First Peter 4:7-11
The End Of All Creation Is Coming
1. Today is the day [we honor all] saints. As we offer our worship service like this in remembrance of those who have already been called up, we are compelled to think about the end of our own lives as well. However, the Bible teaches us that there is not only an end to a person's life, but there is also an end to all of creation. "The end of all creation is near. Therefore, be prudent, watch what you do, and pray often," (verse seven). So, during our worship service, I would like for us to think not only about the end of our own lives, but also about the end of the universe.
The End Of All Creation Is Coming
2. While I'm at it, the scripture says, "the end of all creation." But, if this "end" were just a pure "ending" of it all, it would not make sense to think about "the end of all creation" at this point because think or say what you will about it it would still all be over any way: it would be "the end." The way it would be at "the end" is it would stultify and deny even our very thoughts about "the end."
3. Yet, the Bible says, "The end of all creation is coming. Therefore, ...," and then continues its discussion on it. That means that "the end" is not a simple "end." "The end" is also at the same time a new "beginning." The end of the world as we know it now will also be the beginning of the world that is to come. Thus, in another passage of scripture it is described as not "the end of all creation" but as "that time when all creation will become new," (Acts 3:21).
4. Since "the end" is "a beginning," there is plenty of significance in thinking and talking about it. That's because the way the new beginning will be is determined by how the end will be. The one who will close out the old world and bring on the end is God. Thus then, the important thing in the end is one's relationship with God. When [you're] with God, you will meet the end as a person with God. When [you're] against God, you will face the end as a person against God. Put another way, [you] could express this as "The Judgment Of God." The new beginning is on the other side of the judgment. Thus then, more important than thinking about "the end" is about how to live as a person heading for "the end." About that the Bible teaches the following: "Therefore, be prudent, watch what you do, and pray often," (verse seven).
5. What is translated as "watch what you do" is a phrase that means we are to be sober, we are to be composed. The opposite of that is to be intoxicated, to be fanatical and frenzied. [We] do think about the end. [We] do talk about the end. Religious fervor easily leads to such end time thinking. As a matter of fact, from biblical times to the present, regardless of the time period, there is no end to the number of people who have claimed, "The end is near," and who have been fanatical about it, and have taken abnormal actions, or have chosen a fast way of living.
6. Peter is certainly thinking about the last times. We, too, should not think as if this old world will last forever unchanged. We should not think that unrighteousness has just been left alone as it is, that sin has been controlling [the world] as it pleases, that God has been scorned as ever never [to see it] changed, and that the world will continue that way unchanged. Still, the main thing there is that we are to be poised and composed, [that is, we are to be in control of ourselves]. Prayer should not be mixed with intoxication and fanaticism. [Prayer] needs to have truly well thought out and prudent actions to go with it.
Love One Another
7. Peter raises three specific conditions regarding this. First, "Above all else, love one another with your hearts." In the original text, verse eight here is not an isolated text, but is connected to verse seven. It requires that we love each other back. But, that love must include profound ponderings, poise or self control, and prayer.
8. When love loses its deep deliberation and discipline, that thing that's [supposed] to be "love" begins to run wild. This "love" that has lost prayer, such that human passion alone runs on ahead of things and it no longer can even think of God, often times breaks a community down, and becomes an open floodgate of confusion. Living as we do in a society in which the word "love" is flooding it out, we need to keep this in mind all the more. This society even calls adulterous relationships that run on impulse "pure love." It is a society that calls it "love," even though it breaks homes down, inflicts deep wounds on the hearts of the children, and throws bad times down on everyone around them. Of course, that illustrated point is a bit extreme. But, even with the relationships and the fellowship in the church, when [the people there] lose their deliberation and discipline and [the fellowship] does not include dialogue with God, it ends up being hardly any different from "this love" that the world has all confused.
9. "Above all else, love one another with your hearts." In a real sense, that must be what builds up relationships and fellowships. That's why it goes on some more and the scripture says, "Because love covers many a sin." Sin breaks relationships down. Because of one's own sin or that of someone else's, this matter of relationships being wounded and destroyed even takes place in the fellowships of those who believe on the Lord. But, love covers many a sin. Love covers many sins and restores broken relationships and fellowships. In relationships wounded by sin, love accompanied by premeditation and prayer, is the only thing that will bring pardon, reconciliation, and restoration.
10. It is exactly the same in what has taken place between God and us. It is just through the love of God that the relationships between God and us, which were broken because of our sins, are restored back. God sent his son into the world because of his love. God gave his son as an atonement for our sins because of his love. God has pardoned our sins because of his love. God has called us into fellowship with himself because of his love. God has covered our many sins through his love.
11. Now God wills that what has thus happened between God and us may also happen between us and anyone else. So, trusting us to do it, he has turned over that [task] to us.
12. Then, second, Peter says, "Without complaining entertain one another," (verse nine). The reason the text here touches upon "entertaining one another [being hospitable, being a good host to a guest]" is not because it is just some virtue, but because the situations in the churches back then rendered "entertaining others" a necessity. That is to say, the churches in those days came into being by the many evangelists and leaders traveling around, just as Paul was that way.
13. The itinerant teachers stayed over at the individual homes of the Christians in the area. Depending on the situation, they took temporary residence for long periods. The homes they stayed in were not always wealthy. In fact, all told, the first Christians were mostly poor. Out of duty, the responsibility fell to them. What's more, this responsibility did not fall equally upon every member of the assembly. It was often the case that one person bore more burdens in this area than the others. Wherefore, without realizing it, it would come to pass that complaining would arise.
14. For another example, the word "complaint" is found in chapter six of The Book Of Acts. There it is translated "grievance." "In those days, as the number of disciples was increasing, grievances arose against the Hebrew speaking Jews by the Greek speaking Jews. It was because the widows among them were being looked down upon in the daily distributions," (Acts 6:1). In this way then, we get in a fix, and "complaints" [or] "grievances" will take place when [people] feel [something] is not fair, or they feel they are at a disadvantage or losing out.
15. When we think about it, we see that Peter was not just recommending to them to "entertain one another," but [his] telling [them to do it] "without complaining" in particular was very important -- Because the state of being filled with complaining lies on the total opposite polarity of "loving one another" which the text spoke of just before this. To love sometimes means we are to accept losses. To love sometimes also means we are to take on burdens. We'll understand it when we look at what Christ did for us. Christ readily took on the heavy burden of our sins. Christ readily accepted suffering. Christ readily took the loss, you might say, even happily. Unless this is the Christ we are looking at, our hearts will always be full of complaints.
Serve One Another
16. Then, third, Peter said this: "Because each of you is gifted with gifts, serve one another making use of that gift, as good managers of the different blessings given of God," (verse ten).
17. Before long our own lives will also meet with its end. That truth means that what we have now we do not in any real sense possess. We have been alive so far but still we're always giving some ability up or something or other along the journey of life. Before long the time will come when we'll have to let go of everything.
18. We started out with nothing. Therefore, it was all given to us. It was given to us by God. Therefore, we can describe [everything] as "a gift." Among them, there is also something given to us after we've become Christians. The Bible makes reference to them not as natural abilities, but as supernatural abilities given to us with our faith. For example, in an Epistle To The Corinthian Disciples, it touches upon "the power to heal sickness," "the power to perform miracles," "the power to prophesy," "the power to discern spirits," and other [gifts] besides. There are also cases of [other] such gifts being given but by men and women. But, whether a natural or supernatural ability, or whether it is something else that we possess, regardless of which it is, it is [still] a gift from God.
19. I repeat. Whatever it may be, before long the time will come when we will let it go. Therefore, these [gifts] are no more than a trust given to us for a certain period of time. Since that is the truth, we ought not to behave like we are the owners of them. As it has in verse ten, the important thing is that we are "to become good managers." We are to utilize the gifts as managers of them. The basic principle in using a gift is "to serve" with it. The gifts of God are not being given to us for us to control other people. They are being given so that we may serve others.
20. The three points listed above, namely "to love one another," "to entertain without complaining," and "to serve one another making use of your gifts," have to do with the formation of the community called the church. We've come to see this in the statement "The end of all creation is near." We don't know if "the end of all creation" is around the corner as Peter put it, or it is still in the future as already nearly two thousand years have elapsed since [he said it]. But, regardless of [the timing issue], we do live heading for an end. Then, the important thing for us is that we faithfully form a close fellowship in the church with deep deliberation, discipline, and dialogue with God. We are to worship God, give him the glory, faithfully form a community to live with God, and live in that fellowship. The reason we do all this is because the time of the end will be a time when the glory of God will be completely revealed. "To God be the glory and the power for worlds upon worlds unlimited. Amen."