AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH June 20, 2010
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
THE PLACE, EXAMPLE AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF PETER
WHY PETER DID NOT PETER OUT ...
THE REAL PETER,
FAR LESS IMPERIAL,
HOW PETER, ON RETURNING,
WENT ON TO STRENGTHEN THE BRETHREN
The light of the Lord is to guide one, to inspire and fire; but for this, the eyes must first be opened, by faith.
Peter as we saw, found this, loved the Lord, and losing a thrust of self-motivation, gained the thrust of truth in its enduement. How then did he, having fallen so very fast and so far, yet as Christ told him, being prayed for, arise and return to strengthen the brethren ?
Firstly, Peter strengthened by simply blundering and being found by merciful grace. It is a testimony in weakness to the power of God.
Secondly, he strengthened through his immediate repentance and vast contrition, as did David as seen in Psalm 51. A look from the Lord pierced at once the armour of testy bad testimony, in confused spirit. Change can be instantaneous.
Thirdly, his lack of clear-cut faith at the tomb, not rejection but uncertainty of conviction, contrasting with John's faith in this at that point, shows that it is not only the excessively speedy whom God loves, but the heart that is weak. He loves the strengthen, and the bruised reed He delights not to break.
Fourthly, Christ appeared personally to Peter on that first day (I Corinthians 15), and this showed that the Lord having told Peter to strengthen the brethren when he himself had returned from his unspiritual saga, knew precisely about the needs and would meet them, as He did for Joshua (Joshua 1, 5:13-15); for He does not appoint only to disappoint. The Spirit of God gives gifts sovereignly as He will (I Corinthians 12); and if HE moves from heaven to give a call, then He also gives what is needed. It is not sensationalistic, as is much Pentecostalism (cf. A Question of Gifts), a sad mockery; nor is it a matter of self-seeking lust for blessing, as if to secure it by force, rushing here and there in excited will-thrill. It IS a matter of waiting on God and seeking His service, finding what He appoints, and of course receiving that help, whether in the form of gift or other grace, needed.
Fifthly, when Peter suggested they go fishing, a reversion, in the waiting period before Pentecost, one Christ had commanded (Luke 24:46-49), then the Lord gave as before, His word about where to find the fish, despite their long lack of success: Peter realised who it was. AT ONCE, he rushed out through the water to find the Lord at the shore, where He had prepared a fire for cooking the breakfast, having foreseen all. Having waited, he did not sleep; but as soon as opportunity came, he took it.
THIS too strengthened, for if the Lord did not fail to provide manna in the wilderness, no more did He fail to provide fish for the net and fire for the cooking and breakfast for a time of communion.
One notices that it is the Lord who DOES the things, and Peter who is used as He does so. This is not self-service, but the service of the Lord, where HE is honoured and glorified.
Sixthly, Peter was used to bring miracles of mercy, as seen in Acts 9, that very Chapter where we learn of Paul's conversion. In Lydda, Peter healed a man 8 years bed-ridden, paralysed; at Joppa he raised the dead in the same model of events as Christ instituted earlier, asking the mourners to be out of the room while he prayed for deceased Dorcas, whose good and kindly works were so conspicuous. To be sure, others had had miracles of healing also, but this was a distinctive touch (Acts 5:16).
Indeed, it was the more notable in this, that the healer needed help; for shortly afterwards, Peter was put in prison by popularity seeking Herod, who had killed James.
Seventhly, then, Peter though surrounded by 16 soldiers and chained to soldiers, was angelically loosed, taken through gates that opened, and delivered, so that he could report to the prayer meeting being held for him, and show himself to the others, escaping to serve. God in all this kept His word, for what He gave Peter to do, He enabled, and where power was needed, He supplied it.
Eighthly, Peter strengthened through the way he took the rebuke of Paul, who found that apostle eating with Jews when James came, as if to prevent trouble when the zeal of Jerusalem with its Jewish past came near (Galatians 2:11-14). Don't you realise, in effect Paul declared to him, that in so eating you are making Gentiles act and eat as if Jews, when you yourself ordinarily do eat with Gentiles! In other words, a path of seeming prudence could lead to a loss of liberty, and it was necessary to keep to principles that mattered, and not to yield because of fear of consequences from susceptibilities that James as a church leader, should not have. This was no weaker brother situation, but a call for conduct becoming to truth.
There is NO record of RETORT by Peter. He was good at taking it. This too strengthened the brethren, as did the fact that Peter was far from perfect, but ready for correction. He was anything but a pope, but simply one of the brethren given a call to strengthen, and setting about doing it in no conspicuous site or setting for the purpose. Thus when he recognised Paul's writings as scripture, he did not make a dance and summon him here or there, but simply referred to this fact IN PASSING. Thus, in II Peter 3:16, there was reference to these along with other scriptures, hence recognising them . Incidentally, this is one more of the numerous 3:16 verses in the Bible, an interesting mnemonic for seeking a coverage of many doctrines.
Yet in so doing, Peter opened a door, just as in the case of going to see the Roman captain, called by God not to disdain the 'unclean', to which Gentile contact would be likened in the Jewish mind of the time, in a cardinal episode for the Church (Acts 10:9-33).
Ninthly, then, in this he strengthened the church, for instead of dissention, there was depth recognised; and instead of divisive disagreement, there was assured testimony from Peter, as he fulfilled his own calling, not in pontification, but in divine inspiration, with no suggestion of his own personal authority or power, any more than someone driving an engine, takes any credit for the tracks.
It was then, following the divine vision which led Peter to realise this was of the Lord, that he went to Caesarea. There, he found the Captain who had been good to the synagogue, and telling the Gospel saw an attestation that was useful in this case, as the Spirit of God was poured out on the meeting. Thus toward Paul and toward the Gentiles as those to receive the Gospel, Peter was used in ways that God engineered, opening doors.
Here was the ninth way of strengthening. Indeed, a third door was this, giving the tenth.
Peter had been used, not in terms of initiative (that was the work of Philip), but in confirmation, along with John, for the two came down to Samaria where Philip was in an astounding way, making headway with that people, though himself a Jew! They had believed Philip (Acts 8:12), apparently relying on his word, but had not yet apparently come into personal contact with Christ, and needed to lift their eyes from the concepts and considerations to the Lord, in an active personal trust. When Peter and John came, in this instance, they laid hands on them, after prayer, and the people received the Spirit, their eyes opened in faith to the Lord. Again, these things were examples of the LORD WORKING WITH THEM, for they were not what they could do in themselves. Meanwhile the door of faith to Samaria was opened.
In all these things, Peter did not elevate himself (indeed in a crucial meeting in Jerusalem, concerning a tough doctrinal issue, it was James who was chairman, Peter simply reporting what the Lord had done re the Gentile conversions). He was sent, the Lord acted; and he was far from perfect, but he was consecrated, committed and used. Like Paul, he had an apostolic gift, such as became the 12 and Paul, as one born out of due time. The Church, says Paul in Ephesians 2, has been built on the prophets and the apostles, fashioned using the work of these men of yore, with Christ the cornerstone. It is indeed Christ who is the only foundation (I Corinthians 3:10-11).
Thus while we rejoice at the various ways in which God fulfilled His word concerning Peter, His call to strengthen the brethren, the eleventh way Peter did this was by being unassuming. To serve he had been called, and as to being an outstanding brave, he had learned the folly of such self-assertion, even if devotion, had been in part behind it. Thus in a way of humility and functionality, service being the badge, not assertion, in I Peter 5, he talks of being a FELLOW ELDER, as he indicates the way to act before the Lord. He is not somewhere between man and God as one of the popes blasphemously asserted of himself. He stresses the point in his advice: to the fellow elders he said, as ordained to write scripture, these words:
"Shepherd the flock of God ... serving as overseers." They are NOT to be as lords, but examples.
In this way, if you want to be particular, you might recognise in this passage a twelfth way in which Peter strengthened the church, by FORBIDDING precisely that particular error Romanism invented with the pope: for it most odiously USED Peter to institute the OPPOSITE both of what he did and the way that he did it, and indeed of his own advice, as applicable to all as was the word of Christ (Matthew 23:8-10).
This then came in the area of prohibition. Having, in other words, driven conscientiously on the right side of the road, he is busied pointing out, by the word of the Lord, that it is wrong to drive on the left.
II EXCLUSION NOTICES
Thus those who with Peter, were elders had certain exclusion
notices (I Peter 5).
In doing their work, they were to do so: willingly and
not by compulsion,
not with any eye to gain,
not as lords over those entrusted to them, but
as examples to the flock.
ONE is your master, teacher, Christ, ONE is your Father, and YOU ALL ? YOU are (by contrast) all brethren (Matthew 23:8-10). There are no exceptions; there are no exemptions.
Knowing this, we see that the much distorted 'Peter' of Rome can help no one. It is a creation of flesh, a quasi-Peter. The Peter of history and the Bible strengthened the brethren by KNOWING HIS PLACE, having learned multiply what that was, and what it was not, a matter forgotten by Rome (cf. SMR pp. 98-99, and see pp. 911ff., 946ff., 1032-1088H), alas to its cost (Revelation 18).
The Lord does not cease to teach, and where necessary, to impeach, and to bless the simple abiding in Himself, by faith, through grace that grows.
III INCLUSION NOTICES
Let us therefore serve without the disagreeable nonsense about who is greater, a fault for which Christ rebuked the disciples, not in extravaganzas of self-elevation - as in the popes - and not in these alone, but with humility and grace, being clothed not with soaring self-proclamatory agility, but with humility as the real Peter exhorts (I Peter 5:5).
God has acted in strengthening the brethren in many ways:
praise the God of glory for this,
and let us rejoice in what strengthens the body of Christ,
and submissive to Him,
find our path for His glory.
It is not self-possession, far less self-parade that is needed;
nor is it sang-froid,
but a warm-hearted life of obedience in grace,
resting in the Lord's free salvation,
and possessing the calm that comes from righteousness attributed
(Romans 5:1,17, II Cor. 5:17ff.)),
freely from Christ's own treasury to those who receive it thus.
This needs neither distorting advertisement nor pompous advocacy from man:
for that from God is the best possession of all,
the Father of mercies and the friend of sinners.
It is then that one may say in reality,
My beloved is mine, and I am His! (John 17:20-24, Song of Solomon 2:16).
pray I for these alone,
but for those also who will believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one;
as You, Father, are in me, and I in You,
that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
the glory which You gave Me, I have given them;
that they may be one, even as We are one:
I in them, and You in me,
that they may be made perfect in one;
and that the world may know that You have sent Me,
and have loved them, as You hast loved Me.
"Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me,
be with me where I am; that they may behold My glory,
which You hast given me:
for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
righteous Father, the world has not known You:
but I have known You,
and these have known that You have sent Me.
I have declared to them Your name,
and will declare it:
that the love with which You have loved me
may be in them, and I in them."