YouTube video sermon
1 Peter 5:10-11
Let me invite you to take your copy of God’s Word and turn with me to 1 Peter 5. One of the things I’ve learned from listening to other preachers and theologians and Bible teachers is the significance of poetry in presenting the gospel. During my primary education, I wasn’t very fond of English and Grammar – what was called Language Arts, in those days. I was much more interested in History, Math and Science. But, alas, God has a sense of humor, and He called me to a vocation that’s dependent upon Reading and Writing and Grammar. Well, one of the things we were encouraged to do – maybe you were too – was to have some exposure to poetry. And since I didn’t like Language Arts anyway, I certainly didn’t understand the need to appreciate poetry. But that’s changed in the last decade.
What I do from week to week isn’t simply a matter of relaying information (at least it shouldn’t be). Yes, the Bible and the biblical story of Jesus Christ is information, but it’s more than people, places, and things. The truth contained in this book has a supernatural quality to it. It literally has the power to change our lives for all eternity – not just change our lives here on earth but impact our eternal destinies. And poetry, like hymnody, is one of the ways we communicate this eternal truth. There are few Christian poets (in my opinion) that rival Annie Johnson Flint, and He Giveth More Grace is one of them:
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction, He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
That’s today’s scripture passage and sermon in a poem. The God of all grace giveth, and giveth, and giveth again. Follow along with me as I read 1 Peter 5:10-11:
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
“Father, what we know not; teach us, what we have not; give us, what we are not; make us, for Your Son’s sake, amen.”
In these closing verses, Peter highlights for us six qualities about God and the first is…
We need to know God’s character. Peter says He’s “the God of all grace.” This is one of the great titles of God. The apostle Paul called Him “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Peter calls Him “the God of all grace.” It’s how God introduces Himself to Moses back in Exodus 34. He says, “I am Yahweh, the LORD God, merciful and gracious” (Exodus 34:6).
Please note that Peter did not refer to God as “the God of all fairness” or “the God of all justice,” although He absolutely is. Peter didn’t even refer to God as “the God of all truth,” or “the God of all correctness,” though He’s certainly those things as well. The one thing Peter wanted to leave with his audience was that their God is “the God of all grace.” David in Psalm 86 said, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious” (Psalm 86:15).
Grace; that’s a great word, but when we come to the New Testament, that word takes on a whole new complexion. It’s the very covenant we relate to God with. It’s a covenant of unmerited favor. In just a few weeks we’ll be reading verses like this, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). So, under the law, God demands righteousness from man; but under grace, God gives righteousness to man. Under the law, righteousness is based on our good works; under grace, it’s based on Jesus’ good work, His finished work on the cross. Under the law, it only takes one sin to make you a sinner; under grace, it only takes one Savior to fix it all. So, to put it in its simple form: grace is how God deals with us. It’s not based on what we deserve, it’s based on what Jesus did.
Many of you know the acronym G-R-A-C-E: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In other words, God treated Jesus like we deserve to be treated, so that He can treat us like Jesus deserves to be treated. That’s grace. We’re saved by it. We’re secured by it. And ultimately, it’s “grace that will lead us home.” That’s His character.
The second thing we need to know is God’s calling. Verse 10 continues “[May] the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory” stop right there. This tells me that God’s purpose for my life goes beyond a grace-filled life NOW and includes an eternal life LATER. Do you remember Jesus’ prayer in John 17? It’s often referred to as the High-Priestly prayer. In that prayer Jesus prayed, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24a) Remember that? God, the Father, will answer that prayer one day and will take you to be with Jesus in His glory. But only if you know Him as “the God of all grace.”
See, this second truth (God’s calling) is based on the first truth (God’s character). Only if we know God as a result of the grace of Christ Jesus can He call us to His glory. What this does for Peter’s audience (and hopefully you and me) is that it raises their horizon. It lets them see beyond the pain of the immediate, beyond the pain of this life to something that’s beyond this life. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (NLT). Life can hurt. But beyond the hurt, there’s heaven and, honestly, we often forget this when we’re in the midst of the pain.
That’s why it’s so important (from time-to-time) to slow down and just meditate on the realities of heaven. Think about the eternal glory that awaits. I know that none of us can speak with any authority beyond what the Bible has to say. None of us have been there and back – though some claim to have had out of body experiences or near-death encounters. But folks, one day, we’re actually going to see with our own eyes the glory of heaven. I think of the words of the old gospel song I Bowed on My Knees:
I dreamed of a city called Glory,
So bright and so fair.
When I entered the gates I cried, “Holy”
The angels all met me there:
They carried me from mansion to mansion,
And oh, the sights I saw,
But I said, “I want to see Jesus –
He’s the One who died for all.”
I bowed on my knees and cried,
“Holy, Holy, Holy.”
I clapped my hands and sang, “Glory,
Glory to the Son of God.”
As I entered the gates of that city,
My loved ones all knew me well.
They took me down the streets of Heaven;
The scenes were too many to tell;
I saw Abraham, Jacob and Isaac
Talked with Mark, and Timothy
But I said, “Timothy, I want to see Jesus,
‘Cause He’s the One who died for me.”
I bowed on my knees and cried,
“Holy, Holy, Holy.”
I clapped my hands and sang, “Glory,
Glory to the Son of God.”
That does something to you when you slow down and think about it. The apostle Paul says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though we are wasting away outwardly, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. And so, we fix our eyes (there’s the horizon) we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporal, what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV). Live looking forward to what’s beyond life. There’s grace to make it through this life, and there’s glory that we’re called to afterwards.
But there’s something attached to it. I don’t want you to miss this…
There’s a condition. Verse 10 says, “the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in [or by] Christ.” I mentioned this just a minute ago: you won’t automatically enjoy God’s grace in life and automatically enjoy God’s glory in heaven, without coming to Jesus. The first two qualities – God’s character and God’s eternal calling – are dependent upon this one. God’s grace and God’s glory are dependent upon knowing Jesus. It’s not automatic. Have you accepted the reality of what the Bible says concerning Jesus? Have you acknowledged your own sinfulness and confessed that sin? Have you thrown yourself upon the mercy and grace of Jesus and genuinely received His redemption, His pardon, His forgiveness?
One of the realities of pastoring is conducting funerals. It’s part of the job. I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and I’ve officiated my fair share. And some that I have been to, if I were just to walk in and listen to eulogies and listen to some preachers, I could assume by what I hear at some funerals that the only condition for you to get to heaven is to just be born. Be born, that’s all you gotta do. Live any way you want, make any choice you want, but at the end we’ll find some preacher who will push you into heaven, and say nice things about you.
I heard about the funeral of a scoundrel. I mean, this guy hated God, never wanted to go to church, never wanted God mentioned in his house, and everybody knew that about him. When he died, he had a funeral, and some preacher who didn’t know him gave the eulogy and gave the sermon and talked about how wonderful he was and went on for about ten minutes – offering words of praise and adulation. And everybody in the audience is like, “What!?” Finally, the man’s wife nudged her son and said, “Go up there and look in that casket and make sure that’s your dad. We might be at the wrong place.”
Folks, as much as I might want to tell you that’s all you have to do – be born – it’s not. According to Jesus, we have to be “born again” or “born from above” (John 3:3). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Heaven is exclusive. And perhaps one of the biggest surprises in heaven will be who’s there and who’s not there. And we might just look at each other and go, “Larry, you’re here? After what you said on hole 13?” And Larry says, “Pastor, you’re here? After what you said when you missed that fish?” I know… It’s only by the grace of God through or in or by Christ Jesus.
God’s character is grace. God’s calling is glory. God’s condition is Christ. Fourth is…
Again, Peter is summing up his whole letter, and notice what he says, “May the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while.” Remember who Peter is writing to – the persecuted, separated, alienated people of God – those who are suffering. Everybody goes through suffering. It’s a part of life, but it’s also a part of God’s curriculum. Pain happens to everybody, but purposeful pain only happens to the child of God. Everybody goes through pain, and for the average person they look back and they say, “I don’t get this. I don’t understand. That’s just a bad thing that happened.” But not for a believer. A believer knows the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Everything works together. Purposeful pain is what children of God get.
I know there are people that will hear this sermon or read this sermon and want to challenge me. There are some folks within the body of Christ that believe all of our problems, all of our pain, all of our sinful habits and tendencies just go away when we receive Jesus as our Savior. They believe that it’s never God’s intention for us to suffer. They struggle – some genuinely, others not so genuinely – to have a place in their theology for righteous suffering. And yet many giants of the faith confirm that reality. I’ll only offer three, for the sake of time.
The apostle Paul says, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations [speaking of his visions of heaven] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Corinthians 12:7). So, even if it was from Satan, it was allowed by God. Why? To keep Paul’s ego in check. To help him rely upon the grace of God.
King David said, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71). Affliction, good? According to David, if it wasn’t for the affliction, then he wouldn’t have learned God’s commands, God’s truth.
And who can forget poor ole Job? The way that book opens, everything that Job experienced was allowed and permitted by God, through Satan, in order to bring about His divine purposes and glory. Do you remember what Job said to his wife after they experienced the pain of losing their children, their house, their business, everything that we value in life? He said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10, NIV). Again, I will grant you that those tribulations and trials and sufferings were brought about by the hand of Satan, but God allowed them in order to strengthen Job, in order to bring Job to a deeper understanding of who God is. In ways we can’t fully explain or comprehend suffering is a part of God’s curriculum to bring Him glory and honor, which is the next quality…
Please see it: “[A]fter you have suffered a little while, [the God of all grace] will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” That’s God’s intention. If you’re suffering today, that’s what He’s after. He wants to make you “strong, firm and steadfast.” Do we wish He’d often times use different methods? Sure. Could He do it another way? Absolutely! Would we write our own stories with the pain of divorce, the death of children, verbal and physical abuse, addictions, and so forth? Probably not. But God uses those sufferings to “confirm, strengthen and establish” us.
As I said, I can’t fully explain it – at least not to my own satisfaction, and certainly not to yours – but even if I could we probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend it, which is why our churches and our faith have as its primary symbol the cross. It’s in the cross of Christ Jesus that we see God’s commitment brought to its rightful conclusion. It’s in the cross that we see the cruelty, the brutality, the horrifying pain and agony and suffering that God brought upon His son, Jesus, for our sake. And it’s also in the cross that we see God’s commitment through the power of the Holy Spirit to resurrect Christ from the grave. “After you have suffered a little while, [the God of all grace] will Himself restore you.”
You might ask, “What does God get out of all of this? What does God get out of giving us grace to live and calling us to glory and giving us through Jesus Christ the benefits and the refinement even through our own experiences. What does He get out of this?” Look at verse 11 and we’ll be done, “To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Peter, like Paul, is just brought to a place in his writing that he just offers a word of praise. The word benediction is Latin (see, it ain’t always Greek). And yes, it’s made up of two Latin words bene meaning “well or good” and dictio meaning “to speak.” So, literally it’s well-speaking or good words. Peter just finds himself overwhelmed with all that God is and all that God does, and all that God has in store for those who are His and he just worships, he just praises God, he just blesses the Lord.
I began by quoting poetry and I mentioned that some of our best poems have been turned into hymns and one of those was written by Frederich Lehman titled The Love of God, and the third verse reads:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made;
were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill,
and ev’ryone a scribe by trade;
to write the love of God above
would drain the ocean dry;
nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.
“God of grace and God of glory, we come to You – each of us – in desperate need of being restored, of being strengthened, of being made steadfast, of being established in Christ Jesus. Lord, we thank You that the Word of God does the work of God by the Spirit of God in the lives of us, the children of God. So, accomplish Your purposes in us, we pray. Keep us ever in Your will, and grant that we might be a help and not a hindrance to one another, as we follow Jesus, so that on that day we might stand before You complete in Him. It’s in His mighty name, the name of Jesus, our Christ, our Savior and our Lord that we pray. Amen.”