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Entrusting Our Souls to a Faithful Creator - I Peter - Part 3
by Heath Robertson from Expositing Light: Volume I, Nr. 5

Peter began his letter addressing the impending suffering of his readers by simply reminding them that they had been “chosen… to obey Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:1, 2). He encouraged them to never forget the power and grandeur of the gospel. It is a message that the prophets spoke of, sought to understand, and yet only reached the conclusion that it was not a message for their time but for these last days (vv.10-12). Angels longed to see the fulfillment of this same glorious message (v.12). How blessed they were and we are to take part in the gospel of God! Such a gift deserves a proper response. Peter made it clear that a person’s response to the gospel becomes vital when encountering suffering. “Therefore since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose… so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (4:1, 2). We must never look back! We must band together! We must shine like Christ in every aspect of our lives!

“The end of all things is near” (I Peter 4:7a).
Concerning God’s plan for man’s time on earth, this statement became true the day that Christ entered the earthly realm. The Bible calls that climactic moment “the fullness of times” (Gal. 4:4) and teaches that the birth of the Christ would lead us into “the last days” (Micah 4:1; 5:1-4). However, it is very possible that Peter does not have the end of the world in mind here. In context, he seems to be referring to the “end” of his readers’ current period of suffering. He summarizes his thoughts by answering this question: How can they endure? Think clearly, make decisions wisely, and pray (I Peter 4:7b). They must give great attention to the needs of one another (vv.8, 9). In all they do, God must remain the focus (vv.11, 12)! Although suffering is never enjoyable, they can rejoice that they are sharing “the sufferings of Christ” (v.13) and what that means both currently and upon Christ’s return (vv.13, 14). There is hope in suffering for the right reason but only more pain await those who suffer for wrong (vv.15-18). Without doubt, during the many times since the establishment of the church that God’s people have been persecuted, some have thought their suffering to be needless and forsook the Faith. However, Peter says that those who valiantly endure at all costs are not foolish but rather have entrusted “their souls to a faithful Creator” (v.19).

Peter concludes his letter by addressing key areas in which these congregations needed improvement. It is interesting to me that these issues are still problem areas for congregations today. We need to LISTEN UP!

Elders
Peter, like all the apostles, had authority from Christ. What he said or wrote demands respect from those who give allegiance to Christ. However, authority is often more effective if it is carried out with humility and by serving as an example rather than a dictator. Peter learned this from His Lord and Friend. Here, Peter writes as a “fellow-elder” (I Peter 5:1). He instructs from the standpoint of experience. He has not sat back idly only to grace them with his presence when he was ready to preach to them. They know Peter as one who is not afraid to get dirty and get the job done. He has endured much as both apostle and elder.

“Shepherd the flock of God among you” (I Peter 5:2).
This analogy is particularly significant in regards to Peter. Some of Jesus’ last words to Peter were “Shepherd My Sheep” (John 21:16). The Bible reveals Peter as having been a very rash type of person who failed to really think before he spoke or acted (Matthew 16:22; 17:4; 26:33-35; Galatians 2:11-13). Shepherding sheep is not an easy task and one must have great love and concern for every sheep. Peter had some challenges to overcome to be the shepherd Jesus wanted him to be. It is the great effort that Peter had to put into this change of character that made it very appropriate for him to deliver this charge.

Shepherding is not about “lording it over” (I Peter 5:3).
Sheep will follow anyone who seems to be in charge. Although some boast otherwise, there is no great accomplishment in being the king of sheep. As far as real sheep are concerned, one must really love the job to even think about becoming a shepherd. Shepherds receive joy by carefully watching over their flock as they grow into beautiful creatures. Effective elders are eager to watch over, protect, and guide the flock among them as they grow and become more Christ-like (v.2). Men that are currently serving as shepherds as well as congregations who are in the process of appointing elders need to think about these things. The qualifications for elders that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus about are not simply good suggestions (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). They are designed to help a congregation appoint men that have the heart of a shepherd. In their time of trial, Peter’s readers needed shepherds focused on guiding their flock away from danger.

Humility
There are two sides to shepherding: the shepherd (the guide) and the sheep (the followers). Could it be that one of the churches greatest difficulties is that there have been many sheep unwilling to submit to the guidance of the shepherds? Peter specifically calls upon the “younger men” to “be subject to elders” (v.5). For those of us that fall into that category, we need to give some thought as to why he is so specific here. Peter includes all Christians in the following charge: “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble” (v.5). When we fail to submit to those whom God has commanded us to submit to we show that we are seeking glory on our own and not that of which He bestows (v. 6, 7). Congregations full of people all seeking their own will never survive in a time of serious trials.

Satan
The athletes of the Greeks and Romans endured much for the purpose of entertainment and sport. However, I am not sure if anything can really compare to the terror of being placed in an enclosed arena with a lion. They are fast, cunning, and strong and equipped with razor-sharp teeth and claws. In like manner, “your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). Why does it seem we always want to underestimate Satan’s ability to devour us?! There are certain things we would need if we could ever have a chance to win a battle against a lion. We would need a keen awareness as to where he is and what he is doing. Most importantly, we would need solid protection and a way to defend ourselves. God has provided us with the strongest armor and best sword to defend ourselves against our enemy (Ephesians 6:10-18). However, if we have not spent any time training with the equipment, it will be no good. When Satan attacks, like he was doing to Peter’s readers, we need to be able to “resist him, firm in [our] faith” (I Peter 5:9)!

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ” (I Peter 5:10-14).

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