1 Peter 5:8-11 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
As I mentioned last week, there are two great realities presented in this passage. The first, which was the point of last week’s sermon, is the fact that there exists a being in this world whose primary desire is to tear you to pieces and then eat you. The second great reality, which is the point of today’s sermon, is that there exists another being in this world who rules over the one who seeks your destruction and has given himself to secure your rescue.
In the way of a quick review, last week I asked and answered four questions from vs.8-9. 1) Who is the enemy? Peter identifies the enemy with three separate terms (all in v.8): “adversary,” “the devil,” and “roaring lion.” 2) What is his intent? The single expressed purpose of the devil (in this passage) is to devour God’s people. 3) What are his methods? The devil’s methods are revealed in his names: tempter, demon-planter, murderer, liar, blinder, disguiser, destroyer, accuser, and suffering-causer. And 4) How are we to respond? Peter says that God’s people are to be sober-minded, watchful, faithfully resistant, and others-oriented.
The question before us this morning is this: Up against an enemy who has that intention and those methods, how is it possible to respond in these ways? Satan is real. His hatred for the things of God is real. His power to devour is real. How, then, could we ever even hope to respond in sober-minded watchfulness, faithful resistance, and selflessness? The answer, of course, comes in vs.10-11, “After you have suffered for a little while [at the hands of this adversary, devil, roaring lion], the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. [Because] to him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
With that, let’s pray that God would make us continually aware of our enemy and strengthen us to respond in the ways he’s given us.
WHO IS THIS GOD?
One burning question for Peter’s readers, once again, was why they were suffering as they were. They had trusted in Jesus and therein been promised the favor of God. Why, then, was life so hard? The point of vs.8-9 is that one reason for their suffering was the devil. They were suffering because the devil hates God, his work, and his people. What’s more, the devil possesses great power to devour.
With all of that, what hope did they (and do we) have to overcome these trials, to remain faithful through them, and to obey Peter’s various commands throughout this letter (like those in 5:8-9-to be sober-minded, watchful, faithfully resistant, and others-oriented)? How could they possibly do those things with such an enemy after them? Since they had chosen to align themselves with God, they had chosen to take on God’s enemies. However, as this passage makes crystal clear, by aligning themselves with God they also chose to take on God’s salvation and protection.
With that, (1) Who is this God with whom they had aligned themselves, and (2) How will he protect them from the enemy who seeks to devour them (and the rest of their various, fiery trials)? As we will see, the power to obey the commands in vs.8-9 (and throughout 1 Peter) are found entirely in the nature and work of God. Again, then, let’s consider each (God’s nature and his rescuing work).
The God of all Grace
What kind of God is able to strengthen his people to stand up against fiery trials, including the prowling, roaring, devouring lion of v.8? Answer: the God of all grace and dominion.
The God calling his people to resist the devil is the God of all grace. Please understand this, Grace: the only way you and I can survive the trials that come our way is with God’s help. And the only reason that you and I receive God’s help (his salvation and protection) is on account of his grace. There is nothing in you or I that deserves God’s rescue from our sin or our adversary. There is nothing in us that deserves anything other than God’s just, eternal wrath for our continued rebellion against him. And yet, in love, God doesn’t give us what we deserve when we place our hope in him. He gives us grace.
God has always dealt with his people graciously; and he always will.
Exodus 34:6-7 The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.
Nehemiah 9:17 …you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…
Psalm 103:8-13 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
More generous still is the fact that God has not only determined to extend his grace to his people, he’s also determined to tell us the forms his grace will take by making promises of grace to us. In 1 Peter 5:9-10 alone he promises that instead of eternal suffering as punishment for our sin, our suffering will, at most, be for a “little while”. And, as we will see in just a bit, instead of leaving us with the consequences of our sin and the suffering it produced, God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us in Christ.
Again, God has always worked in this way-making and keeping promises of grace to his people.
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…
Joshua 21:43-45 Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
Indeed, the God of the bible, the hope of the scattered elect exiles, is the God of all grace. We’ve just read several passages declaring and describing this. However, above all, God’s grace is seen in his Son, Jesus.
John 1:14,16 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…
Ephesians 2:4-8 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith.
Our God is the God of all grace for all his people. For those who hope in Christ (and if you’re not already, you can do so today, right now), God is the God of all grace in that he gives us all the grace we need (to persevere in faith through every trial and be in fellowship with him forever) and only grace (we will never experience his wrath or condemnation). And it is on the basis of his grace alone that he has promised to rescue us from the mouth of the roaring lion.
God is the God of all grace, but grace alone is not enough. If he were a God of unlimited grace but limited power he would mean well, but at times be unable to act on his good intentions. As Peter breaks out in praise, let us do so as well. For the God of all grace is also the God of all dominion.
The God of All Dominion
God’s grace is the reason he makes promises of rescue. His dominion is the reason we can trust them with our eternal lives. Indeed, “To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” But what does this mean? In short, it means that God has complete authority over all things, in all places, at all times. Consider with me the following list (mostly taken from Justin Taylor on TGC’s Website). God rules absolutely over:
- Seemingly random things. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Prov. 16:33).
- The heart of the most powerful person in the land: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
- Our daily lives and plans: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
- Salvation: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom. 9:15-16).
- Life and death: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).
- Disabilities: “Then the LORD said to [Moses], ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD'” (Exodus 4:11)?
- The death of Jesus: “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief…” (Isaiah 53:10).
- Evil things: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).
- All things: “[God] works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).
- The adversary, the devil, the roaring, prowling lion: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
Grace, do you see this? Do you see how this changes everything? Do you see how it gives entirely new meaning to your suffering-even suffering at the hand of the devil? The various trials you are experiencing may be outside of your control, but they most certainly aren’t outside of the reign of God. As we have seen over and over and over again in 1 Peter, every occurrence of the suffering of the saints and every moment within them, is under the reign of God, for the glory of God and the good of all his people.
God’s grace turns his heart toward you and his dominion ensures your rescue! That leaves us with one final question from this passage: How does God go about rescuing his people from various fiery trials (especially the ones caused by Satan?
HOW WILL HE RESCUE HIS PEOPLE?
There are two key aspects to God’s rescue plan. The first is an objective, unchangeable, past reality. The second is rooted in the first and is a gradual, future oriented set of promises.
The Finished Work of Christ
Look with me once again at v.10. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ…”.
Notice the past tense nature of the clause. Peter’s readers, along with you and I, along with everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, are certain of our rescue because we have been called to God’s “eternal glory in Christ.” That is, it is by Jesus’ saving work on the cross, and our gracious union with him in it through faith, that God rescues us. It is Jesus who is the great dragon killer. In Jesus, the great Genesis, serpent-crushing promise of God was fulfilled and our rescue was made certain.
Genesis 3:14-15 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Our ultimate hope, then, for victory over sin, Satan, and suffering occurred 2000 years ago on a cross. In the cross, the eternal rescue of God’s people was decisively and finally secured. Ponder that for a moment, Grace. Consider whatever suffering you are enduring in light of that great reality.
And then consider that it gets better. We are not only rescued from sin, Satan, and suffering, we are also rescued to God’s eternal glory in Jesus. Just ponder that. God has “called you to his eternal glory in Christ! That is ten sermons (100 sermons) all by itself. Not only will our suffering end, it will end with us eternally delighting in the glory of the godhead.
And then consider that it gets better still. We are not only rescued from sin, Satan, and suffering and to eternal glory in Jesus, but also to the restoration of all that those three have taken from us! We will not be left to experience God’s glory with the scars and brokenness left by sin and Satan. We will be renewed! That’s the final point I want to draw your attention to from the text.
The Continuing Work of Christ
As I mentioned earlier, our hope rests entirely in the past, objective, finished work of Jesus. All of God’s grace won by all of God’s dominion was eternally secured for all of God’s people at the cross. And yet, the cross sent grace ripples eternally forward. That is, the grace of the cross necessarily produces an ongoing, future-oriented work in God’s people as well. We can see this plainly in the change of tense in v.10. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
God has called us to his eternal glory in Christ and, therefore, he will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. That is, he will undo all of the damage done to his people by sin and Satan.
He will restore us to the full image-bearers we were meant to be. All of the times you wanted so badly to do what is right, but stumbled; all of the times you wanted to love in ways that you fell short of; all of the times you wanted courage but lacked it; as God’s image-bearers you and I were meant for righteousness, love, and strength. Sin took those things away. God will restore them all. We will be made fully human.
He will also confirm our union with Jesus and the fact that we are his children. In Christ, after you suffer for a little while longer, you will never doubt your salvation again. You will never wonder where God is or why he seems so silent. God will confirm his presence and your acceptance in an unwavering way.
He will strengthen us to worship him in his glory in Jesus. Did you ever find yourself having so much fun for so long that you just ran out of energy? There was more fun to be had but your body was spent. In heaven we will see God for who he is and we will long for the strength we need to praise God forever and ever-and he will give it. He will strengthen us to do all that our heart’s long for eternally!
And he will establish you and I to never again doubt or fear or worry or be anxious or lonely. He will bring us into presence and we will forever know that we are his, loved, safe, and home.
What a vision. What glory. Grace, you may be going through real, difficult, seemingly unbearable trials right now. I’ve heard stories of suffering that I wouldn’t want to endure for a moment, but that some have endured for years. However long your suffering was or is or will be, for all who are hoping in Jesus it will end. It will be for just a little while in light of eternity. And then “The God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. [For] to him be the dominion forever and ever.
So hope in him, Grace. When you endure suffering in Jesus’ name and are tempted to abandon faith in God, remember his gracious promises in Christ, remember his dominion over all things, remember that all things will be made new, and trust in God. Amen.