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2BC Journal

Week Twenty One -- May 21-27

Scripture Memory:  EXODUS 20:1-21

Overview - 1 Peter 4:1-11

 

J.I. Packer, who is a well-known theologian and a skilled thinker, writes this, “Christians often imagine themselves to be strong, healthy and holy. But the way to health is to recognize that we are weak and sick and sinful.” Packer goes on to say, “The first truth is that we are all invalids in God’s hospital,” all of us Christians. He’s talking about believers. “In moral and spiritual terms we are sick and damaged, diseased and deformed, scarred and sore, lame and lopsided to a far, far greater extent than we realize. We need,” he writes “to realize that the spiritual health we testify to is only partial and relative, a matter of being less sinful and less incapacitated than we were before.” And then here’s a great statement: “Our spiritual life is a fragile convalescence. It is a fragile convalescence easily disrupted and we are prone to damaging delusions about it.”

I grieve because the way our culture goes does affect the church. And because we’re two notches above the way they live we assume that we are holy. We are engaged in a fragile convalescence from the near fatal
disease of unregenerate life. Therefore we need to deal with sin and we need to deal with it strongly in our lives. And we cannot allow the world’s standard to become ours.

So, how are we to deal with sin? It’s there, we have to understand it, we’ve got to tackle it, triumph over it. How do we do that? In the last section we gave you some principles for dealing with sin that easily entangles us, looking at was present and future. What you need to do now in the present battle with sin, and in order to defend yourself in the future.

There’s another component: the past. I think there is a certain sense in which you’ve got to look into the past in order to deal with sin, in order to triumph over sin that easily entangles you. The future we arm ourselves for. “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.” The present, we battle sin, “hating what is evil, clinging to what is good.” But there’s also a past look and I...I want to give you that and in order to do that.

Shunning sin then involves present action and involves future preparation. And it involves past perspective. God has standards and they’re very high and He calls us to live to those standards. And it’s concerning to me that the society has brought the standard so low that we may not really understand how sinful we all are before God. I’ll guarantee you one thing, you think a lot more highly of yourself in terms of holiness than God does because we tend to want to elevate ourselves and we tend to let the society define for us what iniquity really is. All of us find ourselves with Paul saying, “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” All of us find ourselves with Paul saying, “I’m the chief of sinners,” if we’re really honest. And we need to deal with that.

–John MacArthur, Breaking Sin’s Grip


Day One

 Read 1 Peter 4:1-11

OBSERVE: Make an outline of the major points from the text. What stood out to you? Did you see any repetition? Lists? Commands? Promises? Are there questions that you have trouble answering?

SUMMARIZE: In a sentence or two summarize the main idea of the passage.

APPLY: Where are you in the story? How do these words challenge you? What is God asking you to do in obedience to His Word?


Day Two

 Read 1 Peter 4:1-11

1. What does Peter consider to be “the lusts of men”? Provide a definition of each element in verse 3.

2. Are there behaviors in verse 3 that used to characterize your life before coming to Christ? Explain. What would an abominable idolatry be today?

3. How does one keep their moral integrity in a world awash with sensuality, moral excesses, and the social pressures to join in the “world’s party.”


Day Three

 PRAYING THROUGH 1 Peter 4:1-11

Use your answers from the previous day to form a prayer based on what God has impressed on you through His Word. For example, express your thanks for the character and nature of God you have observed. Respond to God about where you see your life intersecting with His Word. Using the themes and influences from the previous day, ask God to help you transform your character into Christlikeness. Reflect on how to live out the truth you have learned.


Day Four

 Read 1 Peter 4:12-19

1. What is Peter’s advice to his audience in verse 12? Does it surprise you? What is the purpose of this “fiery ordeal”?

2. What is Peter’s advice to those who are persecuted in verse 13?

3. How do you react when social persecution comes your way? Are you surprised that this would happen to you? Do you consider it a “testing”?


Day Five

READ 1 Peter 5:1-14

In this section we’ll take a look at Peter’s admonitions to “elders,” who were considered the leaders/pastors in the New Testament church. The thrust of Peter’s exhortations is derived from the shepherd image.

1. Why would Peter use the image of the shepherd to talk about Christian leadership for the church? (See Psalm 23 and Ezek 34:1-8)

2. Peter lists two sets of instructions for leaders, one positive and one negative. List each positive and negative trait. Why would Peter highlight these characteristics for leaders?

3. What traits of a shepherd do you need to develop in order to be a better leader?


NEIGHBORS & NATIONS - VIETNAM

RELIGION: 52.48% Buddhist - 46,722,283 people

CHALLENGE TO PRAYER: The country is increasingly opening up as economic progress continues. Most of the population was born after the Vietnam War and are more interested in capital gain and the outside world than Communist propaganda. They are proving responsive to the gospel – for reasons good and bad. At the same time, newfound prosperity has opened the door to rampant materialism and other competing ideologies. Pray that the Truth might be clearly and effectively proclaimed, particularly among the growing masses of young professionals.

All open Protestant missionary work ceased in 1975. CMA had laboured for 64 years (for 50 years as the only Protestant mission). Other agencies arrived in the 1950s, notably WEC, IMB, and UWM. In 1974 there were 280 missionaries in South Vietnam from about 20 organizations. Those years of sowing are today reaping an abundant harvest. Current economic development gives opportunity for Christians in business as well as for English teachers. Christian NGOs who propose legitimate aid projects are increasingly invited to work here. Literally hundreds of organizations from both Asia and the West now claim some kind of work in Vietnam. Many of these organizations work in deliberate partnership together. Pray that Vietnam may become fully open to Christian workers, and that many committed and prepared workers may respond.


Week Twenty -- May 14-20

Scripture Memory:  EXODUS 20:1-21

Overview - 1 Peter 2:11-25

 

Household codes are behavioral instructions given to various members of a typical ancient household. This can include advice to wives and husbands, slaves and masters and parents and children. When studying the household codes in the New Testament it is important to keep two factors in mind: 1) The importance of cultural context and 2) The missional/apologetic purpose for the regulations. In the first place, the Greco-Roman world of Peter’s time was a male dominated society. Male governance and rule over women and family were the accepted cultural norms. Women were generally relegated to home life and were instructed to practice chastity, silence and full submission to their husbands.

Likewise, slavery was part and parcel of the Mediterranean world. Given these pervasive cultural patterns, it is not surprising to see New Testament writers such as Peter (as well as Paul) admonishing Christian women and slaves to conform their behavior to honor these cultural codes.

Secondly, in many cases, the New Testament writers appealed to the church’s mission of reaching non-Christians as the motivating factor for continuing to uphold these social patterns (See 1 Pet 2:12; 14-15; 3:1; 1 Tim 6:1).

In other words, the New Testament writers did not want to upset certain social norms lest they impeded the spread of the gospel (whether we agree with this stance or not). In summary then: The New Testament writers 1) upheld conventional social patterns in their admonitions and 2) in some cases upheld those patterns for the sake of being a witness to the Christian faith. These cultural insights should be the starting point for any modern application of these verses in 1 Peter. Women in modern democratic societies are leaders of companies, universities, political bodies and even entire nations. They are fully functioning and equal members of society (though discrimination and various inequalities still exist). To insist that these culturally specific commands have universal and virtually identical applications as they did in 1st century Palestine is to violate the rules of proper interpretation. We no longer live in a patriarchal society (though once again, many patriarchal attitudes still remain in place).

Furthermore, to apply these household codes consistent with the Mediterranean world of the 1st century is to actually betray the spirit in which some of these commands were given. Our Christian witness is not enhanced, but rather imperiled when we insist that women must be subjugated to their husbands in the same way as they were in Peter’s day.

Finally, in terms of slavery, it is not appropriate to apply Paul’s admonitions to a modern employee-employer relationship. Employees are not slaves and the slave-master relationship is an improper description of a salaried employee and his contractual obligations toward a modern corporation or entity. We can speak of respect and fairness in a modern work context, but submission of an employee to a boss would make the Scriptures say something they never intended to say to our modern context.

-Excerpt from Bible Study Blueprint on 1 Peter


Day One

 Read 1 Peter 2:11-25

OBSERVE: Make an outline of the major points from the text. What stood out to you? Did you see any repetition? Lists? Commands? Promises? Are there questions that you have trouble answering?

SUMMARIZE: In a sentence or two summarize the main idea of the passage.

APPLY: Where are you in the story? How do these words challenge you? What is God asking you to do in obedience to His Word?


Day Two

 Read 1 Peter 2:11-25

1. Why does Peter urge Christians to “keep their behavior excellent”?

2. When is it appropriate and not appropriate for Christians to submit to government institutions today? Can you give specific examples?

3. How does Jesus’ suffering help you in dealing with some type of unjust suffering or persecution in your life?


Day Three

 PRAYING THROUGH 1 Peter 2:11-25

Use your answers from the previous day to form a prayer based on what God has impressed on you through His Word. For example, express your thanks for the character and nature of God you have observed. Respond to God about where you see your life intersecting with His Word. Using the themes and influences from the previous day, ask God to help you transform your character into Christlikeness. Reflect on how to live out the truth you have learned.


Day Four

 Read 1 Peter 3:1-7

In the last section we looked at Peter’s instructions to all citizens and to ancient slaves. In this section, we’ll look at exhortations to wives and husbands and to every member of the church.

1. In verses 1-4, what additional qualities does he request of women? Why would he make the kind of contrast (external vs. internal) he does in these verses?

2. What is Peter’s advice to husbands toward their wives? Why does Peter require husbands to behave in certain ways toward their wives?


Day Five

READ 1 Peter 3:8-22

In the last section we looked at Peter’s instructions to all citizens and to ancient slaves. In this section, we’ll look at exhortations to wives and husbands and to every member of the church.

1. Of the five attitudes or behaviors in verse 8, which one is the most difficult for you? Which one do you need the most help with? Explain.

2. According to verse 15, how is your heart honoring the Lord as holy?

3. How prepared are you to give a defense of the hope that you have? What is something you can do to be more prepared?


NEIGHBORS & NATIONS - USA

RELIGION: 72.6% Christian - 246,553,012 people

CHALLENGE TO PRAYER: Student ministries continue to play a vital role. Campus movements combine to generate effective outreach, discipleship and prayer on campuses. It is in their college years that the largest percentage of Christians fall away; yet, student movements have been at the heart of almost every revival and missions movement in America’s history. The 38-million-strong African-American community suffered immensely due to its origins in slavery and racial discrimination. The civil rights movement and the election of the first black president have achieved great change in attitudes and awareness, but for many the cycle of unemployment, poverty, family instability and crime is unbroken.

Pray for:
a) Young people at risk. Over half of inner-city black males fail to complete school. Many are in prison or in gangs. Poverty, drugs and violence are rampant. Murder is the major cause of death for inner -city, young African-American males. Pray for a Christian faith that enables them to find belonging and fulfillment in Christ.

b) African-American Muslims, whose numbers have grown to two million – most from a Christian background; drawn to Islam as a result of failings in the Church. Pray for effective/loving outreach to them.

c) African-American churches. Many of the largest most vigorous evangelical churches are African-American, but they are often isolated from mainstream Christianity and involvement in missions. Pray for a unity of believers that transcends ethnicity. Pray for a new movement of the Spirit of God in these churches.