Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 5 Elders & Members

1Peter ends with how the Elders and Members of a community should behave and relate to one another. Let's start with the Elders.

Conduct of Elders v1-4
  • Shepherd the Flock Among you.
    • The key then is how do we shepherd? One translation say it is "Feeding". A closer meaningful word might be "Fathering" and that include guiding, protecting, caring, and disciplining that is covered in the next item.
  • Exercising Oversight: 
    • This include monitoring their healthy growth, correcting and disciplining when needed.
  •  Attitude should be:
    • not under compulsion. No one can force you to be an Elder.
    • willingly & eagerly to serve as fulfilling God's calling for you (Not all are called to be Elders.)
    • not for shameful gain (The tithes of the church is large. It is tempting. Many has fallen)
    • not by domineering (giving orders) but by setting the examples. 
    • Lead by examples.
      It is common for the Leaders, using the Name of God, to force the members to do things they want but they themselves will not do them. Here is a warning against such practices. Some leaders also say "follow what I say and not what I do because I am imperfect". That is very spiritual sounding but not right. Paul says "follow me as I follow Christ" (1 Cor 11:1)
  • Expect a Reward of a Crown when Christ appear. Your work as an Elder will not be forgotten.
Conduct of Members v 5-12
  • Be subject to the Elders. Especially when you are younger (spiritual age).
  • Be humble towards one another. Your time of leadership will come. Learn to be good follower first and than a good leader later. God gives grace to the humble.
  • Cast your cares and worries to God. Not to the Elders! Trust God and don't look to your Elders to solve for you. They can help. But eventually, it is God.
  • Be Sober or Clear Minded. i.e. Watchful. Watch out for the attacks of the devil. Devil will try to find all possible loopholes to attack you. Hence, we must always do things beyond reproach. Staying clear from gray areas. 
  • Resist the devil. How? Not by our strength or wisdom but simply follow after God's leading and His written word.
  • Stand firm in your Faith even in suffering. You are not the only one. Christ and others suffer their faith too. It is for a little while (ie. you can overcome it even though it may seems long). God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. e.g. Job.
Farewell Greetings v12-14
Peter reiterate his purpose of his letter - declaring the true grace of God and to encourage all to stand firm in it. Finally, to love one another and to have the peace of Christ.

  1. How should an Elder behave? 
  2. Are your Elders behaving according to the list? Is it a right thing for the members to do this? Discuss.
  3. How should member behave?
  4. Compare with list above, it there anything that I need to improve on?
See Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 5 Elders & Members Discussion

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 4 End Times Living & Suffering for Christ

    Suffering with a Purpose - For God's Will 1 Pet 4:1-2
    Christ set the example for us to follow. Christian life is not prosperity centric but Christ centric. Yes, it is God's will to prosper everyone. But it is also God's will that we suffer for Christ. People who has the prosperity mindset judge spiritual growth based on wealth. Spiritual Maturity=Wealth or Position. If that is correct, then Paul must be the most depraved of all Christians since he suffered so much --- beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, etc.  The criterion should be the will of God.

    We are not to suffer from our own sins and mistakes. That brings shame and not glory to God. We are to suffer, willingly, for accomplishing God's will in our lives. We are to suffer for righteousness. Mat 5:10-11.

    Here is a sure way to fix sin  "for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin". But be very clear that in the context it is about suffering for the purpose of God and is not about abstaining from foods or lusts. It is about saying yes to God and automatically turning away from sin. Trying to say no to sin alone is actually focusing on sin and will be trapped in sin!

    This verse remind me of Gal 2:20 ... The Live I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in Christ....

    Breaking Away from Bad Relationships 3-6
    Since we are going after God, we will naturally break away from our past bad relationships. They will be surprised at first and then malign us later since we break away from them. But we trust God to make the right judgment from us and we don't take 'revenge' by our own hands. v6 is about preaching the gospel to those now dead but were living then. See last post for detailed explanation.

    Living in the End Times v7-11

    It is actually no different from living the right kind of Christian life. We are to be sober-minded, self-controlled, loving one another, show hospitality, using our gifts to serve, be good steward of God's grace,  serve by the strength of God. All with the final purpose of bringing glory to God.

    Facing Trials & Suffering for Christ v12-16
    This is exposition continuing from v1-2.
    1. Not surprised. We are expecting it. There is nothing wrong with us. Don't condemn ourselves.
    2. Rejoice only if we are suffering for Christ or Righteousness. Nothing to boast if we are suffering for our evil doing. 
    3. Entrust the whole process to God as Christ did.
    4. Judgment begins first with God's household. It is for our purification.
    5. It will be much worse those outside later. So, don't take revengeful actions against our persecutors. Do point 3.
    Questions for Reflection and Applications
    1. What are 2 main types of persecution? 
    2. How should we suffer for Christ?
    3. How should we live in the end times? 
    4. Are we living as what we say in Q3? What specific actions shall we be taking?
    For the discussion on this chapter, see Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 4 Discussion.

      Monday, June 7, 2010

      Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 3 Husband & Wife And Suffering Rightly

      Chapter 3 covers the roles of wife and husband and all believers. Concerning the conduct of all believers, there is longer discussion on suffering for Christ.

      Role of Wife v1-6
      1. Respect your own husband. This is the way to win unbelieving husband to the Lord.
      2. Don't just be concern with external beauty (hair, jewelry, cloths) but also internal beauty of character in gentleness, quiet, submissive.
        A few misunderstood this verse and think the wife should not dress up nicely. This is not what Peter is saying. He is saying she need to do both and not just the eternal beauty. It is not either or but both.
      3. Do good and have no fear.
      4. For other references in Bible see Eph 5:22-24,33. Titus 2:5.
      Role of Husband v7
      1. Honor your wife by being understanding, supportive, joined together as yourself
      2. There is a blessing for this - your prayers may not be hindered.
        We are usually taught that God answer our prayer 3 ways - Yes, No & Wait. Here gives us another view ... Hindered. God answer did not come because we could not receive due to our erroneous conduct. Let look for more verses to discover whether if this view is valid. See 1Pet 3:12
      3. Other reference to husband can be found in Eph 5:21-32.
      Believers Conduct in General v8-18

      Believers are to have:
      1. unity of mind - shared objectives.
      2. sympathy
      3. brotherly love
      4. tender heart
      5. humble mind
      6. Not to repay evil for evil but bless them.
        Why should we?
        Because we are called (God's children behave like God) & we may obtain a blessing!
      7. keep the tongue from speaking evil, deceit
      8. do good
      9. seek peace
      10. suffer for righteousness.
      Suffering for Righteousness v14-18
      1. better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil v17
      2. Will be blessed v14
      3. Have no fear v14
      4. Be ready to defend Christ in gentleness and respect
      5. Have a good conscience 
      6. Put the accuser to shame v16
      7. Christ give us the example v18. This is a repeat of 2:21
      The Mystery v19-20
      Who are the spirits in prison that Christ proclaimed to in v19?
      v20 tells us they are the disobedient ones living in Noah's days.
      Some people use the verses to say that those who did not hear the gospel has a 2nd chance. Some even go the the extend that since it will be Christ who preach to them, it is even better for us not to share the gospel as Christ will be a better preacher and in a better situation(death!). But we should not over extend the interpretation of the Bible. This is a specific case of Christ and the people of Noah's days. We don't know about the people now.

      Heb 9:27  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. 28  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him..

      see 1Pet 4:5-6 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. v6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

      There is same confusion too about this v6. My understanding is "The gospel was preached to that were living then but now dead. Their(believers') physical dead in the flesh was the judgment for Adam's sin but their lives in the spirit is due to Christ's salvation."

      So, it is better that we continue to share the gospel to those that are alive now with us.

      Baptism is of the Heart v21-22
      Peter tells us that Baptism symbolizes not just a removal of dirt from the body, but of dirt from the heart, a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not the physical act of baptism that saves us but the true acceptance of the resurrected Christ in our heart that counts.

      Questions for Reflections and Applications
      1. What is the lifestyle of a good wife?
      2. What is the lifestyle of a good husband?
      3. What is the lifestyle of a good believer? 
      4. How do we measure up to the answers to the above?
      5. How should a christian deal with suffering or injustice? 
      6. How can we apply the principles learned from above to a particular situation that you encountered in your work or family or church?
      see Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 3 Discussion

        Friday, June 4, 2010

        Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 2 Life of A Believer & Role of A Servant

        We can divide Chapter into the following key topics:
        1. Believers' Identity - We Are.
        2. Believers' Conduct - We Do & We Do Not.
        3. Role of A Servant.
        Believers' Identity - We Are.
        1. A Living Stone of the Spiritual House of Christ. v4-8
          We are members(stone) of a larger body (House) of Christ the Cornerstone.
          Paul uses members of a living body with Christ as the Head.
          Non believers reject Christ and Christ becomes their stumbling block. It is not Christ but their thinking.
        2. Priesthood - Royal & Holy v5,9 to offer sacrifices - What are these sacrifices?
          Paul tells us in Rom 12:1-2 that we are the living sacrifices as Peter living stones.
        3. Chosen Race - Precious v 4,6,9. It is God who choose us willingly.
        4. Holy Nation - v9
        5. God's own People v9
        6. In God's light v9
          This compared well with 1John as we are walking in the light as Christ is the light.
        7. Received mercy v10
        8. Beloved v10
          Same as 1John.
        9. Sojourners & exiles in this world. v11
          This world is not ours. We are citizens of heaven and ambassadors for Christ are the terms that Paul uses.
        Believers' Conduct - We Do & We Do Not.
        Our conduct should flow naturally from our identity. What we do tells others what we are. It is through our conduct that we attract or repulse people to Christ.
        1. We Do (have good conduct):
          1. take in spiritual milk - what is that? The word of God. v2
          2. offer spiritual sacrifices - what? Our conduct. v5 The sacrifice of time, effort, etc to God.
          3. obey human institutions - the government, those in authorities. v13-17
          4. have good conduct among non-believers not just in church v12
          5. honorable v12 - see our good works and shut up and glorify God instead.
          6. live as freed from sin and free to serve God v16
          7. honor everyone v17
          8. love the brotherhood v17
          9. fear God v17
          10. return to our Shepherd & Overseer of our souls (who? Holy Spirit)
        2. We do NOT 
          1. malice v1
          2. follow passion of the flesh (self will)
        Role of A Servant - Suffer as Christ had Suffered for Righteousness!v18-24
        Obey & Respect & Suffer even for the Unjust Bosses!
        We tend to argue that since our bosses are too demanding and hence we don't obey him. Many believers use the name of God and priority for God and override all other things that they don't want to do. Peter clearly stated here that are to respect and obey even they are unjust bad bosses. Jesus set the example (v22-23) and suffer quietly for righteousness trusting His Father to judge justly. There is no glory when we are punished for wrong doings. There is glory when we suffer for righteousness.  Our testimonies may will our bosses to Christ.

        Questions for Reflections and Applications
        1.  Who we are, determine what we do. According to Peter, who are we?
        2.  What should we do?
        3.  Are we doing them?
        4.  How should we behave as an employee?
        5.  How should we behave as a boss?
        6.  Can you include what you have learned in Ephesian to be more comprehensive?
        7.  How to you rate as an employee and as a boss according to the above scale?
        See Bible Study 1Peter 2 Discussion

          Tuesday, June 1, 2010

          Bible Study 1Peter Chapter 1 God's Plan & Your Testing

          Who are the Elect?
          The author of the letter is Peter writing in the position of "Apostle of Christ". The receipients are the believers living in present day Turkey (North and East sides, to be more precise). Peter called the believers Elect or Chosen and explained the details which are important for us to take note: (1Pet 1:1)
          1. Chosen by God the Father before hand
          2. To be sanctified (make holy, pure, mature into Christ) by the Holy Spirit
          3. To obey Jesus Christ
          4. Cleaned by Christ's Blood (i.e. sin nature and its penalty are removed and paid for).
          God's Will and Plan - Gospel=Salvation by Faith in Christ & Live in the Spirit
          1Pet 1:3 further clarifies God's salvation of Men:
          Men to be born again to a living hope, to an inheritance in heaven, guarded by God's power (Holy Spirit in v1), through faith(v5), for salvation, to be fully revealed at the end time. The evidence of our hope is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from dead (v3). Peter gives a long and detailed description of our salvation. It is a beginning and a journey with the Holy Spirit and ending with the coming of Christ at the end.

          Most people just quote Eph 2:8 Salvation by Faith in Christ and forgot that it is a process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit (v1). Common misunderstanding is faith and Holy Spirit is needed fro the rebirth and we are on our own to make good this Christian living and hence worry much about the loss of salvation. Peter pointed out twice, that is process of living on earth, is guarded and sanctify with the Holy Spirit. God did not just save us and leave us to live the new life all by ourselves. We have a living Hope and in this hope we rejoice(v6).

          Commendations for Believers at Present Time:
          Peter commended the believers for their love and joy in trusting Jesus who they had not seen (v8).

          Our Testing of Faith
          • The purpose is to the genuineness of our faith (v7)
          • Only if necessary (v6). God don't waste yours or His efforts.
          • Last for a little while.(v6)
          • Outcome 
            • of praise, glory, honor (v7) at the coming of Jesus.
            • salvation of souls (v9) & resurrection (v21)
          • Conduct in the Mean Time
            • Have Hope & Focus on Jesus Coming v13
            • Be sober minded (v13)
            • Ready for action (v13)
            • Obedient (v14), to the truth (v22)
            • Not follow past passions (v14)
            • Be Holy (v15,16)
            • Love one another (v22)
            • with a pure heart (v22)
            • Get Priority Right - our life here is temporary, the Gospel (His Word) is eternal. (v24-25)
          Questions for Reflection
          1. What is God's plan for men?
          2. How should I view my testing in view of God's plan? 
          Questions for Applications
          1. How should I live my life in the meantime? 
          2. What actions should I take?

          Bible Study 1 Peter Overview

          My recommended path to the study of Bible is to start with Ephesians first. In my view, it is the best, comprehensive and condensed theology and practice of the Bible. If we can use commercial term, it is the best value for the money or for the time spent in studying the Bible. This is then to be followed by Galatians which point out what the gospel is not where as Ephesians points out what the Gospel it and how we can put it into practice to get a victorious life.

          After we have read Paul's view of the Gospel, it is good to understand the Gospel from the others. For our third study, we do James to learn about Faith in Action. Our faith should be reflected in our behavior. We then go on to John's view of the Gospel which stresses on the Love and Light of God. Now we are going to study Peter's view of the Gospel. Peter stressed on being holy and the need for suffering for righteousness and Christ's sake.

          The main theme of 1Peter is about Holy Living at the End-Times. As believers, we must be prepared to suffer for Christ. This purpose of our test is that we may be purified or matured, as a testimony to bring others to Christ and to glorify Christ. Our suffering is but for a short while and we will be comforted, strengthened and greatly rewarded when Christ comes again. We are to be watchful and love another. Peter also tells us, like Paul did in Ephesians, about our roles as believers, servants, wife, husband, elders and members. We can see that 1Peter and Ephesian are in fact quite similar with slight differences in emphasis.

          The table of content is:
          1. Chapter 1 God's Plan & Your Testing
          2. Chapter 2 Holy Life of Obedience & Role of Servant
          3. Chapter 3 Roles of Husband & Wife Suffering for Righteousness
          4. Chapter 4 End Times Living - Suffering for Christ
          5. Chapter 5 Roles of Elders & Members