22 Nov 15
Series: Living in the Margins
Part 8 - Did You Draw the Sword this Week?
1 Peter 3:8-22
During our series, Living in the Margins, based on the book of 1 Peter, we are going to be turning our Touching Base into a prayer guide. This aligns with how we want people to be growing at Bethel. Being prayerfully engaged is one of the marks of a disciple, it characterized Jesus’ life and ministry and is essential as we learn to walk with Jesus. We encourage you to use this prayer tool in your Life Groups, and in your personal prayer time.
Relationships are complicated at times, yes? Relationships play such a pivotal role in our sense of peace, happiness, joy or anxiety, stress and frustration. In our text today, Peter reminds his audience that regardless of the context, Christ followers are to respond in grace, not power. I want to encourage you to pray through this text today. You can be pretty-much guaranteed that there is some relationship out in your personal galaxy that needs a little grace, perhaps a touch from the grace-giver Jesus.
Text: 1 Peter 3:8-22
Big Idea: The greatest and most powerful Christian distinctive is not the exercise of power; it is the offer of grace (grace not power)
To see where Peter probably learned this lesson in a powerful way, check out John 18:1-11. You can also check out Luke 22:47-53 for more detail.
Note the contrast of responses:
Peter – Power – he drew the sword, self-determined, self-protecting, giving to someone what they deserve, hasty, impulsive, visceral.
Jesus – Grace – showing favour, good will, acting in a contrary way – meaning opposite in nature, direction or meaning.
Anybody wrestle with this?
Question: How do I draw on grace, not the sword?
1. Let God do His work in you (v.8) (maturity)
There is just no way that we can act in grace unless we have experienced God’s grace in our own lives. A grace response is a supernatural response. A power response is a very natural response. Note the operating assumption of v8- it is that God is at work in their lives deepening and maturing their unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart and humility of mind. The ask of v9 will seem ridiculous unless God is at work in their hearts.
Ways to pray
- Pray through these characteristics of healthy relationships that Peter lists.
- Add to your list as you pray.
2. Embrace your calling (v.9) (calling)
Go back to the scene in John 18. Who repaid evil for evil? Who did what was contrary (meaning opposite in nature, direction or meaning)?
How comfortable are we with this calling to bless others?
How does this play out in 2015?
Peter is not saying grace is giving the other person permission to do “whatever” to you. Grace is not repaying evil for evil, reviling for reviling. It is not saying roll over and let yourself be the center of someone’s bullseye. Your tender heart, humble mind, brotherly love are to shape your posture - grace.
Have you ever seen two Christians that don’t understand their calling to bless draw the sword on each other? How does that escalate the problem?
How does drawing on grace de-escalate the problem?
Think of our relationships with non-believers. When they draw on power against us and we draw on grace what is the contrast? What is the difference?
Pray into the need for healing in relationships where both sides have drawn on power and drawn blood.
Pray for Jesus to clean up the mess (like he did for Peter) that we can make when we forget our calling.
3. Watch your words and works (v.10-17) (integrity)
Read through these verses and note references to words and references to works (behaviour). Sometimes all you need to see or hear to understand if someone understands their calling and the big idea is to hear their words and see their works.
Are your words and works in alignment with your calling (i.e. to bless by drawing on grace not the sword)?
I don’t know about you but my words and works are most vulnerable to looking more like Peter than Jesus when someone else has drawn the sword.
Pray that your words and works will line up with our calling to bless.
Some in the group may need to take some time to repent of toxic words they have spoken over people that have been anything but a blessing. I bet Peter had a few choice words that lined up with his works when he did a little cosmetic surgery to Malchus.
Some in your group may need to be prayed over because toxic words have been spoken over them either by other brothers and sisters or non-believers. Our words and works need to be in line with our calling to bless.
4. Keep Jesus in full view (v.18-22) (model)
J.M.E. Ross wrote that verse 18 is “one of the shortest and simplest, and yet one of the richest summaries given in the New Testament of the meaning of the Cross of Jesus”
Note how contrary (means opposite in nature, direction or meaning) Jesus acted. I got to think that Peter not only thought of the cross but he thought of the ear incident when thinking about Jesus’ contrary behavior.
“We Christians must seek to communicate in a way that is shaped by the One who sends us, and therefore by the pattern of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Holy Spirit. The manner in which Jesus was sent should shape the manner in which we are sent and the manner in which we speak.” (Christianity Today, Oct 2015 edition)
For comments on verses 19,20 see below. Yes, there is great mystery in why Peter inserts this here. I might ask him when I see him.
Notice the reference to baptism in v.21. Why mention baptism here? Baptism represents a complete break with one’s past life. As the flood wiped away the old sinful world, so baptism pictures one’s break from her old sinful life and her entrance into new life in Christ and a whole new way of living- not drawing the sword/power but grace. We are called to bless!
How to pray? We need to think about WDJD (what did Jesus do) to fully grasp the radically contrary way we are to respond to our broken world.
The more I think about what Peter is saying, the more I realize that grace is power, the Kingdom-of-God-kind of power that redefines how we impact the world around us. Remember the ultimate act of grace - the cross - was the ultimate act of power - “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:24)
Go bless the world!
COMMENTARY ON 1 PETER 3:19,20
There are two primary views to this passage:
a) The first view speaks of Christ ministering through Noah, as he spoke to the rebellious men during the flood. Noah was said to be a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5). Support for this interpretation is seen in 1 Peter 1:10–12 as it says the Spirit of Christ ministered through the former prophets.
This would encourage the saints who were suffering for righteousness because Christ was rejected even through Noah. Only seven were saved by his preaching and that was Noah and his family. Therefore, what is happening to Peter’s audience has happened since the beginning of time. God saved those who were righteous, Noah and his family, and judged the lost and rebellious. Though persecuted for righteousness, the Christians Peter wrote to would ultimately be saved and the unrighteous judged.
b) The second view is that Peter is talking about Christ visiting Hades during his three days in the grave. In the spirit, Christ went to Hades, the abode of the dead, while his body was in the grave. While there, he spoke to the spirits in Hades.
Evidence for this view is the word spirit is not typically used of humans but of demonic spirits or angels. It would seem that Christ is there declaring victory over those spirits who had worked in leading the world astray in the days of Noah (Gen 6:2). Also, another evidence is the fact that Christ immediately went to Paradise, not Heaven, after his death (Luke 23:43). Paradise in the Old Testament was part of “Sheol”, where all the dead were located, both the righteous and the unrighteous (Luke 16:22–26).
Many would say these spirits are mentioned in Genesis 6 as angels who cohabitated with women during the time of Noah, creating giants, or Nephilim, in the land that conquered the societies (Gen 6:1–4). Other Scriptures seem to support that these demons were judged and kept in the prison of hell (a compartment in Hades) unlike other demons that roam the earth. We see support for this in Jude 6 and 7. Therefore, Christ would have been proclaiming a “public” victory over these demons that were active during the early stages of earth (Colossians 2:15).
This would have encouraged the saints because even though evil permeated the early world through the work of demons, the ultimate victory was in Christ. He defeated all powers and principalities in his death and resurrection (Eph 4:8–10).
Christ proclaimed his victory even to those who persecuted the righteous in the days of Noah. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2:15).
Therefore, these believers could trust that even though they are suffering, the ultimate victory has already been won in Christ.
(Source - 1 Peter: How to Live as Pilgrims in a Hostile World, Greg Brown)