Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Gospel of Peace: Making It Real - Lesson 9 - “Seek Peace and Pursue It” - 1 Peter 3:8-17

Lesson 9 - “Seek Peace and Pursue It” - 1 Peter 3:8-17
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?) 
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.) 
WS: Word Study (Understanding grammatical and theological definitions and usages in other passages.)

1.      ID: (8) What qualities does Paul desire for his readers? Which ones are active traits and which are passive?
3.      ID: (9) What does Peter say we are to be?  Why?
4.      CR:  (10-11) What three things must you do if you want to enjoy life? (Psalm 34:12-16)
5.      WS-CR: (11) What does it mean to seek and pursue peace? (Romans 14:19; 2 Timothy 2:22 )
6.      ID: (12) What are the motivations given in verse 12?  How are they a comfort to us?
7.      CR: (14) What light does Isaiah 8:13 shed on verse fourteen?
8.      CR: (15) How should we respond in defense of our faith? Who are we to fear? (Matthew 24:28)
9.      ID: (16) What do we need to be ready for opposition?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.      How strong are you in each of the characteristics listed in verses 8-12?  In what areas do you feel the strongest? (Does your wife agree with you?)  Where do you feel you need the most help?
2.      It is instructive that Paul talks about how we treat each other and how to defend our faith together in the same passage.  What do they have to do with each other?
3.      Let’s get real.  What do you do when you don’t feel called to verses eight and nine?
4.      Do you think that fear of sharing your faith might be related to not being at peace with other believers? Why? (or related to not having a clear conscience? Why?)
5.      Verse seven, immediately before our passage, talks about a man’s relationship with his wife. How do verses 8-9 relate to our marriages?

Excerpt from…
So peace is essential to Christianity, and Christians must surely seek to be peacemakers. Right?  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple . . . or, at least, we Christians have complicated what was meant to be simple. When it comes to the matter of Christianity, peace, and peacemaking, we encounter several perplexing problems. Three stand out in particular.
First, theologically conservative American Christians (like me) have tended to think of Christ’s peace mainly if not exclusively in terms of personal peace with God and the inner peace that follows from this divine relationship. Now let me say at the outset of this series on "Seeking the Peace of Christ" that I passionately believe that you and I can have personal peace with God through Christ. I also believe that one result of this peace is deep, inner tranquility and a sense of well-being, the peace of God “which surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). I would never deny the wonder of these dimensions of peace, and will not do so in this series. But I would contend that the peace of God, as revealed in Scripture, includes much more than we evangelicals sometimes think. It’s not that we are wrong in what we believe about God’s peace, but that we believe far too little.
The second problem with peace is that we who speak English tend to think of peace in negative terms, as the absence of war or other kinds of conflict. When two sides in a war come together and sign a treaty, then peace has been achieved. Or when a husband and wife finishing fighting, we might say that have worked out peace in their relationship. But this sense of peace falls short of the biblical vision. As you’ll see in this series, the Bible speaks of peace as something far broader and grander than merely the absence of conflict.
The third problem when it comes to Christianity and peace is that the language of peacemaking is often used among more theologically and/or politically liberal Christians to describe a certain kind of political stance in the world. Peacemaking is often aligned with full on pacifism, or, at least, with a strongly pacifistic anti-military stance. In my experience in a mainline denomination, so-called peacemaking often goes hand in hand with vigorous, partisan criticism of the United States. Now I’m not suggesting that this political perspective is necessarily right or wrong. But it does confuse matters if we want to understand the biblical notions of peace and peacemaking. The way many Christians use this language may keep those who use it from missing the biblical sense(s) of peace. Moreover, evangelical Christians can associate peacemaking with liberal theology, while politically conservative Christians can assume that one who talks about peacemaking embraces a liberal political agenda. Bible-believing Christians can almost forget that Jesus was the one who blessed the peacemakers, and therefore we had better figure out what this means so we can join them.

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