Friday, May 3, 2013

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday May 5, 2013
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A LIVING HOPE
(We can look forward to our inheritance)
(1 Peter 1:1-12)

The Apostle Peter, perhaps, wrote this inspiring letter while residing in Rome, near the end of his life. Its purpose was to lend comfort and encouragement to the Jewish Christian Diaspora, who, were living as foreigners in the various towns of Asia Minor (now northern Turkey). Here Peter focuses on “triumph through suffering for CHRIST”, and how the “Christian Hope” will serve as motivation to make our life here on earth, conform more fully to the word of GOD, as we go along on your “Christian Journey”.
Peter apparently wrote this epistle around the time of “the great persecution of the Christian Church” by the Roman emperor, Nero. Nero, who was an outstanding practitioner of the form of witchcraft called “Miming”, often used his miming talents to make light of his terrible persecutions on the Church by mocking the Christian’s sufferings, while performing in the theaters in and around Rome.
Peter and the other early church leaders banned miming in the Christian Church for obvious reasons (witchcraft is “anti-CHRIST”). Nowadays, however, because of our ever-growing desire to be entertained in worship services, many so-called Christian Churches have both “wittingly and unwittingly” re-introduced this demonic form of entertainment back into church worship services, and other church functions, simply because we fail to properly research, hardly anything anymore, before we begin to incorporate it into our programs. However, we’ll let that (miming) be another Sunday school lesson. For now, let us focus on the Hope of Eternal Life that is offered through Salvation, through JESUS CHRIST.
Peter’s first letter is rich in references to and from the Old Testament. Any Jewish Christian would find special significance in the term “Diaspora” that is translated “scattered” in the opening lines of this letter, and any Gentile reader wouldn’t help but notice Peter’s call for living a holy lifestyle, despite their background, or total ignorance to the Word of GOD. Those Gentile converts would have also been greatly encouraged by the fact that, even though they weren’t yet versed in the Word of GOD, they were immediately accepted as “GOD’s people” by the Christian Community.
In 1 Peter 1, verses 1-2, Peter lays out the theological foundation of “encouragement” to his fellow Christians who were scattered abroad. In the biblical Greek, the word used for “encourage” is “parakaleo” (par-ak-al-eh-o), and it means “to call near, and to invoke by imploring and consoling”. It also means “to be of some good to, by comforting through prayer and exhortation”.  He reminds them that GOD had long ago chosen them, and, that they had also been sanctified by the HOLY SPIRIT through the atoning blood of CHRIST JESUS. They had been touched by the “GOD-head”, the “Whole of GOD”, and set aside to do “greater things” with their lives. Here Peter shares his personal desire (v. 2c) that they be showered with an abundance of GOD’s grace and peace upon their lives.
In verses 3-5 Peter speaks of the “living hope”, or “wonderful expectation” that comes through the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, which promises us a divine inheritance in Heaven. GOD has preserved a priceless inheritance for HIS people, which is kept “pure” and “undefiled”, and, kept out of the reach of “change” and “decay”. We are also protected by GOD’s power, here on earth, until we can receive those Heavenly benefits of this “wonderful salvation” for trusting in HIM only.
We can come to rest in the thought that this life on earth is not the final act of “the human drama”.  And even though, by choosing the Christian Walk, we are no longer permanent residents of this earth, but rather, become citizens of Heaven, it is still necessary, for now, to endure those tests and trials that are set before us. Those tests and trials are not meant to make us fail, but rather, are given to us to grow our faith and make us strong and pure, to better serve GOD’s purpose for us, in this life. To persevere through those trials and tribulations will bring much praise and glory and honor on the day when JESUS returns, and is revealed to the whole world (Vs. 6-7).
Faith, Hope, and Love are the three great enduring things, and of the three, love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). Our living “hope” is spun by the promise of GOD. We “love” HIM, even though we have never seen HIM. And though we do not see HIM, by “faith”, we trust in HIS Word. And even now, we can rejoice with an inexpressible joy, because our reward for trusting in HIM will result in the salvation of our souls (Vs. 8-9).
Salvation is something that every prophet since the beginning of the age wanted to know more about. They prophesied of this great salvation, through GOD’s SON, that had been prepared for mankind, even though they themselves, probably, had many questions as to what it all meant. They often wondered just what the SPIRIT of GOD in them was talking about, when HE informed them in advance, about CHRIST’s suffering here on earth, and HIS great glory, afterwards.
These great men of GOD were told all these things would not happen in their lifetimes. However, today this Good News is being preached throughout the world by those who actually embody the power of the HOLY SPIRIT on a continuous basis. And it is something so wonderful, that, even the angels are eagerly watching the events unfold in the lives of those who experience the Christian Hope, by way of a transformation of the heart, through the power of GOD’s Word (Vs. 10-12).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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