Summary: A sermon preached at evensong, Winchester Cathedral
The end is nigh! 1 Peter 4:7-14. Winchester Cathedral 30 July 2006
Gosh- what a passage to bring a message to you from! One that starts ‘the end is nigh!’
- This is going to be interesting!
- kind of makes me sweat under the collar (as I’m so cautious about this stuff)
People can be so wacky about end- times stuff. I pray you will permit a little jovial illustration of this:
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don’t do it."
"Why shouldn’t I?" he asked.
"Well, there’s so much to live for!"
"Are you religious?"
He said: "Yes."
I said: "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
"Me too. Praise the Lord! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Me too. Praise Jesus! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
"Wow. Me too. Hallelujah! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
"Baptist Church of God."
"Me too. Glory to God! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God."
"Me too!. With regard to the Lord’s return: are you pre-millennial post-tribulation general resurrection or pre-millennial post-tribulation partial rapture?
He said ‘pre millennial post-tribulation general resurrection’
I said: "Die, heretic infidel scum," and pushed him off.
The apostle Peter starts this part of his discourse ‘the end of all things in near’
- so, there’s nothing NEW in apocalyptic expectancy, then!
It is something that has always been with us-
- at the turn of the new year at 1000AD there was expectancy of ‘the end’
- when I was growing up- the threat was nuclear war. Maybe, like me, you can remember the educational videos telling you when and how to hide…. And showing the effect of not doing so
- Now, of course- it’s global warming… and the threat in the middle east….
… and it doesn’t take much imagination to see how the brief ‘glimpse through a glass darkly’ that we get in the Bible of ‘end things’ could be fulfilled
- fear and terror at the tossing of the waves
- things centred around Israel…..!
In the words of Private Jock Frazer (played by John Laurie) in Dad’s Army “we’re doomed, doomed, all doomed!”
But it’s an area I steer clear of, really- and if our Lord didn’t know dates and times I am certainly not going anywhere near that!
And, interestingly enough- neither does Peter. He simply states ‘the end of all things is near’ (and from eternity’s perspective, it certainly is!)
- and then gets on with stating some immensely practical things
So- bearing in mind ‘the days’ that we are in- how are we, as Christians, supposed to live? What are we to do, as followers of our Lord?
- the answer is: immensely practical things that a disciple of Jesus should do
CS Lewis, one of my heroes, wrestles with these issues as he writes at the start of WWII.
• he asks in a sermon called ‘learning in war-time’: ‘How can we continue to take an interest in these placid occupations (like theology, study and art) when the lives of our friends and the liberties of Europe are in the balance?
- His answer is: “the war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life’. Life has never been normal.”
(from ‘the weight of glory’, learning in war-time, p43, 44)
So- what should we do… knowing that ‘the end is near’?
It says here
- V 7, 8ff: be self controlled, and pray. That’s what Christians should do
o keep a clear mind
- above ALL- love one another- for love covers over a multitude of sins (even getting apocalyptic and millennial perspectives wrong!)
- Here’s a fascinating instruction. The end is nigh- but (v9) ‘invite people around for dinner!’ Practice hospitality
o And don’t grumble about it!
I love the Bible!
- (v10) And be active in the Lord’s work. Use your gifts. Serve the purposes of God ‘faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
And here’s what the latter bit of verses 12-14 are about
- it’s mentioning persecution- but the grounds for that is that these Christians are standing out
Stand up and stand out for our Lord. Be bold, active and distinctive