(June 1, 2017) Brian Bell shares a meaningful meditation on the apostle Peter…
When you consider the experiences of Peter’s life from the day Jesus called Peter to follow him, then those experiences – which include presumptuous behaviour and speech rebuke by Jesus, and his denial of the Lord – they would not have pointed to him being the carrier of the powerful Acts 2 Day of Pentecost message for which he is best known.
Personally I draw great encouragement from Peter, for I know I am – at least – as imperfect as Peter, yet the Lord is prepared to use even me!
So, while it is true that aspects of Peter’s life before Pentecost may be less than impressive, it did not prevent the Lord from recommissioning and enabling Peter through the Holy Spirit – what an encouragement is that for every Christian!
Peter – an encouragement for every follower
Luke who penned the book of Acts makes specific reference to Peter’s ‘Pentecost’ message and writes of several of his ministry experiences that flowed on from that day. And while we don’t read of a repetition of the ‘Pentecost day’ experience, we can however see how the Lord clearly led Peter and he became an outstanding preacher, a leader with a pastoral heart in the early church. It is very clear that Peter was a changed follower of Jesus from that day!
One of my favourite ‘quotations’ of Peter’s is taken from his second letter ‘…for we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again…we have seen his majestic splendour with our own eyes’ (2 Peter 1:16 NLT).
Following Jesus did not make Peter rich so far as this world counts riches, nor did it bring him fame or lead to a life of luxury. Peter’s injunction to those who like himself are shepherds/pastors of the flock is to ‘watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you can get out it but because you are eager to serve God’ (1 Peter 4:3 NLT).
For Peter, motivation and encouragement are key factors and I believe this came from the work of the Holy Spirit. As an example of this thought, in this brief article I share a simple meditation from 1 Peter 1:1 in particular, verses 13–25 as found in the New Living Translation.
Practical Application (v13-16)
We know that we are not saved because of our personal righteousness (which are like filthy rags). I believe the context in these verses is not personal holiness or works as a means of salvation or to ‘maintain’ our salvation, but seeking to apply or prove our sanctification in everyday life – I can’t say I am always successful.
Positive Relationship (v17)
Unlike men, who (sadly even in churches) often form cliques, God does not have any ‘favourites’. God loves the weakest believer as much as the strongest, the youngest as much as the oldest in the faith. He loves the Pentecostal as much as the Episcopal, the Calvinist as much as the Armenian, the Protestant as much as the Roman Catholic.
We can find it difficult to have fellowship with those who don’t see scripture as precisely as we do, but God’s relationship is a positive one, he is always working for our good. We can also be very sure God will judge us righteously and that his rewards and or judgment will be equitable.
Priceless Ransom (v18-20)
We are familiar with the concept of a ransom by which something or someone can be ‘bought back’ for an agreed price. To buy back sinful men and women was beyond any measure of gold or silver, so God paid with the precious lifeblood of the Lord Jesus.
No wonder the song writer penned the words ‘Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow.’
Protected Future (v21-25)
In a natural sense I realise I have more days behind me than ahead. The world around is still as unstable and uncertain as it has ever been, no doubt much hard work and effort is directed to trying to bring political and economic stability and resolve conflict and recognising the Lord’s sovereignty we should pray for those in authority.
However I believe Peter reminds of us of three ways in which we as believers can know a protected future…
1. Protected because of where our confidence rests (v 21)
We cannot go through life without some measure of confidence in other people, while sadly we know how our confidence (and indeed the confidence others may place in us) can be misplaced or cause disappointment.
As believers our confidence is placed in God and how he will work in the midst of the instability and uncertainties of life.
2. Protected because of an eternal salvation (v 23)
I do not wish to cause controversy accepting and respecting there are different views about the ‘eternal security’ of the believer. I believe my salvation is in a perfect Saviour, not in addition to or running alongside the ‘perfectness’ of my behaviour or performance, while I will be called to account for my works.
3. Protected because of an eternal word (v 23, 25)
As I write this article the UK is in the midst of a general election; however well intended or sincere the promises of politicians may be, often they fall by the wayside. Likewise even believers may struggle to remain true to their word.
Yet God’s word always remains faithful! A verse from the song I Have a Precious Book written by Vern Stromberg puts it so well –
‘Forever it will stand while the ages roll,
It’s the living and eternal word,
It’s my guiding light each day
And without it I would stray,
The wonderful word of God.’
The post-Day of Pentecost Peter we read of Acts is a decided different follower of Jesus from the pre-day of Pentecost one!
As intimated above Peter encourages me! Similarly we can all be encouraged by the same Holy Spirit who so powerfully changed Peter.
We may think we are not up to full commitment in following Jesus, that we’ve made too many mistakes, that we’ve let our Lord down, that we have nothing to offer – but Peter had made his mistakes and his Acts 2 Holy Spirit experience saw him recommissioned and enabled for productive kingdom service!
My prayer is that Peter’s example (and my meditation above) encourages us all to move from past negatives into meaningful positives with the Holy Spirit’s strength. May we all prove that we are indeed worthy followers of Christ!
I echo Paul’s Ephesians 3:16 NLT prayer: ‘I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.’
Brian Bell attends Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland and describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Brian is also a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. Link: firstname.lastname@example.org