Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
3 May 2020
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
A Penny a Press-up by Pastor for Persecuted People. Sponsored press-ups for persecuted Christians – I’m rubbish at them – ask Mandy. I aim to do 100! Please will you sponsor me to send to Barnabas Fund for persecuted Christians! I’ll send a video of me doing them so you can have a laugh as well! At the present time I can only do about 5 (But practice makes perfect!). Any one else want to join in?
Get in touch with Pastor Harry to sponsor him!
Chosen by Janet – Thanks Janet
“I know who holds the future , And I know He holds my hand; With God things don’t just happen, Ev’rything by Him is planned. So as I face tomorrow, With its problems large and small;
I’ll trust the God of miracles, Give to Him my all!”
And “Bind us together”, chosen by Susan – Thank you!
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever, Amen”1 Peter 4:7-11
Living in the light of the End of all things
I was looking for this verse that has been on my heart all week: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). I knew it was in 1 Peter but not sure exactly where, so I googled it and was surprised that it was in the context of the end of all things. I’m not trying to push an ‘end-time’ agenda but as it sits in this context, I thought I would include it. So, in such important times as “the end of all things being near,” Peter emphasises certain aspects of the faith:
- To be alert and of a sober mind so that we can pray – we all know how vital prayer is at all times let alone in times described as the end times being near ( If the disciples had prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane instead of falling too sleep, would they have fared much better in what proved to be, spiritually, the darkest of all times?)
- To offer hospitality without grumbling which is rooted in us all being in the same family, our loving Father’s family, through the grace of His Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
- To use our spiritual gifts (and our natural gifts) to serve one another resulting in praise to God through Jesus Christ.
‘Above all’ – As important as all these matters are, and they are very important, and we could have listed lots more from the whole letter, Peter is singling out something very special that is above all these others when he writes: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). ‘Above all’ means that it is first and foremost, pre-eminent, which fits in with other Scriptures about love e.g.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”1 Cor 13:13
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”Colossians 3:12-14
“Love is the bond that leads to perfection …. Love binds together the members of the congregation into unity in the body of Christ … As Christians in fellowship, show love to one another … It is by this love … that His body is built up”
Peter O’Brien – Colossians WBC
With the words, ‘love each other deeply,’ I anticipated we would again be looking at the love that springs with deep emotion, like the ‘compassion’ we looked at last week. However, I was surprised to see that the actual words: “love … deeply” literally translate, “having fervent love” (cf. NKJV and NASB). Cranmer writes this about the word ‘fervent’ (Gk. ‘ektenes’): “’Fervent’, ‘ektenes’, does not refer to warmth of emotion, but … to the taut muscle of strenuous and sustained effort as of an athlete.” Stibbs states: “The root idea is ‘stretched’ or ‘strained’. The verb ‘to stretch out’ is used by Xenophon to describe a horse made to go at full gallop. So the adjective suggests intensity, earnestness, exerting one’s powers to their full extent.”
Note Jesus’ warning regarding love in the End Times:
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold”Matthew 24:12
So, Peter is vigorously warning us to go against the flow, and love each other strenuously, intensely, fervently. In 1 Peter 1:22 he already assumes that love for one another is present, but he is exhorting believers to love each other more intensely: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth, so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply [same word meaning “fervently, intensely, earnestly, exerting one’s powers to their full extent”] from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
This in itself will be a powerful form of evangelism:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”John 13:35
Agape love and eros love – We can further understand the love that Jesus is talking about when we compare two different words used for love in the Scriptures, the one used here in 1 Peter 4:8 ‘agape’ love, compared to ‘eros’ love. ‘agape’ love – without any thought of self, freely chooses to show affection towards another and remains faithful in showing that love; whereas ‘eros’ love, is impulsive, selfish and in bondage to seeking satisfaction. It seeks satisfaction wherever it can, with whoever it can. L. Morris (“Testaments of Love”) states: “’Eros’ has two principal characteristics: it is a love of the worthy and it is a love that desires to possess. ‘Agape’ is in contrast at both points: it is not a love of the worthy, and it is not a love that desires to possess. On the contrary, it is a love given quite irrespective of merit, and it is a love that seeks to give.” This describes God’s love in that He loves the unlovely and those who don’t deserve it, God loves the sinner, He loves you and me. And this love is a continuing love. This love seeks the highest good in the one loved. This is how we are to love one another.
‘because love covers over a multitude of sins’
cf. “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12) – This can only mean in practice that love is ready to forgive seven times seventy as Jesus taught.
Imagine Jesus hadn’t loved deeply from His heart to cover a multitude of sins what would have happened in the following scenarios: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken” (Luke 5:8 – 9). “You’re right Peter. You are a sinful man and if I stick with you it will result in you denying me three times in a few years, so yes I will depart, I’m off” – think of how poorer the Church would have been without Peter, no sermon at Pentecost resulting in kick starting the Church and 3,000 getting saved. No letters as in 1 Peter and 2 Peter including the words we are looking at today! But Jesus didn’t say that because love covered a multitude of Peter’s sins rather He said: “Don’t be afraid from now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10).
What about this next one? “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name” (Acts 9:13-14). “You are right Ananias, I was forgetting myself for a moment, yes that man deserves the utmost punishment, leave it to me, I’ll sort it.” Think what would have happened – 13 books of the New Testament gone, and such a lack of teaching for the Church through the ages, plus hardly anything left of the Book of Acts which is mainly about the ministries of Peter and Paul. How impoverished would the Christian Church be? But the Lord didn’t say that, rather: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument …” (Acts 9:15).
Also, we need to mention, that if this was the standard the Lord operated from, all the rest of us would be wiped out. Would we not be back in the Old Testament with its’ holy law and ultimately the inability of anyone to carry it out? But, ‘Praise the Lord,’ love covers a multitude of sins, and that’s why you and me are here today basking in the love and grace of God through Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. So, does this mean we can live careless lives, sinning when we feel like it. This is like the question Paul dealt with in Romans 6:1: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Paul’s answer in Romans 6:2: “By no means!” And it’s the same here, for rather than living carelessly, Peter exhorts believers in verses 2-5 of the same passage:
“do not live … for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”1 Peter 4:2-5
So this love is a love that covers a multitude of sins but it’s also a love that if necessary, admonishes, corrects, disciplines, those in the faith, those in the family, who are living carelessly, a love that speaks the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). But we should also be dealing with those outside the Church in love, a love that covers a multitude of sins, and this is what we will look at next week, D.V.
Above all other virtues we should love one another fervently and deeply from the heart, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, including covering one another’s weaknesses, shortcomings and sins, so help us Father, in Jesus Christ, by Your Holy Spirit, Amen!
Lord, You have taught that in the last days because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. Lord, help Your Church to fervently love one another in these days with a love that covers a multitude of sins. Lord, when others gossip about us let us love and forgive; when others don’t love us, but hate us, let us love back with the love of Christ. Lord when hurting people hurt us let us love them with the love of Christ to soothe the wounds within, to usher in Your Great Commandment love that will heal the wounds of abuse, rejection, hatred, mistrust, that may have led to a hardness of heart towards You. Father, at this time, let Your Church be imitators of Christ, as Your dearly loved children and first and foremost live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering, in Jesus Christ, Amen!