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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
Title:Purposeful Submission
Text:1 Peter 2:13-17 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Living in a sinful world

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

   Welcome and Opening Prayer


Service of Praise & Profession


* Call to Worship


* Declaration of our Dependence upon God  


* God’s Greeting


* Song of Praise:  “Come, Thou fount of Every Blessing”                                         # 429


* Profession of Faith - Apostles’ Creed - p. 851 TPH


* Gloria Patri:  “Glory Be to the Father”                                                                   # 571


   Congregational Prayer


* Song of Preparation:  “Shine Thou upon Us, Lord                                              # 195


Service of God’s Holy Word


   Scripture Reading:  Matthew 3:1-17


   Heidelberg Catechism - Lord’s Day 26-27                                              p. 228 - 230 FP


   Sermon:  “TheTruth About Baptism”


   Prayer of Application


* Song of Response:  “Nothing but the Blood”                                               # 278: 1,2,4


   Offering: Redemption Prison Ministry - Collection basket located in foyer


* Benediction           


* Doxology:  “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise”                                     # 160


“Savior, again to thy dear name we raise with one accord our parting hymn of praise.  We stand to bless thee ere our worship cease, and now, departing, wait thy word of peace”.


“Grant us thy peace upon our homeward way; with thee began, with thee shall end the day; guard thou the lips from sin, the hearts from shame, that in this house have called upon thy name”.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Purposeful Submission

1 Peter 2:13-17

Rev. Keith Davis at Bethel URC on 9-6-20 a.m.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the subject matter of our text this morning is especially timely given the current events in our own nation and world. We live in a time of civil unrest, of public protests in the streets; of people challenging authority; of people demanding justice – no justice, no peace.


We’re also living through a global pandemic where governments all over the world took drastic measures to try to protect their own citizens. They shut down what they called “non-essential” businesses -- which caused a worldwide economic catastrophe and brought financial hardship on billions of people, leaving many to wonder, Is the cure worse than the disease?      


Besides businesses, the government also closed places of worship, which prompted Christians all over the world to ask: Can they do this? Isn’t this an overreach of government authority? Where exactly do we draw the line between spiritual authority and civil authority? God calls his people to worship on the Lord’s Day. But the government just banned the assembly of the saints. Those restrictions went well beyond the two weeks to flatten the curve. For us they lasted three months.  


But some churches in the states are still shut down. As some of you may be aware, the Grace Community church in Sun Valley California, the church where John MacArthur serves as Pastor, they eventually decided to defy the state’s orders. They said: we must obey God rather than man. They resumed meeting together and filed a lawsuit against the state – which they won by the way.


But the fact that Grace Community defied the COVID restrictions raised the eyebrows of many Christians (even many URC pastors) who questioned their strong stance. Their defiance also raised the ire and indignation of many non-Christians who were offended that a church would do this.   


So I ask again: where do we draw the line between spiritual authority and civil authority? Peter lifted his sword to defend his master Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when corrupt officials came to arrest him. Yet, Jesus rebuked Peter for his defiance; Jesus went willingly went with his captors and was ultimately crucified at the hands of sinful men in order to win our salvation.  So in that case, God used a great injustice of the governing authorities to win a great spiritual victory!  


And there’s no doubt that Peter wrote this passage before us today, looking back on that event. And I put this question to you this morning, beloved, not because I know the right answer in every situation. I don’t. I find myself drifting between the various arguments and opinions when it comes to the matter of church shut-downs, business being forced to close, and mask mandates, etc.


But a passage like the one before us today can help us navigate these uncertain waters. Here, God calls His redeemed people to submit themselves to the earthly authorities. Notice with me two aspects of submission described by Peter:            

  1. God’s Call to Submission  
  2. God’s Purpose for Submission  


God’s Call to Submission   

As I mentioned at the outset of the reading, the passage we read this morning is connected to everything that Peter has written thus far --- and especially to what he said just a few verses earlier. This is all part of how we are to live our lives in the world in reverent fear. We are to be different from those around us. We are to live as aliens and strangers and pilgrims in this world.


While many around us who don’t know the Lord freely indulge their sinful passions and desires, we do not. That’s not because we’re any better than our unbelieving neighbor. It’s not because we don’t have the same sinful urges and desires. No. It’s because we have been redeemed from our sin and saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We no longer live our lives as slaves to our sinful desires. We’ve been set free to live our lives as slaves and servants of Jesus Christ.


Peter reiterates this in verse 16 says in our text. That verse, this idea stands out like a giant banner – a giant heading over this text and over everything Peter writes to us as Christians: to slaves, to wives, to husbands, and to those who suffer.


God’s Word declares that we Christians are free men and women who live as servants of Christ. We are saved to serve. And that expression is in no way a contradiction in terms or an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp, deafening silence or military intelligence.


No. Being a Christian means that we have been given the greatest gift possible; the greatest form of freedom anyone on this earth can experience. It is freedom from our sin; freedom from the tyranny of Satan; freedom to no longer be a slave to our own sinful desires. Now, because of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross and in his resurrection – God has given to us the power to overcome sin; to say no to sin, and to live in the glorious freedom that Christ has won for us!       


Why is that important? It’s because it is impossible to enslave a free man. A free man cannot be bound. We’ll have opportunity to talk more about this in verses 18 and following, but what that means in these verses is this: when Caesar, when Pilate, or when the Prime Minister, when the federal or provincial government, or when the city mayor sets forth certain civil laws for us to live by – so long as those laws do not defy the very Word and will of God – then we can freely obey those laws without being overcome by fear or worry or concern that by obeying those very laws, our personal/civil freedoms are being robbed or our human dignity is being stripped away.


As Christians, we should not overly cherish our human dignity. We should not cling too tightly or appeal too quickly to our civil rights and liberties. We must be very careful that we do not conclude that some forms of submission are simply beneath us, or certain rules and laws do not apply to us; that we are above the law (which is what got Nancy Pelosi into trouble last week!).


Remember who you are. Remember that our sense of dignity and worth comes in being a child of God. We are God’s chosen people. His royal priesthood. A people belonging to Him. And because of that, there are no laws in this world that can change that; that can threaten to take that away.


And that helps us understand that for us Christians, for us children of God, submission to the earthly authorities is a very small thing. You see, the knowledge of our spiritual freedom sets us free to live as servants of Christ and as servants of others. When we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, Christ’s Spirit within us produces a spirit of humility and submission.   

In the same way that Christ submitted to His heavenly Father, and to His earthly parents, and to the earthly authorities in his day – submitting himself all the way to death, even death on the cross, so too, God calls us who serve Jesus Christ, to submit even as our Master did.


So you see, our service and submission to others is actually an act of service and submission to Christ Himself. Look at what verse 13 says: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake. For the Lord’s sake! Then in verse 15, Peter (a bit indirectly) describes our submission as God’s will for us. This is what God expects of us. This is what God calls us and commands us to do.


We can also refer to what Paul writes in Romans 13 where he says that we are to submit to the governing authorities for the authorities that exist have been established by God. When Israel was carried off into Babylonian captivity, what did the Lord tell his people to do? To defy the king? To rebel against the Babylonian authorities? To protest and riot and loot and burn down the city?


No. In Jeremiah 29:7 God said Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” In Esther’s day, Xerxes ruled as God had established and Esther submitted to his authority.


In Christ’s day, Caesar Augustus and Herod and Pilate ruled as God had established. In Peter’s day, the wicked Nero ruled as God had established. None of those rulers were Godly or righteous.

Yet, God’s will was that His people, His own divine Son of all people, would submit and respect the earthly authorities – not because they were worthy of respect as to their person. But because they were in a position of authority and God calls us to submit to the earthly authorities.


The problem today (which is probably nothing new), is that people have this warped idea that those in authority must be deserving of our respect; and it would appear to be the case today, that if we disagree with those in authority on certain keep issues, then that’s reason enough to not only disobey their authority but to incite us to lawlessness.


In America for example, there is still this disgruntled contiengent of people who say of Donald Trump “Not my President” – even after he was lawfully elected, inaugurated and has served as President for almost 4 years. But since they denounce him as President, that gives them the right (it would seem) to take to the streets and riot and burn and even kill. So the strategy is, if we can de-legitimize the ones in authority, then we can defy them. Well, that’s pure evil and lawlessness. 


Now, I do realize that there is a case to be made for legitimate revolution. Some theologians have made a Biblical argument for the right of a people to rise up and overthrow those in authority. But I think we can all agree we are no where near that point. We are so blessed. Our nation is blessed. Our citizens are blessed. And we have so many rights and privileges and blessings.


Now, I realize that the problem we have with submission. It is not easy. Even the most Godly among us have difficulty submitting. Our personal pride; our sense of justice; our feelings of fairness; the defense of our civil rights; and then there’s our own defiant, stubborn sinful nature – not wanting to do what someone in authority tells us to do. We have all that against us.


But look what we have working in our favor. We are New Creations in Christ. We have been given a new spirit and a new nature – a nature and spirit of humility and service and submission. And when Peter says we submit for the Lord’s sake he is really telling us that submission all boils down to one thing: love for the Lord. If we love the Lord, we will submit. If we love the Lord, then we will do what those in authority tell us to do, because the Lord has put them in authority over us.


God’s Purpose for Submission 

So that is God’s Call to Submission. Now we consider God’s Purpose for Submission. As we scan through this text we find that reason and purpose in 15 For it is God’s will that (by your submission) you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 


The word ignorant means without knowledge (agnosia – from which we derive the English word agnostic.) And the word foolish means without reason. Senseless, reckless, lacking mental sanity and sobriety. So Peter is describing people in his day who habitually maligned and slandered and smeared Christians.


They were ignorant people – which means they had no idea what the Christian faith was all about; they had no knowledge about the doctrines and teachings and commandments and Christian life. Yet for no other reason other than that they hatred Christianity, they sought to attack and discredit the Christian faith and these Christians by making these baseless, senseless, insane accusations.


Commentators point out how the pagans would commonly call Christians insurrectionists because the served Christ as Lord and would not bow down to Caesar. They accused them of practicing cannibalism, of being a crazy cult, because in communion they spoke of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ. Another commentator said that Christian were accused of incest, and I can only speculate aobut this, but perhaps because they called themselves brothers and sisters, and they married each other, that was considered incest.


And you can tell just by the strong words Peter uses here that he had felt the sting of these words personally. It’s no different for us today when we hear people in the world, who have no idea what we believe as Christians, accuse us of being anti-science because we believe in a six day creation.


They accuse parents of abusing our children when we spank them. They say we’re brain-washing our children when we teach them about God and their Savior Jesus Christ. They claim that when a husband excises headship in the home that this is form of oppression and abuse. And they say that we believe women are inferior to men because we do not permit women to serve as pastors, or elders or deacons in the church.


These are just a few of the examples of baseless and foolish accusations. Peter’s appeal here also includes what he says in verse 16 says. Do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil. Live as servants of God. He’s pleading with these Christians to make sure that they do not do anything that would ruin their Godly witness; he’s teaching that the reason and purpose that we live holy lives is not only to the glory and honor of God, but it’s also for the pure witness of the church of Jesus Christ.


A few moments ago, I mentioned Nancy Pelosi. Just last week she defied the COVID restrictions in San Francisco when she went into a hair solon that was closed and got her hair done. What’s even worse, the video shows her not wearing a mask, and here she was just mocking President Trump saying what a terrible example he is because he goes everywhere without wearing a mask. She used her freedom as a cover up for evil and she was found out! She was exposed as a hypocrite.


And that’s precisely Peter’s point here. It’s not, make sure no one is watching if and when you feel like doing evil. No. His message is not, only do evil in the privacy of your own home or among your Christian friends. No. It’s don’t do evil at all.  Don’t live as a hypocrite. Don’t give your detractors, don’t give the watching world any reason to find fault or to validate their accusations.  


See, Peter’s remedy for all these accusations is simple. He says go out and live your lives in such a way that you prove them wrong at every turn! Show proper respect to everyone, love the brotherhood (the family) of believers, fear God, honor the king/Emperor!


Show by your daily submission, by your peaceful and Godly lives, by your compliant spirit that all their claims are nonsense! That’s the best way to silence your critics. By your holy living. Be holy as the God who called you and saved you and sanctified you is holy.


And beloved, there is endless application here. Do you want to change what the world says about Christianity? Do you want to change what the world says about headship in marriage? That’s easy: Ephesians 5 says: husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. But if you’re not giving yourself up for your wife, if you’re not showing her love, and gentleness, kindness and patience and forgiveness then you’re validating the world’s accusations.   


And in the church, if we do not value the gifts that God has given to women and find ways for women to serve in Christ’s church then we validate the impression the church has a low view of women. And if our church does not welcome strangers, and show hospitality, and look with love and compassion on sinners who are broken and enslaved to habitual sins, then we feed the narrative that the church is only for believers and that we don’t really care about sinners perishing in sin.  


Beloved, Christ died and rose again to set us free. And, so let us live our lives in godliness, as free men and women who are willing servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us live in such a way that we prove the world wrong at every turn! Show proper respect to everyone, love the brotherhood (the family) of believers, fear God, honor the king/Emperor!



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2020, Pastor Keith Davis

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