Simon Peter – Prominent Prophet of the Apostles (7 of 10)
Focus Text: 1 Peter 4.3-5
Peter was not one given to abiding in error; he made errors but he did not stay in them; his heart, once convicted of its wrongs, was quick to change and return to the path of right. Jesus knew this about him when He called him. Jesus knew this about him when He rebuked him as recorded in Matthew 16.22-23. Jesus knew this about him when He warned him of the denial that would take place just prior to His crucifixion. In short, Jesus knew Peter inside and out!
Some men find it hard to admit wrongs. Looking at Peter’s life, it occurs to me that Peter found it harder NOT to admit his wrongs! Perhaps this was, as much as any other, the trait which attracted Jesus to him. Perhaps it was this sensitivity to our need for repentance that moved the Holy Spirit to inspire Peter to call upon the Pentecostians to “…repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2.38). Maybe this is why God picked Peter to go to the household of Cornelius to induct the first Gentiles into the household of faith (see Acts 10 & 11). Certainly this trait was in evidence when Paul withstood Peter to the face in Antioch (see Galatians 2.11-21).
It takes tremendous strength of conviction for a man like Peter to commit what we perceive to be such heinous sins and yet to go on preaching and teaching the gospel. I have to wonder aloud: “As a gospel preacher, did anyone ever remind him scornfully of his denial of the Lord? Did anyone ever hatefully remind Peter that it took him several years between Pentecost when he declared ‘the gospel is for all’ and the time that he finally took the gospel to the household of Cornelius? I can’t help but believe that some arch-enemies of the cross refused to let the story of Peter’s hypocrisy in Antioch die quickly; rather they retold the story any and every time that it could prove embarrassing to Peter, prominent prophet of the apostles!”
Perhaps one of the greatest evidences of Peter’s strength of character is in the fact that he was able to move beyond his own guilt and to stand courageously proclaiming the saving gospel of his Lord. Each apostle who forsook Jesus near the cross was able to do the same. “Doubting Thomas” was able to do the same. Paul, previously Saul the tenacious persecutor of Christians, was able to do the same. The common strength exhibited by the disciples to go on after such personal failures is, so far as unbelievers are concerned, an uncommon strength! Yet, it is a fact that all of the disciples, Peter being one of them, were able to put the past behind them and lead productive lives for the cause of Christ! This “common strength” among the disciples was and is the marvelous reforming and renewing strength of the gospel.
Peter wrote: “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles——when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4.3-5). “They will give an account!” “They” but not “we!” The strength of Peter was in forgiveness and being able to accept it as God’s gift to him!
1. What excuses might Peter have offered for refusing to publicly preach the gospel?
2. Given that Peter refused to quit in spite of his failures, what positive traits does this reveal?
3. Should forgiven people be ashamed to the point that they refuse to proclaim the gospel?
4. Who has the greater story to tell: The man who has been “forgiven much” or the man who has been “forgiven little”? What application should we make of this fact?
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