The Master’s Class, Summit Church
HOW DO YOU FACE PERSECUTION? (1 Peter 3:13-15)

HOW DO YOU FACE PERSECUTION? (1 Peter 3:13-15)

July 31, 2016
How we face suffering and persecution is one of the defining characteristics of the Christian faith that sets us apart from the world.  Let’s be honest, it is not hard to face the good times, when things are going your way, and when the people around you support your words and actions as they relate to living for Christ.  Christians look at the source of those blessings differently than the rest of the world does, but how they react to them is very similar to everyone else.  

Being persecuted for your faith comes in many forms, from simple disrespect on the part of someone you meet or the government that rules over us, to being excluded from something or somewhere, to serious physical harm to your body by torture, death, and imprisonment.  All because we stand and identify ourselves as Christians and live our lives accordingly.  The world reacts to these kinds of persecutions by saying “That’s not fair, I want justice!”  They get angry, they march in violent protest, or they take the baker or the florist to court and have the government shut them down.  We are going to learn in our lesson today that God wants His children to face this kind of suffering with joy in our hearts.  

Now, my first reaction to suffering is often the same as the world’s, shouting “That’s not fair,” and wanting someone to do something about setting that injustice right.  My thoughts run immediately to the fact that this nation was founded on Judaeo/Christian beliefs and the constitutional guarantee we have of freedom of religion.  So where is my government that is to support me and defend me?  Well, as we all know, that government has long gone and now believes that we are to be free from religion, instead having freedom of religion.  They now willingly persecute Christians for saying what they believe.  In many other countries, the government violently attacks and kills Christians for living a life for Christ.

The secular world turns to those around them, or to their own brand of religion, or the government for help.  As a Christian we are to turn to God and say “Lord, what am I to learn from this,” or, “Lord, who am I to be witnessing to?  Who do you have watching me to learn how a Christian faces persecution?”  The truth is that not all suffering is a lesson for the believer, sometimes it is a lesson for the persecutor, and sometimes it is just the face of evil doing everything it can to destroy Christianity.  Satan hates mankind, but he has a special hatred for Christians, and there are times that he uses evil people to do great harm to the people of God.  

The difference between how a Christian faces persecution and all others comes from their personal relationship with, and their knowledge of, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master.  They know from personal experience that God is in control of all things.  His hand of protection is around His children, and His Spirit is in the believer’s heart providing the strength, courage, faith, and hope, to deal with whatever Satan and the world can dish out.  It is not easy, but the focus of the Christian is not to be on the short term of our lives on this earth, but on the eternity that we are going to have with Jesus Christ in heaven.  That is our promise from our Lord, and that is the reason we can face persecution and suffering with a God-given joy in our heart.  That is the defining difference in how a Christian faces persecution.  This is what sets us apart from the world.  This is what identifies us with our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.  We have the promises of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, in our hearts.

Listen to today’s podcast to learn how a Christian is to face persecution.
THE KEYS TO A HAPPY LIFE (1 Peter 3:8-12)

THE KEYS TO A HAPPY LIFE (1 Peter 3:8-12)

July 24, 2016
When I chose the title to this lesson, I decided to do an internet search on the phrase, The keys to a happy life.  If you can imagine, there were lots of people out there who are ready to tell you what the keys to a happy life are.  I saw titles like, 14 keys to a happy life, 10 keys to happier living, 21 keys to a happy life, and one from Psychology Today saying The key to living a happy life today.  As I looked at these my first thought was that for there to be so many results in this internet search, there must be a lot of people looking for happiness.  That may seem obvious, and I didn’t need to an internet search to know that this was true, it was just a confirmation of my thoughts.  Happiness, true happiness, can be elusive in this secular world that we live in.  

The thing that all of these sites had in common was that it hinged on you, how you thought about events, what you focused your thoughts on, how you were to let the less important things go by and not worry about them.  Living for the “now” as one site put it.  It was all about you, and what you could do for yourself.  You were in control of your happiness, and I am not going to deny that some of this is true, we are in control of how we deal with life’s tragedies.  But the wonderful thing about being a Christian is that we don’t have to face life alone.  We have the Holy Spirit of God living within us.  We have His power to depend on.  We have His wisdom to guide us, and we have His love and joy to fill our lives with true happiness.  Yet, many Christians totally ignore this benefit, and look to the secular world for their happiness.  If I were to be able to see the hits on those search results, I would bet you find just as many Christians looking at them as you do non-Christians.  

Let me tell you something really important here, they are all looking in the wrong place.  There is no true, eternal, happiness away from God.  He alone can give us the type of joy that overwhelms us.  We just have to look to Him for that happiness which already exists within us.  The wonderful good news is that we already have the key to happiness within us, we just have to activate it.  So in today’s lesson we are going to close out this section on how a Christian is to live a life of submission to the various authorities and laws with the goals of glorifying God and winning others to Christ, and then we are going to talk about God’s five keys to a believer’s happy life.  I say a believer’s happy life, for it is only the believer that has the Holy Spirit of God living within them.  

How many men and women today, who are involved in living for the things of this world, suddenly wake up and find that it’s not worth it? Life is monotonous, and life is not worth it. No wonder they commit suicide in growing numbers every day.  It is not until you come into a right relationship with God that you can live life to its fullest, and find the happiness that we all seek after.  
A GODLY MARRIAGE (1 Peter 3:1-7)

A GODLY MARRIAGE (1 Peter 3:1-7)

July 17, 2016
The institution of marriage, as it was created by God, is a wonderful thing.  It is defined in the Bible as one man and one woman choosing to love God first and then each other next.  They work together to accomplish the will of God in their lives.  They are true yokemates working together to please God.  Marriage is something which God has given to the entire human family, not just to Christians or to the nation Israel.  In the Book of Genesis, we are told that God made man and at that time man was alone.  I think the Lord let Adam be alone for a long time to let him know he was missing something.  Then Scripture says that God took man and from man He made woman.  Using the Hebrew words, Genesis 2:23 reads, She shall be called Isha, because she was taken out of Ish.  She is called … an help meet for him (Gen. 2:18); that is, a help that was fit for him.  In other words, she was to be the other half of him. He was only half a man, and she was to be the other part of him. 

In God’s blueprint for marriage, He has assigned roles for both the wife and the husband.  A godly wife was a woman who has a healthy fear and respect of God.  A woman who is obedient to God’s will for her life.  A woman who seeks to fit into the needs of her husband as they work together to accomplish the tasks that God has assigned to them.  She is also a woman who is submissive to her husband.  Now, when Peter says to the wives, Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, it absolutely does not mean that the wife is to be a slave to her husband.  The Bible does not teach that in any form or way.  What is does teach is that a woman is to make a voluntary choice to be submissive to her husband because of her love for God.  The Christian wife, in obedience to her Lord, subjects herself to her husband’s leadership, authority, and control.  She does this because she fears God, because she loves God, and her duty, just like the husband’s, is to be obedient to God’s will for her life.  

Now, this is important to understand, none of this means that men are superior to women or that women are inferior to men.  They have simply agreed to work together with the husband leading.  In the marriage relationship, it simply means that God insists on order in the home.  To establish that order, He assigns the respective roles to the husband and the wife.  There cannot be two captains on a ship; neither can there be two people at the helm in the home.

Godly husbands are to be considerate of their wives.  Men are not to ride roughshod over their wives, bossing and bullying them, ordering them around, letting them do hard labor which is beyond their strength, or making unreasonable demands upon them.  Peter says that godly husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life.  This means you both are co-heirs of God’s grace.  You both are saved from your sin.  You both are joint heirs with Christ.  You both are adopted children of God.  You both have been granted eternal life by God’s grace.  The husband and the wife are partners.  They must work together. They have something more than marriage vows to bond them together.  They have Christ. They are heirs together of God's gracious gift of everlasting life.  They are true yokemates.  They should work together to establish a Christian home, to bring up children in the ways of the Lord, to provide a measure of stability to a community, and to be the moral and spiritual backbone of the nation.

A godly husband is to dwell with them according to knowledge.  For a husband to deal with his wife in the way that God wants him to do, the husband must know and understand several things.  First, he must know God’s desire for the marriage relationship.  This means he knows what marriage is and what it is to be in the eyes of God.  Next, he must know his wife.  This means he knows her nature and emotional makeup, what she needs and wants emotionally and spiritually, her strengths and her weaknesses.  He must also know the word of God.  You cannot be the spiritual leader of your home if you do not know what God says in His Word.  The husband has the responsibility to guide the family in the will of God.  In order to do this, the husband must know the Word of God.  It is amazing how easy it is for a wife to submit herself to a husband that is who and what God says he is supposed to be.  

With that in mind, you can see that the marriage relationship is not to be one of a man insisting on treating his wife like a little child who has to jump every time he says so.  She is there to help him. She is there to be a part of him.  She is there to love him. And he is there to love her, guide her in the ways of God, and protect her.  That is God’s desire for the relationship of a man and woman in marriage.  This is how a husband is to treat his wife, and this is how a wife is to treat her husband.  They both do this because they love God first, and then each other next.  

Listen to this podcast to learn what God defines as a godly marriage.
THE PERFECT SACRIFICE (1 Peter 2:22-25)

THE PERFECT SACRIFICE (1 Peter 2:22-25)

July 3, 2016
If I were to ask you to describe something in your life that was absolutely perfect, what would you say?

I would say a big round plate, with three buttermilk biscuits, made from scratch, piping hot from the oven, split open with steam coming off of them, and then multiple ladles of sausage gravy filled with pounds and pounds of spicy sausage poured all over those biscuits.  And then me with permission to eat the whole plate, bite by bite, until it was all gone.  Now that is the absolutely perfect meal.

How about the love of my wife for me, now that is absolutely perfect.  Why she loves, I don’t know, but she does, and in my eyes it is perfect.  

Unfortunately, as good as those things are, we really have no concept of the absolute perfection of the living, true, almighty, God.  That sausage gravy may be too thick or runny, and as perfect as my wife is, she still gets mad at me from time to time.  Yet, God’s perfection is total and complete.  

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is perfect.  He came to this earth and He remained absolutely perfect.  He died on the cross for our sins, even though he was totally pure of sin in any form. He had no reason to do this other than His love for us.  No other sacrifice could do what His did.  No other sacrifice could be good enough to meet the demands of God’s holiness. This is why no amount of good behavior can grant you eternal life in heaven.  We simply cannot be good enough, there is nothing on this earth that is truly perfect.  But Jesus Christ was and is, and He chose to suffer for us.  At Calvary, all of the sins of the world, past, present, and future were placed upon this perfect sacrifice.  The Lord Jesus his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.  He died so that we might live.

Last week we described the Jesus Christ who willingly chose to step down from His throne in heaven and come to earth as God incarnate in man in order to suffer for us because sin raised its head in the universe and was transplanted to Earth.  Adam fell.  Sin entered, and death by sin.  Now the Creator must become the Christ.  Prophet after prophet arose to foretell the coming of a Kinsman-Redeemer, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.

So God's Son became the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David.  He was to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He was the Child born and the Son given.  He was called the Wonderful Counselor, the Father of eternity, the Mighty God, the Prince of peace.

He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the Lord's Anointed, Prophet, Priest, and King.  Page after page of the Old Testament told the story.  Book after book was written, all about Him.  Detail added to detail increased the wonder of it all.  He stood apart from all others, robed in majesty, the altogether lovely One, and the chiefest among ten thousand, the One who suffered for us.  He was the perfect sacrifice.