Guest speaker, Tim Stokes, continued our series in 1 Peter and encouraged us to remember three main things: we must sincerely love each other, we must remember that we have been born again, and we must rest in God's wisdom above human wisdom.
Last week was a call to obedience from Peter. This week he tells us to conduct ourselves in the fear of God. The natural question is, what does that mean? Peter is going to help us better understand what the Bible means by “fear.”
In verses 1-12 of 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter reminded us that our hope is not in ourselves but in the grace and salvation of Jesus. As we move into verse 13, we see Peter switch and show us where our human obedience lies. We are saved by Jesus’ grace, and out of our love for him, we strive to be holy and we walk in humble obedience to him.
Suffering is hard. It’s really hard. But, as followers of Jesus, there is a purpose. It’s doing something in us. We are being tested and refined by fire, but like Peter says, we are more precious than gold. And one day, we will see, taste, and experience our full salvation that is more precious than gold.
As we work together as a church to fight to glorify God while enduring suffering, we can’t do it in a “do it ourselves” mentality. We have to be rooted in our identity as sons and daughters of God, and constantly be reminded of what God did for us when he saved us from our sin.
The letter of James concludes with a fitting focus on what genuine faith does: genuine faith prays and pursues. James, concise to a fault, leaves his readers with an exhortation that as followers of Jesus we are to move towards those who are in need. We pursue others in faith that God wants to heal and restore as we make our needs known to him in prayer.
How does James tell us to suffer? With patience. But let’s be honest, that’s much easier said than done. James 5:7-12 tells us not only how we are to engage with suffering, but gives us hope in reminding us that through it, Jesus is making us more like him. It doesn’t make things go away, but what more could we ask for than to be more like Jesus?
The gospel is simultaneously at work in us and through us. Inwardly, our desires and motives are being changed as we repent and believe the gospel. As we experience Christ’s love in this way, we are compelled to engage those around us with the same kind of redemptive love. God’s grace brings renewal everywhere, in us and through us.
The Gospel-Centered Life series is intended to help Christians understand how the gospel shapes every aspect of life and conduct. Colossians 1:6 says that the gospel is “continually bearing fruit and increasing” in and among us, even after we first believe it. How does that happen? Why is a continual rediscovery and application of the gospel so important? How will our personal growth and missional life be stunted if we don’t grasp the gospel deeply? These are the questions that we are seeking to answer with this series and the resulting study in Community Groups.
As we enter the new year Pastor Stewart answers the basic questions surrounding communion: what is it? Who should take it? When should we take it? And what to do now in light of the truth that this ordinance is a well of rich comfort for us and sweet tangible reminder of the gospel as often as we take it.