Brand New People - 1 Peter 3 — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Brand New People – 1 Peter 3 — A Christian Growth Message

A journey through the New Testament Book of 1 Peter, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth podcast.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 4 Dec 2022Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

This week Simon Manchester speaks on the topic of what it means to be “Brand New People” and the guidance we find in 1 Peter 3.

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Loving Father, we thank you for the word that you’ve given and pray that it would be a light to our feet, a lamp to our path, food for our soul, comfort for the challenge and that you would use these next minutes for the building up of our knowledge and love of you. We ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen.

We’re following this great letter in the New Testament, written by Peter, the Disciple of Jesus, His first letter. It is full of a great deal of comfort for Christians in a hostile world, and it’s also got plenty of challenge. Today we come to some very practical verses, which includes some words to wives and husbands. And as Beck mentioned, these can sound very jarring.

But given that our society is not particularly great in home relationships, not particularly successful, it’s worth thinking about what is here. I was given these verses once at a wedding by a couple. I thought it was particularly brave of them to have these preached at their wedding, and I prepared most sensitively, as you can imagine, and carefully.

And then in the middle of the wedding, they read Chapter 1:3-7, which is a lovely passage about God’s blessings. And I realised that I had been given 3:1-7 and not 1:3-7 and had to somehow in the middle of the of the wedding preached these very tricky verses. But with a few backward somersaults, we survived.

Now what we’ve seen so far in this letter from Peter is he’s writing to people who are made new by Christ. He calls them redeemed in Chapter one, and he twice calls them reborn- reborn people, people who have had a rebirth. Their life has received eternal life. Remember, Jesus said, you must be born again, a very annoying phrase to some people. But what Jesus means by that is you’ve got an earthly life which will run out. You need to get eternal life. How do you get eternal life? You get eternal life by receiving Christ, who is the life and in every church. And I’m not the judge. There are people who come and sit in the pews who are reborn. And there are people who come and sit in the pews who are not reborn, and the hope of the ministry and our prayers is that everybody would receive Christ and receive eternal life. So when Peter writes this letter, he’s writing to people who’ve got a brand new life, and he’s asking them to live it.

I’ve often said that God doesn’t ask a stick on the ground to be fruitful, but he will take a stick on the ground and make it a branch in Christ. And then he will ask the branch in Christ to be fruitful.

And we say, Peter, Chapter two, have come to Christ, all of us who have come to Christ. He doesn’t say you’ve come to church and therefore you’ve got eternal life. He says, If you’ve come to Christ, you have eternal life and you’ve come to him and received new life because he bore your sins. Now this new life, says Peter, is to be lived by following our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Remember our Saviour? Jesus Christ was a king who was willing to submit himself for the great blessing of others. And so we must also follow our Saviour in submitting ourselves for the great blessing of others. And in this passage this morning, Chapter 3:1-12, there are two areas where we are able to submit for the blessing of others. One is in the home and one is in the world.

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And so I’ve called this two points this morning, a new life in private and a new life in public.

New life in private

First of all, a new life in private. This is Chapter 3:1-7. If you’re not a wife or you’re not a husband this morning, please know that the principles in this passage are good for all of us. You don’t need to be a wife. You don’t need to be a husband. What Peter is saying was good for everyone who is a believer.

Well, he urges the Christian wife and the Christian husband to do something quite revolutionary. The Christian wife, says Peter, is not to fight for the leadership of the home, but to fit in with the husband. They’re equal, but they have different roles. That’s a good New Testament principle. The husband is not to abuse his wife in any sense, but to be considerate and to esteem her as a co-heir of eternal life. So I think the wife in this passage is being asked to do one thing, even though Peter expands it into six verses. And I think the husband is being asked to do two things, though Peter contracts it into one verse.

Okay, one thing for the wife and six verses. Two things for the husband in one verse. Now, why is Peter saying this? Why does it matter? Who cares? Are these just tips for a happy home? Well, I guess if you’re a Christian and you live in a world which hates Christianity, to have a miserable home would be a desperate situation.

Imagine going to work where you’re despised as a Christian and coming home where you’re fighting – just two terrible experiences. So it is true. He does want the home to be happy, But basically he’s writing this because Christians live in a dark world and a very dangerous world, and Peter wants them to be wise, and he also wants them to be good advertisements for Christ.

So when we put these words into practise, not only will it be often the secret of a happy home, but it will also be the secret of commending Christ. And as Marcello reminded us last week, the question is not meant to say, “Oh, I’m a Christian. I’ve got a new king. I’m not going to take any notice of anybody. Nobody is going to tell me what to do.” No, says Peter. The Christian under Christ continues to take seriously the government, the roles in the home, the pattern in the church because we are following our Saviour. Well, you notice in verse one that Peter includes the possibility that the Christian wife may have a non-Christian husband.

Now it’s often true, isn’t it, that in a church, a Christian wife may have a non-Christian husband? I’ve been in churches where lots and lots of husbands who are Christians have had non-Christian wives. I’ve been to a church once, which was filled with a lunch hour service of businessmen, and they had a prayer meeting after the service every Tuesday, where these men would pray to God and plead to God for the salvation of their wives.

But it is perfectly possible that a Christian wife may have a non-Christian husband, and you need great wisdom to know what to do there. Don’t you remember a lady who was converted in a carol service at a church, and her husband was a very important man and a very insecure man. And he was extremely angry that she had become a Christian because she had two new men in her life. One was called Jesus, who she was very gripped by, and he was completely ignorant of, and the other one was the minister who she was grateful for, and he was resentful towards. And she had to be extremely careful in the way she lived her Christian life so as not to irritate him and take up too much time away from home and get to the point where she actually turned him off thinking about Christ at all.

So we need, says Peter, to take great care in these things. This wisdom, I think, in 1 Peter 3:1 has helped many Christians be sensible with the non-Christian family and friends who they may have more praying, as I often say, less preaching. Here’s Peter’s wisdom in verse one. Your behaviour, says Peter, may be the best sermon of all. Your behaviour may be the best sermon of all, he says. If any, don’t believe, actually, the word is, if any, disobey, they may be won over by your life, not by your lip. And how true this is, how often I’ve met people who have become Christians well down the track because they’re faithful family member has patiently loved them and patiently forgiven them and patiently lived out. Not perfectly, but some what the Christian life. Now Peter is not saying that Christians should never speak and should only live the Christian life. That’s a great distortion, but in some circumstances he’s saying it may be better to pray than preach. Your character may be more attractive than your cosmetics. Is that possible? Well, of course, it’s possible.

The Christian character is a very beautiful thing when the fruit of the spirit is being displayed in a Christian’s life. When you see a Christian, when you meet a Christian who is marked by love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness, humility, faithfulness self control – very attractive. It’s more attractive than any outfits. It’s more attractive than any cosmetics, and we really invest for that. It’s also beautiful to God.

There is an awkward verse in verse six. I wondered if you notice this as it was being read for us, where Peter refers to Abraham’s wife, Sarah, calling him Lord as if this is a great idea. Can you imagine the wife walking around the home? My Lord. This is a word, which is sort of like Chief or boss, and it’s used once by Sarah as she talks about her old husband getting ready to die.

You can be absolutely sure that Sarah knew how to speak to Abraham as an equal at the same time, being most supportive and even submissive of his plans. So this is not a doormat call at all. And, uh, there’s a number of times in the Book of Genesis where Sarah gave Abraham lots of good advice. Well, that’s all that is directed to the wife, and Peter is basically saying you will be a great help to the home if now you have come to believe in Jesus who submitted himself to the cross for your salvation. If you learn also in the best ways to be submissive and not fighting all the time and not arm wrestling all the time, you’ll find the home will work well.

And then the husband is addressed in Chapter three, Verse seven. And as I say, I think he’s got two vital jobs. One is to be gentle and make the wife feel utterly secure, and the other is to be respectful and to see her as entirely equal, which in Peter’s day was a revolutionary thing to say. In Peter’s day, a wife was treated as property, and she had no possible recourse to aggression or violence, which might come from the husband. But the Christian husband, Chapter three, Verse seven is going to be gentle, is going to make the wife feel completely safe.

The lovely picture of John Stott, who was an old bachelor in England. But he preached on these verses often and beautifully, and he said the husband is to create a kind of a garden in which the wife, like a beautiful plant, is wonderfully secure and cared for and looked after and blossoms. Christian husbands were to see our wife as completely co-equal in Christ.

Well, my friends, it doesn’t take much insight, does it? Today to see that where Christ is unwanted in this world and therefore the new life, the eternal life is largely unknown in this world. Domestic trouble is on the increase. You can’t throw the teacher out of the classroom and expect the classroom to go well. And as we live in a world that is turning its back on Christ, we’re seeing a great deal of darkness rise up.

Sadly, you’ll also know that having a high view of other people is disappearing. It’s hard to listen to 1000 ads telling you that you’re worth it – in the most wonderful person in the world, without it beginning to seep in and you think you’re the most important person there is.

Well, please notice in Verse seven that Peter also says to the husband that the husband cannot separate earthly relationships from eternal relationships. You cannot separate the relationships in the home from your relationship with Christ. This is so obvious. Just think of me. For example. I’m a Christian husband. Just imagine that I’m completely neglecting and abusing my wife. And then I walk into my little room and say, Well, now I’m going to talk to God. It’s impossible. I mean, the only thing I could say to him was, “please forgive me” and then walk out and try and fix things up with my wife. You can’t play this game where you’re just basically being reckless in the home and then pious in your study.

The two of them are intimately connected. You can’t be at war in the home and then pretend you’re at peace with Christ. He’s looking for you to be consistent. But when the love of Christ comes into the heart of the believer, whether it’s the wife or the husband or the child or the parent, we learn to be people who can lay down our interests for the interests of others. Well, I want to say that these verses in Chapter three are very wonderful for any of us here today who are longing for loved ones to become believers.

We are longing in our home for loved ones to become believers. And there may be many of you who are hearing this today, and you’re longing for loved ones to become believers.

And Peter says, notice that God is aware of the situation he’s looking to you and will help you to play a wise part, not a destructive part, but a constructive part. And in the Providence of God, this maybe for you, the signpost for helping that person return. So that’s the first thing a new life in private and now, more briefly, a new life in public again, reflecting our Saviour as the Christian lives in the world. How do we live in the world in a way that reflects our Saviour?

New life in public

If you felt left out by versus 1 to 7. Verse eight says this is for every Christian, every Christian, all of you, Peter says. I’ve got five things, says Peter, and it all comes down to fellowship. Verse eight, By the way, I don’t expect you to remember these five. I don’t even remember what I’ve preached on in the afternoon of Sunday, but occasionally it comes back to me. But here is Peter, talking about concentrating on the fellowship of the church together.

First Verse eight. Think together. Let the word of God be our tape measure whereby we test everything and we’ll increasingly think together. Verse eight. Feel together. Get into the shoes of other people when they’re telling you what they’re going through. Don’t just wait to tell them what you’re going through. Get into the shoes of other people. Thirdly, Verse eight. Love together, work at being patient and work at being kind. We all know that when we come to church, we haven’t become perfect. We’re just sinful people with a very great Saviour, and we are irritating people, and we need to be patient and kind, fourthly, says Peter in verse eight. Support together. Pray for one another, do practical things and then verse eight. Be humbled together. See the person who you’re talking to as made by God and loved by God, and therefore you can treat them in a most humble way. Verse nine. If you do get some abuse from believers or if you do get abuse from unbelievers, Verse nine. Seek to give back the opposite. I wonder if there are people here this morning who have been on the receiving end of abuse, attitude, verbal or even worse.

And Peter is calling on us to in the grace and the strength which Christ provides, to seek to respond like he would. Jesus did this, Remember in Chapter two? He was whacked around and he didn’t retaliate. He could have spoken and caused the whole Roman guard to fall over or perish. But he didn’t and he’ll help us to respond. Well, it’s very costly to do this. It was costly for him. It’s costly for us not to repay people. Sometimes we have to absorb a lot of hurts, and we have to ask the Lord to help us and to heal the hurt in our heart. Revenge can be strangely satisfying, especially as we plot and plan.

But actually godliness, says Peter, is more satisfying and is pleasing to God.

Well, he finishes this section with a promise, which is a quote from Psalm 34 which we had as our first reading, which is basically that if you want to love life and if you want to see good days, in other words, if you want to have a quality of life, take seriously what God says turn from evil, turn from evil speech, turn from evil behaviour. He’s not saying, If you’re a good boy and you’re a good girl, you’ll go to heaven. He’s not saying that we cannot arrange heaven with our performance, that will never work. As somebody has said, it only takes one sin to sink your future. But thankfully, it takes one drop of Christ’s blood to secure your future and therefore trust him, not yourself.

But these promises are for the person who belongs to Christ, and he’s trying to serve him. And what Peter basically says in verse 10 as you keep your speech from evil, God will bless you as you keep your feet from evil. God will bless you because his eye (versus 12), his ear and his face is turned towards you. What a lovely thing. You’re going to leave this building in a few minutes, and the Bible tells us that the eye of God, Almighty God, the ear of almighty God, the face of Almighty God, is directed to you all the time.

You ever been to one of those school plays or those Nativity plays where all the parents are. They’re watching their Children. There’s no other Children there. There’s just one gorgeous child. And that’s how Peter is describing the eye, the ear, the face of God towards his people. He is for his people.

But in the same verse 12, he’s against the evildoer. Now, this is a wonderful promise, Friends, for the person who is suffering in a difficult home or in a difficult work, context or something unjust has been said to you or done to you, or you’ve been let down by somebody. Something has happened, which is completely unfair. And you long for justice. And Peter has all these comforts for you. First of all, Christ Jesus has been where you have been and worse. Second, you’ve got a fellowship of people who love you and would like to be supportive. And thirdly, God himself is watching and will help you and enable you.

So let me summarise as we close this morning The cross of Christ brings new life to the believer When you believe Jesus died for you New life enters your soul. The new life is to be lived out and the new life lived out is a help to the world and pleasing to God. This new living, of course, is not the cause of salvation. It’s the consequence of salvation and like fruit on a tree, it’s evident people, and it’s pleasing to God.

I’ve just finished reading a book called Pilgrims and Priests, which is a book by a professor in Amsterdam looking at the Western world. And in this book, the writer says that he thinks that the Western world has moved into a phase in the last 10 years, which it has never been in before, he says, We’ve moved from classic atheism to apathy. Is, um, the discussion about God 10 years ago, 20 years ago, moderately interesting to some now entirely dis interesting to so many.

And he also says that there’s been a big shift in the church. The church has been too self confident, and that’s probably a good thing that we’re not self confident. But he says the church has also become less God confident. We just don’t expect anything or anyone to do anything, and so in this kind of fog, sadly, he doesn’t really have any great answers, in my opinion in the book. But Peter does and Peter says in this wonderful letter, God is completely in charge. He’s full of love and power. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He understands his world. He’s not asking us to do the impossible. Christ has done the impossible. He’s built the bridge from heaven to earth. We don’t have to build that bridge. But what God does ask us to do is the possible which is to follow the Saviour and seek in his strength to trust him and to obey him in the home, in private, in the world, in public. And he will help us. And he will use us.

His face is towards us.

Let’s pray.

Our gracious God. Thank you for these wise and wonderful words. We pray that you would be our helper as we seek to follow our Saviour in the home and in the world. And wherever we go, please enable us. Please use us.

We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.