The End of All Things is at Hand

I Peter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:36
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If you knew that you only had one more day to live what would you do? How would your life change for that last day?
In I Peter 4.7 we read this:
1 Peter 4:7- But the end of all things is at hand:
What did Peter mean when he made this statement? Did Peter mean that he had some kind of special revelation about when Christ would return? I don’t think so- if he did mean that then Peter was off at least about 2000 years. He was a terrible date setter.
I think what Peter meant was that he lived his life as if the end was right around the corner.
The verb “at hand” in the Greek is in the perfect tense- that means that the action of the verb started sometime in the past and it continues on into the future. What I think you see theologically is that after the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father, there is nothing left prophetically that has to happen before Christ returns and raptures His church and puts into motion the end time events. So when Peter says that the end is “at hand” or “is near” I think it means that Peter lived his life as if everyday was THE day that Christ would return. He lived His life as if the end was right around the corner.
The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (4) Living in Light of the End (4:7–11)

We are reminded of what Martin Luther said when asked what he would do if the end would come today. He replied that he would plant a tree and pay his taxes. What Luther meant, of course, was that he lived every day in light of the end, and hence he would do the appointed task of that day.

Remember Peter is writing to encourage a persecuted church to continue on in faithfulness to Christ. Remember Peter’s earlier exhortation in vv. 3-4.
1 Peter 4:3–4 KJV 1900
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
In other words, he is saying, “yes, you are being persecuted for living as a Christian, but the answer is not to go back to the same excess of riot, the same flood of wicked living. Instead, live as if every day as if the end of all things were right around the corner.”
How would you live your life differently if you actually believed that the end of all things was just around the corner?
In our text Peter assumes that you are at least to some degree living with this understanding. He doesn’t try to convince you that the end is near, he assumes you already believe that. What Peter does, is tell you how you should be living based on a belief that the end of all things is at hand.
If the end is right around the corner, how should our lives change to live accordingly?
I. We must have a serious and alert dependence upon God in prayer (v. 7)
1 Peter 4:7 KJV 1900
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
We must be sober- to be prudent, with focus on self-control, be reasonable, sensible, serious, keep one’s head. The idea of keeping “sane” is that of thinking in a level-headed way about oneself.
And we must watch- (figurative expression of sobriety- be free from every form of mental and spiritual “drunkenness”- free from excess, passion, rashness, confusion- to be well balanced or self-controlled)
We need to be mentally alert. We need to stop going through life as if in a day dream giving no thought to the very short amount of time we have left on this earth. We must take this seriously and our minds need to be alert. This might be the very last day you have to live your life for Christ. This mental alertness of the coming end should lead us to dependent prayer.
Illustration: College students- how many of you have projects that are coming due at the end of the semester? How many procrastinators do we have in the room? You wait until the last possible moment before you have to start doing work? Right now, early in the semester what is your mindset? “Ha! That project due date is miles away, I don’t have to worry about that.” So instead of spending those 2 hours on you project, you felt it absolutely essential to watch 2 hours of baby kittens on YouTube. Do we have that same kind of mindset in our Christian lives?
Did you get up this morning and pray, “God help me to live this day as today the trump of God might sound. Help me to be mentally alert to the things of God and to depend upon you in prayer today.” Do we pray like that? We ought to! What really goes through our minds on a normal day? What am I going to eat? When do the Packers play? What time do I have to be at work? Or we spend our time day dreaming about the latest book we read, or movie we watched, or game we played. If we are honest we have to admit that we do a poor job of being serious and alert in our thinking leading to dependent prayer. Christians, we need to- because the end of all things is at hand.
If the end is right around the corner, how should our lives change to live accordingly?
If the end is right around the corner, how should our lives change to live accordingly?
II. We must earnestly love and minister to one another (vv. 8-11)
1 Peter 4:8 KJV 1900
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Above all- if you are going to properly minister to each other, then what you need most of all is to continually have earnest love for one another.
Earnest love- Pert. to being persevering, with implication that one does not waver in one’s display of interest or devotion, eager, earnest
In Peter’s mind, in the context of both suffering and the end of all things being right around the corner, what believer’s ought to be doing is showing continual earnest love towards each other.
This is a love that covers a multitude of sins. I think that means that we can overlook a great number of minor offenses because of our love for the brethren.
It is a love according to v. 9 that displays itself in hospitality.
1 Peter 4:9 KJV 1900
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
The First Epistle of Peter F. Exhortation to Firmness in the End Times (4:1–11)

What it consisted of was offering to traveling Christians (including traveling teachers, prophets, and apostles) free room and board while they were legitimately in an area.

As Peter is writing to a persecuted church it would be vital in the coming days, as believers we displaced from their homes, to show one another hospitality and to do so without grudging or grumbling- this is behind-the-scenes-talk. This is the quiet whisper, “I wish this person would hurry up and leave.”
Finally Paul escalates this idea of love and commands these believers to lovingly minster to one another. And v. 10 is a incredibly important verse to get a handle on.
1 Peter 4:10 KJV 1900
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Three truths I want you to grasp:
Everyone has received a gift- this is talking about believers. If you are a believer then you have received a spiritual gift from God. Peter doesn’t leave anyone out. All believers have at least one spiritual gift from God.
The purpose of your spiritual gift is to minster to one another. διακονέω we get our word deacon from this term- it means to serve or to minister to someone else. So you have a spiritual gift from God, and God expects you to use that gift in ministry. You need to be serving other people with the gift that God has given you.
You are going to be held accountable for how well you use the spiritual gift that God has given you. You are like a good steward of the manifold grace of God. A steward is a manager of a household or an estate. He doesn’t own the house or the estate, rather he has been put into the position by his master to take care of the house or the estate as if it were his very own. You Christian are a steward, God has given you something that does not belong to you, it belongs to God, but God wants you to take care of it for Him. What has God given you? The manifold grace of God or the various kinds of the grace of God. This is a reference to spiritual gifts. God, by His grace, has given to His church all kinds of different spiritual gifts. Those gifts don’t belong to us, but we are to take care of them for God. And God wants us to use them to minister to each other. And we will be held accountable for how well we do as stewards.
Christians, how many of you are using your God given spiritual gifts to minister to each other? By the way this absolutely eliminates “pew sitters.” God does not want anyone in His church to come and simply fill up a chair. All of us need to be good stewards of the spiritual gift that God has graciously given us to minister or to serve each other. How about you? Are you being a good steward of God’s manifold grace?
In v. 11 Peter gives us several examples of what these spiritual gifts might look like.
1 Peter 4:11 KJV 1900
11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Now the list is not exhaustive, it is a small sampling of the types of spiritual gifts that God gives His church.
There are other kinds of spiritual gifts mentioned in Scripture.
Romans 12:6–8 KJV 1900
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
The kinds of spiritual gifts is not what is important in v.11, what is important is the motivation for why we use our spiritual gifts.
11 εἴ τις λαλεῖ,
If anyone speaks
ὡς λόγια θεοῦ·*
do so as one who is speaking the very words of God
εἴ τις διακονεῖ,
If anyone serves
ὡς ἐξ ἰσχύος ⸂ἧς χορηγεῖ ὁ θεός⸃,
do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies,
ἵνα ἐν πᾶσιν ⸄δοξάζηται ὁ θεὸς⸅
so that in all things God may be glorified
διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ᾧ ἐστιν °ἡ δόξα καὶ °τὸ κράτος
through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion
♦⸂1εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, ἀμήν⸃.*
Forever and ever, Amen.
Out of love we are to minister to one another with our spiritual gifts, but we are to do so for God’s sake, through God’s strength, and for God’s glory.
Illustration: When I worked at FedEx Office as an assistant manager, around 6 PM all of the other employees attitude would change, there would be this sense of relief, because it was at that time that our boss would go home for the day. Then, the other employees could be free to act as they wanted. Now, if your work was the same regardless of whether or not the boss was in the office, it wouldn’t matter if it was past 6 PM or not.
Look if you are living this way, it makes sense that when someone asks you, “would you do anything different if you knew today was the end?” Well, I would go out and minister to others using the gifts God has given me, I would do so in His strength, knowing full well that it will bring God glory- and that is why I am here in the first place. I don’t know that you would have to change very much.
If the end is right around the corner, how should our lives change to live accordingly?
III. We must reject an attitude of astonishment when God allows us to suffer and instead adopt an attitude of rejoicing (vv. 12-14)
First, we must reject an attitude of astonishment when God allows us to suffer.
1 Peter 4:12 KJV 1900
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
Think it not strange- this is an imperative, it is a command, and it is in the passive voice. Don’t become surprised or astonished when a fiery ordeal is among you to test you.
Now how can Peter command anyone to not be surprised? I can command Rachel to never be surprised again, but if I jump out from around the corner and yell “boo” she is still going to scream in surprise whether I commanded her or not. So what does Peter mean by commanding us not to be surprised?
I think the better way to think about this is not to be astonished. “I just can’t understand why in the world God would allow this trial in my life!” “It just doesn’t make sense that this is happening to me right now.” What do we really mean when we adopt an attitude of astonishment over a trial? It’s not fair, I’m too good for this to happen, God messed up, This is pointless, etc...
The fact is we already know why God has allowed the trial.
1 Peter 1:6–7 KJV 1900
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
God didn’t make a mistake, He’s not letting you suffer needlessly, He is not being mean or cruel, He is not treating you unfairly. God has allowed that trial because He knows that your faith needs some refinement. God knows exactly the right amount of trials we need so that when we stand before Jesus at His appearing our faith will be found out / it will be proven to be unto the praise, honor, and glory of God.
Do you see why an attitude of astonishment is really an affront to God’s sovereign plan for your life? You are calling into question God’s ability to rule over you, and that is unacceptable.
Second, we must instead adopt an attitude of rejoicing.
1 Peter 4:13 KJV 1900
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Peter says, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings- the idea of that phrase is, “to the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing!”
That is an incredible thought! These two things don’t seem like they should go together. As your suffering for Christ’s sake increases so too should your rejoicing?!?!
That’s like saying about my kids, as their sugar intake goes up, so too should their calm and collective demeanor.
Yet that is what Peter is saying- To the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing - present, active, imperative.
Now why does Peter say this? Because he loves misery and pain and we should too?!? No, that is not the idea.
Peter actually gives us two reasons for why we should adopt this attitude.
1. That (so that), when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. At the revelation of the glory of Christ you may rejoice with exultation!

to be exceedingly joyful, exult, be glad, overjoyed

Revelation 19:7 KJV 1900
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Rejoice in your share of Christ’s sufferings now, why? So that, when Christ returns in His glory you can over rejoice / exceedingly rejoice! If right now you reject an attitude of astonishment and adopt an attitude of rejoicing, then when Christ appears and you see Him face to face their will be cause for rejoicing with exultation!
2. The second reason for why we should adopt an attitude of rejoicing is found in v. 14
1 Peter 4:14 KJV 1900
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
One the one hand, believers were being reproached / reviled / verbally criticized by men for the name of Christ, but on the other hand they were happy / blessed by God because of their faith. What is the evidence of God’s blessing? The Spirit of glory and of God rests upon them. Genuine believers have the indwelling of the Spirit, and through the Holy Spirit experience right now a taste of God’s blessing that will be fully given in the age to come.
If the end is right around the corner, how should our lives change to live accordingly?
IV. We must put our trust firmly in the Lord by responding to suffering by doing good (vv. 15-19)
1 Peter 4:15 KJV 1900
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
We need to be careful that we are suffering for the right reason. Not all suffering qualifies one for God’s blessing. Is the trial in your life a result of participating in the sufferings of Christ, or are you suffering because of your own sin?
1 Peter 4:16 KJV 1900
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
On the other hand, if you are legitimately suffering as a Christian, do not be ashamed for you suffering, but instead glorify God.
How many times do we allow shame to get the best of us? How many of us have thought, “I need to give my coworker the gospel, or my neighbor, or my friend.” But we never do. Why? Because we are worried about what the might think or say about me. In other words we are worried about being ashamed. Peter says, if you are living your life as a Christian ought to be living, and you suffer as a result- this is not a matter of shame! Instead, you should be glorifying God in this matter.
Acts 5:40–42 KJV 1900
40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
vv. 17-18 tells us why we should glorify God when He allows us to suffer
1 Peter 4:17 KJV 1900
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
Peter, writing to these believers who are presently experiencing suffering says- look God has allowed this time right now to be for judgment / trials / chastisement for the church. But one day the one’s who are presently causing you to suffer will be held accountable for their actions- and what will be their outcome if they do not obey the gospel of God?
Answer? v. 18
1 Peter 4:18 KJV 1900
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
If the righteous scarcely be saved- what does this mean? I don’t think that Peter is calling into question the ability of God to save people. The idea is not that God barely did it. Rather what God needs to accomplish in the life of sinner in order for them to be saved is significant!
Propitiation- exhausting the wrath of God
Expiation- removal of our guilt
Justification- declaring us righteous
Sanctification- practical righteousness
Glorification- perfect righteousness
All this and more was accomplished IN CHRIST- through his blood. And this is what it took to save a sinner like me and like you. We are saved only because of the blood of Jesus Christ- imagine what will become of the godless man or the sinner who does not have the blood of Christ effectively working to undue all of the consequences of sin.
What will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? Eternal damnation in the lake of fire- forever and ever separated for God, paying the penalty of their own sin.
This should cause us to have a heart of compassion for unsaved people, even the ones who are the cause of our suffering. We can enduring suffering, not counting it as shame but instead glorifying God- knowing that He will work our suffering to our good and knowing that we might save some. Ultimately those who cause us to suffer, if they do not obey the gospel of God will face God at the Great White Throne of judgment. They will be held accountable for their sins and we will be blessed.
Therefore, v. 19
1 Peter 4:19 KJV 1900
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
What should be our attitude toward suffering then? A faithful trust in God. We must commit the keeping of our souls to our faithful Creator. How? In well doing- when suffering comes, continue doing good.
If the end is right around the corner, how should our lives change to live accordingly?
I. We must have a serious and alert dependence upon God in prayer (v. 7)
II. We must earnestly love and minister to one another (vv. 8-11)
III. We must reject an attitude of astonishment when God allows us to suffer and instead adopt an attitude of rejoicing (vv. 12-14)
IV. We must put our trust firmly in the Lord by responding to suffering by doing good (vv. 15-19)
If you knew that Christ was coming back tomorrow, could you go out and just live today and you did yesterday? Or would you be frantically trying to change your life in order to be ready? Live your life as if the end is right around the corner!
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