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Stand Firm by Grace

November 5, 2023 Preacher: Kevin Godin Series: Faith Forged In Fire

Topic: Grace Scripture: 1 Peter 5:12-14

Sermon Transcript: 

 We have been working our way passage by passage through this book of 1 Peter in this series I called “Faith Forged in Fire” because Peter is writing to those who are facing adversity for their faith. Last week, we looked at the conclusion of his main argument which was a call for believers to persevere, trusting in God and remembering their identity in Christ. This morning we come to the final greeting and the end of the letter.


12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. 


This final greeting is a bit like a postscript, or “P.S.” in a modern letter. Sometimes we are tempted to skip over these kinds of things when we are reading but God speaks to us even in these kinds of passages. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 says,


16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.


This is God’s word and there is value in everything recorded that the Holy Spirit will use to equip and shape us by its truth. We live in a culture addicted to the big spectacle. We often get bored quickly with anything that doesn’t push the envelope or outdo what came before it. That impulse comes from the flesh and we must resist that. It is often the plain and simple truths that are most powerful and turn out to be the deepest.


When we come to our passage today, Peter has finished his message but even these last words connect with four major themes we find woven throughout the rest of the book. Those are the enduring grace of God, a call to perseverance, the importance of unity and love in the Christian community, and the promise of peace in Christ.


The main point we can take from this final greeting is…


Believers are to stand firm in God's grace, embrace one another in unity and love, and find peace in Christ.


Let’s look at each of these. Verse 12 says,


12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.


We will come back to Silvanus in a bit, but notice that Peter begins with an exhortation to persevere in Grace. Remember, an exhortation is to urge someone to do something emphatically. This final exhortation to “stand firm” in the true grace of God reinforces the main message of the letter. This is really the main point all along that believers can stand firm amidst adversity enabled by God’s grace. Peter is essentially saying, I have shown you how and why, now go do it.


Only those who persevere will receive the rewards because the promises are only to those with faith. To have faith isn’t just sitting around thinking about God. Faith is trusting in his word. It means we accept his promises and his claims as true. If we trust that what God says is true, that inevitably leads to a different kind of life. Peter is encouraging us to live according to who we are in Christ and according to the reality of God’s word. 


If we believe those who continue in faith will receive a reward of surpassing glory that will show up. If we believe God will judge sin and that this world and the things it glorifies will pass away in judgment, that will make a difference in how we live. We must stand firm.


Notice, however, that we do not stand firm in our own power or strength. We stand firm in the true grace of God. Remember how he started the letter, all the way back in chapter 1? Chapter 1, verses 3-5, 


3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

This is all of grace. How do I know that when I wake up tomorrow I will still love Jesus? Why do I trust in God’s word? The answer is that God, in his great mercy, has caused me to be born again to a living hope. My faith, that is my living hope in Jesus is a response to the grace of God overcoming my dead and sinful heart to show me the beauty and glory of his son.


I know I can stand firm, not because I am strong (I am not), but because I am being guarded through faith by God’s power. I have confidence that I have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading not because I earn it, but because it is being kept for me. Nothing, including my own sin and weakness can defile, diminish, or lose the great promises I will receive because they come to me by grace. 


But that is precisely why standing firm is a distinguishing characteristic of true saving grace. Our faith and perseverance are themselves the fruits of God’s sovereign grace in causing us to be born again. That is why Hebrews 3:14 says,


For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 


If it is the case that I have been born again to an imperishable inheritance then the result is I will stand firm because it is impossible that I should lose this inheritance unless God himself fails to keep his word. My faith, or trust in that word is shown by my continued love for Jesus.


That is why trials and tribulations prove our testimony. The Bible warns us repeatedly of a kind of faith that is not born of the Spirit, that can be choked out by the cares of the world. The kind of faith that does not endure. That kind of faith ultimately does not trust in the promises of God and therefore will not hold up under persecution and opposition. Peter said our trials were like the fire that purifies precious metals.


The fire burns away the impurities and shows what is really there. Real gold will become more pure in the heat and false gold will be destroyed by it. Our faith is tested by trials. It is easy to identify with Christ when there is no cost but when there is a price to be paid, that is when we find out how much Jesus is worth to us. Those who have genuine faith will remain and those who don’t will turn away. That is why 1 John 2:19 says,


19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.


I suspect we all have moments of struggle and doubt. God knows that and that is one of the reasons why he tells us not to forsake the fellowship of the local church. If you believe but are being spiritually attacked and questioning where you stand, remember your baptism. Remember your confession that the life you now live you live in Christ because in his mercy, God has caused you to be born again and has adopted you as his child.


If you believe but are weak and questioning if you continue on, join us for the Lord’s Supper and be reminded that your inheritance was purchased by the sacrifice of Jesus and that he is coming again to bring you to where he is. If we suffer in this world let that bread remind us that Jesus also suffered while here but is now seated at the right hand of the Father.


These things are not figments of our imagination. We do them together as a fellowship of believers because when we do, we serve as witnesses to one another. When we invite you to fellowship with us in Communion or in the celebration of baptism, we are affirming that we see the evidence of Christ in your life. We recognize each other as fellow believers.


So stand firm, because if you have been born again you are secure in the hand of your savior and no power can pluck you out. You are guarded by the power of God. You are also not alone. We pray for each other, remind each other of the promises, and are here as fellow sinners saved by grace to help bear one another’s burdens as we walk in this world. Whatever gift of grace you lack has been given to a brother or sister who is here to serve you and you for them.


Jesus is coming. This is the truth, stand firm in it.


Then in verse 13, Peter says,


13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.


First we were reminded of the theme that we are to persevere in the enduring grace of God and now we are reminded of the importance of unity and love in the Christian community. These believers are not alone.


The reference to “she who is at Babylon” is likely a symbolic reference to the Church in Rome. We believe Peter wrote this letter from Rome. Earlier in her history, Israel was taken into captivity by the Babylonian empire. Babylon therefore became a symbol for the powers of this world in opposition to God’s kingdom. Since Rome was the center of power for the pagan world the reference would make sense. Peter may also have wanted to be careful that if the letter was intercepted it wouldn’t lead directly to issues for a specific group of believers with him in Rome.


We highlighted a few weeks ago that throughout the letter Peter has underscored the shared experience and fellowship of believers in the difficulties of this world. We see that again here, where Peter stresses the unity and mutual encouragement of the saints. Peter isn’t the only one that loves them and wishes to encourage them.


He said in the prior verse that he has written them by Silvanus, who is a faithful brother in the Lord. That means that Silvanus is the one who likely delivered the letter. That is what the Greek would indicate. That also means that it is possible Silvanus may have been with Peter when the letter was written, which could be part of the reason why some of this letter sounds a lot like Paul.


Silvanus is one of the most important figures in the New Testament. Silvanus is his Latin name, but in the book of Acts he is called by his Greek name, Silas. He was already a leader among the believers as early as the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 where it is said he had risked his life for the name of the Lord. He is called a prophet in Acts 15:32. 


In addition to this letter, he is mentioned as assisting with 1st and 2nd Thessalonians and the letter drafted by the Jerusalem council. He was a ministry partner to Paul and accompanied him on his second missionary journey which included what is now Turkey, which is where the churches originally receiving this letter are located.


Peter also mentions Mark, who is also known as John Mark and is the author of the Gospel of Mark. So these are important figures in the early years of the spread of the gospel who are aware of and encouraging these believers. These men and all those at the church in Rome are united with them in faith. We too are united with these brothers and sisters in Christ. We too are encouraged and equipped by the writings of Mark and Silas.


This greeting shows us the danger of turning too far inward. We are not to only pray for our own little circle as though we alone have the truth or grace. We must not pray as if we alone are facing the adversity that comes from faithfulness. Many of those most responsible for this ministry are seldom if ever in this room but their prayers go before our God and king on our behalf.


Some are those among our family of faith who cannot be here, such as Clyde, Louise, Wayne, Linda, and others. There are many others who are members of other local churches who lift us up. That includes pastors who have their own flocks to shepherd and yet take time to ensure we are encouraged and equipped for our work. 


I think of Steve McAlister at AIT and pastor Josh in Pittsburgh. Pastor Jason and the brothers and sisters from Lake Butler Florida and the brothers and sisters from Grace Life in Muscle Shoals that came up earlier in the year. I could read off a list of other pastors of local churches in our area that have been helpful and that pray regularly for us.


There should never be competition between gospel preaching churches. We are all just outposts in God’s kingdom. We can each be reassigned at the pleasure of the king. There are a lot of bad churches out there but there are also many faithful churches. If you are listening or visiting this morning and you hear the voice of God calling you but for whatever reason Redeeming Grace is not the right fit, we would love to help you find another solid gospel preaching church where you can go and grow. 


We do everything we can by God’s grace to love and serve this congregation well. To provide the resources enabling you to grow and mature in Christ but it means more to me that you will be worshiping with me in heaven than that you worship with me Sunday. We should have love and compassion for all brothers and sisters in Christ. 


That leads us to the next point in verse 14,


Greet one another with the kiss of love. 


Trials remind us that the world does not love us but the main thing that should characterize our relationship with one another is love. Peter says we are to greet one another with the kiss of love. This was a way of greeting others in a friendly way. In our country this is more likely to be a hug or even a handshake but in many places they still greet each other with a kiss.


Sometimes there will be one or more kisses on the cheek or even on the lips. As Americans our personal space is a big deal and so that would probably make people feel pretty uncomfortable and in some cases would be offensive. In our culture it is more common for people to greet each other with a hug to show closeness and affection.


The form may be different depending on where you are but the point is that our affection and care for each other should be apparent. We do not interact as strangers or even people who just do business with each other, but as those who are connected through our love for Jesus. 


Then in verse 14 Peter returns to yet another theme that runs like a thread throughout the book.


Peace to all of you who are in Christ.


Ultimately, the believer stands firm because our joy and our peace are found in Jesus Christ. Regardless of whatever external turmoil we must deal with, we know that we have peace with God because of Jesus which leads to an inner peace and security that the world cannot take from us.


That is the peace that comes from believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word gospel means good news and it is the good news of what God has done in Jesus. If we look to the world for peace, we will never find any because the world is filled with confusion and tribulation. If we look to ourselves to find peace we will still come away empty because we know that we fall short and our own consciences condemn us. Lasting peace can only come from trusting in the good news of what God has done in Jesus.


The one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him and to enjoy him. But each of us rebelled against his rule and followed our own selfish desires. The Bible calls that sin and says that sin cuts us off from God. The same sin we thought meant freedom actually enslaves us because it cuts us off from the source of all joy. That is why no sinner who truthfully examines themselves can have real peace. We all know that when the time comes to give an account to God, we have no excuse before his perfect law.


The good news is that in his great love, God became human like us. He came as Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose from the dead, showing that God accepted his sacrifice and that God’s wrath had been exhausted for anyone who trusts in his sacrifice on their behalf.  


God now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we have been born again into a new life, an eternal life with God. We receive the Holy Spirit which protects us and helps us persevere, sealing us and guarding us until Jesus returns.


If you are not yet a believer, that offer is available to you. You can be delivered of your guilt and shame and find peace by setting aside your trust in yourself and placing your trust in what Jesus has done instead. For those who are believers, we are to stand firm in God’s grace, embrace one another in unity and love, and find peace in Christ.


To stand firm in God’s grace means we recognize it all comes back to Christ. That is the critical question. Are you in Christ? Do you believe the good news that God has revealed in his word? If so, then you are a new creation designed for an eternity of blessing and all your trials and suffering for Christ will only lead to more glory.


I suggested a few weeks ago that all of you start underlining everything we have in and through and with Christ as we read our Bibles. I think I would like to end this series by highlighting what many of those things are and as you see this list I want you to reflect on why this should bring us such joy and peace that we are equipped to stand firm.


Rom 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 


Rom 3:24

We are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus 


Rom 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.


Rom 8:17

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 


Rom 8:38-39

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 


Rom 12:5

so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 


1 Cor 1:30

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 


2 Cor 1:5

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 


2 Cor 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 


Gal 2:16

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 


Gal 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 


Gal 3:14

so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. 


Gal 3:26

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 


Gal 5:6

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 


Eph 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 


Eph 2:5-7

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 


Phil 3:9

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 


Phil 4:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 


Col 3:3

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 


2 Tim 1:9

who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 


Friends, we could go on and on. Peter’s message in this book and my message to you this morning is that what we have in Christ is so much better than anything this dying world can offer that it is worth whatever difficulties we must navage to receive it. Not only that, but in Christ, God has called us and equipped us and we are being protected by his power until we do.


So brothers and sisters, as we wrap up this series on 1 Peter I encourage us all to 


stand firm in God's grace, embrace one another in unity and love, and find peace in Christ.



More in Faith Forged In Fire

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The Crown of Humility

October 15, 2023

Rejoicing in the Fire