We are gleefully told that we live in a ‘post-truth’ society. In simple words, we are told and encouraged to live as though there is no such thing as absolute truth and that you can make up your own truth, believe anything you want (unless you believe there is an absolute truth) and no one has the authority to tell you otherwise. Jesus says that He is, ‘...the way, the truth and the life...’. Peter warns us that false teachers and their heresies, made up stories and lies will be amongst us. We know that everywhere the Bible and Word of God, is scorned, twisted and used to justify almost anything. Peter makes clear the judgement and condemnation that awaits false teachers and their willing followers. God has already taken care of them. Our concern should be making sure that we stick to the truth and don’t fall into the traps Satan and his false teachers have laid for us. Questions for Lifegroup: 1. How can we recognise false teachers and false teaching? 2. Why do we need to be constantly on our guard against their lies and made up stories? 3. What can we do as individuals and a church do to protect ourselves from the dangerous effects of false teaching?
This second letter is a reminder to the believers that Jesus is returning. It is a call to live for Him through knowing Him and knowing the scriptures which are all about Him and the Apostles witness who wrote the New Testament about Him. It is a warning to be alert against false teachers and prophets who are teaching something different from the Scriptures and the Apostles witness (NT). It’s a reminder that Jesus will return like He promised. Above all get ready for Him. In Chapter 1 Peter exhorts his readers who have believed in Jesus and who have received the Holy Spirit to act upon their faith in order to be fruitful. He reminds them that the Old Testament scriptures reveal all they have believed to be true about Jesus as well as the fact that he himself has witnessed Jesus life, death and resurrection. Questions for Lifegroup: 1. Have you believed in Jesus? Have you received the promised Holy Spirit? 2. Are you becoming fruitful in your life as a follower of Christ? How are you growing in goodness, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly kindness and love? 3. Is your faith solely based on feelings which can change or are you convinced of the facts of its objective truth?
Peter closes his first letter with some more encouragements, instructions and warnings. He's asking the church to take it seriously, and for good reason, there is a lot at stake. As we take God's blessings seriously, then we can take our life seriously too. Questions for Lifegroup: 1. Do you have any leadership responsibilities (including at church/work/parenthood)? How does this passage encourage and challenge you? 2. Does it seem realistic to be alert and vigilant, but free from anxieties as you follow Christ? How do you want God to help you with this? 3. If you wrote a letter to your younger self (say 10 years ago), what would you say?
This week we are going to get practical. We will face the challenge of obedience and suffering. Neither of these subjects is appealing, giving up autonomy or enjoyment. However, 1 Peter 4 shows us not only to expect them but that both can result in real blessing. Once we recognise that we are stewards, not owners for eternity, we are released to use what we have much more effectively. Once we put suffering in biblical perspective, we can have hope through it, and even come to understand that there can be benefit. Questions for Lifegroup: 1. What gifts, possessions or abilities, has God given you at this time? 2. How could you steward these to bring more glory to Him? 3. Have you ever been mocked, had real challenges or suffered when you were innocent? What was your response? How does this change in the light of 1 Peter 4?
The heart of the message of 1 Peter is summed up very well by John Piper (Desiring God) "In God's omnipotent care for you, as chosen, new-born, forgiven, cherished, spirit-empowered people of God. Be so fully satisfied in God's promised grace and glory that your lives are marked by blessing your adversaries, and by overflowing with good deeds with the aim that unbelievers might be won over and enjoy the glory of God with you forever". We see this worked out as Peter encourages us to be godly wives and husbands. To dearly love each other in our church family and to keep on doing good - even in the face of persecution and suffering. This is all wrapped in the Victory of Christ. Questions for Lifegroup: 1a) Wives: What do you need to do to be more devoted to your husband? b) How can we encourage the wives in Hope Church to love and honour their husbands more? 2a) Husbands: What area do you need to grow in more? To honour, lead or protect? b) How can we encourage the husbands in Hope Church to lead well? 3) Think of some examples of where we are loving one another well at Hope Church. 4a) How do you remain full of joy in times of persecution? b) What does a pure life look like?
In 1 Peter 2, Peter tells the new believers in the various Roman provinces that Jesus Christ is the Living Stone; the promised Messiah prophesied by numerous people in the Old Testament (or Covenant). He goes on to teach and explain that born-again believers are a chosen people, living stones being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. Peter then urges those believers to live godly lives in a pagan society. That was two thousand years ago. Has anything changed or if we really are a holy priesthood, what does that mean for us living here and now? Questions for Lifegroup: 1. How can we rid ourselves of all kinds of sin and crave spiritual milk instead? 2. If we truly believe the Word of God, that we are a holy priesthood, how can we become who we already are? 3. Discuss ways that we can live godly lives in a nominally Christian society.
Love saves. But what does it save from? This is at the heart of what love is. Love rescues us from being subject to what we actually deserve. Love heals us from our sins which kills and destroys and instead gives us a forever life with God. Real love doesn’t tolerate that which destroys. Rather real love radically deals with the problem and completely overcomes it. Questions for Lifegroup: 1. What sinful areas in your life (thoughts, words, actions or inactions) need overcoming by the love of God? 2. How might we become more aware of God’s purifying, saving love? 3. Pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit to enable you to live Jesus’ way?
Love sends. It sends in order to save. Love reaches out to the object of its affection. We are the object of God’s love and He sent His Son to save us. The Son willingly went in order to fulfil His mission to save people from their sins. And He then calls us in turn as those who have received His love to be sent to the world around us. Questions for Lifegroup: 1. In what ways have you ever experienced being sent by someone to do something? 2. Why did you agree to be sent to do the task? 3. What does the Father sending the Son and the Son willingly going mean to you this Christmas time?
As we approach Christmas and celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus, we shall look at love in terms of giving, sending and saving. Today, we shall look at love being given by God to us. This love is one which pursued us and sacrificed itself for us. It truly is the greatest and mostly costly gift ever given in the history of the Universe Questions for Lifegroup: 1. In what ways have you experienced love which has pursued you and sacrificed for you? 2. How have you come to believe in the love of God?
Does anyone like waiting? Personally, I hate traffic, particularly if I need to be somewhere and I am worried that I will now be late. Today we explore what God’s word says about patience leading to hope. When you know the end result, waiting can be so much easier. Through the Good News we know! Let’s also flip it on its head and consider how God’s patience leads us to have hope. Today is a day filled with hope because of Jesus Christ. Questions for Lifegroup: 1. In what ways might you be stuck waiting for something or frustrated in life? 2. How can adopting a biblical view change this? 3. What areas of your life do you feel you should change? What is holding you back?