Finished with Sin! (Parts 1 – 2)

1 pet 4(1-2)aIn this passage (1 Peter 4:1-6), the Apostle Peter urges Christians to arm themselves with the same selfless mindset that Christ had; “for Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (1 Pet 3:18).

In particular, Peter says the one who suffers in the body (just like Jesus did) is “through with sin,” (1 Pet 4:1). This mindset, attitude and determination is the foundation and bedrock that makes it possible for Christians to have the same mindset Jesus had. In this passage, we’ll look at this passage and what it means for our practical lives, in the real world.

My bible study notes for this passage are here. The first two lessons on this passage are below. As always, the entire teaching series, complete with my teaching notes and audio from the lessons, is here:

Audio – Part 1

Audio – Part 2

The Most Boring Sermon Ever – Jesus and the Burnt Offering

You haven’t read the Book of Leviticus lately … have you? Don’t be shy; I understand! This is a confusing and mysterious book to many Christians, but it doesn’t have to be. The book is about the moral, ceremonial and civil laws that God’s people had to follow under the Old Covenant. It’s full of lots of details, and lots and lots of blood.

Lots of blood.

It may not be a spell-binding page-turner of a book, but it’s one of best resources God gave us for understanding who His Son is. When we compare the elaborate sacrificial rituals from the Book of Leviticus to what Christ did for sinners once for all, we see a beautiful object lesson. That’s what the sacrificial system is; God’s object lesson to prepare His people to understand and accept the need for a final, perfect atonement for sin and rebellion.

That’s what I preached about this past Sunday morning; how “Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,” (1 Pet 3:18).

Here’s the sermon (below):

For reference, here’s the graphic I referenced throughout the sermon, which depicts the Old Covenant tabernacle, as described in the Book of Exodus:

tabernacle

Sermon – The Coming King (Zechariah 9)

Zech 9The sermon audio is below. Actually, this is a Sunday School lesson. But, the title has been published, so I can’t change it now!

The Book of Zechariah is a neglected book. At 14 chapters, it’s the longest of the so-called Minor Prophets. It’s an obscure book, tucked away in an even more obscure part of the Christian Bible – that wasteland after the Book of Daniel, before the New Testament.

And yet …

This book has perhaps more direct prophesies per column inch about the coming Messiah than any other book in the Bible. It promises a glorious future for the distressed Israelites, a new and better leader who’ll rule over the world in peace and righteousness, promises a new and better covenant, a new and better High Priest, and vows that Israel will be ashamed for betraying and rejecting her Savior. It’s a thrilling book, and a close reading (with a good commentary even closer at hand) will encourage even the most cynical Christian.

This is also the book which prophesies how the Messiah will reveal Himself to the world as King. That prophesy is found in Zechariah 9:9-11 (and following), and it’s what I taught about this morning. It’s a prophesy which bookmarks the start of God’s fulfillment of everything He’s promised to His people, ever since the Garden of Eden.

Gentleness and Reverence?

smiley2Why should Christians want to ask for God’s favor, instead of returning evil for evil, or insult for insult? What is the end-goal? Why should we be prepared to give an account of the hope that’s within us? I covered some of this in Sunday School, as we examined this passage (1 Peter 3:13-17; what follows is my translation):

So, who’ll harm you, if you’re zealous for what’s right? But, even if you do suffer because you’re doing what’s right, God will bless you. So, don’t be afraid of their threats or be intimidated. Instead, reverence the Messiah as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give a defense to every man who’s asking you for an account of the hope inside each of you. But, do this with gentleness and reverence in order to have a good conscience, so that when they keep slandering your good way of life because you belong to Christ, they might be ashamed. Because it’s better to suffer because you’re doing what’s good (if that’s God’s will), than because you’re doing what’s evil.

The audio is below, and the translation notes are here.

Husbands and Wives (No. 1)

marriageWhat should a Christian wife do, if she’s married to an unbeliever? Generally, I think there are two possible responses. The first is to be tempted to break the marriage covenant:

  • Maybe she hit the road, and dump the guy?
  • Perhaps she should preach to him incessantly, and heckle him to “get saved” and become a Christian?
  • Should she take a judgmental, self-righteous attitude?

The second response is to be tempted to mix your Christian faith into secular culture, in an attempt to curb any possible offense it might cause in your family, and in society – go along to get along, as they say:

  • Maybe she should go with her husband to worship the gods and goddesses at the pagan temple?
  • Maybe she should burn incense in homage to the Emperor?
  • Maybe she should internalize her faith, and make it a totally private affair. In other words, become a “secret” Christian?

In this passage (1 Peter 3:1-7), the Apostle Peter talks about this problem. His advice is very, very simple – be submissive to your unbelieving husband, because he might be won over to the Gospel by your Christlike way of life.

Listen to the first discussion about this passage, and read the teaching notes, too. As always, the audio and teaching notes for the entire book of 1 Peter are here. Ciao!

Real Christian Life … and Slavery (No. 5)

peterToday, I managed to finish my Sunday School march through 1 Peter 2:18-25. Why on earth would Peter tell his readers, “this is favor with God – if, when you’re doing right and suffering, you endure it. This is why you slaves were called to salvation!” The Apostle answered that question by drawing a parallel to Christ, our Savior.

Christ lived, suffered bled and died on behalf of all people, many of whom couldn’t care less.  In the same way, Christian slaves (and, by extension – all Christians) have been called to salvation to do right (i.e. be faithful Christians who live holy lives), and (if necessary) endure hardship. And, we’re supposed to do it all for the sake of the people we have influence with – some of whom couldn’t care less, either.

Christ is our example.

Along the way, I made some brief comments about how this vision of the Christian life (i.e. we’re slaves for God, and He called us to salvation so we can be witnesses for Him) is extraordinarily counter-cultural. Christian pop-culture in America is largely consumed with narcissism, and the Gospel is so often framed as a tool to give you success. God is the Cosmic Butler, and is Jesus the Divine Therapist.

I suggest two books which discuss this unfortunate state of affairs; Christless Christianity by Michael Horton, and Soul Searching – The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, by Christian Smith.

The audio for the lesson is below. As always, all the audio and teaching notes are on the 1 & 2 Peter Teaching Series page. Cheers!

 

Real Christian Life … and Slavery (Part 3)

big-beautiful-stack-of-books-231x300Real life is hard. Peter knows that; it’s why he wrote his letter. Today, in Sunday School, we continued looking at 1 Peter 2:18-25, and considering what it means:

  • We reviewed a bit about what slavery was like (and what is wasn’t like) in Peter’s world
  • Why does God want Christian slaves to submit themselves to their masters, even if they’re cruel masters?
  • What attitude should Christian slaves have, while they do this?
  • Why is God pleased if a Christian slave endures sorrows while suffering unjustly? What on earth does this even mean?

We tackle some of these issues, and more, every Sunday. Here is the archive of lessons from 1 Peter, so far. Listen along to this week’s lesson: