Sermons

October 11, 2020

Stand Firm in God's Grace

Dave Zuleger (South Campus) | 1 Peter 5:10-14

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. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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.—1 Peter 5:10–14

Introduction: Fear of the Future That Steals Peace and Love

Let me start by telling you about where we are headed in the next month or so. This week we will finish our walk through 1 Peter. Then, next week, I’m going to do an overview sermon of 1 Peter to try to cement some of these truths in our minds one more time before we say goodbye and to relate them to our current moment. 

The week after that will be the first week of Global Focus, and we’ll have an all-church preacher. Be looking for events connected to Global Focus. Then, the second week of Global Focus we will start a new series in the book of Acts that we are really excited about. If 1 Peter has shown us the principles to live as a chosen people in a place that is not our home, Acts will show us what that looks like in real time as the gospel multiplies through God’s people in the power of the Spirit.

I thought Nick did a great job last week walking us through the reality that, in order to entrust our souls to a faithful Creator, we must humble ourselves by casting our cares on the Lord instead of carrying them on our own. And we must do that because our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the devil, who would seek to destroy us. But that’s hard to do, isn’t it?

There is always something to fear in this world. This place is broken. Genesis 3 didn’t just make stuff a little bad. It broke fellowship with God and fellowship between his image-bearers. The shalom of the universe was fractured to the core. We are living in a season in our nation where all sorts of fears are being stirred up.

Fears of losing rights. Fears of losing health. Fears of losing an election. Fears of losing jobs. Fears of losing our culture. We have more information than ever before at our fingertips and yet I think we can all agree that none of us are even quite sure what to believe when we read various articles. So we don’t have ground to stand on.

But, let’s be real, fear is not new. We all had fears before 2020—it’s just that this year has kind of sucker-punched us and lots of those fears hidden under the surface have been exposed. There’s plenty of things we are afraid of outside of COVID-19, social unrest, and election cycles. 

Haven’t you experienced this? As the sand has shifted under your feet and some comfort you now enjoy is up for grabs—haven’t you felt anxiety begin to flood your soul? Haven’t you looked at people who don’t agree with you or don’t think something is as important as you think it is and been more challenged to love them? We’ve watched riots break out on the streets while we have our own little riots in our hearts that burn with anger—even toward our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m not immune to this. This has been a hard season to try to stay informed and aware without becoming paralyzed with fear that leads to a lack of peace in my heart and love for others. I’ve been challenged to keep loving and not to grow weary. But the apostle Peter has been trying to settle our hearts, and in this last word today he gives us some extraordinary promises meant to sink their roots down into the deepest parts of our souls and then bloom into faith, peace, and love. So let’s dive in and take this medicine for our souls.

Outline 

  1. The God of All Grace (1 Peter 5:10)
  2. The God of All Power (1 Peter 5:11)
  3. Stand Firm in True Grace (1 Peter 5:12)

Application: Faith in Future Grace That Creates Peace and Love (1 Peter 5:13–14)

1) The God of All Grace (1 Peter 5:10) 

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.

Remember what comes before this verse. The devil is seeking to devour people. And we are to resist him knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by many believers around the world and in all time. That means the world that stands against us is backed by a very powerful spiritual enemy: the devil. Do you see that? He’s driving much of the suffering and persecution. So we resist him in our suffering.

With the world against us and the devil behind the world, it could be a very fearful prospect. So what kind of promises could overcome that fear? Look at verse 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. 

This verse is packed. I almost stopped and just hung out here for the whole sermon. Now, first I want you to notice a phrase we saw already in this book in chapter 1. Peter says, “after you have suffered a little while.” The persecution that came for this church eventually was not just a short one. The mighty Roman Empire with the devil backing a cruel emperor waged a long, bloody persecution of believers. So how can Peter say this?

Perhaps you are here today and you are weary with the pandemic and the election cycle and the unrest. All of that was piled on top of relationships broken, physical suffering, and emotional pain. And it doesn’t feel like “a little while.” 

This is a comparison. A comparison to what?

The eternal glory to which you have been called to in Christ. Do you see that? You have been called to eternal glory in Christ. You have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You will obtain the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls, because you’ve been born again to a living hope. That’s what is coming. This is not your home. This is not the end. 

There is a day coming very soon where Jesus will come and make all things new and wipe every tear from our eyes. There is a day coming soon when we will experience what right now no eye can see and no heart can imagine: what God has prepared for those who love him. There is a day coming when darkness will be no more because the glory of the Lamb will shine so brightly there will be no need for the sun. There is eternal glory coming for us to enjoy the infinite, supreme beauty of the holiness of our God forever. In light of all this, these sufferings are for “a little while.”

And notice that it’s guaranteed. Our God starts it and our God finishes it. Who called us to eternal glory in Christ? God. God called us to this. And he is the God of all grace. All. Grace. He is an ever-flowing fountain of grace to the people who have trusted in his Son. Consider his grace toward us. 

God chose us before the foundation of the world. Then God sent his Son to live the life we could never live and to die the death we deserved to die for sin, and then he raised him from the dead to conquer death. Then he sent the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see Jesus as our Savior and Lord and had him dwell in us until we go to dwell with him forever. This is God’s plan and God’s purpose. This is the God of all grace. Look at what he has done in calling us.

But we don’t just look back: This verse has a future promise. When I stood in the ocean this past week and looked out at the waves about to crash, I was sure that they’d reach me. Why? Because I could look behind me at the last wave that had come, look down at my feet at the present wave there, and therefore look out and know that future waves were certainly coming.

God’s grace is like this. Always breaking over us, always guaranteed—coming from an inexhaustible source of power aimed at us. He himself is our Father who pours out grace.

He will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Restore: The idea of “restore” here is “to put things right.” He’s going to fix what is broken for his church. He’s going to make things right. And he’s putting things right in us and through us now.

Confirm: The idea of “confirm” is that he’s going to firmly uphold us so that we can keep trusting him. He’s going to keep Jesus before us so that though we do not see him, we believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and glorified. And you’re still believing in this moment because of his present grace.

Strengthen: He’s going to empower us to make it. He’s going to empower us to trust him and live for him and fill the places we are in with beautiful deeds that declare his glory. And he’s empowering his church today in this moment to be filled with peace and overflow in love.

Establish you: This goes back to the idea of the spiritual house we are in. How will he establish us and make our building stand firm? On the cornerstone of Jesus Christ (2:4–5). Every day we wake up and know that Christ is the cornerstone, that he is our firm footing, and that his perfect life, death, and resurrection means it really is finished and we cannot be moved today, tomorrow, or ever.

All of these things find their ultimate fulfillment in eternal glory where all things will be  made perfectly right, upheld, strengthened, and established. But he’s doing this now. He’s doing this day by day with his new mercies to his blood-bought family every morning. 

Peter is saying, “God is going to keep doing this. You don’t ultimately have to fear the future. Your God has called you to eternal glory. Your God has saved you in Christ. Your God is the God of all grace. And your God promises to hold you and to work in and through you to get you to glory. Yes, the world is against you and the devil is prowling. Yes, you will suffer. But, oh the promises of God are so much bigger than the threats against you.” Church, put your faith not just in the past grace seen at the cross, but in this promise of future grace that will continue to flow toward you like one wave of the ocean after another.

2) The God of All Power (1 Peter 5:11) 

To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Now, of course, after verse 10, what can we do but break into praise? That’s what Peter does. But,notice how he praises. He praises the eternal dominion or power of God. Rome would have seemed like quite a power. Satan is quite powerful. But our God has all dominion forever and ever. There is nothing you see in the world that is not under the mighty hand of God, working for his ultimate purposes and his ultimate glory. Yes, even the suffering of his people.

We see this in Job, don’t we? Satan and the broken world conspire to undo one of God’s people. But none of that is out of God’s control and all of it is working for the ultimate good of his people and the glory of his name.

Peter praises in this particular way to show the unstoppable purpose of God’s grace. It is good news that God’s grace flows toward us and that he makes us promises. It is better news that the God who does this is the one who has dominion over all things to do whatever he pleases. And because of the blood of Jesus, he is a Father who is pleased to work always for our good and who promises to finish the good work he started in us.

We look around and we see powerful forces at work for evil. It can cause us to tremble and fear. At our morning prayer time this last Friday, praying for our church and nation, Nathan Metcalf read this verse and it sunk to the core of my soul:

The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice.—Psalm 97:1

We rejoice in the reign of our Lord. We rejoice because his reign is perfectly righteous. But, even more so, we rejoice as the blood-bought family of God because all of his powerful reign is at work for our good to bring us to eternal glory, where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

3) Stand Firm in True Grace (1 Peter 5:12)  

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.

Now, Silvanus is likely a courier of Peter’s letter. He might have written it down for Peter as Peter dictated it. It doesn’t matter that much. Because Peter’s point here is to tell them why he has written all of this to them.

To exhort them and declare truth to them. That means he’s wanted to call them to action. He’s wanted to get them ready for something. Why has he written and told them about their identity and itinerary as Christians who are not yet home?

Because he wants them to stand firm in the grace of God. He doesn’t want them to be shaken. He wants them to know who they are and what they are called to so that they don’t have to react, but can instead ready their hearts and minds to stand in the day of trial. 

I was thinking about this text a little bit as our family was on vacation. And it’s an interesting phrase to stand firm in true grace. How do we stand in another’s strength? He is the God of all grace. It all comes from him. We can’t manufacture our own grace. So how do we stand in it? We face the waves of suffering and opposition clinging to our God and trusting in his strength.

Quinn loved to play in the ocean. But she’s little, so even the smallest tides would come and knock her down. And so early on she was a bit shaken. Yet what we learned to do is get behind her and as the waves crashed, she would cling to our arms and we would be behind her and steady her. And so wave after wave crashed and instead of fear, it was replaced with smiles of delight. Why? Because she stood firm in another’s strength. 

The key to this kind of standing in grace is not to do better or pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Quinn could not have tried hard enough to resist the waves herself. She could only withstand them as she stood in another’s strength and then her fear turned to joy. Oh, for us to have that childlike joy of simply entrusting our souls to another who can keep us. How will you make it? 

You remember you serve the God of all grace who has dominion forever and you cast your cares on him because he cares for you. That’s the promise of our being born again to a living hope with a sure inheritance. With every wave that crashes and as he sustains us through it, our faith in his future grace grows because we see him keeping his promises to us.

The way to make it through suffering is not to be restless with endless research, activism, and religious activity as if they can save—the way to make it through the waves of fear is to take Jesus up on his offer to run to him with your weariness and find rest for your souls. How will you run this race? How will you stand? By hope in politicians? By hope in cures? By hope in pastors? By hope in elections? No. By looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Application: Faith in Future Grace That Creates Peace and Love (1 Peter 5:13–14) 

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.

Notice how even Peter’s final words repeat themes we’ve seen throughout this book. He refers to a “chosen” one from Babylon. He’s likely talking about the church that is in Rome. The reference to Babylon is likely his way of talking about how they are exiles in Rome just as the Israelites were exiles in Babylon. But notice that whether it is a church or a specific notable woman at a church here, we still see the theme of one who is chosen as an exile in a foreign land.

And notice “Mark, my son.” Here is the family theme we have seen throughout. We are a chosen family that trusts in the God of all grace to empower us to fill the places in which we live with beautiful deeds that shine forth the beauty of our Savior.

And notice that when we have trusted the God of all grace and all power to help us stand firm and not fear—what then can overflow? What does Peter call his hearers to do?

Love each other. Greet each other with the kiss of love. Stand firm and love each other. And be at peace if you’re in Christ.

Don’t be shaken by fear of the future. Be filled with faith in future grace. Don’t let fear steal your love for each other; instead, let faith overflow in love for each other. Don’t let fear steal your peace; instead, be filled with peace that comes from the finished work of Jesus, because all of the promises of God find their “Yes and Amen” in him. 

How does faith in future grace flood our hearts with peace? Let me give you a picture of this from our vacation.

We were out at the ocean a lot, but every once in a while, the kids wanted to go to the pool. Much to the chagrin of the parents—but we went there for them once in a while. The older two would be off swimming, so I hung out with Apollos a lot. He would mainly stay on the entry to the steps, because he could kind of do his own thing there, be on his own, and he knew I was there. Well, he kept venturing deeper and deeper, and I was right there, just letting him explore. And this one time—it was later in the week, his confidence had grown—he did this thing—I don’t even know what it was, he kept kind of tipping backwards and seeing how far he could go—and, he lost it. So he’s under the water. And I thought, “Whoops!” I was getting a little too confident in his abilities. And it was a couple seconds! He’s under the water! Now he wasn’t in any real danger, but in that moment in my heart I thought, “Oh no. I’ve just ruined it. He’s going to have fears forever. He’s not going to ever want to go in the water again!” He was under, and it must have felt like forever; he must have been so scared. So I bring him up, and I pull him close, and I’m thinking, “Oh, this is a big moment. I’ve got to help him and restore him here.” I say, “Buddy, are you OK?” And he says, “Yeah!” And I say, “Were you afraid?” “No!” “Uh …  well … why?” And he just said, “I knew you’d get me.” 

That. That’s what I need. That childlike trust: “I’m with my Father, who is much more powerful than me, the God of all grace, who has dominion over all things forever and ever.” 

“Dave, are you afraid?”  

“No, I know you’ve got me. I know you’re going to restore me, confirm me, and strengthen me. I know you have me, and you’ve called me to eternal glory.” 

So, blood-bought family, stand firm in grace as you fight your fears. Stand firm in the all-sufficient grace and all-powerful arms of the God who has called you to eternal glory and promises to get you there. Stand firm in grace and overflow in love to one another even when you disagree with each other, because we know we have far more uniting us in Christ than dividing us on earth. Stand firm in grace and find peace for your soul amidst all of the brokenness, sin, and chaos of this life, knowing that your outcome is secure, that every tear will soon be wiped away, and that there’s a day coming soon where all things will be made new. Stand firm in grace, knowing that all of these promises and more find their “yes and amen” in Jesus. 

He sees your suffering. He sees what is against us. And he is with us, offering rest for our souls as we learn to stand in his all-sufficient and all-powerful grace by casting our cares on the one who cares for us because of the blood of Jesus. You will make it because he is faithful to his promises. He will work for your good and his glory and no one can stand in his way.

Sermon Discussion Questions

Outline

Introduction: Fear of the Future That Steals Peace and Love

  1. The God of All Grace
  2. The God of All Power
  3. Stand Firm in True Grace

Application: Faith in Future Grace that Creates Peace and Love

Discussion Questions
  • What fears do you see in your own heart and in the hearts of those around you?
  • How do those fears steal peace from you? How does fear manifest itself in your love for others?
  • How can the apostle Peter say that they will suffer “a little while” when so often suffering feels so long? What is the length of time in contrast to?
  • Why does Peter point them to faith in future grace? How does this promise conquer fear?
  • Why is God’s eternal dominion so important in the grace that is promised?
  • How can we stand firm in God’s grace? What does that look like for you? Where are you shaky?
  • Are there any sins or idols in your life that you are trusting in more than the all-sufficient grace of the all-powerful God?
  • What should overflow as we stand in grace?
  • Can you identify areas where your heart is not at peace? Are there places where your heart struggles to love others? Do you see a connection between them? 

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