and a HVAC to keep you cool in the summer. To follow that man would take faith for sure, but even a person in the direst situation would first need to know the motive of the person asking to be followed, otherwise that promise could be for their enslavement or worse! This is why Peter reminds us HE CARES FOR US! God is not demanding we follow Him because of His arrogance, but because of HIS LOVE! Our condition and future without Him are as hopeless as person whose life is lived out of a trash dump, but with HIM it is glorious.

(3) Live fully engaged with the battle to experience His Life. (5:8-11)

In December Keri and I had the privilege of visiting the 9-11 Museum in New York City with some friends of ours. If you ever get to go you will find yourself experiencing every emotion in the book. From the pride of being a part of a country that responded the way we did that day; to the indescribable admiration for emergency responders who gave their lives to try and save others; to the horror you feel for those who realized they had no way of escape from the raging inferno, and as such, chose to end their life in a free fall to the ground instead of smoke and flames; to deep brokenness as you see the faces and hear the stories of the families who were desperately trying to find their loved one; to absolute anger as you realize it could all been avoided if we would have simply learned our lessons and took our enemy serious. September 11, 2001 was not the first time Al-Qaeda attacked the United States. In 1993 Al-Qaeda tried to destroy the contrasted.

world trade center killing six and injuring over a 1,000. In October of 2000 they struck again killing 17 sailors on the USS Cole. However, the United States government chose to continue forward with an inefficient siloed out intelligence and counterterrorism approach that had already proven its limitations and failures. The results of not responding to a truth was catastrophic. No one could rightly suggest at any point after 1993 that Al-Qaeda was doing anything but looking for another that became especially true after the attack on the USS Cole. It was if we thought the killer, who claimed to be a killer, and who had demonstrated they were going to kill, would suddenly change his mind and no longer want to kill us. Why am I sharing this with you? Because this is how you and I end up treating Sin and Satan! We act like not seeking to destroy us. We act like the shark that keeps circling us in the ocean is not looking for an opportunity to kill and eat us, but rather to play with us! We reject the truth and as such suffer the consequence. So, listen to what Peter wrote,

8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls
around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

There is no sanity in allowing ourselves to think that sin and Satan have any intent but total destruction. It is their nature. It is all they know to do. It is the truth. To view sin and Satan as anything other would be the equivalent of thinking Al-Qaeda or ISIS or any other terrorist group, is anything but a terrorist group intent on killing everyone they hate.

But also and Satan in the sense that we are powerless. We are not powerless at all! Satan but rather, he devours you because you decided to play with him instead of follow Christ! When we fight we win! The Bible says, Sin and Satan have no authority over the children of God; that chain has been broken!

7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:7)


5. give no opportunity to the devil.

6. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11 circles us back to the immediate context of what we are studying here in First Peter. Did you notice what he said in verse 9? There was a very specific context that takes us back to what was going on. They were suffering persecution. They were being canceled by their communities and treated as them into believing God had abandoned them,
worth it! How could losing your standing in the community be worth it? How could losing your financial security be worth it? How could potentially losing your life be worth it? All of these questions and doubts Satan was going to flaunt in front of every believer who was suffering for the cause of Christ; so Peter wrote,

9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all
grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. persecution; no matter how big of a failure you feel for falling into sin; whatever you do, stand firm in the faith, that is, stand firm in your determination to live your life in submission to Jesus! to the lie that you re alone in suffering. taken you further than the grace of God can restore! not the only one who suffers for the cause of Christ and not the only one who has failed to obey Jesus. God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Which leads us to the fourth challenge,

(4) Live with a stubborn refusal to compromise the Gospel. (5:12-14)

12 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. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. gospels that false apostles and teachers were spreading for all kinds of reasons, but most commonly for financial gain (Titus 1:11). Right out of the gate in this letter Peter made this true grace of God, that we call the Gospel, real clear. He wrote,

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Elsewhere we read,

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

31 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in
vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

The point I wanted to make in reading all those Scriptures was for you to see there is no variation of the Gospel message in the Bible, whether you are reading what it is prophesied to be in the Old Testament or explained to be in the New Testament, there is total solidarity in it. Right now, we are offering a class on Wednesday nights at 6:45 that will take you through the Gospel in the Old Testament and do so in a way that if you are parent, you will be equipped to teach it to your kids!

  1. Meanwhile, throughout history, and still today, every major point of the Gospel has somebody changing it, who deceitfully calls , all while declaring something different than what the Scriptures go out of their way to plainly teach us. Each of the following has been done individually and/or with some combination of the others:
    1. Deny the authority of the Scriptures that Jesus Himself proclaimed and claimed to be about Himself.
    2. Deny the doctrine of the penal substitutionary death of Christ.
    3. Deny salvation by grace through faith alone.
    4. Deny the resurrection.
    5. Deny the deity of Christ and as such suggest He was just a holy teacher or

      prophet from God.

Peter says do not do it! He implies that under no circumstance, including een

taught. You have to stand firm in it. Be an immovable object yourself. Be TRUTH about the truth so that your life and testimony are always a challenge to the world to repent, believe and follow Jesus!

Check out my notes online for more on who the people are that Peter refers to here as well as why people feel Babylon is a reference to Rome.

As Paul often did at the close of his epistles, Peter may have penned with the help and probably personally delivered the letter to the churches of Asia Minor along the predetermined route specified in 1:1. This was probably the same Silas who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). Some scholars suggest that she who is in Babylon
Peter was writing to churches and said she is chosen together with you, If so, Asia Minor. According to historical evidence, Peter was in Rome during the used in order to protect both the Roman church and Peter from the Neronian persecution. (Others suggest, however, that he wrote from the literal city of Babylon on the Euphrates River.) Greetings were also sent son in the faith, Mark. Paul (Col. 4:10) placed John Mark in Rome on an earlier occasion. Consequently most would agree that John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, was in Rome at the time 1 Peter was written.

(Literacy, defined in terms of ability to read and write, characterized no for most was necessarily through oral performance. Additionally, those who could read did so orally [cf. Acts 8:30].) By way of inviting for Silvanus a favorable hearing on his circuit, Peter provides for him a character reference, staking his own reputation on his opinion that Silvanus is a reaching commendation, since it identifies Silvanus as one whose manner of life is congruent with the gospel as Peter has explicated it; moreover, in a letter oriented so fully a production of this letter a common practice in the first-century world, including the world of early Christianity but this is not suggested by the Faithlife

precisely because Peter gives us so little on which to base an opinion. Markus was
literally (we know Peter was married cf. Mark 1:30; 1 Cor 9:5) or figuratively, referring to someone for whose entry into the faith Peter was responsible (as in, e.g., 1 Tim 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phlm 10). Eusebius, quoting

Historia Ecclesiastica 3.39.15). This tradition dates back at least to the beginning of the second century.

However, this does not take us much further toward a resolution to our the fellow elect in Christian community of Rome. It would be strange for Peter to mention Silvanus and Mark by name, but not his wife or coworker, and we have evidence otherwise of the feminine personification of the church (e.g., 2 John 13). Peter is thus probably highlighting the kinship of the Christian community in Rome with those of the Anatolian peninsula, whose solidarity in suffering Peter has already observed (5:9). Why Rome? Used similarly in the book of Revelation (e.g., Rev. 17) a world-power hostile to God
so much identified with Rome as used as a brand to characterize what Rome has become. This recapitulates for us the perspective on suffering we find elsewhere in the letter, for it draws attention to the systemic character of harassment and the institutionalization of evil in patterns of sanctioned behavior and organizational structures that legitimate and propagate such Israel in the sixth century bc, a dispersion from which Israel never fully recovered, also reminds us that 1 Peter is a circular letter written to exiles of the dispersion, bringing us back full-circle to the beginning of the letter
(1:1 2).

Those are the challenges Peter gave to conclude his letter. Thereisnoneedformetoadd to them with my own. The God and His Gospel are the truth that calls us to respond. So, ask yourself,

(1)  Are you living SINCERELY SUBMITTED to one another? (5:5)

(2)  Are you living TOTALLY SURRENDERED to God? (5:6-7)

(3)  Are you living FULLY ENGAGED with the battle to experience His Life? (5:8-11)

Are you living with a STUBBORN REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE the Gospel? (5:12- 14)

Discussion Guide for this sermon