Summary: Sermon 11 in a study in 1 & 2 Peter
“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
I would like to begin by reading an excerpt for you from Francis Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live?” published in 1976.
“In our era, sociologically, man destroyed the base which gave him the possibility of freedoms without chaos. Humanists have been determined to beat to death the knowledge of God and the knowledge that God has not been silent, but has spoken in the Bible and through Christ – and they have been determined to do this even though the death of values has come with the death of that knowledge.
“We see two effects of our loss of meaning and values. The first is degeneracy. Think of New York City’s Times Square – Forty-second and Broadway. If one goes to what used to be the lovely Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, one finds that it, too, has become equally squalid! The same is true of lovely old streets in Copenhagen. Pompeii has returned! The marks of ancient Rome scar us; degeneracy, decadence, depravity, a love of violence for violence’s sake. The situation is plain. If we look, we see it. If we see it, we are concerned.
“But we must notice that there is a second result of modern man’s loss of meaning and values which is more ominous, and which many people do not see. This second result is that the elite will exist. Society cannot stand chaos. Some group or some person will fill the vacuum. An elite will offer us arbitrary absolutes, and who will stand in its way?” (How Should We Then Live? [Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1976], 226-27)
Those of you in our local congregation may remember that a few weeks ago we had occasion in our evening study to observe that we miss something when we focus only on what is going on around us today and in very recent years and try to analyze what we see within the framework of that narrow scope.
We agreed that in order to understand what is going on in the church and in the world now, there has to be a viewing of a much wider scope of history and the developments that led to where we are.
This is how Schaffer came to the conclusions he did in his book and in his teaching, and we must realize that even though he wrote these things 30 years ago, 30 years is just a blink; if the statements he made rang true then, they can only ring truer now.
Things have not changed for the better; the degeneracy, decadence and depravity he reported on are only more widespread and more apparent today.
Schaffer said, “The marks of ancient Rome scar us” and that is why I refer back to our discussion about taking in the broader picture. Schaffer was right and if our modern society so resembles the decay of ancient Rome then we can only conclude that we are in grave danger of going the same way as that depraved society.
Now Peter was writing to people who were being personally persecuted because they were Christians. We may not be presently facing the sort of punishment they were receiving from a Godless society, but remember that in many places around the world today that is exactly what is happening, and we may soon find it coming to our streets and even our front doors.