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The Christian's Duty in a Hostile World, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
August 9, 2021 4:00 am

The Christian's Duty in a Hostile World, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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August 9, 2021 4:00 am

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And now comes to the third section of the epistle and he says you should go on with your Christian living focused on the word on Christ and on holiness not only because of your precious salvation your present situation, but thirdly, because of his personal second coming of America rejects God even spews hate towards him, and often works to marginalize those who follow Christ. So how do you honor God while surrounded by a culture that doesn't consider that today on grace to you as John MacArthur begins his study called faith through the fire John, let me set the stage for this series you been the pastor of Grace Community Church for 52 years you been in ministry for 60+ years. Over the course of your ministry would you say that hostility towards Christ and Christianity has ever been more pronounced or more public or a bigger problem than it is today.

No, I think this is the worst I think there's always been individual hostility.

Jesus said to my have to put a sword to relationships. He came to bring a sword, not peace and that could show up with father, mother, sister, brother, there could be hostility toward Christianity in the workplace and with people who are around you and work and maybe even a boss, but never has the government stepped in to essentially pick up the responsibility of persecution of the church and persecution of the truth as a is an actual government function government activity and I think what we have in in America now and in Canada. As we well know is basically the government beginning to take persecution seriously because there are so many lies now that dominate the culture that in order protect the culture of lies they have to tackle the truth they have to go after the truth with a vengeance in the most offensive truth of all truth is the initial message of the gospel which is you know you alienated from God, you're a sinner you're on your way to eternal hell and you need to repent and believe in Jesus Christ so know that there's always been individual hostility but I've never ever seen and I don't think anybody in America has seen because never happened before. The government begin to criminalize righteous behavior and righteous truth and legalize sin, but that's where we are. So we have to be ready for this, and because of that were doing a series called faith through the fire, looking at first Peter three and four powerful powerful teaching critical for the time in which we live. Don't miss a day of our study faith through the fire right when your persecuted. How should you respond. How has God equipped you to stand strong against any suffering. What are the spiritual resources at your disposal. Get the encouraging biblical truth you need in the study. John begins right now faith through the fire first Peter chapter 4 is our text first Peter chapter 4 in verses seven through 11. Let me read them to you as the setting for what the Spirit of God will teach us the end of all things is at hand. Therefore be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins be hospitable to one another without complaint.

As each one has received a special gift employed in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks let them speak as it were the utterances of God.

Whoever serves let them do so is by the strength which God supplies so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. I want to speak to you out of this text on the subject.

The Christian's duty in a hostile world. I might begin by just setting the scenario a little bit of the time in which we find ourselves, particularly with regard to the church. The church today urgently is in need of spiritual revival and that spiritual revival can only occur when we as Christians begin to do our spiritual duty.

So what Peter is saying to us here is germane to the whole matter of Christian living. If we are to be what we are to be by God's plan and design in this world, then it behooves us to fall in line in obedience to the truths that are given in these great verses.

The church does need revival and it will come when Christians get serious about their Christian life and only when the church is revived and restored, will the world begin to really take notice of us is an interesting thing to even say that the church needs revival in our time because it seems that not long ago we were experiencing a kind of revival. In fact, this desperate condition of the church seems to have been somewhat new if you go back for illustration sake into the 70s you will remember something called the Jesus movement the Jesus movement frankly witnessed an unprecedented rise in conservative biblical evangelicalism. It was in my lifetime, the greatest flourishing of interest in the Bible, the greatest flourishing of interest in evangelism, Bible study, discipleship, all of those things which are the heartbeat of conservative evangelicalism. There was the explosion of new translations of the Bible, starting with the new American Standard and then came the living Bible, which is not really a translation but a paraphrase and an awful lot of interest in personal Bible study came as a result of that Christian broadcasting began to explode in an exponential way, far beyond the wildest imagination of most predictors of the future of the church along came Christian publishing and every time we turn around. There was a new publisher publishing new material for the Christian life and then came tapes and then came an absolute unbelievable inundation of Christian music proliferating to the point where we no longer have to listen to anything that isn't Christian and we could never get through all that is available. There was a tremendous explosion in Bible believing churches, but frankly, it becomes more and more apparent that the prevailing trend in the church has departed from that time of revival. There is no longer what I would call a revival movement in the church a flourishing movement driven by the Holy Spirit, what is happening now is a sort of a popularized institutionalization of the church. It is a socially favorable form of Christianity, and in fact becoming more and more socially acceptable as it more and more did nudes itself of any offensive message. It's amazing how fast this movement came, but frankly with high-speed high-tech media communication capability. I question whether any movement will last very long.

They move very rapidly because communication moves so very rapidly. So here we are coming into a completely different mindset in the church, a time of self-centered living in the church at time of psychology in the church at a time up popularized Christianity a time of pragmatism eyes Christianity, where the questions are being asked does it work. What will it do for me. How much success will produce how much money will it bring in instead of the things that would honor the heart of God and the pop church frankly is everywhere. Everywhere most evident. I suppose on Christian television and secondarily on Christian radio celebrity entertainment has replaced worship and along with it.

Pride has replaced humility and success has replaced excellence and cleverness has replaced character and on and on we go. Christian phone in radio shows feature any gas that you can imagine with little comment on whether that guest is right wrong or indifferent Christian talk shows have hose to sit there in a ubiquitous fashion with a string of people coming across the scene claiming every imaginable kind of thing from God and the host makes no comment on everything or anything other than to give a platform to it all. Christian radio is proliferated with psychotherapy replacing Bible teaching is the staple local churches are fast becoming comfort zones Christian country clubs, community centers, with less and less redemptive impact and very little threat against sin and the trends of this sort of pop Christianity. I believe are more subtle than theological liberalism, theological liberalism attacks the church had on very easy to see it very easy to deal with it, but the pop church gives lip service to the truth while quietly undermining it popular Christianity has a tendency to make the basis of faith something other than the word of God. The basis of faith now is experience the basis of faith is emotion. The basis of faith is a solving problems. It's the need theology again. The charismatic movement has led the way with a new basis of faith and that is private revelation private words from God. Private insights private prophecies private visions and so secular psychology has been somewhat because I sanctified and offer self-help therapy that also reflects this drift away from the word of God is the basis of the living of the Christian life. Christian ministries become riddled from top to bottom with pragmatism with manipulation with professionalism with consumerism. All of those things indicate a less than biblical foundation to our faith and along that line.

The focus of pop Christianity in the pop church is not only moved away from the biblical basis of faith, but it is moved away from the person of Jesus Christ that needs to be stress something or someone else's on center stage.

Not Christ is the celebrity is the evangelist that is the project that is the fundraising campaign is the new building. It is the miracles. Supposedly it is the so-called healings is anything and everything but Jesus Christ, and we have a pop Christianity that is not Christ centered and not biblically based, it has a new basis of faith. It is a new object of affection. They are in love with the celebrity they are in love with the system they are in love with the building. The facility the program or whatever. There is a sort of fantasy faith not fixed on Christ but a sort of nebulous faith that wants to attach itself to miracles, healings, health, wealth, prosperity, comfort, personal gain and of course in that kind of environment easy believe is in the cheap gospel flourishes flourishes and we have to ask ourselves where is that strong faith where is that Christ centered faith that stands and holds its ground in the midst of hard trials, rather than at fragile emotionalism called faith that is little more than selfish escapism. Christ is not the message any longer.

Though he is named from time to time. The focus is on man man is the message and how man can solve his problems and live a more comfortable life is the issue. The pop Christian focus of the church is the least of all interested in the second coming of Jesus Christ because that would be to end their enjoyable trip on this particular pop train. In fact, I would add 1/3 note in that is that the focus of the pop church is on something other than holiness is happiness is satisfaction.

The pursuit of the church today.

It's basis is not that of the word of God.

It's focus is not on Christ. And so it's goal is not holiness.

It's goal is happiness. Whatever makes you happy.

Whatever satisfies you is what you pursue, and I really believe that all of this is eating out of the heart of the church. Think about it.

What could Satan do to try to destroy the church.

That would be more effective then undermining the basis of faith, which is the word of God.

The object of faith which is Christ and the goal of faith which is holiness still talking about faith. Still talking about Christ still talking about virtue but really undermining all of that, a new basis of faith. My experience a new object of faith, my hero, my program, my spiritual kingdom. Whatever it is in a new goal in life.

Happiness, not holiness. There couldn't be a better strategy. That's the strategy of Satan was going to take to bring revival to the church. Where is the focus to be placed. How are we to live so as not to lose our power and so as to be useful to God. Peter gives us the answer right here in this text, and I believe what you have in these very few verses. Verses 7 to 11 is really an insight into the unimaginable genius of the Holy Spirit of God is only the Holy Spirit who in an economy of words can say an eternity of truth and that's what you have here.

Everything in our Christian life can be boiled down to these statements in verses seven through 11 now me just give you a little bit of a feeling of the background of the text as we move into verse seven we can find here several motives for their Christian living and suffering. He starts out, for example by saying you want to live the Christian life.

Even though you suffer one because of our precious salvation and from chapter 1 verse one through chapter 2 verse 10 he talked about our precious salvation.

Our salvation is so precious it should demand the best out of you and then secondly, in chapter 2 verse 11 through chapter 4 verse six he says you want to live a holy life in the midst of suffering, not only because of your precious salvation, but because of your present situation and your present situation is that you are called upon to be a witnessing community. No matter how difficult it is and now it comes to the third section of the epistle and he says you should go on with your Christian living focused on the word on Christ and on holiness not only because of your precious salvation your present situation. But thirdly, because of his personal second coming, you must live in the light of the return of Jesus Christ. And that is his theme from chapter 4 verse seven through chapter 5 verse 11 that whole section is given in view of the second coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, he mentions the second coming, alludes to it in verse seven mentions it specifically in verse 13. The revelation of his glory refers to it again in verse four of chapter 5 the appearing of the chief Shepherd who will bring the un-fading crown of glory.

So here he is taking his suffering church and moving them from a view of their salvation and the view of their situation to a view of the second coming. These three sections then lay out the basic motives for which we are to live the Christian life. Now, how are we then salute what is our Christian duty as we suffer in this world pursuing holiness in the light of Christ's return first point comes in verse seven.

Let's call it the incentive. The incentive then will look at the instructions. And finally, the intention but for right now the incentive verse seven the end of all things is at hand.

Stop right there.

That's the incentive the end of all things is at hand.

I want you to get a grip. If nothing else on this statement, the term end is the Greek word, tell us a very familiar word to any Bible student and what it is translated and it could convey the wrong idea. It could convey the idea of cessation, it could convey the idea of termination. It does not mean either of those things is never used of a temporal end in all of the New Testament is never used of some kind of chronological end as if it simply means something stops it always has the idea of a consummation to put it another way, it has the idea of a goal achieved or a result obtained or a purpose consummated. It has the idea of fulfillment to realize of ultimate destiny. It's not just the end of something is the culmination the conclusion the success. The goal, the realization the fulfillment the consummation so he says the consummation of all things is at hand. Not beloved that has to refer to the return of Christ. If he had said the consummation of your trouble is at hand, we could say will maybe he was referring to something temporal, horribly said the consummation of your persecution is at hand.

We could've assumed that maybe a different kind of government might come into play in their lives and treat them more kindly but doesn't say that it doesn't say the consummation of your difficulty, your trouble, your situation. He says the consummation of all things, and the consummation of all things points directly to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It must refer to that it can't refer to anything less than that for that and that alone is when all things are consummated in Texas. Back to first Peter 15 again where he says we are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time when in verse seven he says that we will be found in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

So he has the revelation of Christ which is another way of speaking of the second coming connected to the end times there in chapter 1, and that is what he is referring to here when he says the end of all things is at hand is referring to the consummation the time of great reward at the coming of Jesus Christ not notice the word there very simple one, but needs our understanding is at hand is only one word in the Greek is the word to come near it could be read. This way the end of all things is about to arrive or to come near is a perfect tense and has the idea of a process consummated with a resulting nearness and I believe it refers to him in and see that is the coming of Christ is imminent. The next event can happen at any time is near. Peter is reminding them, then that they are to live in anticipation of the nearness of the return of Jesus Christ. We could say that they are to live with ears. The word expectancy expectancy, you realize that every generation since then has therefore lived in that same expectancy. All of us live today, or should live in the expectancy of the coming of Jesus Christ not to do that is not to be a faithful church.

First Thessalonians was written to a faithful church and you remember that he commanded them because they were waiting for Jesus Christ from heaven. First Thessalonians 110.

There they were.

2000 years ago and they then were waiting for Jesus Christ and that waiting creates a Pilgrim mentality creates a sojourner mentality. It creates a sense of my alienation. It reminds me that I am a citizen of heaven, I'm just waiting to be taken there. I'm just waiting for Christ to show up to arrive if they will. How could they be waiting then and we waiting now.

Well, when is he going to come well and ask 17. Here are the words of Jesus. It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. Bottom line, God hasn't chosen to tell us when Jesus will come he hasn't been willing to do that for obvious reasons. If we knew when Jesus was going to come. It would take away one of the driving motives in the life of the church.

In other words, we would get very lazy if we knew he wasn't coming soon and if he knew it was coming soon we get very panicked. So is eliminated. Both of those and all of us have to live in expectancy to show you how secretive this whole matter is I remind you of Matthew 24, 36, where Jesus said, but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son but the father alone.

God knows and Jesus in his self-imposed incarnational limitations did not even know Peter is saying to his readers.

You must live in constant expectancy, as if Jesus was to come at any moment that I remind you again beloved that is an unpopular doctrine. Today, most people not interested in that. In fact, I believe with all my heart that one of the compelling reasons why people today want to teach a post-tribulation rapture is because it least it gives them a lot of warning before Jesus gets here and they would like to think they're going to live through all of that time. It removes that pressure by the evidence of expectancy that calls us to a high level of accountability.

After all, if on the lives of the tribulation. Hey, I can live anywhere I want now does not recognize the abomination of desolation in the middle when they sacrifice on the altar and the temple of Jerusalem that be in the newspaper about Nolan were there and I'll know when the seals are broken and all that stuff starts to happen then all those terrible plagues come on, the world will know that I'll see that and when the sea turns the blood see that in all all be able to see all of that, so I'll know exactly where I am and I can deal with it when I get there. That removes any responsibility that I have to deal with it now. You take away expectancy, and you take away eminence ENU you feed the monster in a way that's not why you make your decision but that's part of the motivation of this new wave of preoccupation with a post-tribulation was which means a Jesus will come to the end of the seven year tribulation and we can chart our way through that real easy, so we'll gonna know when you'll arrive, or at least pretty close but that's not Peter's message.

Peter's messages say that is near and if you go back to verse five of first Peter four says there that they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead goddess committed all judgment under Christ.

Christ when he comes, will judge the living and the dead in his great second coming and so Peter is talking about that he says in verse five.

He's ready to come. And in verse seven he says the end of all things is very near is imminent is next on God's calendar so we are to live in expectancy that the one who is coming will come as judge of the living and the dead that that is very near that concludes John MacArthur's lesson today on grace do you his current study is titled faith through the fire. It's a practical look at how to thrive in a world that's hostile to God and friend with animosity toward the church in God's word on the rise. It has never been more important to know how to respond to persecution at work, at school, maybe even in your own home to dig deep into what the New Testament says about suffering for Christ.

Pick up John's current study titled faith through the fire when you contact us today. You can order this six CD album by calling 855 grace or go to GT Y.org. The cost for faith through the fire is $27. Shipping is free again. Call 855 grace or visit GT Y.org and remember, you can download the faith through the fire lessons free of charge in MP3 or transcript format at our website.

That study is part of our sermon archive your Chi features 3500 sermons from John all available free in MP3 or transcript format start downloading today.

GT Y.and if grace to you is helping you learn and grow in God's truth. Remember that it's the support of friends like you that allows us to reach people in your community and beyond with verse by verse, Bible teaching, you can mail your tax deductible donation to grace to you. Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 or call us at 855 grace or donate online at GT Y.and thank you for praying for us. That's really your most important ministry to us now for John MacArthur and the entire grace team staff. I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you to come back tomorrow when John continues his series faith through the fire with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

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