Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
BRETHREN, WHAT SHALL WE DO?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
29 APRIL 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Peter 1:17-23
Preparation Verse: (Acts 2:37)
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
"Brethren, what shall we do?" was the cry of conviction of the three thousand Israelites who were gathered to hear Peter's sermon in Acts 2.
This conviction was so strong that the Bible tells us that they were “pierced to the heart.”
Because they stopped playing religious games.
And when they did, they felt as if the nails that had pierced Jesus had been driven into their hearts as well.
They realized the nature and extent of their sin, and they felt as if they were lost.
Therefore, they reached that point in their lives when they were ready to submit their will to that of the Lord.
Note how Peter replied to them: (Acts 2:38f)
38. … "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39. "For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself."
40. And with other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"
And as we know, 3,000 of them received the word of God and repented and were saved.
This is the free grace of God.
We can't buy it.
We can't earn it.
It's just freely given, and it must be freely accepted.
For there were others present who didn't accept, and unless they also came to the point of repentance, they were lost.
Every time we don't accept the call of God, we become harder of heart, and it is more difficult to accept God's grace.
Instead of the love of God, the perverse generation had let worldly ways and religion rule their way of life.
But once they let go of the former ways long enough to let the word of God in, they began to believe and understand the truth.
Thus they cried out, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
Remember, the word of God that these men heard from Peter was the gospel message present in the Old Testament.
Isn’t this also what happened on the Emmaus Road when Jesus, after His resurrection, was talking to two of His disciples?
He didn't talk directly about Himself. He let Scripture talk about Him.
Beginning at Luke 24:25, listen to a part of the conversation:
25. And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!"
In effect, Jesus is saying to them, "Nothing new has taken place that the prophets have not told you about before. Why don't you believe them?"
26. "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
Jesus is lovingly trying to remind those who are having trouble believing that what just took place was prophesied to take place.
27. And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
After He had broken bread with them, we are told that they recognized Him; and with that, Jesus vanished from their sight.
When this happened, what did they say to one another?
32. … "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"
And they went back to Jerusalem and told the others.
We don't always need to see to believe, do we?
Unfortunately for many people, they do need to see to believe.
And even with seeing, some won't believe.
But if we would only learn to recognize that burning in our hearts – and I don't mean from over-eating, either – but the burning from God's word that warms us within.
Then we wouldn't have to see in order to believe, for we would have believed just from the word.
This again is God's grace.
Do you remember what the psalmist cried out in Psalm 116:12 that we read this morning?
12. What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
At one time in his life this psalmist had cried out in a similar way as those people did in Jerusalem.
And what they were really saying was, "What must I do to be saved?"
The psalmist, recognizing that he has been saved from his life of sin, cries out asking what he should do for the Lord in return for all that the Lord has done for him.
Then he realizes that he can do nothing, materially, for he has received a free gift.
So he offers back to the Lord that which would truly show that he humbly accepted his gift and, likewise, show that he understands what he has received.
13. I shall lift up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
This is exactly what the Lord wants each and every one of us to do.
We just can't sit back and do nothing.
We must do something.
If you are not saved, then cry out, "What must I do to be saved?"
And if you are saved, then lift up your cup of salvation.
We do this by letting others know what the Lord has done for us.
We do this by setting the example through our love and compassion for the whole of God's creation, which includes all our fellow human beings, all the other animals, and the environment in which we all live.
We do no harm to anyone and live as the peacemaking children of God that we are called upon to be.
And we do this by calling upon the name of the Lord as part of our everyday life.
As the psalmist says in verse 17, we should "offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving."
And we should offer it in front of others, as well as when we are alone.
If we are too embarrassed to say “thank you” to the Lord in public, then maybe we are not really thankful.
And if we are not really thankful, then maybe we are not really saved.
The psalmist also presents a very interesting statement in verse 15:
15. Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His godly ones.
This sounds sort of strange, doesn't it?
Why would God consider the death of believers precious in His sight?
Because they have been delivered from the sins of the world into everlasting life.
It is precious in the sight of the Lord because He died for us so that we
could be saved.
And I surmise that the Lord is also very saddened by the loss of every sinner who didn't repent; for their death brings everlasting absence from the Lord, and He died for them, too, in order that they might receive His free gift which they rejected.
And I also surmise that the Lord is very saddened by all the destruction and suffering that has been brought upon His very good and beautiful creation by most of the humans He charged to protect it.
Please don't be one of them!
Peter sums it all up in the passage we read this morning, 1 Peter 1:17-23.
17. And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth.
"If you address as Father"?
If we address as Father?
What does it mean to address God as Father?
It means that we must be His sons and daughters.
It means that we have been adopted.
It means that we have been born again because we have believed in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and have repented of our sins.
And if we are His sons and daughters, then we must conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our position, so that we bring no discredit to our Father.
We should live a holy, reverent life before God and before all people.
But if we are not prepared to do so, then maybe we have not truly accepted Jesus Christ.
For if we have, we would have an assurance of our salvation and a desire to live as God desires us to live.
18. knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,
19. but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
Every time we do something against God's will, every time we sin, we are saying that we don't think the blood of Jesus Christ is of any value.
But every time we do what God wants us to do, and every time we turn away from sinning, we proclaim the preciousness of the blood of Jesus Christ and our thankfulness for saving us.
20. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
21. who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
We do the worldly things we do because our faith and hope are in the world and in our own power to accomplish our goals.
But if our faith and hope are in God, then we will be worthy of being called sons and daughters, because we will be doing the desires of God's heart, for we will be glorifying the name of Jesus Christ through our lives.
And then God gives us an additional directive and the assurance in which to carry it out.
22. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
23. for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.
Note the similarity of what we are told in Romans 10:17.
17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
So, brethren, what shall we do?
We must repent of our worldly ways and sins against God.
We must begin to truly accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
We must strengthen our faith by reading and listening to God's word, our Bible.
By so doing we will have no doubt, or excuse, as to how we are to live.
And when we get right down to it, we really have no excuse because each of us has been told where to find all the answers.
So, what must we do?
We must open ourselves to feel the pain and suffering of the world around us - of both humans and other animals.
We must open ourselves to feel the pain of conviction in our hearts.
We must put away our religious games.
We must start living like Christians, and doing it all the time.
Your Comments are welcome
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