Let me begin by stating the obvious about this text. Not every text in Scripture applies equally to all people. There are texts in Scripture that are specific to men, women, singles, marrieds, widows, young, old, rich, poor, strong Christians and weak Christians. This is a text about wives and especially to wives who are married to unbelievers. So what do the rest of us do when we come to a sermon like this? Those who aren’t married learn from this text what God intends for married people and we all learn how to speak to our friends or our culture that dismisses this truth from God. Peter comes to his third example of how to live godly in an ungodly world, first in the political world, then in the economic or business realm and now in the home. Peter wrote to a suffering church, to people suffering under oppressive governments, harsh slave masters and difficult or unbelieving husbands. He set the stage by holding up the example of Christ. I Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. I Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. These things we are talking about are hard but we are helped if we have an eternal perspective and a long view, if we trust all our circumstances to God and have faith Submission, what it is and isn’t. You see on the outline the first point is about the “s” word in our day and age. There is a lot of baggage with this word. In fact there is so much, I am only going to get through the first point of our outline this morning. Submission is controversial because of our culture and because of the lies of secular feminism and because of the great abuses of many husbands. If husbands all loved their wives the way Christ loves the church, there might be a lot less controversy. We have to work so much harder to be clear about this because the world we live in is trying to press us into its mold. It calls headship tyranny or dictatorship or oppression or domination. It calls submission slavery, servanthood, being oppressed, dominated, a doormat. We must resist letting the world squeeze us into its mold. We have lots of preconceptions and misconceptions. Some of us have positive experiences with this word, some of us have very negative experiences. We need to bring our experiences into submission to God’s Word and put our hope in God and trust His Word and obey Him and it will go well with us.
Peter is an apostle of Jesus Christ inspired by the Holy Spirit to write to Christians scattered around the world as sojourners and exiles. He has this idea that being a Christian changes everything, it changes how we think about and relate to our political environment, how we think about and relate to our work world, and how we do marriage. He started with how we show respect toward those in political offices, whether high or low. Now Peter moves from the political sphere to the economic sphere, a place where most of us live. How can we live well in the real world, especially among non-Christians?
Introduction. Tonight we will conclude the Book of Revelation. Then a month from now I will do a Revelation Wrap Up, reflections on our journey through this whole book. As we come to the last words of Revelation I thought last words might be an interesting little introduction. So I googled famous last words and read a couple of hundred and was completely underwhelmed, very few worth quoting. Karl Marx may have been a bit too cynical, “Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.” I think when people are dying they aren’t trying to be profound or witty or say something memorable. About the best you could hope to say is “I love you” and “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” As endings go this one in Revelation is not entirely unique. Twice in Moses’ last book he makes a similar warning. Deuteronomy 4:2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. Deuteronomy 12:32 Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. The book of Joshua begins and ends with similar warnings: Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 23:6 Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left. Proverbs has similar words near the end. Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. Revelation begins with a blessing on all hear and obey the words of this book and ends with a curse on all who disobey the words of this book. Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 22:18-21 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Last week I said verse 11 was a shift in Peter’s letter from doctrine to practical application and that verses 11-12 were the generalization before the specifics. Now we come to specifics. In our war against the passions of the flesh that are out to kill our souls, what is the godly conduct that we should have in this world and among unbelievers so they might see it and glorify God? I Peter 2:13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution. Those are strong words. Let me remind you of the context in which they were written. First, they were written by a man who on the night Jesus was betrayed took a sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant who had come to arrest Jesus. Not exactly submitting to authority. Decades later Peter is much older and wiser. Second, Peter wrote this letter during the time of the wicked reign of Nero who took particular delight in persecuting Christians and who was behind the martyrdom of Peter himself. Of all the Caesars, Nero was one of the worst, he killed his stepbrother, his mother and his wife. He demanded to be worshiped. These are not caviler words tossed out lightly, these are serious words for serious Christians in serious times, times like ours. If he said that then, how much more would it apply to us? How do Christians who are citizens of heaven and sojourners and exiles on this earth relate to governing authorities? How do we juggle this dual citizenship? What does the Bible say about how we are think about and behave toward those in places and positions of power or authority over us? What is our duty?
The book of Revelation is a series of visions received by the apostle John while exiled on the Island of Patmos. The book of Revelation begins with a brief forward or preface and then the actual visions start at 1:9 and go through 22:5. What remains here is like an epilogue or afterward, a seemingly disconnected collection of promises, exhortations and confirmations that point forward to the coming of Jesus soon. Since this is the conclusion it should be the last chapter. Some of our chapter and verse placements are unfortunate. They are not inspired. A professor at the University of Paris in 1227, Stephen Langton, divided the Bible into chapters. Robert Stephanus (Stephens), a French printer, divided the verses in 1551. Revelation ends the way it began. Listen to the beginning again: Revelation 1:1-2 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. And: Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” God’s Final Words, vss. 6-10. We have come to the last words of the book of Revelation and of the Bible. God’s last holy and inspired and infallible words. Words are important, God’s words are especially important.