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Submissions, Part 1

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2023 9:00 am

Submissions, Part 1

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 9, 2023 9:00 am

Our nation has experienced an unusual few years, and the amount of stress that comes with following the authorities set before us is at an all time high.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We are not the tribe of the donkey or the elephant, we're the tribe of the lamb. I'm not saying all voting choices are equal or I'm not saying elections don't matter.

I'm not even saying that you shouldn't belong to a political party. But at our core, we should stand above and apart from all of them willing to honor and praise rulers from both parties where we can and critique them where we must. Thanks for joining us today for Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vitevich. You know, our nation has experienced an unusual few years. The amount of stress and dissatisfaction that comes with following our governing authorities right now is at an all-time high, and it's easy to feel uncertain about who's in charge. Now, the Bible clearly calls believers to submit to authority, but what about when those in places of power seem to be morally corrupt or unconcerned with our plight? Today, Pastor J.D.

Greer answers that important question. So grab your Bible and let's get started in 1 Peter 2. We left off last time in chapter two where Peter was about to dive into three really difficult relationships that believers in his day often found themselves in.

One was being under the authority of unjust rulers. We're going to see that in chapter two, verses 13 through 17. Then he's going to discuss being under the control of an unjust master. That's going to be verses 18 through 25. And then number three, he's going to discuss being married to an imperfect person, the first seven verses of chapter three. Now, Peter teaches us a principle through these relationships that is incredibly relevant to us. And even though how we think about these relationships now is different, the principle that Peter teaches us is still really, really important.

For Peter, you see, these three relationships are merely an application of one single principle that he is trying to drill home. And that is that one of the Christian's primary callings as a stranger and an exile is to patient and faithful endurance in the face of unjust suffering. In how he's talking about these three relationships, he is telling you that God is not blind to your suffering in these relationships and he is going to give you justice one day. But in the meantime, he is using your suffering as a part of his redemptive work on earth, both in you and through you.

The word that Peter uses to introduce each of these three relationships is the word submit. You know, sometimes Christian men wrongly think that submission is a woman's issue. Peter shows you it is an important and essential part of every Christian's life. It was one of Christ's most dominant characteristics, Peter explains.

Yes, God has called us in Christ to thrive and to soar and to rise above, but he's also called us to humble ourselves, to surrender and to die to ourselves, to submit. So right in the middle of Peter's discussion of these three relationships, he's going to point us to Christ. Christ, he says, is your guiding example for how you should approach any of these relationships, any relationships, these three or otherwise in which you experience injustice. Look at what he says, verse 21, for you were called to this because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. Verse 22, he did not commit sin and no deceit was found in his mouth.

A quote from Isaiah 53, when he was insulted, he did not insult in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we having died to sins might live for righteousness because the scripture says by his wounds, you have been healed. What did Christ do in the face of injustice?

Number one, he was patient. Verse 22, he knew that suffering was an integral part of God's plan for salvation. To follow in Jesus' steps means that we should expect unjust suffering. Jesus didn't roll into Jerusalem in an Escalade and take up residence in a mansion. He came in on a donkey and he died on a cross. Number two, Jesus committed himself to him who judges justly. That's verse 23.

He knew that earthly justice may never come. It would fail him often, but God would give him justice in his heavenly country. Number three, Jesus kept doing good. Verse 23, even when he was being slandered, even when others wronged him, he kept doing the right thing, knowing that in all situations he was responding first and foremost to God.

And even if the person in front of him was treating him unjustly, he could do the right thing because he was responding not to them, but he was responding to God and God would vindicate him one day. Number four, Jesus rested in the fact that God was bringing salvation to the world through his wounds. That's verse 24. Jesus' wounds were the means by which God brought salvation into the world. Peter tells us that in some mysterious way that is true of us and our sufferings also. So now, with that as our example, let's look at the first two of the three relationships that Peter tells his readers, they must submit in and we'll get to the third one next time. Number one, the emperor and every human authority.

Look at verse 13. Submit to every human authority. By the way, which human authorities? Every human authority means anyone in a rightful place of authority over you. And you do that, he says, because of the Lord.

In other words, you're responding first and foremost not to them, but to him. Whether to the emperor, he says, as the supreme authority or to governors, as those sent out by the emperor to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. In other words, even when the people who occupy the office are fallible, the office itself is one that has been appointed by God.

And you respect the office even when you don't agree with the person occupying the office. Verse 15, for it is God's will that you should silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. Verse 16, submit as free people. In other words, you're submitting not because they're better than you or because they own you, because your only real authority is God, yet you choose to submit to these governors for his sake. As a free person, you choose to submit for his sake, not using your freedom, he says, as a cover-up for evil, but you do it as God's slaves.

Verse 17, honor everyone, love the brothers and sisters, fear God, honor the emperor. All right, so the big question, of course, is how do you submit to government leaders when there's so much about their lives, their beliefs, and their policies sometimes that you disagree with? Well, first, realize that Peter would not have approved of or endorsed the vast majority of what the governing leaders of his day did. Now, I'm pretty sure that had there been a free election, they probably would not have voted for any of the Caesars that we have on record.

We have reason to complain about our leaders. I would dare say Peter had even more. This letter we know was written in about 60 AD, which means that the emperor whom Peter is talking about is Nero. Nero was third in a trio of truly terrible Caesars, a Caesarial cuckoo train that started with Caligula and ended with Nero. Nero turns out to be one of the cruelest, most sadistic Christian haters of all time. He intentionally set fire to Rome, or at least it was believed on strong evidence that he did it intentionally. Then as Rome burned, he stood on the balcony watching it and playing the harp like he was some kind of tragic poet. Then he blamed the whole thing on the Christians and used that as a pretext to have them rounded up and fed to the lions.

So just let this sink in, okay? This is the emperor, Nero, whom Peter is talking about when he says, submit to every human authority and honor the emperor. Peter in these verses tells us four things about our submission to rulers like this. Firstly, he says it's always to be done with respect and honor.

That's verse 17. Even when we don't agree with him, we can respect the office they occupy as God-given and that office is worthy of respect. That's what Peter does here.

Peter was not part of some hashtag not my emperor Facebook group. He recognizes God has established government and the authorities they send out like police as a gift to humanity. And because of that, that office ought to be respected. Verse 16, number two, you do it as free men. Again, not because they're superior to you, because they own you. As a Christian, you're under the authority and control of no one but God. But in that freedom, he says, you're still God's servant. God wants you to submit to them for his glory and for the cause of Christ. Not to use your freedom, he says, as a cover-up for evil, but as God's slaves. Verse 15, for it is God's will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.

You shut their mouths to the slander they give about Christians and the faith and the gospel by the way that you honor and obey the authorities and you pursue justice. But that means, number three, that in submitting to authority, we never disobey the commands of God. I mean, there are certain lines we can never and should never cross if our government tells us one day that we can't preach faith in Jesus as the only way of salvation.

Well, by God's grace, we won't change our message one bit. We have to honor what God says about the sanctity of marriage in this community and the sanctity of life, regardless of what the government says. And that leads to number four, what Peter says, honoring emperors does not preclude speaking out against evil. I want you to notice that honor the emperor is only one of four commands in that final verse. Honor everyone, love the brothers and sisters, fear God, honor the emperor. Honoring everyone and loving the brothers and sisters means speaking up for their suffering.

I mean, right? I mean, furthermore, we live in a country where peaceful protest is a constitutional right and we get to choose our own emperors. Honor the emperor and love one another.

Those are two things that you got to balance. I do think Dr. King, Dr. Martin Luther King balanced it well. He expressed it in his letter from a Birmingham jail, which I would encourage all of you to read, by the way. Dr. King said, one has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. He then explains laws that lift up the sanctity of human life are just laws that degrade it are unjust. And then he said that peaceful protest are designed to force conversations on those issues when society refuses to have them. Honoring the emperor and speaking up for others.

Living with this tension is going to make you odd, right? Because people want us to be all on one side or the other. They want you to either be pro-emperor or anti-emperor, but a Christian is not captive to any emperor. And that means we honor them all and we critique them all. Christians today should therefore not be owned by any political party.

We critique them all. It's like I've told you, we are not the tribe of the donkey or the elephant. We're the tribe of the lamb. Now to be clear, I'm not saying all voting choices are equal, or I'm not saying elections don't matter.

I'm not even saying that you shouldn't belong to a political party, but at our core, we should stand above and apart from all of them willing to honor and praise rulers from both parties where we can and critique them where we must. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. We hope you're enjoying this series in the book of 1 Peter and that it's been an encouragement in your daily walk with God. Before we head to the finish line, I wanted to remind you about a resource that can also help you stay connected to God's Word throughout the week. Our daily email devotionals, written by Pastor J.D., offer insightful reflections on the Bible and practical applications for your life. Each day's devotional corresponds to our current teaching series here on the program as well, so you can stay plugged into the themes and ideas that we explore here even if you miss a day. And best of all, it's completely free.

To sign up, simply visit jdgreer.com slash resources and enter your email address to begin receiving them right away. Thank you for your financial support that makes this resource and the rest of Summit Life possible. It's because of friends like you that we are able to proclaim the gospel each day to a dying world. Now let's jump back into today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Let me give you a really practical way of telling whether or not you've achieved that balance.

Here it is. If you criticize the bad in a ruler, do you also praise the good? Or conversely, if you praise the good in a particular ruler, do you also criticize the bad? If you've mastered Peter's balance here, I believe your Facebook page will have both praise for the good and criticism for the bad.

And I assure you, this will make you odd on Facebook. And that's Peter's point. Life is too short, and eternity is too long to make political identity my primary identity.

I want my life to point to Jesus. I understand that some believers are called into politics. I also know that good politics is a way of loving our neighbors, which is why it's important to get involved. So four ways that you relate to an imperfect and infallible government. Number one, you always do it with respect and honor. Number two, you do it as free men and women. Number three, you never disobey God in obeying the authorities. And number four, you speak out against evil anywhere.

What happens when you do this? People see Christ. That's his point. They see somebody who is confident that politics and earthly judges don't have the last word. People who belong to a heavenly kingdom with a perfect king. It is God's will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good consistently. Y'all, this was the posture, the most notable posture that characterized early Christians, and it made their gospel witness incredibly powerful. How do you think we're doing on this?

You ready for relationship number two? It's an unjust earthly master. Verse 18, household slaves submit to your masters with all reverence, not only to the good and gentle ones, but also to the cruel ones. For it brings favor if, because of a consciousness of God, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you do wrong and are beaten, you endure it? But when you do what is good and still suffer, if you endure it, well, that brings favor with God.

And you thought the first section was challenging. Let me acknowledge, this passage has been twisted and manipulated to justify institutions like slavery or to minimize its injustices. But reading this to say Peter is supporting slavery would be a severe misreading of this passage. Peter's whole context in writing this is injustice.

First, let's be clear, okay? The slavery in Rome that Peter was referring to was not exactly like slavery in the US. In the United States, slavery was tied to ethnicity, and even worse, a theory of superiority based on ethnicity. You became a slave in the Roman Empire in one of two ways. Either A, Rome conquered your nation in war, and so you became a slave, or B, you sold yourself into slavery in order to pay off a debt. Scholars say there are about 60 million people enslaved in these ways throughout the empire.

Now, let's be clear, this system was rife with injustice also. Neither Peter nor scripture is condoning this version of slavery. In fact, scripture strictly condemns it. Slavery that involves taking somebody captive by force is explicitly condemned in the Bible. For example, Exodus 21 16, anyone who kidnaps another and sells him must be put to death. And in 1 Timothy 1, Paul puts slave traders in the same category as those who kill their parents.

Alright, second, the entire message of the gospel subverts the idea of slavery. The gospel teaches the revolutionary message that all people are made in the image of God. We're all united by a common problem, sin.

We've all got a common hope, the blood of Jesus. In Christ, we are brothers and sisters in one family. In Christ, the poor sits down in equality with the rich. In the kingdom of God, the slave is the equal, the master. Even in this passage, Peter tells us to honor everyone as an equal son or daughter of God. Now, that would just undo the entire basis, the entire system of slavery, right?

I mean, the whole New Testament ethic is do unto others as you would have them do unto you, which is why everywhere throughout history that this gospel has been preached and taken seriously, societal revolution has been the result. The theologian and historian D.A. Carson says that, in his opinion, the best work on slavery out there is by an African American scholar named Thomas Sowell. It's massive. It's three volumes.

I've got it in my library. Sowell points out that slavery was universal. The terrible European slave trade trafficked 11 million Africans, but twice that many were bought and sold on the Arabian Peninsula during the same time period. So, in other words, slavery was a nearly universal problem, yet you've got an enormous amount of guilt literature coming out of the West, but none comes out of Arabia. And the efforts to stop slavery all came from the Christianized West, Sowell points out.

Why is that, he asks? I mean, slavery seems to be universal in the human condition, but what stops slavery in the West? His answer, he says, undeniably, it's the Great Awakening. The preaching of men like John Wesley and the reforms of Christian statesmen like William Wilberforce. When Christians seriously reckoned with the gospel, as they did in the Great Awakening, it brought the entire system of slavery down on its head.

Now, look, again, let me be totally frank with you, all right? When I read passages like this one in 1 Peter, I kind of want Peter to be more direct in his condemnation. I want Peter to say, this whole system is bad and ought to be rejected immediately, but evidently, God thought that a more effective way was to plant the seeds for transformation from within. I mean, you got to wonder, had Peter or Paul merely issued a political manifesto, believers may have focused exclusively on political action to the neglect of the more permanent, the lasting change that would come through the preaching of the gospel. Yes, we want to be involved in justice. We must be involved in it, but the most important thing the church can do is preach the gospel.

It is the preaching of a John Wesley that creates the reforms of a William Wilberforce. And to bring it back to Peter's main point, Peter's purpose in writing this is not to evaluate the merits of the current economic system as people are in. His purpose is to encourage those experiencing injustice. And that's the whole thrust of this passage, how to respond to injustice. You see, we live in a world where at some point you are going to be treated unjustly.

And no matter how much you speak up and how much you present your case, at the end of the day, things still may not work out fairly for you. That was true for Christ, right? And Peter's point is that in moments like these, you can still respond like Christ. You can, like he did, entrust yourself to God who judges justly. You can remind yourself, even when you're suffering, that your heavenly citizenship is secure. And you can be assured that through your unjust suffering, God is working redemption and salvation for others, just like he used Christ's unjust suffering to work salvation for you and me. You see, let me press this.

Let me press this down to us. Maybe you're really frustrated with what feels like consistent injustices at work in our legal system. We all should be frustrated. Or maybe you're discouraged because a spouse has treated you badly and you've tried to make things right, but your spouse has lied about you and slandered you. And people seem to be believing them and it feels unjust. Or maybe you're in a marriage where the other spouse treats you wrong or even worse, they tear you down to others and they seem to be winning. You live under this cloud of unfair treatment and slander and you aren't getting justice.

Or maybe you've recently been taken advantage of in business and you fought it in the courts, you tried and you made your case, but the other person got their way and injustice prevailed. You can protest all these things. We should protest these things and we can and should pray for deliverance and we can and should keep fighting. But realize that the reality of the world is that at some level you're called to this. We should expect it.

It's the path of Jesus. Listen, to be really, really personal with you, I've experienced this recently in my own life through slander that I've had to endure. People lying about me and impugning my motives. Now, I'll be honest, some of these things are actually kind of funny. Here's a few mean tweets. JD is a growing leader, but he's more wishy-washy than a drive-through car wash in a dusty West Texas town. JD's Romans 1 sermon clearly showed he can't follow the flow of the text and that he'll jump through skinny jeans to avoid preaching against sin. I have showed you this one where I got the worst Christian of 2019 on a blog. By the way, this is not a spurious thing. They actually had contestants and they had criteria by which they judged it.

It was whoever had been the Christian who had caused the most damage to the kingdom of God that year in 2019. And they elected me and they even sent me a trophy. This is not a joke. Now, some of those things are kind of humorous, right? I mean, it doesn't bother me, but there are times when slander really hurts.

And I know for some of you, I'm not trying to make light of it, but it's just, you're like, why, why does injustice prevail? And when it's appropriate, you clear these things up. But it's helped me, you see, to remember that Jesus experienced these kinds of things. And he told me to expect it also to this, I have been called. In fact, even when you read Paul's epistles, you see that Paul dealt with this.

He's, you know, one place he's like, Demas has done me much harm or solstonies, the silversmith has really lied about me and damaged me. And I'm sure Paul tried to keep that from happening. But, but Paul like Jesus and like I should knew that, that in some ways this was inevitable. He had been called to this and called to have people say things like this and, and we expect it and we endure faithfully in it and God uses it as a part of his redemptive process. So see, like Paul and like Peter, I continually take my refuge in 1 Peter 2. You were called to this because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin and no deceit was found in his mouth no matter what they said or did about him.

When he was insulted, he did not insult in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to the only one who judges justly and he waited for him. He himself bore our sins and his body on the trees so that having died to sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed. See, that means being patient, committing myself to the one who judges justly, continuing to do good, resting in the fact that God is bringing salvation to the world through my wounds also. I continually rest in the fact that this world is not my home.

I'm a stranger and an exile here. And my ultimate justice, my ultimate reward is going to be found in the resurrection and my eternal kingdom. And every day I get one day closer to my heavenly home and I can't wait. We would all be hopeless without his goodness. We'd all be desperate without his love.

You're listening to Summit Life. And if you happen to miss any of our previous teaching in 1 Peter, you can find the entire series free of charge at jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D., one of my very favorite things about the holiday season is getting Christmas cards in the mail from close friends and family and even a few I wasn't expecting from someone I may have lost touch with.

Yeah, you know, Molly, I could not agree more. There's something undeniably special about receiving a handwritten note, particularly during the festive season like Christmas. It's that it's that personal touch, that tangible connection that speaks volumes to us in this increasingly depersonalized digital age. So at jdgreer.com, we have made an incredibly simple way for you to do that. We've got a set of Christmas cards that we we want to offer you.

And with just a few clicks there on jdgreer.com, you can get your Christmas cards. And, you know, Molly, what I love about these is these are not ones that you can only buy anywhere else. This is not a stock set that we've just kind of put our name on. These are unique, exclusive designs you won't find anywhere else. So listen, I know you got a billion things to do a Christmas and I know some of us are kind of by nature procrastinators.

I get it, but this is not something to wait on. Let's make Christmas at 2023 unforgettable. One heartfelt message at a time. We'd love to send you this new set of Christmas cards right now with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To give, just call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at jdgreer.com. And while you're online, we'd love to connect with you. Send us an email and let us know how God's working in your life and in your community. I'm Molly Vitovich, and thanks for being with us today. Be sure to join us next time as we jump into a sensitive and controversial subject, the biblical roles of husbands and wives.

What does the Bible really say? Find out tomorrow here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-09 11:06:44 / 2023-11-09 11:17:23 / 11

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