14. Living In View Of Eternity (1 Peter 4:7-11)Related Media
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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
Are we living with a view of eternity? Are we living as though Christ could come today? Having a proper view of eternity will drastically affect how we live and also prepare us to suffer.
In fact, Peter in this text is encouraging these saints to be prepared to suffer by focusing on the nearness of “the end of all things.” Look at what he said in the beginning of chapter 4: “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (emphasis mine), because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin (1 Peter 4:1).
He calls these believers to have the attitude of Christ in being willing to suffer. Like any good soldier, Christ was prepared to give his life and Christians should have this attitude as well. In addition, Peter says in 1 Peter 4:7-11 that having a proper eschatology, a view of the end times, would also help these believers with being prepared to suffer.
We can have no doubt, that one of the things that made Christ willing to suffer was a proper view of eternity. Christ always lived with the thought of the end in mind. In fact, throughout the gospels Christ sought to prepare Peter and the rest of the disciples for sufferings that were coming through developing this view. Look at what he said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (emphasis mine).
How could these disciples keep their hearts from discouragement and giving up, even though they knew their master was about to die? They needed to have a view of heaven and Christ’s second coming. Christ went to build a place for them and he is coming again. This would help keep their hearts from being troubled during the coming suffering.
It is the same for us. One of the secrets to being able to suffer in a world where we are pilgrims is to live in view of the imminent return of Christ.
When Peter says “the end is near”, he was essentially saying there is nothing keeping Christ back from returning at any moment. This was the early church’s blessed hope that helped enable them to endure the sufferings they were experiencing in the world. Christ could return at any time.
Even though it has been 2000 years since this was written, it is still as true for us today as it was then. In fact, it is truer because we are closer to Christ’s coming. When Christ resurrected we entered into the final stage of world history. It is a stage called the “last days.” Look at what the writer of Hebrews said:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe (emphasis mine).
Similarly, Peter, when describing what was happening at Pentecost, declared that we were in the last days by citing a passage from Joel. Look at what he said:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams (emphasis mine).
Application Question: What are negative effects of having an unhealthy view of the end times? What are some positive effects of having a healthy view of the end times?
Now with all this said, we must be aware that living with an unhealthy view of the end times can often push people to extremes. We saw in 2 Thessalonians that some people had stopped working, as they anxiously waited for the return of Christ (3:11). A wrong view of the end times brought laziness.
In Luke 12:45 the servant who thought that the master was delaying his coming began to beat the other servants, live in waste, and get drunk. A lack of concern for the end times can at times encourage sin.
Others can become overly consumed with charting and trying to figure out the exact dates. We may see something of this with the Apostles in Acts 1. Listen to what the Apostles said to Jesus about the coming kingdom and his reply:
So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Essentially, we can discern from these extremes that having a wrong view of the end times will negatively affect how we live. However, listen to some of the benefits of living with a proper view of the end times. Listen to what the Apostle John says:
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (emphasis mine).
1 John 3:2-3
Those who have a proper view of Christ’s imminent return will naturally start to prepare. They will start to purify themselves in preparation of his coming. This view will deliver believers from the strongholds of sin.
With that said, God has wisely chosen to not reveal the exact date. If he did, some would become lackadaisical and others anxious as they waited for the return. The difficult task for the believer is to at all times prepare for the future and at the same time be prepared for Christ to come today. To focus on one over the other is to become unbalanced. We must seek this balance in our daily lives.
In this context, where the believers were being mocked, ridiculed and burned at the stake, he comforts them with “the end of all things is near.” Christ is coming soon. The consummation of human history, where God will judge both the righteous and the unrighteous, where God will correct all things, and usher in a rule of righteousness, is near. This should comfort believers and enable them to persevere through difficult times.
As we study this text, we must ask ourselves these questions:
Are we living in view of eternity? What does a person look like who is living with this view? How can I better live this way, in order to be pleasing to my coming Lord?
In this text, we will see characteristics of Christians living in view of eternity. Let this encourage our hearts to live the same and to prepare for coming tribulation.
Big Question: According to Peter, what characteristics should define those who are living with a view towards eternity and the coming of Christ?
In View of Eternity, the Christian Must Have a Focused Prayer Life
Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
1 Peter 4:7
Observation Question: What virtues are needed in order to be focused in prayer and how do we develop them?
Peter says that in view of eternity, Christians must have a focused prayer life. He talks about the virtues necessary to do this, a clear mind and being self-controlled.
The word translated clear mind literally means to be in one’s right mind.1 In what way should a believer be in his right mind? Of course, the primary way the Christian does this is by having a biblical worldview. A mind that is full of Scripture is the only way that one can be in their right mind, and this is especially true in the context of suffering, where most people do not have the right mind.
We see a person in his right mind, even as he is suffering, with Christ on the cross. While he was dripping with blood and about to die, he prayed two Psalms “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (Psalms 22:1) and “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Psalms 31:5). Even in suffering Christ was in his right mind instead of having what might be common: a mind of anxiety, fear, anger, hopelessness, or even worldliness. This same mind would be necessary for Christians in this context who were suffering. They needed a right mind that was led by the Word of God and prompted into prayer.
The second virtue needed to have a focused prayer life in these last days is to be self-controlled. The word “self-controlled” can be translated “sober” which means to be free of intoxicants, which can refer to both spiritual and physical intoxicants. Christians can become intoxicated with materialism, idolatry and worldly pursuits in order to pacify themselves during trials, and therefore, not have soberness in viewing the events happening around them. Trials also tend to be a catalyst in drawing people into addictions to alcohol, cigarettes and any other drug, instead of dependence solely on God. None of these actions or attitudes are appropriate responses to trials. The Christian must have a sober mind that is “awake” and “alert” so it can properly interpret the events happening and be drawn into intercession.
The Christian must have a right mind which is full of the Word. He must be alert--not given to intoxicants whether physical or spiritual. He must be alert to the attack of the devil, things that are happening in society, the needs of others, and he must be self-controlled. All these things are necessary in order to be focused in prayer.
Focused-prayer is the only type of prayer appropriate in these last hours. Lord help us to have a right mind and be sober so we can pray in order that your will may be done on the earth.
Application Question: What ways do you struggle with having a “right mind” and being “self-controlled” so you can pray? Do you find concentrating on prayer a difficult thing? Why or why not? If so, how do you keep a focused-prayer life?
In View of Eternity, the Christian Must Love Other Believers Deeply
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
Interpretation Question: What does it mean to love each other deeply?
When people go through suffering it is very common for it to cause discord. If a husband has a bad day at work, it often affects his relationship with his wife and kids. When people are stressed, it often brings up harsh feelings and emotions, sometimes towards people we love the most.
No doubt, this was happening in these scattered congregations. In 1 Peter 5:5 we may see an implication that this suffering was causing rebellion amongst some of the youth in the church towards the elders. This is why Peter has to tell them to be subject to them. Look at what Peter said in 1 Peter 5:5 in the ESV: “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.”
There are no surprises to this, when Israel was in the wilderness suffering, the people rose up against Moses and Aaron. Trials often cause conflict. These congregations were not only suffering from without but also from within.
This is probably the reason Peter calls for them to “love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” They needed to love one another deeply because they were being hurt by one another.
A view of eternity, should promote love in the people of God. God is coming soon. Similarly, James called the Hebrews who were similarly scattered because of persecution to care for one another in view of Christ coming. As you know, they were warring and fighting against one another. Somebody had even died because of this conflict (James 4:1-2). Look at how he challenged them in James 5:8-9: “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door (emphasis mine)!”
He said stop grumbling and fighting with one another because Christ, the Judge, is coming. He is at the door, he is coming soon. End your conflict and walk in love towards one another, for the judge is coming soon. We should have a revelation of this as well, when we are tempted to fight with family, friends and fellow church members. Christ is coming soon to judge.
Peter used the word deep or it can be translated fervently to describe the depth of the believer’s love for one another. Fervent is an athletic word used of muscles stretching or straining; it pictures a person running with stretched muscles, giving maximum effort. Listen to what Warren Wiersbe said about the Christian’s love:
This love should be “fervent.” The word pictures an athlete straining to reach the goal. It speaks of eagerness and intensity. Christian love is something we have to work at, just the way an athlete works on his skills. It is not a matter of emotional feeling, though that is included, but of dedicated will. Christian love means that we treat others the way God treats us, obeying His commandments in the Word. It is even possible to love people that we do not like!
Christian love is forgiving. Peter quoted from Proverbs 10:12—”Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”2
Wayne Grudem also gives us a relevant word.
Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound—to Satan’s perverse delight (cf. Heb. 12:15; by contrast, 1 Cor. 13:4–7).3
Are we historians? Are we holding onto every hurt and pain somebody has caused us?
God’s love is not like that. Paul says love “keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:5).”
In fact, like a muscle God often allows us to be hurt, allows us to go through pain so that we can love more deeply. Like a muscle that has been fatigued and stretched in the gym, after recovering, it develops the capacity to lift a heavier load or persevere through more pain. In the same way, I believe God often allows pain to happen to us in order to stretch our love and make it more fervent.
It may seem impossible to love at times, but it is good for us to remember that God has already given us this love. Look at what Paul said in Romans 5:5: “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
God has given us his own love, agape, the love of God. This is the same love that died for believers while they were still enemies of God. The love of God has been poured out in our hearts. The word “pouring” is a picture of abundance. This is why Christ can command us to love our enemies. He can command it because he has equipped us to do it. He has lavishly poured out his love in us. If we can love our enemies, how much more can we love the brothers and sisters in the church who fail us?
Our love must be deep and fervent. We must allow this love to be stretched as we cover the sins of others.
Application Question: Who is God calling you to love deeply and fervently as you forgive their failings? What ways have you experienced pain in relationships that actually broadened your capacity to love others?
In View of Eternity, Christians Must Practice Hospitality Without Complaining
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 4:9
Another way we live in view of eternity is by practicing hospitality. The word hospitality literally means “love of strangers.” This should be a characteristic of those in spiritual leadership. Scripture says elders must be given to hospitality (1 Tim 3:2).
Certainly, this was even more important in the ancient world where there were not many hotels or inns. When the gospel was being spread, hospitality was needed in order to host missionaries, pastors and teachers.
In fact, Christ sent his disciples out to various towns where they would be hosted by believers who “loved strangers.” Look at what Christ said in Luke 10:5-7,
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
Maybe the primary way Peter is exhorting Christians to live in view of eternity is, similarly, to support the work of missionaries. This is done by taking them into our homes, praying for them and giving financially to support the mission, among other things. We should realize that all the support we give shall be rewarded by God. Jesus said even the giving of glass of water to a disciple will have a reward (Matt 10:42).
People who are truly zealous about missions realize that the end is near. Soon every nation will have heard the gospel and then the end will come (Matt 24:14). This person wants to participate in that work.
Certainly, this hospitality is not just for missions but should be shown daily to our brothers and sisters. We must have a deep love that practically cares for our brothers and sisters. This could mean buying groceries for someone who is injured, visiting those who are sick in the hospital, offering a ride to the airport or the store, helping drive others to church, and even lending or giving money. Our love must be intensely practical. What good is a love that does not work? It is no good.
Also, we should consider that when we show hospitality to other believers, we are really serving Christ. Look at what Jesus said:
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (emphasis mine).
Application Question: What ways can we practice “hospitality” by supporting missionaries? What ways can we stretch our love practically by serving people in our church? How is God challenging you to love more fervently?
In View of Eternity, Christians Must Use Their Spiritual Gifts to Glorify God
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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 4:10-11
Another way we should respond to Christ’s imminent return is by using our spiritual gifts. As taught in Matthew 25, the Parable of the Talents, God has given each believer gifts we must use and develop while he is gone. When he comes back, we will give an accounting of our service and be rewarded based on our faithfulness. Some will actually lose the gifts they have as a result of not using them (Matt 25:28).
From 1 Peter 4:10 it is clear that everybody has at least one spiritual gift. This is clear from the phrase “each one.” This is also taught in 1 Corinthians 12:7: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
Each person has been given gifts by the Holy Spirit to serve Christ and the church. These gifts are put into two categories: (1) speaking and (2) serving. Speaking gifts include such things as the ability to encourage others, exhort others, preaching, teaching, singing, evangelism, prophecy, etc.
Serving gifts is the second category and that includes gifts like leadership, helps, mercy, administration and etc. As we look at our gifts, we find that they are all different. My gift of preaching is different than any other minister’s gift of preaching. Not only is this a result of training but of grace (v. 10). We are graced differently so we can better serve the body of Christ. If we were exactly the same we wouldn’t need one another.
Peter calls this God’s grace in its various forms or it can be translated multicolored forms (v.10). His gifts show up in many colors to bless and enrich the church. As believers use these multicolored gifts in view of the end times, it makes the church beautiful and attractive, even to unbelievers.
Finally, Peter gives us a reason to use these gifts. We should use them for the glory of God. Peter says:
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it 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 (emphasis mine).
1 Peter 4:11
When we use our gifts as part of the body, God brings glory to himself through Christ. We honor him and glorify him.
Consequently, we dishonor God when we do not use them. In Matthew 25:26-28, the master became very angry with the person with one talent who did not use his gift. The servant claimed fear saying, “I was afraid so I hid it.” However, the master called him a wicked, lazy servant (v. 26). The servant had dishonored his master.
This fear seems to be a common hindrance to many. I’m afraid of leading a small group. I’m afraid of praying. I’m afraid of evangelizing. I’m afraid of leaving my job to prepare for missions. Fear will be a major deterrent to usefulness in building the kingdom of God.
The person who does not have a proper view of the end times, will be fearful and lazy in the use of their gifts. However, when we live with a proper view of Christ’s second coming, there is an encouragement and accountability to serve and one day he will reward us. He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things (Matt 25:23).”
The fact that Christ’s return is near should be a motivation for all of us to use our gifts. It should motivate us both from the prospect of disapproval and the joy of being approved for the use of our gifts. He could return at any moment.
Are you faithfully using the grace that God has given you to serve? Are you praying? Are you loving? Are you showing hospitality? The end is near: let us live in the view of his imminent return even in the face of suffering.
Application Question: How can Christians develop a better focus on the end times so they can live lives that honor Christ especially in suffering?
- Believers must study eschatology. This is a neglected discipline because of all the conflict associated with it. However, God gave it to us, to help us live in light of his coming. We must study it deeply, so it can excite us and prepare us for what lies ahead.
- Believers should practice the Lord’s Supper. Not only is the Lord’s Supper a memorial of Christ’s death but it also is a looking forward to his coming (1 Cor 11:26). We should practice this to remind us of both his sacrifice and his coming, for it is near.
Are we living in view of eternity?
One of the ways Peter encourages these saints in their suffering was by telling them the end is near. Part of the reason many Christians don’t suffer well is because we only have an earthly view of life, primarily concerned with what is seen instead of what is unseen. Living in view of eternity will radically change how we deal with suffering but also how we treat one another while suffering.
Again hear that in Luke 12:45 when the servant thought his master had delayed his coming, he began to live in waste, discord, and other clear sins. Many Christians are the same and are missing God’s best for their lives. Not only do they live in waste, discord and other sins, but they also are unable to cope properly with suffering because they have lost a view of Christ’s imminent return.
Living in view of the eternity should drastically change our lives. What does a Christian look like who is living in view of eternity?
- In view of eternity, Christians must have a focused prayer life
- In view of eternity, Christians must love other believers deeply
- In view of eternity, Christians must practice hospitality without complaining
- In view of eternity, Christians must use their spiritual gifts to glorify God
Application Question: What ways is God challenging you to live in view of eternity? How do you plan on implementing these changes?
Copyright 2014 Gregory Brown
Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the King James Version of the Bible.
1 John MacArthur, 1 Peter. MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2004), 240.
2 Warren Wiersbe, The Bible exposition commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1996), chap. I Peter 4:8.
3 Wayne Grudem, Vol. 17: 1 Peter: An introduction and commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 181.
Related Topics: Christian Life