Final Thoughts on 1 Peter

I asked my homeroom last Thursday to simply share one thought at a time about what they had learned from our study of 1 Peter this fall. I asked them to scroll back through the blog post titles and pictures (which usually contain key verses) to help them remember. My students did a great job of recalling some really important biblical truths that they had learned and we had a good wrap-up discussion. If your homeroom is using the blog, I would encourage you to try this on our last day of school Monday before the break. For middle school, your class might even have some time in Life Skills to talk about how you have grown in Christ so far this school year through your study of the Bible.

Whether or not your homeroom does this, you can go back on your own over the break and read 1 Peter again. I would suggest sitting down in a quiet place with your Bible and simply reading the whole book at one time. It will probably take you about 20-30 minutes if you take time to think about the main ideas as you read.

Here are some review questions that might be helpful to keep in mind as you re- read 1 Peter:

1. What have you learned about your salvation and the concept of being “born again”? (1 Peter 1:3-5, 23; 3:21)

2. Why do we experience suffering in this life? How should we think about and respond to our trials? (1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12-16)

3. What exactly did Jesus accomplish for us when He died on the cross? (1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:24-25; 3:18)

4. Why do we need to be constantly alert and “sober-minded” as Christians? What does that mean? (1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8)

5. As Christians, why is our pursuit of holiness and turning away from sin so important? (1 Peter 1: 14-16; 2:9-12; 4:1-2, 18)

6. How should our faith in Christ shape our relationships with other people? (1 Peter 2:12-18; 3:1-9)

7. Why do sheep (Christians) need shepherds (pastors and other church leaders)? (1 Peter 5:1-5; 12-14)

I hope you that all have an awesome Christmas vacation and enjoy extra time with your family, friends, and the Lord Jesus. We will be excited to come back in January and study the book of Ephesians in chapel and this blog. Blessings.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Knowing and Being Known (1 Peter 5:12-14)

Sometimes we are tempted to skim past certain parts of the Bible. The many laws of Leviticus, for example, or the genealogies (family lines), like those at the beginning of Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels, we might read quickly to move on to other passages that seem more interesting or relevant to our daily lives. The endings of Paul’s New Testament letters, like today’s final passage from 1 Peter, often include references to people that the apostles knew personally, but whom we will never meet until we reach heaven. Some are famous from Acts; “Silvanus” in 1 Peter 5:12 of today’s passage is probably Silas, a traveling companion of Paul. Similarly, Peter’s “son Mark” in 1 Peter 5:13 is probably John Mark, who wrote the gospel of Mark based on the sermons and memories of Peter, his father in the faith. But other names that Paul drops in places like Romans 16 are mentioned only there and nowhere else in the New Testament or church history. Either way, we may feel like asking God, “Why are all these names in the Bible?” or “What can I learn from all of these personal references to people in the early churches?”

I think what all these names in the epistles show us is that ministry is about individual people. Churches are not made up of numbers, but unique Christians with names and stories known to God and each other. Our God is a personal God. He saves and redeems people one soul at time. Christ’s call of salvation and love and grace is personal to every hearer. Peter and Paul were the lead founders of the churches, Peter being the lead apostle to the Jews and Paul the lead apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews). They were important men with important work to do for God. But here they are, mentioning individual Christians whom they knew and cared about personally. Peter and Paul knew these people well enough to make remarks about their locations and plans as well as their characters and service in the church. This shows us that God’s churches are made up of people who had real relationships with their leaders and with each other. These names were actual Christians who knew each other and were known by each other. As we close out our study on 1 Peter, we see again the importance of living for Christ together in communities of believers called “churches.”

The Text (1 Peter 5:12-14)

12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.

13 She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Background and Observations

• Most of Paul’s letters contain personal references likes we see here at the end of 1 Peter. Romans 16 is by far the biggest example; in that chapter, Paul mentions 34 different people, with at least one detail about each one! This is surely an example for us. Could you name 34 people that you know something about at your own church?

• Many church growth researchers have long noticed that when new attendees visit a church, they need to make meaningful connections if the church wants them to stick around. Relationships are what keep people wanting to come back to church. The magic number that has often been mentioned is seven; if a person can become friends with at least seven active members of a church, they are very likely to become active members themselves.

• The reference to “she who is in Babylon…greets you” is probably talking about the church in Rome, where Peter was known to spend at least some of his ministry time after he disappears from the story of Acts in chapter 15. By this point in history, Rome was the capital and most important city of the known world and famous for its wealth and wickedness, just like Babylon was near the end of the Old Testament era. The real Babylon has become small and unimportant by the first century AD.

Questions to Think About

1. Do you ever feel lost in the crowd at church? What could you do to get to know and be known by more people at your church?

2. If your pastor, youth pastor, or small group leader were to mention you in a letter to another church, what would he or she say about you? What would he or she say about your character and service at church?

3. If a student says or thinks, “I go to a Christian school, so I don’t need to be active in a local church,” what would you say to him or her? What is wrong with such thinking?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

To God Be All the Glory (1 Peter 5:11)

This post is not about thanking God for great football teams of many (😭) years ago. But it is about pointing praise up to God for the work of salvation and spiritual renewal that He is doing in our lives right now. At the time of this writing, at least 30 students in our current seventh grade have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior in the past nine months. For our current sixth grade, the number is now 29 and counting (a young man just accepted Christ just last week!). I do not know the exact numbers in eighth grade, but we have seen several students saved in that class since last spring and I am convinced that there will be more before this school year ends. Many others in all three of these grades have seen a fresh movement of God in their lives and rededicated themselves to following Christ.

We have middle school students getting excited about reading their Bibles, praying, and sharing their faith. Students are choosing to come to weekly lunch time discipleship meetings and choosing to read this blog or something like it on their own to help them have personal times with God. Some students are even rearranging their sports commitments and schedules to make going to church each week a priority (this may be the biggest miracle of all in terms of a real example of faith in Christ costing our students something). If this is not a revival, then I don’t know what else to call it.

Today’s verse reminds us that we must give God ALL of the glory for this amazing work of grace. Peter is nearing the end of his letter, and he has just given a closing prayer of blessing over his readers (that’s called a “benediction”) in verse 10. He prayed for them to become rooted and strong in their faith in Jesus Christ. There are teachers, parents, and students who have been praying for years for God to do that very thing in our student body. Now Peter reminds these suffering but overcoming Christians of the first century Roman Empire that they should give all thanks and honor to the Jesus who saved them. His “dominion” or rule over this world will go on forever and ever. It’s His kingdom that was growing in and among them, and it’s His kingdom that is at work now at NRCA, too. Like Peter, we see what God has been doing and say, “Thank you, Lord” and “Amen!” (“May it be so”).

The Text (1 Peter 5:11)

11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Background and Observations

• It is very common in the New Testament letters for the writer to finish a particular teaching with a sudden exclamation of praise to the Lord like we see in 1 Peter 5:11. For example, in 1 Timothy 6:16, Paul finishes giving a challenge to his son in the faith Timothy by reminding him that the call to preach the Word comes from God Himself, “who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” For us, too, giving praise to God for His work in and around us should be a common and natural occurrence if our eyes stay fixed on Jesus. There should be times in our lives when we just stop and say, “Wow, God is good!”

• The sovereignty or providence of God is one of the major themes of this letter. By talking about the eternal “dominion” or rule of Christ over this world, Peter wants his readers to understand that even when life is difficult and confusing, no, ESPECIALLY when it is difficult and confusing, God is still in control. Their suffering was not in vain, and neither is yours. The Lord is working ALL things for your good, to make you into the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:28).

Questions to Think About

1. What are three specific works of God’s grace in your life from the last year for which you can thank Him right now? Taking the time to reflect on God’s work in our past helps us to maintain a humble attitude of thankfulness and prayerful dependence on Him for our futures.

2. Are than any areas of your life that you are currently using to glorify yourself instead of Christ? How might you turn these selfish areas into opportunities to give praise to God?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

Praying for God’s Work of Grace (1 Peter 5:10)

When a parent, Bible leader, or teacher says that they are praying for you, what do they mean? Have you ever wondered what they are praying for you? They might be praying for your health, or your grades, or your upcoming games. But they are also praying for your spiritual growth. Like Peter prayed for his Christian readers in today’s passage, they are asking the “God of all grace” to show you special grace by continuing His work of salvation in your life. They know that like them, you are facing daily struggles with sin and faith. They know that as Christians, we must all go through experiences of having “suffered a while.” But the issue is how we respond to our trials. They pray that you will not be defeated, that you will not become depressed or bitter or angry or indifferent, but that God’s work around you will lead you to submit to His work in you.

So they pray that God would “perfect” you, or make you into a mature follower of Christ. They pray for spiritual fruit and growth in your life that both you and they will rejoice in the evidence that you are indeed Christ’s disciple (John 15:8). They pray that God would “establish” you firmly in your faith, so that you would know what you believe and why and who you are as a son or daughter of God. This is why your family and teachers who pray for you, these prayer warriors who labor before God on your behalf, also keep encouraging you to read your Bibles daily. It’s not about legalism, or getting you to “be good” and make God happy by reading His Word. No. They want you to soak up truth, to learn the promises of God that you have in Christ and let these promises take firm roots in your souls. They are praying that your minds would be transformed and renewed.

Like Peter, they pray for God to “strengthen” you. Are you strong for Christ? We have many middle school students, especially in sixth and seventh grades, who have been boldly professing their faith in Jesus in the past nine months. Are you part of that group? Or are you still on the fence about your faith, not yet willing to stand up and sell out for Jesus? You need to know that people who care about you are praying for you to become “strong in the Lord, and the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). Finally, people are praying for God to “settle” you by showing you His plans for your life right now and giving you the courage to step out and do what He is calling you to do. Yes, it takes courage to follow God in faith, to do what He says even when it might cost us popularity or when others are against us. That’s why we are calling upon the “God of ALL grace” to help you do it!

The Text (1 Peter 5:10)

10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Background and Observations

• Peter’s prayer in verse 10 is a confident prayer that He trusts God to answer. He shares the apostle Paul’s conviction that when God truly saves a person by “calling” them to Himself, He will always follow through to “perfect” or finish that person’s salvation. Consider Philippians 1:8, where Paul encourages his Christian readers “that He [God] who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Or look also at Romans 8:30, where Paul says, “Moreover whom He predestined [chose for salvation], these He also called [drew to Himself]; whom He called, these He also justified [made right with Him by giving them saving faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus]; and whom He justified, these He also glorified [finished their salvation in heaven once they died].”

• Verse 10 also helps explain why as a middle school, we are talking so much with our students about their salvation, an issue which many are saying that they settled when they were little children. Conversion can happen when a person is young, but there should then be evidence of spiritual growth in Christ since that experience. When a student is not showing evidence of becoming mature, established, and bold in their faith, as teachers we become concerned that he or she might not have a real, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We then need to have gospel conversations with these students and pray for God to help them settle the basic issue of their need for repentance, faith, and regeneration (being born again) by the Holy Spirit. Our prayers are then targeted for the salvation of these students so that they, too, can begin to grow in Christ.

Questions to Think About

  1. Who do you think or know is specifically praying for you the way that Peter models in this passage? Take a moment to thank God for them and to thank them in person if possible.
  2. If you have been growing in Christ for several years, are you praying like this for anyone? Now could be a good time to start!
  3. What can you do in the next few weeks to cooperate with “the God of all grace” as He works to “perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” in your faith?
  4. When we come back from the Christmas break in January, we will study through the book of Ephesians in the homeroom blog and in our next chapel series. This is a fantastic book for helping to establish you in who you are in Christ and how that can change your daily life. Are you willing to commit yourself to studying Ephesians in a daily time with God? What needs to happen with your schedule so that you will be able to have a consistent time and place to let God transform your life through this short but powerful book of the Bible?

In Christ,

Mr. Reel