As It Was In The Days Of Noah: 2 Peter 1:1–2 (1)

The over-arching theme that unites these two epistles is what I have been calling the “Noah Paradigm.” Our Lord appealed to this way of thinking in his Oliver Discourse (Matt 24:37): “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the Son of Man comes.” Our Lord was characterizing the inter-adventure age. He was giving us a way to think about our life between his ascension and his return Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (23e): Theology Of The Cross (1 Peter 5:6–11)

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (23d): You Are Not Alone (1 Peter 5:6–11)

Politicians have often been tempted to declare “Peace in Our Time.” The most notorious example of this folly is the 1938 declaration by the Prime Minister of Great Britain that he and the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had reached an accord to prevent war between them. Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (23c): Lions Are Real (1 Peter 5:6–11)

Occasionally, in Scripture, we are given glimpses of the spiritual realities behind the scenes, as it were. One thinks of the chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:15–17) that surrounded Elisha. They were present but unseen until Yahweh opened the servant’s eyes. In Zechariah 3:1–2 we are given a glimpse of a scene in which Satan is accusing Joshua the high priest. There is too that mysterious note in 2 Chronicles 21:1 in which Satan is said to have “stood up against Israel” (NASB95) and provoked David to perform a census in Israel. The spiritual realities and battles to which we are given an occasional glimpse burst, however, through the back curtain and on to center stage during the earthly ministry of our Savior Jesus. In the gospels we see Satan tempting Christ (e.g., Matt 4:1–11). He enters Judas (John 13:27) and demonic activity seems to increase dramatically during Jesus’s ministry (e.g., Matt 8:16; 8:29; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; 17:18). Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (23b): Cross Now, Glory Later (1 Peter 5:6–11)

The Christians of Asia Minor were being tested under difficult circumstances. They were being challenged and even harassed because of their Christian faith. We know that some of them were slaves and faced the temptation of disobeying unjust masters. It is not difficult for us to imagine how Christians were regarded by a surrounding culture that was largely pagan because that is the world in which you and I now live. We know that the Christians were misunderstood as being arrogant because they refused to go along with established Greco-Roman religious worship. They could not acknowledge Caesar (just now, Nero) as a deity. Their worship was misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misrepresented. In the second century they were suspected of being a death cult because of their talk about Jesus’ death, of worshiping the cross—which would have provoked the Romans particularly to disgust—because of their theology of the cross. We know that later they were accused of cannibalism because of the Christian doctrine that, in the Lord’s Supper, by the mysterious operation of the Spirit, the risen Christ feeds believers with his body and blood. Beyond all this, doubtless they had or would soon have news of the lies told about the Christians by Caesar and their martyrdom at Caesar’s hands in Rome. Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (21d): Be Not Surprised By Fiery Trials (1 Peter 4:12–19)

We live in the season or epoch (καιρὸς) of redemptive history, after the ascension and before the return of Christ, in which, from time to time, we face both informal and formal persecution for the sake of Christ. When Peter’s words might be understood to say, “For this is the season for judgment (κρίμα) to begin (ἄρξασθαι) from (ἀπὸ) God’s house…”. As Johnson notes, this is the pattern in Malachi. We might see also the whole history of national Israel from the beginning of the national covenant to its dissolution in the exile. The Lord repeatedly entered into judgment with his people and he began with them before he commissioned his (then) national people to commence holy war against the surrounding nations. These judgments were acts of purification of his people, which gets us back to the language of vs.12 above. The fire upon God’s house (following Johnson) is the fire of purification, of sanctification through suffering. Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (21c): Be Not Surprised By Fiery Trials (1 Peter 4:12–19)

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (21b): Be Not Surprised By Fiery Trials (1 Peter 4:12–19)

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (20a): Be Not Surprised By Fiery Trials (1 Peter 4:12–19)

Peter was a theologian of the cross, a theologian of suffering, not a theologian of glory. He would never understand those theological systems that anticipate an earthly glory age (e.g., Dominionism, Reconstructionism, Prosperity theology), whether a literal 1000 years (chiliasm) or a figurative millennial glory brought on by gospel preaching (modern post-millennialism). According to some of the Christian Reconstructionists/Dominion theologies, suffering for Christ is only until we gain political power. They tend to treat passages such as these in a quasi-Dispensational fashion, as if turning the other cheek is “for then” but not “for now.” By contrast, For Peter, suffering is the natural state of the Christian in the last days, i.e., that period of redemptive history inaugurated by the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. This approach is also quite opposite that of modern “prosperity” preachers. Theirs is a false gospel, i.e., to say no gospel at all. The gospel is not that God will financially prosper those who do whatever the prosperity preachers tell them to do. The gospel is that Jesus is our representative, that he obeyed the law in our place, that he was crucified in our place, that he was raised for our justification, and that he ascended and is reigning now. We receive the benefits of his work for us by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide). In his mysterious providence, God sometimes materially prospers his people (e.g., Abraham) and sometimes he makes them sit on an ash heap while they scrape their wounds (see Job). There is no magic prayer and no donation to a prosperity preacher has anything to do with Christian faith, piety, or practice. To confess that sinful human beings can control God is nothing but paganism. Continue reading →