The "S" Word, 22 October 2023

The "S" Word
Ephesians: Finding Our True Identity

Ephesians 5:21-33

Series Big Idea: The book of Ephesians reveals our true identity…in Christ!
Big Idea: We are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Although my primary identity is found in Christ, I’m a citizen of the United States. I love this country. There’s a spirit of creativity, innovation, and risk-taking that has made us a world leader in business, education, science, military, and entertainment. But every strength has a weakness, and one of the negatives about our pioneering spirit is we are almost certainly the most individualistic nation in the history of the world. Rugged individualism has value, but also a huge downside. You may recall God said, “It’s not good for the man to be alone” in Genesis. Is it any wonder so many today are lonely? Cancel culture has run amok, divorce has split many families, and in our “pursuit of happiness,” we are tempted to ignore those around us.
As we continue in our series on the book of Ephesians—a letter written by Paul to a church in modern-day Turkey—we will see what is possibly the most offensive word in our individualized culture.
Before we dive in to our text, I want to remind you of the ending of Pastor Mike’s text from two weeks ago.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20, NLT)
This is all possible when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, controlled by the Holy Spirit, surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Now we begin.
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21, NLT)
There it is! Did you see it? Submit! How does that make you feel?
The original Greek word, hupotasso (hoop-ot-as’-so) means, “to subordinate; to obey; subdue unto, submit self unto.” In other words, it means what you think it means!
Submission is not popular in our culture. It was hardly popular 2000 years ago in the midst of the Roman Empire when Paul was writing. Although racism and discrimination are very real today, we live in a nation that, at least in writing, believes “all men are created equal.” There was not such philosophy in Rome. Abuse was rampant. Women were slaves. In fact, going much farther back to the opening chapter of the Bible we read,
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. (Genesis 1:26a, NLT)
Notice the Trinity, the plural, us…one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created the first man, Adam (which means “man” in Hebrew) and woman and all was well until the Fall when Adam and Eve sinned. Hierarchy emerged after the Fall when God said to Eve,
And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16b, NLT)
Do you see the tension? Ever since, men have been trying to domineer over women (and men). Women have been striving to even the score. Humans have been trying to get others to obey, to submit. We love power and control, don’t we? Sin is so common, we often don’t even recognize it when we commit it.
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21, NLT)
But notice Paul didn’t just say, “Submit!” In fact, he didn’t even say, “Submit to God.” He says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
We’re going to see how this related to marriage in a moment, but note this verse is not addressed to couples. It’s for all of us. We don’t blindly submit to one another, but in our quest to glorify God and revere Christ, we love one another and submit to one another. The Greek word for reverence, phobos, is where we get the word “phobia.” It means to be put in fear, alarm or fright, to be afraid. This doesn’t mean to avoid, but to recognize the power of, to be in awe of, to revere. We are to be in awe of Jesus, to make him LORD and Master of our lives. To fear someone or something often involves terror, causing us to run away. Fear of the LORD means awe and wonder, drawing us closer to God like the awe and wonder of the Grand Canyon. To put it simply, what you fear is your God.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22, NLT)
Did I see some women wince? Remember, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Yield to each other out of love. It’s not about hierarchy or power but bringing God glory in and through our relationships. One commentator says, “All it asks is that wives give up self-centeredness, take seriously their mutuality with their husbands, and promote the benefit of their husbands.”
In Paul’s day, women were considered not only inferior to men, but also impure.
For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:23-24, NLT)
Tragically, this passage has been abused by men seeking power. Ladies, this does not mean be a doormat, tolerate abuse of any kind, or engage in sinful behavior (which would not be out of reverence to Christ).
Listen to N.T. Wright on this text:
Paul assumes, as do most cultures, that there are significant differences between men and women, differences that go far beyond mere biological and reproductive function. Their relations and roles must therefore be mutually complementary, rather than identical. Equality in voting rights, and in employment opportunities and remuneration (which is still not a reality in many places), should not be taken to imply such identity. And, within marriage, the guideline is clear. The husband is to take the lead - though he is to do so fully mindful of the self-sacrificial model which the Messiah has provided. As soon as 'taking the lead' becomes bullying or arrogant, the whole thing collapses.
I fully realize Paul is not politically correct, but is our culture offering a better model for men and women? It seems that our world is plagued by broken homes, broken marriages, broken relationships…could it be that we have abandoned God’s design for family? This is not an attack on those of you who are not in healthy marriages—far from it—but I wonder if we would embrace our differences, celebrate them, and submit to one another if we wouldn’t be vastly better off.
As the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Tragically, this passage has been abused by men seeking power which I believe is what started the rejection of God’s design for marriage. I’ve heard so many stories of women rejecting and even hating men after suffering evil abuse. Ladies, if you find it hard to imagine submitting to a man, consider the next verse.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her (Ephesians 5:25, NLT)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Husbands, Jesus died for the church. Are you willing to die for your wife? That’s the point. Such dedication would never make selfish demands. It would never harm or abuse. Godly husbands love sacrificially, making submission a joy.
Husbands, Jesus is to be your role model. Not Hugh Hefner or Lebron James, Neil Armstrong, Nelson Mandela, or Bear Grylls. Jesus was not married, but the church is his bride, the king’s wife. He gave us his life for her and we are to give up our lives for our wives (hey, that rhymes!).
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church…unto death!
A few years ago I was speaking with one of our senior saints and asked him, “How many times have you ever played the submit card?” In other words, how many times did you take charge, telling your wife to obey? He paused and said, “Zero!”
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Paul elaborates:
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28
(Ephesians 5:25-27, NLT)
This is a beautiful vision of what Jesus has done for us, the church. Hallelujah!
In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:28-30, NLT)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
One of my favorite passages to read at wedding says,
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3, NLT)
This isn’t rocket science. Jesus summarized the entire Bible in two commands: love God and love your neighbor (or spouse) as yourself. You take care of your body. You eat. You bathe. You see a doctor when you’re in pain. Imagine what would happen if spouses cared for one another like they care for themselves. Of course, this need not be restricted to marriages. This verse applies to all of us, a brilliant vision of life together. Warren Wiersbe notes,
When the Christian wife submits herself to Christ and lets Him be the Lord of her life, she will have no difficulty submitting to her husband. This does not mean that she becomes a slave, for the husband is also to submit to Christ. And if both are living under the lordship of Christ, there can be only harmony. Headship is not dictatorship. “Each for the other, both for the Lord.” The Christian husband and wife should pray together and spend time in the Word, so that they might know God’s will for their individual lives and for their home. Most of the marital conflicts I have dealt with as a pastor have stemmed from failure of the husband and/or wife to submit to Christ, spend time in His Word, and seek to do His will each day.
To conclude, Paul goes all the way back to Genesis 2:24:
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. (Ephesians 5:31-32, NLT)
There’s two things going on simultaneously here. Do you see it? A husband and wife are united into one. This is true of Jesus and his bride, the Church.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Family, I’ve seen two extremes. I’ve seen men rule over their wives which is clearly not submission. I’ve also seen men afraid to exercise servant leadership, so passive that they become doormats.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
God’s design for marriage is a man and woman complement one another…different yet equal. We don’t need to embrace societal stereotypes that say the man does the outdoor work and the woman does the inside work…unless that’s what is agreed upon mutually. I’ve heard some preachers say the women must stay home with the kids while the man brings home a paycheck…but I’ve seen healthy examples where the roles are reversed…if that’s what is agreed upon mutually. Obviously our economy makes it challenging—but not impossible—to live on one income. But you need to find what works for your marriage.
As a simple example, we decided early in our marriage that whoever cooks, the other cleans. For 33 years I do dishes about 360 days a year! Some men love to cook, which is great. Do what works for you. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33, NLT)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. It’s worth noting the man is to love his wife and the woman is to respect her husband. For further reading on this, see (not necessarily an endorsement!). I believe the overarching point is men and women are different…by design.
A husband must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. I’m sure this is how Adam and Eve originally behaved before the Fall. We need the Holy Spirit to make us like Jesus, filled with sacrificial, agape love for one another. When we love or respect one another, it fuels the spouse to reciprocate. Tragically, when one is not loved or respected, it can short-circuit the relationship. In other words, when a wife shows respect to her husband, he is more likely to respond with love and vice versa. The challenge when you’re stuck is who goes first?
Honor Marriages
Celebrate Singles
Jesus was single. Paul said it’s better to not marry.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ in love.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Prayer as Kingdom Partnership, 8 January 2023

Prayer as Kingdom Partnership
40 Days of Prayer
Matthew 6:10, Colossians 1:13-14; Romans 14:17
Series Big Idea: We are beginning the new year on our knees, joining other Alliance churches for 40 Days of Prayer.
Big Idea: King Jesus wants us to experience God’s Kingdom and share it with others.
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word
kingdom? Maybe Disney or the animal kingdom or the United Kingdom or even Burger King! Unless we’re speaking of something historical or foreign, we don’t often think about a kingdom, yet it’s the English word used to describe what may be the primary subject of Jesus’ teachings…the Kingdom of God.
Today we begin week two of
40 Days of Prayer, a nationwide series with our global family, the Christian & Missionary Alliance. There are daily devotionals, weekly online gatherings, and our sermon series designed to get us on our knees as we begin 2023. If you’re paying attention, the series itself is a study of what we call the Lord’s Prayer. Last week Pastor Donald spoke on prayer as worship:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, (Matthew 6:9, NIV)
Today’s text continues:
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
God’s Kingdom. What is it? Where is it? Few words have been more misunderstood among Christians than this word
One of my favorite professors, Scot McKnight, wrote a book on the subject entitled
Kingdom Conspiracy. In it, he notes these five elements to the meaning of kingdom in the Bible:
a kingdom (1) has a king who (2) rules both by way of redemption and governing, and this king rules (3) over a people [Israel, church] through the revelation of (4) the law [Torah, teachings of Jesus and the apostles], and this king rules (5) in a land. All five of these elements are needed to speak biblically about kingdom, and all five are needed to be a kingdom-mission church.
Many reduce
kingdom to only one or two elements, which is insufficient. Kingdom is ultimately a people, and that people is Israel expanded, the Church. The Kingdom of God is not a church building. It’s not a church service. It’s not merely a local congregation. When we speak of the Kingdom of God, we’re referring to the global people under the rule of King Jesus, the Holy Scriptures, and the land they inhabit.
Jesus used the word
kingdom well over 100 times. To a first-century Jew, “kingdom” always meant “Israel.” To us, it should mean…well, us! The capital-C Church. It’s more than just good deeds. It’s more than salvation. It’s about us, who we are, and what we do under the Lordship of King Jesus. Perhaps the greatest challenge in understanding the Kingdom is it is now and not yet. Jesus recognized this. In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel or “good news” biography of Jesus, he said
The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15, NLT)
King Jesus was on the scene.
One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”
Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” (Luke 17:20-21, NLT)
The rule and reign of Jesus was present, and that included miracles, healings, signs, and wonders. These did not cease when Jesus ascended into heaven, but actually exploded onto the scene in Acts 2, the early Church. The entire book of Acts—and much of the New Testament—is filled with accounts of love winning over hate, life conquering death, health dominating disease, and truth prevailing over lies. My favorite definition of heaven is it’s where God is present. Hell is the one place God is absent. Never mind playing harps on clouds. Don’t focus on pitchforks and fire.
Heaven is where God is present.
Hell is where God is absent.
It’s interesting how often people speak of heaven and hell, though the words heaven and hell never occur together in the Bible, though heaven and earth are often together. Regardless, heaven is where God is present, hell is where God is absent, and that’s really all you need to know…except that we experience aspects of both today. We see people who have rejected God and live as if He is absent…hoping He is absent. Some day they’ll be in for a rude awakening, but C.S. Lewis famously said, “All that are in hell choose it.” Keep God out of your life now, He’ll honor that decision for eternity. It’s your choice.
But let’s shift toward heaven for a moment, the spaces where God is present, or particularly visible. When Jesus said to pray
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
He’s saying to welcome God, submit to the LORD, live under the rule and reign of King Jesus, and seek moments where heaven kisses earth.
Family, this still happens today. I’ve seen God heal the sick, restore broken relationships, provide in times of desperation, and transform lives from darkness to light. If it weren’t for such God-things, I’d quit my job and go drive a brown truck for UPS or something!
For he has rescued us from the kindom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:13-14, NLT)
The kingdom of God includes salvation, but it’s so much more than just praying a prayer. It’s the ultimate alternative lifestyle!
Unfortunately, many so-called Christians live dull, lifeless, faithless lives without experiencing the power of God through the Holy Spirit. It’s just religion. The writer or Romans, in contrast, said,
For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17, NLT)
Some have taken the other extreme and had phony encounters, but kingdom people should be seeking the experiencing the power of God…not simply for our pleasure, but the benefit of others.
Personally, I want more of God. Is anyone with me? Maybe my new year’s resolution is summarized in an old song that said, “More love, more power, more of You in my life.” There are moments when the kingdom of God is visible now, and it’s a wonderful thing.
The late Dallas Willard said,
“Discipleship is learning how to live in heaven before you die.” I love that. Some of you have been taught to just tolerate this life, but Jesus said to
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33, NLT)
In doing so, we will be doing life with God, living in the Kingdom of God, experiencing the fruit of godly choices, and knowing the abundant life Jesus promised his followers. It does not mean life will be easy and happy-happy-happy, but you will find peace, contentment, and joy.
If we’re honest, the problem isn’t God, it’s us. No matter how holy or mature, righteous, or religious, we all mess up…a lot! All of the problems in our world are the result of sin…ours or someone else’s. I often pray,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
…but then I sometimes want it my way. My will. Sometimes He allows it, which leads to…regret.
I said the kingdom of God is now and not yet. We experience the rule and reign of God from time to time, but the earth is not fully submitted to the lordship of King Jesus. That’s obvious. In chapter 19, Dr. Luke records,
The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. (Luke 19:11, NLT)
We experience moments of the Kingdom of God now, but someday it will be all we know. John records in Revelation,
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:3-4, NLT)
That’s what we have to look forward to…but we can seek and experience it now, too. The now and the not yet. It’s a tension. We are called to be light in our dark world. We are on a mission from God to participate in His kingdom now, bringing faith, hope, and love to our friends, family, neighbors, and even enemies. The Church is to offer a sneak preview of the kingdom to the lost world. We are not to be known for our rules, our politics, or our condemnation, but rather our love, our joy, our peace.
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
The kingdom is God in action. The Church is God in action. You can’t see the wind, but you can see it’s activity. People can’t see God, but they can see Him at work in and through us. Right?!
To put things into historical context, many have viewed reality as a play with multiple acts. If you’ve ever been to a multi-act play, you know each act is different, but each fits the greater story. If it’s a play about the Civil War, you wouldn’t expect to have Lebron James in a scene or spaceships on stage! There are a few different outlines, but consider this as one example of the biblical story:

I.         Act 1: Creation and the Fall
God creates a magnificent world for us to enjoy, and then sin ruins it.

II.         Act 2: Israel
I mentioned this is what first-century Jews knew of kingdom, God leading his people through Moses, Joshua, King David, and others. The Psalms and the Old Testament record Act 2.

III.         Act 3: Jesus Brings Us into the Kingdom
King Jesus makes his first appearance on our planet, showing us what it means to be human while accomplishing his mission of seeking and saving the lost through his death

IV. Act 4: The Church

The Holy Spirit arrives fully in Acts 2, guiding those in the Kingdom to become like Jesus and live out God’s Kingdom on earth…now!
Lord, let Your Kingdom come on earth! Now!
The Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5 give us a vision for God’s Kingdom on earth.
Matt. 5:3    “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
                         for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4          Blessed are those who mourn,
                         for they will be comforted.
5          Blessed are the meek,
                         for they will inherit the earth.
6          Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
                         for they will be filled.
7          Blessed are the merciful,
                         for they will be shown mercy.
8          Blessed are the pure in heart,
                         for they will see God.
9          Blessed are the peacemakers,
                         for they will be called children of God.
10         Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
                         for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Let’s pray that God’s Kingdom is evident in our lives, that people see God in action through us. I pray that our lives are so different, so attractive, that people want to join our family, they want to taste the Kingdom, they want to follow King Jesus.

IV.         Act 5: Completed Redemption
This is the reward for following Jesus, the fulfilment of God’s Kingdom, the new heaven and a new earth.
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10  And they were shouting with a great roar,
            “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
                        and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10, NLT)
But it all begins now. This week. This month. This year. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Will you submit to the lordship of King Jesus? Will you seek first his kingdom? Will you pray for his will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven? Will you surrender your time, talents, and treasures to him? When people pray, they usually tell God what they want Him to do. Jesus taught us to pray, LORD…

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10, NIV)

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Wedlock or Deadlock, 4 October 2015

Wedlock or Deadlock?
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 3:1-7

Series Overview:
God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: Spouses, love one another and submit to Jesus.


This morning we continue our series on 1 Peter, “What In The World Is Going On?” This short letter to the early, suffering church is a powerful message not only to an ancient people but is increasing relevant to modern Christians as we face persecution. We may never face the horrors of ISIS victims, but nevertheless we can—and perhaps should—feel in the minority as followers of Jesus in a world consumed with money, sex and power. The theme of this book may well be called hope and grace in the midst of suffering. We’ve looked at hope, holiness, harmony, and last week living a cruciform life in the way of the cross, knowing our suffering is temporary and known by God.

Throughout the book, Peter has been talking about a very offensive word in our culture:

Why do we struggle to submit?

We want to do things our way. We live in a hyper-individualistic society. We can get seemingly anything customized and on-demand. Don’t like the selection of meat at your grocery store? Go down the street. You’ve got options! Don’t like your spouse? Trade them in for a newer model. Sick of your church? Hop over to another one.

We want autonomy and control. We want to be independent and free. We want choices and often rebel when told what to do. Of course this is nothing new. It began with Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and His one prohibition in the Garden of Eden.

Last Sunday we talked about submission to authority. This includes government and commerce, the president and your boss, in the original context the emperor and the slave’s master. It also involves church authority, submitting to godly leaders. Regardless of the outcome, we are to do the right thing knowing we will eventually be rewarded—and oppressors will eventually be punished. Perhaps most important was the example of Jesus who was unjustly treated, died sacrificially despite being innocent of all accusations, and sought to please the Father above pleasing people or even Himself.

Today’s passage brings the subject of submission from the streets to the home. Peter addresses married people, but the message is applicable to all. If you are unmarried, don’t check out! Listen up. Perhaps someday you will have a spouse. The principles are relevant to all regardless of marital status…and they usually look nothing like Hollywood’s messages to us!

Remember context is critical. We can never read the Bible in the same way the original recipients read it. Our world is so different. Peter was writing to an early church where a large number of women had husbands who were not yet Christians. It was likely a very patriarchal, restrictive society that debilitated the development of their gifts.

1 Peter 3…

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (3:1-2)

Likewise. In the same way. This refers to the previous verses on submitting to authority.

We may suffer for doing good. If we suffer for doing evil, that’s to be expected. Jesus suffered for doing good. A perfect man was crucified unjustly. He glorified the Father through it all, though. He submitted to the Father’s will. In the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested, Jesus prayed

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

If you don’t like the idea of submission, you’re in the wrong place. Both husbands and wives are to first submit to Jesus…who submitted to the Father. This is about order, not value or importance. God has a place for everything and has ordained levels of authority.

This does not mean we become doormats and let people manipulate and abuse us. We don’t have time to say much about this extreme, but I highly recommend the book
Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

They write

We have never seen a “submission problem” that did not have a controlling husband at its root. When the wife begins to set clear boundaries, the lack of Christlikeness in a controlling husband becomes evident because the wife is no longer enabling his immature behavior. She is confronting the truth and setting biblical limits on hurtful behavior. Often, when the wife sets boundaries, the husband begins to grow up.

In other words, “focusing on submission is almost surely an indicator that one’s priorities are messed up.” (Scot McKnight)

One evangelical scholar said, “I believe in a wife submitting to her husband, but I don’t believe the husband ever has the right to demand it. In fact, I know that when I am worthy of submission, my wife submits; and when I am unworthy of it, she does not.”

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (3:1-2)

Peter is not saying wives are to be slaves or treated like children. Perhaps a better word than submit is respond. It is voluntary. Engage. Partner with your partner!

Notice Peter’s reason: a witness to the unbeliever. Actions speak louder than words. The Bible warns against being “unequally yoked.” Marriages between a follower of Jesus and a person who is not following Jesus almost always results in grief to both. They have different world views. They have different goals.

However, there are couples that—for a variety of reasons—are not spiritually compatible. In this instance Peter says to believing wife with unbelieving husbands let your behavior be so full of love and grace and purity that the husband sees real faith to be attractive.

At the risk of reversing roles, my great grandfather was a bouncer in a bar in Hungary, accepted Christ through a co-worker (if I’m not mistaken), and freaked out his wife! She was skeptical of his faith and wanted nothing to do with Jesus—until she realized it was not a short-term phase he would grow out of but, instead, an authentic relationship with Jesus that was transforming him into a man filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Do you look like Jesus to your spouse? To your family? To your boss? To your friends?

For decades there has been great emphasis on “sharing one’s faith” with words, telling people the gospel—the good news. That’s extremely important, but first we need to earn the right to be heard or we’ll never be heard. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. They don’t care about Jesus until they meet Him through you! What kind of sermon are you preaching with your life, every day?

Peter continues…

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. (3:3)

This word “adornment” is
kosmos in Greek, as in the cosmic universe or…cosmetics! It is the opposite of chaos.

It has been said that beauty is on the inside. I think both external and internal beauty are attractive, but Peter’s saying it’s the inner self that matters most.

Ladies, have you ever worn a wig? For that matter, men used to wear wigs. In the first century, hair was hugely important…and just huge! Wigs were very ornate.

Women, inward beauty is most important, but don’t neglect yourself. You’re not of this world but that doesn’t mean you are to look like you came from out of this world!

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (3:4-6)

We know Sarah was beautiful. Several kings wanted her.

We know Rachel was beautiful. Jacob worked fourteen years for Laban for her hand in marriage. (I’ve been secretly hoping that my future son-in-law would work 14 years for me before marrying Rachel!).

Suffice it to say Peter is saying to women, “Love your husbands.” He’s not saying be a robot or a slave, but love your husbands. Look out for their best interests. Seek to serve them. Seek to bless them. Seek to honor them.

Now we turn to the men, though he only provides us with one sentence to husbands.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (3:7)

Husbands, honor your wife. Be a gentleman. Open doors. Buy flowers. Talk with her…in person…with the phone put away!

The phrase “be considerate” literally means “living with one’s wife knowledgeably.” Husbands, do you know your wives?

We are to love and know our wives

physically. This is not just sexually, but presence, protection, and time
intellectually. Know her needs, feelings, hopes, fears, and moods
emotionally. Be honest, humble, reconcile when you’ve sinned, and respect her
spiritually. Pray for her. Pray with her.

Keep dating her. If I hear another married man say to me, “When we were dating…”

Some women have been offended by Peter calling wives the weaker partner. He’s not insulting them, but rather emphasizing how men need to care for their wives, treating them as partners, as different but equals. Most wives are physically weaker than their husbands and men are to use their strength to serve—never control or harm—their wives. Simply put, men love your wives. Look out for their best interests. Seek to serve them. Seek to bless them. Seek to honor them.

Notice those final seven words: “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Don’t miss that. God cares about how we love Him and how we love others. The most important relationship beyond our relationship with God is to be our marriage. The scriptures are loaded with directives regarding men and women, husbands and wives. We are created different and complementary. We were designed to be a team, to balance the strengths and weaknesses of one another. A husband, wife and child are a reflection of the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each with a role and purpose.

So What?

Wives, love your husbands.

Husbands, love your wives.

Unmarrieds, love those around you, that they may see Jesus living in and through you.

If you’re still trying to understand your spouse, Gary Smalley says,

I would venture to say that most marital difficulties center around one fact—men and women are TOTALLY different. The differences (emotional, mental, and physical) are so extreme that without a concentrated effort to understand them, it is nearly impossible to have a happy marriage. A famous psychiatrist once said, “After thirty years of studying women, I ask myself, ‘What is it that they really want?’”

Paul said it this way:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Although He was never married, Jesus demonstrated love. He demonstrated submission. He demonstrated how a husband is to treat his bride, laying down His very life.

As we celebrate communion and remember Jesus’ sacrifice, let it be an example of how we are to love and treat one another.


One More Thing…

The divorce rate in the USA is…50%, right? Wrong! That figure is an urban legend based upon projections decades ago that were completely false. Nobody knows exactly, but 71% of women are still married to their first spouse (2009 Census), and many no longer married are widowed, not divorced.

Researcher Shaunti Feldhahn (
The Good News About Marriage) discovered four things that are helpful in building a strong marriage:

•  Don’t live together before marriage. It increases your rate of divorce because the relationship is built on convenience rather than commitment.
•  Go to church together. It may drop the divorce rate by about 25-50%.
•  Pray together.
•  Be intentionally affectionate. Research shows that physical connection builds a sense of happiness in a marriage, so hold hands, hug, and kiss each other good-bye!

Perhaps you’ve heard the divorce rate is the same for Christians and non-Christians. That is also false. In fact, some research suggests couples who pray together have a divorce rate around 1% (


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Suffer Like Jesus, 27 September 2015

Suffer Like Jesus
Series: What In The World Is Going On? A Study of 1 Peter
1 Peter 2:11-25

Series Overview:
God’s grace is present in the midst of suffering.

Big Idea: Suffer like Jesus…God is watching.


This morning we continue our series on 1 Peter, “What In The World Is Going On?” This short letter to the early, suffering church is a powerful message not only to an ancient people but is increasing relevant to modern Christians as we face persecution. We may never face the horrors of ISIS victims, but nevertheless we can—and perhaps should—feel in the minority as followers of Jesus in a world consumed with money, sex and power. The theme of this book may well be called hope and grace in the midst of suffering. In the first three weeks we looked at hope, holiness, and harmony.

As we continue our series on 1 Peter, our text for today reminds us about
time. Time is a fascinating dimension to life. We often struggle to be fully present in the moment, instead reminiscing about the past or dreaming about the future.

Patience is related to the future. We want things now. Last Sunday we sang about waiting on the LORD, something I struggle to do, knowing that God’s timing is never late but rarely early. If only He would answer my prayers instantly like a genie in a lamp, yet Daddy knows best and can be trusted, even His timing. Perhaps in hindsight you’re glad God waited to answer a prayer.

One of the most common expressions among children is,
“It’s not fair!” Did I say children?! Adults say it all the time, too! The great theological Bill Gates said, “Life is not fair. Get used to it.” We live in a broken, sinful world where injustices are all around us. Often the best we can hope for is some sort of restitution or reconciliation through a judge or jury.

But what if you knew justice would prevail? What if you could be certain all wrongs would be righted, all perpetrators would be punished, and all suffering would be rewarded?

It all brings fairness and time into question. Our scripture today is full of encouragement from Peter to those suffering, reminding them their present suffering is not the end. There is more to their story. Judgment Day is coming, a day of reckoning, a day in which many will rejoice while others suffer the consequences of their unrighteousness.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. (2:11)

Last week we read Peter’s instruction to get rid of sin. Throughout every day we make decisions to follow the world or Jesus. These exiles—like us—are in the midst of a war between good and evil, between God and satan. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. D.L. Moody once said, “I have more trouble with D.L. Moody than with any man I know.” Never confuse people as being the enemy. The real enemy is satan.

We were sinners but we’ve become adopted children of God. We are strangers/sojourners/pilgrims, resident aliens with citizenship in heaven. That’s immensely important. Foreigners and exiles approach life differently than citizens. Peter’s friends were literally exiles; we are not.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (2:12)

Have you ever been punished for doing the right thing? Have you ever been despised by cheaters for being honest? Have you ever been mocked for studying by those who failed the test? Often our greatest critics are merely envious.

I’ve seen this frequently with pastors. Thanks to the internet, everyone can have their own platform for sharing their opinion with the world. I’m truly sick and tired of hearing people trash pastors of large churches that are often doing more for the kingdom of God than their sorry whining will ever do. Sure, there are heretics that preach harmful things, but I’ve heard people attack some of the most respected people and I have to wonder if they’re just envious.

Good deeds are a witness to the world. We need words and deeds in shining the light of Jesus into our dark world.

Peter continues…

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. (2:13-15)

This is a fascinating passage. It’s easy to think of our government but remember the context. Nero was coming to the throne in Rome as the new emperor. Life was hard for followers of Jesus. Peter’s not saying dishonor God, but he seems to be saying obey the law, submit to authority.

Daniel and his friends disobeyed the law but did so in a way that honored the king and respected authority (Daniel 1). They held their convictions and glorified God in the process. In Acts 4-5, Peter and his colleagues refused to stop preaching as commanded, yet they showed respect to their leaders in the process.

Note the last sentence. Again we see actions speak louder than words, in this case our good actions silencing—literally muzzle—fools.

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (2:16-17)

We have freedom. We have liberty—far more than Peter’s audience—but we must not abuse our freedoms. We are free but we’re God’s servants. God’s slaves. When we call God LORD we are declaring ourselves to be under His authority. We are to use our freedom to help, serve, and bless others as Nehemiah did restoring the Jerusalem walls.

He says to show “proper respect to everyone.” I wish more Christians would follow this simple instruction, especially during these political campaigns. How we submit to authority is a part of our witness to the world. Going 85 miles an hour on the expressway with a “Jesus Loves You” bumper sticker sends the wrong message.

He reiterates the command to love the family of believers. Note the context of authority. One way we love one another is by submitting to the authority of godly leaders in the church.

He says fear—or have awe for—God. Give honor to the emperor, the king, the president. The office is to be honored even if you disagree with their politics. No matter your dislike for a politician, they are created with dignity, value and worth in the image of God. Pray for them. The verbs literally mean to keep loving, keep fearing, keep honoring…constantly. This is no mere suggestion. The book of Romans says…

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)

This all echoes Solomon’s wisdom:

Fear the Lord and the king, my son…(Proverbs 24:21)

I admit this can be tricky. Not every nation has a church and state separation. Facebook is abuzz with Christians supporting and opposing Kim Davis for her decisions as a county clerk in Kentucky. What do you do when the law and the Word of God are in conflict?

Perhaps one word to consider is power. Jesus did not come to overthrow the government of His day, though many hoped He would. As He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the people shouted, “Hosanna!” which means “Save us now!” He will exercise His power when He returns, but He modeled for us a servant’s posture. Whenever I see pride or self-serving power exerted I get nervous in a hurry!

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (2:18-21)

First century slavery was different than the horror of slavery in the USA up to our Civil War. It was generally a temporary condition that included possibly one-third of the population. Many chose to be slaves for a season in order to become full Roman citizens. Peter’s words regarding obedience as slaves may have been partially so they could be set free. Powerful masters had powerful slaves, so for some, it was a valuable position. Some slaves were doctors, teachers, and even sea-captains.

It wasn’t necessary an easy life, however. Some slaves were both physically abused and made sexually available to their masters. Scott Bartchy writes,

“Central features that distinguish 1st century slavery from that later practiced in the New World are the following: racial factors played no role; education was greatly encouraged (some slaves were better educated than their owners) and enhanced a slave’s value; many slaves carried out sensitive and highly responsible social functions; slaves could own property (including other slaves!); their religious and cultural traditions were the same as those of the freeborn; no laws prohibited public assembly of slaves; and (perhaps above all) the majority of urban and domestic slaves could legitimately anticipate being emancipated by the age of 30.”

Submit. Not a popular word in our culture, or perhaps any. None of us truly understand the life of a slave. Some liken their boss to a slave master. No matter your job, our nation affords us all certain freedoms unimaginable to those in other places and/or other times in history. We can’t fully appreciate the weight of Peter’s words except to say do the right thing, even if you’re not rewarded for it…now. Someday you will receive your reward.

Work as unto the LORD. Paul wrote to the church in Colossae…

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. (Colossians 3:22-25)

Submit to the authority of your boss. When wronged, it’s human nature to want to fight, but we are to submit and let God fight. This doesn’t mean be a doormat or tolerate abuse, but it does mean remember God is watching.

Jesus understands. Jesus suffered. Not only did He suffer for doing good, He did it to both set an example for us and to sacrifice for us. He died for you and for me. He served through suffering.

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (2:22)

He lived a perfect life, yet He was executed, wrongfully accused. He suffered the ultimate suffering for doing good. He lived the cruciform life, shaped by the cross.

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,”
but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (2:23-25)

Peter quotes Isaiah 53. It’s such a paradox that we have been healed by His wounds, His suffering.

Jesus’ life set an example for us.
Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for us.
Jesus is now our Shepherd and will return soon.

So What?

This passage is loaded with application possibilities. I say possibilities because the relationship between us and government can be tricky. Civil disobedience may be justified, but we must respect our leaders. Enduring a difficult job and serving wholeheartedly may be God’s desire and a great witness to others. Demonstrating kindness, generosity, humility, honesty, and loyalty when we don’t “feel” like it represents God well. We are to not only do the right thing, we are often to do the right things in the midst of suffering. A cruciform understanding of the Christian life—the way of self-denial and of suffering as demonstrated by Jesus—is a radical proclamation to our world.

“The way of suffering is the divinely intended manner of bringing the greatest victory of God into the world.” - Scot McKnight

There’s a famous poem that was written on the wall in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, a version of Dr. Kent Keith’s
Paradoxical Commandments:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

Life is hard. Injustice happens. We suffer. But there’s more to the story. God is watching. He will right all wrongs someday. It’s gonna be worth it someday.

“Life isn’t fair.” For the follower of Jesus, this is actually good news. You don’t want what you deserve! We all deserve eternal separation from God for our sins. It’s only grace that allows us forgiveness. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins and make us white as snow. Only Christ’s broken body can mend our broken relationship with our heavenly Father. Praise God life isn’t fair!

The world is watching us. So is the Good Shepherd. Hallelujah!

In the end, it's going to be
Worth It All.


Some ideas from

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren

Thru The Bible audio messages by J. Vernon McGee

1 Peter (The NIV Application Commentary) by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.