David Pawson "Unlocking the Bible" --- Peter Part 1
Thoughtful Thoughts 24.2.17 Peter - Part 1
The cost of discipleship.
Nero was top dog. His thumb could save you or kill you. He treated himself as if he were a god.
Peter wrote this letter to help believers to stand fast in persecution. (Peter himself was caught up in the persecution and was crucified upside down.) It was a letter for the suffering church. He tells disciples how to endure.
In the last century, physical persecution of Christians was mainly in the communist countries, and some Moslem ones. That is changing fast. The communist countries have largely disappeared and there’s more persecution in the Moslem countries and now in this century, also in western countries, where laws are being used to make criminals out of Christians. An example of this is the “Ashers” Bakery case. They were found guilty of discrimination because they refused to write on a wedding cake being ordered, “Support Gay Marriage”. Both the court and the appeal court found them guilty. Then, there was the case of the Christian guest house owners, the “Bulls”, who were found guilty because they wouldn’t let a room in their guest house to a gay couple. Their case went to the Supreme Court which confirmed their guilt. The point here is whether a Christian should be allowed the freedom of religious conscience. That is what has changed. This was the point made by the judge in the Bull’s guest house case. (Google it). Peter Bull has finished his earthly race and went to be with his Lord in 2016, but his wife has since preached about “faith under fire”.
In the UK now if a Christian’s conscience causes him to put the New Testament into practice, the law can now make you a criminal and liable for punishment.
This letter by Peter is about faith under fire.
Peter took John Mark under his wing after John Mark had run away from persecution when on a mission trip with Paul and Barnabus. Now at the end of this letter, Peter called John Mark ‘his son’. Mark went on to write Peter’s story in what we call the Gospel of Mark. Well, John Mark is still here with Peter towards the latter part of Peter’s life. Peter saw that John Mark needed someone to train and father him. When he was a young man he had run away when he saw that you could die being a disciple of Jesus. Well Peter too had run away when Jesus was on trial. Peter is now writing a letter to set the example of standing firm to the end. That was the difference that discipleship had made.
One Christian cartoon I’ll always remember was one with the caption, “The trouble with a living sacrifice is, that it’s always crawling off the altar!” Well, Peter and John Mark were like us, being only too human, and had both run away once. Now here they are as pillars of the church, facing persecution and even death. When we read the Bible, we are reading God’s story of how His message of salvation started and spread and what we need to do to join His family. Peter’s letter is not some religious leader’s sermon. Peter is urgently passing on a truth that would result in him being crucified upside down. These are the people who went before us and who we are called to follow. Jesus warned us that persecution would often follow those who followed Him.
Next week, we will look at the content, but for now, remember that the people behind the Bible books that we read, were people who often gave their lives to pass on God’s Word to the next generation.
The books not only came at great personal cost to those involved in writing the books, but also to anyone who translated them, or who published, printed and distributed it. As God’s book, the Bible has an enemy who has murdered many who have passed it on. We forget the price paid for what we have.
Why not read through 1 Peter this week and 2 Peter next week? It’s a small book, but one which God considered necessary to include in His inspired Word and which came to us at the cost of life and limb.
I’m John Dunning and that’s “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.