I’ve been studying the book of 1 Peter for the past couple of weeks. A major theme of the book is suffering and the letter also has several things to say about submission. Submission is about as popular a topic as suffering to our fleshly nature. Yet, my study has yielded some delightful findings.
While suffering and trials are a big theme here, the descriptions of God and His work throughout Peter’s epistle instill hope and joy, words like: living, imperishable, undefiled, unfading, precious, holy, pure, abiding, chosen, good, gracious.
A couple of adjectives in particular caught my eye this week– “imperishable” and “precious”. These words and their synonyms run through Peter’s letter. I’d made notes about how the words were used to describe things like “our inheritance” (1 Peter 1:4), the “word of God” (1 Peter 1:23), “faith” (1 Peter 1:7), and the “blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). What I hadn’t noticed before is that the same (or similar) words are used to describe the “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” with which women are called to adorn themselves. Not only does God tell us that the beauty of that gentle and quiet spirit is “very precious”, but He describes it with the same term (“imperishable”) used to describe such lofty and wonderful things as the Word of God and our eternal inheritance.
Being a wife, the verses beginning in chapter three always stand out to me. In the first verse here, we read the command to wives to “be subject to your own husbands”. (1 Peter 3:1). I’ve seen both the world and professing Christians get tripped up on that verse. If you do any web searches on the meaning of the verse, you will find folks falling all over themselves to explain what the verse doesn’t mean (“It’s not about subservience! It’s not about women being inferior!”). You may, as I have, heard it taught with what seems like reluctance from a pulpit. It’s as though Christians feel they need to excuse commands that clash with worldly, fleshly philosophy. But, looking closely at these verses about the godly behavior of wives, we see how much God values the beauty of a gentle and submissive heart.
The beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is said to be very precious “in God’s sight”. In this epistle, “a living stone” (which is Christ) is also said to be precious “in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2:4). So, that beautiful spirit of believing wives is brought into likeness with no trifling thing, but rather to things glorious and eternal and to the Person of King Jesus.
However, cultivating this adornment is no light matter. Usually, when I read the verse about being subject to my husband, I’m reminded of how I fall short of this command. I pray for God to change my heart and to help me submit to my husband. When I read 1 Peter 3:4, I long to have that abiding “gentle and quiet spirit”. Even in writing this post I have been tempted to reply harshly when I felt that my husband was interrupting me! How slow I am to learn!
As difficult as submission may seem though, we believing wives have a great privilege in making ourselves beautiful with this precious ornament and outfitting ourselves with this unfading, imperishable robe. In Christ we have victory and can count on His faithful process of sanctification. We are His workmanship and if we are trusting in Him then we cannot fail. (see also Phil 1:6, Eph 2:10, Lamentations 3:22-23).
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious [timios, G5093] and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 peter 1:3-4 ESV, emphasis added.)
There is no mistaking the value to God of this adornment of women who belong to Him. We certainly don’t need to apologize to the world for such things.
Images by Couleur from Pixabay
I thought I should add that the word “precious” found in the ESV is not always from the same Greek word in the original manuscripts. I attached a pdf table below to further your own research. You can find an interlinear Bible at blb.org (Blue Letter Bible).
Arguing from anecdote is persuasive. One can use experiences to make a false correlation and persuade folks to abandon hard truth and follow fickle emotion, creating an appearance of kindness, humility, and Christian love. For example, it could be argued that we shouldn’t witness about Jesus and coming judgment because those topics are offensive and, after all, look at how few people repent and believe, so something is surely wrong with talking of such things. Using anecdotes, one could claim either directly or indirectly something like this statement:
“Less people are going to church. Of those who don’t go or quit going, most have had experiences of someone trying to witness to them and share the Gospel. They all claim to have been bothered by that interaction. I have spoken with so many people who agree with these statements and they are hurting. It didn’t work so we need to change our methods.”
Following the advice of someone swayed by experience, we can seem to be throwing off tradition for the sake of kindness and brotherly love; however, we are told that the message of the Gospel is powerful and is used by God to save souls (Rom 1:16). God saves by grace through faith (Eph 2:8) and faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17); not our good deeds, not our offers of friendship, not in meeting felt needs, but using the Word of God, folks come to believe (Rom 10:14-17). We are told by God in the Bible that few will find the Way of Life (Matt 7:13-14), yet we are commanded to go and make disciples (Matt 28:19) and that we will suffer persecution for seeking to live godly lives (2 Tim 3:12). Our good deeds and acts of charity should certainly adorn the Gospel. But those acts alone save no one. When we withhold the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we hold back the sinner’s only hope.
A Personal Experience
I have some experiences of my own to share along with my reaction to them. Let’s examine these things along with the light of Scripture. These experiences have to do with people trying to share the Gospel with me.
When I was unregenerate several people witnessed to me or made attempts. One lady stopped me at the post office because I had a bumper sticker on my automobile from the music group “Nine Inch Nails” and she was wondering what it meant. She had wondered if it were a reference to the nails used to crucify Jesus and she used that to inquire about my beliefs. I remember that she was clearly making a case for being a Christian. I told her that I was a Christian. When she inquired about church, I told her that we didn’t go to church because my husband was an atheist. (My husband at the time did claim to be an atheist). So, I asked her to pray for him.
Before that, a lady came to my house when I still lived with my parents. I was an older teenage at the time and I answered the door. She invited me to church and asked some questions about my beliefs. I named a church that a friend attended, making it seem like that’s where my family attended regularly.
I remember another occasion when a friend and I were eating at McDonald’s and a man with one hand curled up against his chest handed us Gospel tracts with his free hand. He didn’t speak. I remember he held his head off to the side. My friend and I smirked at each other and threw the tracts away unread with all the other litter on our trays as we left.
The other time I remember someone talking to me about Jesus happened at high school and college. A classmate in my high school English class invited me to church. I never did go with her. A year later, I ended up in an English class with her at the local community college. This time, she met me on campus and tried to share the Gospel with me. I was sitting outside smoking a cigarette and smiled to her and told her I was “saved” and that I’d been baptized (which I had as a kid, not knowing much what it all meant).
My Reaction Then and Now
For years after these events, whenever the topic of religion would come up, I’d often mention these encounters with the critique that “these people didn’t love me; they were just trying to fulfill some Sunday School quota.”
Now that I’m a Christian, when I look back on each of those interactions, I realize that my critical statement says something more about my own unregenerate heart than it does about those folks.
When I scrutinize those interactions, I now admit that there was nothing in their words or actions that was unkind or judgmental towards me. The lady at the post office had been pleasant and when I asked her to pray for my husband, she had assured me that she would. I had lied to her about the reason for us not going to church. The truth is that I had little interest in the things of God. She ended this conversation with a hope that she would see me again. I remember the lady who came to my door as being soft spoken and a little nervous. She was delighted to hear me mention going to church. I think of the man at McDonald’s and realize he probably couldn’t speak and while his arm was injured, he was doing what he could to share the Gospel with a couple of ungrateful, selfish teenagers.
I was a fool. I judged these people to be unkind even while suggesting that they were judging me! My only critique of them now is that some backed off when I made a claim of being a Christian. I wish they would have questioned me more, because I now know I was living in darkness and was self-deceived (1 John 1:6).
As someone who now witnesses of who Jesus is and what He has done, I look back on these experiences and people with kindness, realizing that witnessing is often done in fear and trembling, without ever seeing the fruit of your works. I now look forward to seeing these folks in Heaven. My judgment towards them changed as I was given a new, regenerate heart. It’s not that they were cold and uncaring—it was me that was unkind and uncharitable.
I now see these acts as God reaching out to a pitiful wretch like me, using folks willing to put themselves out there in uncomfortable situations to share His Good News.
Catering to the Unredeemed
What are we doing when we soften the truth based on emotional experiences? What are we doing when we set aside hard truth and replace it with pragmatism? We are going to allow the words of one who is spiritually blind (2 Cor 4:4) to override Biblical truth. Why jump to the conclusion that we need to change how we talk or how we conduct church services or evangelism based on the claims of someone whom the Bible says is deceived and spiritually blind!
If we change our behavior based on statements from unbelievers, we are following the lost, not helping them. The Bible says that such a one is blinded by the evil one (2 Cor 4:4) and if he claims that God doesn’t exist, then the Bible also says he’s a fool (Psalm 14:1, 53:1). God says that a fool resists instruction and thinks he’s wiser than everyone (Prov 12:15). Do we change our worship and our message based on the cries of fools? God forbid.
Kindness to the Unbeliever
When someone says that a Christian hurt him or was unkind, I am NOT claiming that we discard his statement or disregard his emotions. Please know I’m not advocating throwing out Bible verses without regard to someone’s pain. What I’m suggesting is that we weigh the whole story (Prov 18:17) and apply what the Bible speaks about the situation, either directly or by inference or principle.
When an unbeliever makes a criticism about Christianity, remember that you have someone before you whom the Bible says is spiritually blind; however, you also know the Bible warns over and over about false teachers and false professors. So, we know it’s entirely possible that someone claiming to know Jesus (but really doesn’t) said something unkind or untrue to the unbeliever. Why not point that out to the one claiming that he had an unpleasant interaction with a Christian? Why not use the situation as an opportunity to show the individual that the Bible speaks to the very issue of hypocrisy and warns of false professors? Remember, without the grace of God, you also would remain in spiritual darkness. Reprove with gentleness – God may yet grant that unbeliever repentance that leads to life (2 Tim 2:25).
We can be kind and humble in being willing to listen to critical claims about Christians, but we don’t want to end up appearing like we aren’t really sure what we believe or that we don’t believe we’ve found a truth and a hope for which we are willing to contend (Eph 4:14; Jude 3). Base your actions on the Word of God, not anecdotes and fickle emotion.
Although I knew that my Amazon Prime membership came with more than just the two-day shipping perk, I haven’t really explored the benefits. I totally ignored the video section as I rarely watch movies anymore. Too many times I abandon a flick before I finish watching because of the coarse language, blasphemy, and sexually explicit images.
I can’t remember if it was a tweet, blog article, or podcast, but someone mentioned the Torchlighters series on Amazon Prime that included Christian content. I had a look through my Amazon account and found this description of The Torchlighters – Heroes of the Faith programs:
The Torchlighters is a series of animated programs with strong values and educational content for youth ages 8-12. Each 30-minute episode presents the story of a true-life hero from Christian history. Kids will be challenged to shine the light of Jesus while learning about the history of our faith.
I watched an episode about John Bunyan and enjoyed it. I’ll be recommending this series to parents.
After watching, I had several more recommended videos presented to me. I was pleasantly surprised to find many choices of documentaries and dramatized accounts of Christians from the past. I have enjoyed biographies of John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, as well as a dramatized account of the life of John Wycliff.
If you are disappointed with the offerings at your local theatre, stay at home and browse through the selections on Amazon Prime Video. (If you don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime, these videos are available to rent or purchase.)
I haven’t found a ton of offerings that I’d recommend. So many “Christian” films are just syrupy moral tales, but these sites offer more wholesome choices than your neighborhood movie house. Pureflix is a subscription site with a current monthly price of $10.99, discounted if you purchase an annual plan. Christian Cinema has no subscription. You purchase or rent as you see fit. If you didn’t see Gosnell in the theatre, you can rent in digital format for $4.99 currently on Christian Cinema or purchase (also digital format) for $9.99.
My favorite Christian fiction movie by far is The Secrets of Johnathan Sperry. I love to recommend this to church groups and families with youngsters! The Gospel is spoken, hell is mentioned, and folks are urged to evangelize. It’s touching, funny, and clean. Rent or buy, you won’t regret it! I’m not even going to give a synopsis, just watch it!
I had planned to make a list of suggested Twitter followers; however, I’m wondering how much time should be spent on social media. My time is often eaten up mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and then I don’t often leave more encouraged or enlightened. I’ll leave off the social media recommendations for now.
What about you? What are your favorite Christian films? Any Christian entertainment resources that you recommend?
The resource page of this site mentions some books, podcasts, and study tools, but I thought I’d put some of my favorite Bible study tools and apps here in a post as well.
Some websites and recently found Christian entertainment sources aren’t noted in the resources section yet.
(The list of favorites will stretch over two or three posts. I won’t get them all in today).
Favorite podcast: Wretched Radio
I have found a few good Christian podcasts, but by far my favorite is still Wretched with Todd Friel. The podcasts are freely available and available to listen on the web or with a variety of different podcast apps. The main website for Wretched is Wretched.org where you can also watch Wretched TV episodes.
Also, Wretched can be found on radio at these stations and on satellite radio systems.
Favorite podcast app: Podcast Republic
Not a “Christian” resource, but for years, I have used the free podcast app Podcast Republic. It is available on Android and is ad supported. The ads are not intrusive but if you want to remove ads, you can do so for a very small fee. It has all the features I need, like sorting podcasts into played and unplayed and which ones are downloaded (for when I think I may hit an area with a spotty internet connection). It’s easy to forward or rewind a few seconds within a podcast and has a sharing feature as well. I include the link to Podcast Republic here, opened to the page where you can listen to the Wretched Radio podcast.
Favorite Bible Study tool/app: Blue Letter Bible
Blue Letter Bible is available on the web at BLB.org and in an app that is available on both iOS and Android platforms. You can read the Bible in various English translations, use the Interlinear tool to find the original Hebrew and Greek words, access text and audio commentaries on almost every verse of the Bible, make notes, highlight passages, read devotionals, and more. I have not made use of all the tools available at BLB and am still learning about what is available there. Check it out! You won’t be disappointed.
Favorite Sermon and Commentary websites:
(There are too many websites that I use for me to narrow it down to just one website. Also, please be diligent to study your Bible prayerfully, no matter which site you use. I don’t agree with all the teaching found on these sites. These ministries are good, solid resources but are put together by fallible men. Let the Bible be your final authority on all matters! Pray for discernment and wisdom always).
Grace To You – the Bible teaching ministry of John MacArthur and others at Grace to You are available here. There is a huge collection of sermons and blog articles along with the ability to search on a wide variety of topics for Christian living.
Got Questions – easily search on thousands of subjects and get answers from the Bible.
Answers in Genesis – So many good articles about the Bible and Christianity are here with, as the name suggests, an emphasis on the book of Genesis. I subscribe to the ministry’s Answers Magazine which is available in print, online, or audio formats. Each issue comes every two months with an insert especially for kids. From the AIG about page:
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Christianity-defending) ministry, dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus particularly on providing answers to questions surrounding the book of Genesis, as it is the most-attacked book of the Bible. We also desire to train others to develop a biblical worldview, and seek to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas, and its bedfellow, a “millions of years old” earth (and even older universe).
Living Waters – Get equipped to share your faith and purchase some of the best Gospel tracts around. The free evangelical videos produced by the ministry (see Fully Free Films) are outstanding!
Religious Affections Ministries – This website is the one I read the most lately. Have you ever been disappointed with the music that is described as “worship music” these days? Have you ever wondered why music can be such a divisive factor in churches? Do you feel you could benefit from learning what the Bible has to say about worship, emotions, music, and proper affections? If so, browse this website. And, if not, but you call yourself a Christian, browse this website. A good place to start is with the articles that are categorized as Essential Resources.
I was about to add a list of some of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow, but instead I’ll leave that for another post along with the Christian entertainment source I found.
Please share your favorite Bible study tools, websites, apps, and other resources with me by commenting on this post. Thank you!