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The End of All Things Is Near

July 7, 2013

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:7-11

This passage has been ringing in my ears for the past few weeks. It has such a familiar tone to it. We have lots of passages in the Bible with strong emphases on “what to do.” We love that…don’t we? I would love it if someone just gave me a list of things to do to please God and I could just wash my hands of it. However, while the behavior commanded of the Bible may appear at first blush to simply be a list of things to do to be and do, there is always a “why?” embedded somewhere. In academic terms we call it the “indicative” that drives the “imperative.” Knowing why we do things is just as important as doing them. Knowing why we do things also shapes how we do things and with what quality they are done.

In verse 7, Peter gives us the most important phrase in this passage. “The end of all things is at hand.” Seriously? The end is near? Now most of us might hear that and think…but Peter, bro, 2000 years has gone by and nothing. You have got to be kidding me!?! But God’s timing is not man’s timing. We are to behave and act as if the end is near. We are to know that we are in the midst of war. Christians who hold a peace time mentality do not find any footing in biblical Christianity. Sure, Jesus has come as the Price of Peace…but there are also grave warnings about the ways the evil one is still at work.

So, the end of all things is at hand according to the Bible. How should that indicative truth drive the imperatives given in this passage – to be self-controlled, sober-minded, loving, showing hospitality, etc.? It should motivate us to do these things in at least three ways:

  1. With superior quality – In the Lord’s Prayer we ask for the kingdom to come to earth as it is in heaven. If the end of all things is near, wouldn’t you want to be a part of ushering in the kingdom of God in greater and fuller measure? That means as Christians we don’t do hospitality halfway. We give freely of our homes and belongings. We throw awesome parties and feasts for our guests. Why? Because it points us to the reality of the coming wedding banquet when our host will be the Lord Jesus himself. We not only do the things in this list, but we do them in such a way that points forward to the hope we have in the coming kingdom.
  2. With urgency – Verse 7 certainly does not make the commandments that follow any less urgent…in fact it makes them the most urgent things on Peter’s ming. Do we really see the things in this list as urgent to the point of the serious warning, “the end of all things is at hand?” There is evidence of our belief in Christ’s return when we do these things as if he were coming back tomorrow. When I am working with our children at Trinity, I need to constantly remind myself that the end of all things is at hand. That is what drives how we do Sunday School and Cars Under the Stars and prayer and giving. When I am at home with Sarah, how does the way I speak to her indicate that I believe the end of all things is at hand? Do I feel a sense of urgency in these things?
  3. With the strength only Christ supplies – These imperatives cannot be understood without the indicative that God is a loving father who equips his children for every good work. Verse 11 says, “…whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” God gets glory in the supplying and in our using the supply. Your completion of imperatives does not elevate your status, but that of God who supplies us for every good work.

 

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