Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Standing Strong in Unsettling Times

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Standing Strong in Unsettling Times

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Standing Strong in Unsettling Times

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The Apostle Peter wrote I Peter letter in about 67AD. It was an unsettling time for Christians. Rome had burned in 64AD. Christians were blamed, persecuted and many martyred. Peter tells Christians how to conduct themselves during unsettling times. Good advice for us.

Transcript

[Mr. Victor Kubik]: Christians throughout history have lived through times of stress, anxiety, persecution, and even martyrdom. This has been true from the very, very beginning. The earliest chapters of the book of Acts. After the exciting 3000 people were baptized, the next chapter talks about John and Peter going out to preach - preach Jesus Christ. And what happened? They were put in prison, thrown into prison right away. Today, I'd like to focus on a New Testament letter that speaks to the general community of Christians and a book that... or a book that specifically mentions congregations or people in Asia Minor, which is Turkey today. They were going through tremendous stress, persecution, and martyrdom. The conditions though, however, were extant throughout the entire Roman Empire. This book is very relevant to us today. And this is the book of 1 Peter, which I will be talking about today. It's the only place that I will turn to or actually I'll refer to other passages, but just in passing. But if you turn to 1 Peter, we'll be basically staying right there throughout the whole sermon. And the message here is how to conduct yourself in the face of persecution, which I think as we enter the period of time ahead of us that is unknown, we just don't know what we will be necessarily facing, but we know what we should be doing.

1 and 2 Peter are part of the general Epistles, part of seven books or letters. And it was written in 67 AD. 1 Peter is considered one of the most elegantly written letters in the Bible. Peter was a leading apostle. He was kind of the mouth of the apostles. He was an impulsive, bold, brash and passionate individual who reacted very, very quickly. For example, we know the story of him when Jesus Christ was arrested, he cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus, to prevent Jesus from being arrested. Jesus Christ had to fix that right away and restored the ear right away - but just right away, hacked off the ear of Malchus. Earlier at the Passover evening when Jesus Christ came to Peter to wash his feet, Peter said, “Don't wash my feet. You shall never wash my feet.” And Jesus said to him, “Look, if I don't wash your feet, you have no part with me.” Peter's response, “Okay. Wash me all over.” I mean, he just jumped from one thing to another. It's part of the personality of Peter.

The letter of Peter takes about 16 minutes to read. I could read it three times in a sermon today and basically, that's it. Just walk away from here. You'll probably get more out of the sermon by me reading it three times in person than the whole sermon. I can listen to it on my drive home on a Bible app that I have. After the sermon, before you go home and as you prepare dinner, you can read the entire book in its entirety while it's still fresh. The book is about how we have a God who gives us a great deal of knowledge of what we have to prepare in going through some of the things that are ahead of us. Let me give you a little bit of background as to what is the story and what is the context of 1 Peter. First of all, in 64 AD, which is about three years before this letter... I hate to call a... really, it's not a book. It's a letter. It doesn't take that long. We read in 15 minutes. In 64, Rome was burned, burned to the ground. And the story is that Nero, the Emperor, set it on fire and then blamed Christians for starting it. It became a pretext of his to persecute Christians, which started a period of martyrdom that was terrific, terrible in the Roman Empire. Persecution and martyrdom persisted for several years. When Peter wrote this letter, he was writing to scattered people in Turkey, but he was writing to conditions that were stamped throughout the Roman Empire, but he's not writing to any one particular church. He was writing in general.

On top of this, at the same time, between 66 and 73, there was what was called the civil war or the Roman Jewish war that took place. The first Jewish Roman war that dragged on from 66 to 73 AD. Jerusalem was destroyed. And according to Josephus, 1.1 million people perished in Jerusalem. I mean, considering the populations being smaller at that time, that is a huge number of people. 1.1 million people died in Jerusalem. In 70 AD in Jerusalem, the temple was totally destroyed. And it fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus Christ uttered in Matthew 24:2 Matthew 24:2And Jesus said to them, See you not all these things? truly I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone on another, that shall not be thrown down.
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as He lamented and as He looked out over the city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. He says, “See that temple? Not one stone will be left upon another.” And that prophecy was fulfilled 37 years later in 70 AD. This was a fulfillment of His lament.

Sometimes when you see a movie, and oftentimes, before we watch a movie, we'd like to see the trailer. You could watch it for free. And it kind of gives you a little bit of a background and synopsis of the movie. I'd like to give you a little trailer here too for 1 Peter because the context or the subject is persecution and trial. Persecution and trial can cause either growth or bitterness in a Christian life. And it depends upon how you react to it. We have and we will be going through trials in the church, persecution inside and out. Most of our persecution has been on the inside. We've had very little persecution from the outside, but it's coming. Believe me, it's coming. And Peter tells us how to conduct ourselves in the face of persecution. Peter encourages people to conduct themselves courageously for Jesus Christ. He comes out very boldly and speaks about how a person needs to conduct themselves. He doesn't just say, “Well, hope for the best. Pray about it.” He says exactly and tells exactly what needs to be done. He says that character and conduct must be above reproach. It's easy during times of trial to let down, start cursing, start drinking, start abusing yourself, start abusing others, turn to addictions, quit and give up hope. And all these things Peter is able to foresee this and tell Christians, “Don't do that. Instead, here's what you need to be doing.”

One of the themes of the books of Peter - both of them - is hope. He speaks about a living hope. Just some context. 1 Peter is a book about persecution from the outside, which was coming from the Roman government, the persecution and martyrdom that was upon Jews and upon Christians. 2 Peter is a book about persecution from within. Persecution from within the church. And I'll touch on that, but that will be a Peter 2 sermon sometime down the road. He talks about character and conduct, the fruit of that character will be conduct and submission. That was one of the keywords, conduct and submission. You'll see this as it's repeated over and over again in the book. It's not about protesting. It's not about fighting. It's about submission. Not to say that we don't stand up for our beliefs, but the key is submission. Citizens to government. Servants to master - to your employer. And at that time, servants, some of them were slaves. He tells them how to conduct themselves with the person or the entity that own them. He talks about wives to husbands, speaks about wives, husbands to wives, submission cooperation.

So, when we have hard times coming, it shouldn't be something that causes us to turn on one another. It should cause us to submit and to work with one another and cooperate and have this known beforehand because even with a COVID crisis - if we can call that - which led to other things that will affect our Christian liberty is immediately a reaction to become belligerent, to become independent, and to spout off as we see on social media. But the apostle Peter said, “We need to submit to one another, to respect one another, and to have this beforehand, to have good relations with one another.” Christians, it's only after submission is fully understood that Peter starts talking about the difficult area of suffering and dealing with the suffering aspect of persecution. This is a thought that's very much worth pondering as we prepare ourselves for the future. I have no prophecy of what will take place. But if you read what the New Testament prophecies are before Jesus Christ returns. We will be coming through some hard times. And it's good to be prepared for them. We've known about ups and downs even in our contemporary church history. And we've had a history that has been painful inside and also will be coming more from the outside.

Chapter 4 and verse 12. The apostle Peter... And the book of Peter is five chapters, the first four, he basically addresses these issues that I had talked about here regarding submission and also about a subject that is to all the people, to the general population. Chapter five is like an appendix. He said, “By the way, I'd like to write this one more chapter to the elders, specifically to the elders. However, everything in chapter five can be applied to individuals.” And he just introduces two more things in chapter five. He talks about humility and talks about resisting the devil. But in verse 12 of chapter 4 where he kind of winds down this message to the people, he says:

1 Peter 4:12 1 Peter 4:12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
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– “Beloved, do not think it's strange concerning the fiery trial to try you as though some strange thing happened to you.” So, a fiery trial comes, you've been warned, you've been spoken of. You've been spoken to about it. He said, “But rejoice to the extent that you partake in Christ's suffering when His glory is revealed, that you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part, He is blasphemed, but on your part, He is glorified.” And then he talks about our responsibility. “Let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters, that whatever suffering that we may have to go through that it not be for sins and physical sins. Yet, if anyone suffers as a Christian...” - And this is the only time the word Christian is used by Christians in the New Testament – “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this manner, for the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” So, what does Peter say in this entire letter? Let's go through - that's the end of the trailer. Now, let's get back to the movie. So, what does Peter say in this letter? Chapter 1 verse 1:

1 Peter 1:1 1 Peter 1:1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
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– “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the pilgrims of the dispersion,” - and he names five provinces in Asia Minor in Turkey, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia in the dispersion. And that's the people who were scattered already from Palestine up into those areas. He calls them pilgrims. Translations... I checked about five translations and each one had a different word for pilgrim. And one translation was pilgrim, foreigners, exiles, strangers, or aliens. All these words are used. And in verse two, take us immediately into our identity. Now, again, we're talking a lot about identity in the terms we live in. God also wants us to have a particular identity that we take on. Verse two. As the people he's addressing. “The elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Wow, what's all that? It kind of sounds very, very jumbled up and very religious. We can read through that real quickly as part of the introduction, but there is a lot in those three words, the three main identities that are in those words. He says we are the elect. Christ said that no man can come to me unless the Father draw him, in John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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. So, we have been elected. Part of our identity is that we have not come here because we were smart, because we found it on our own. We have been elected, selected. We have been chosen to be here. The person next to you has been chosen. Everybody in this room has been invited to something very, very special.

According to the foreknowledge of God the Father because He has chosen us some time back. He looked upon your life. Some people He's chosen before they were born, you know, to this calling like Jeremiah. Other people as they were growing up. I know one time we had, at college, a discussion about what signs do you look in your early life that indicated that God was working with you even before you came to the truth? And we had some tremendous discussion about events that took place, about relationships, about things that were supernatural almost and God working with your specific life, but God has chosen us. And also, He has sanctified us by the Spirit. What does that mean? Sanctified - that’s a religious-sounding word - that means set apart. We have been sanctified. We've been chosen and also set apart. And then he uses in verse five the word kept. God is keeping us, protecting us, and holding us as He works with us. And then the third one, the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, cleansed. We have been cleansed. So, our identity right now is that we have been chosen, sanctified, and cleansed. Do you believe that?

I came to the point where I understood that God was working in my life. I came to the point of where I came to baptism to repentance. I was sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood covered my sins and continues to cover my sins. And I have been sanctified, set apart and kept by His protection all these years. That's my identity. I hope that that is your identity as well. There's a great economy of words just in verse two, but it really sets the tone or sets the identity of what we are. So, remember your identity. Never forget who you are. Never forget that you have been chosen, sanctified and cleansed - all three. Verse 3:

1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
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– “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His abundant mercy has begotten.” The word ‘engenao’ - begotten. We have begun again, conceived onto a living hope which is one of the themes of the book of Peter. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled.

These are all things that God is doing for us after He has chosen us, after He has sanctified us, after He has cleansed us, cleansed and sanctified us, all these three things. “To inheritance, incorruptible that does not fade away, reserved in heaven.” And there's a trust fund in heaven right now for you. It's coming down this way. “Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” So, the apostle Peter, from the very, very beginning, is very encouraging to the people who are about to or have been or are in the middle of persecution. Hang in there. Hang together. And then in verse six, he really outlines and really hits directly why he's writing this letter. “In this, you greatly rejoice.” It was hard to rejoice when you have hardships. As we took a look at last year, there was just a lot of bad things that happened last year. It's hard to say that we really rejoiced over very much, but as a Christian, we should rejoice.

Now, there's one thing that's more difficult than being a Christian. You know what that is? Not being a Christian. Because as a Christian, you know where you're going, you know what your help is. I'd hate to be out there without the knowledge - support that I have. So, I am so thankful. That's why I rejoice. I'm happy. I'm giddy about being Christian. Maybe not quite giddy, but I feel very, very joyful about being a Christian. And I thank God for it every day. I thank God for the calling I had. I thank God for the people that I work with. I thank God for my wife. I thank my God for my family. I thank God for the trials they have had and the things that I've been able to learn. “In this, you greatly rejoice though now for a little while if need be you have been grieved by various trials.” That's why he's writing this letter. Not annoyances. Trials. “That the genuineness of your faith being much more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire.” And believe me, this was a literal fire that took place three years before that in Rome that really set off this massive Roman Empire-wide persecution against Christians. Some Christians were impaled on stakes, lit, tortured at night. I mean, the horrible things really happened in this trial. But the apostle Peter is trying to get these people to focus on who they are and who they relate to, the relationships they have. And give some specific instructions here.

“May be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ whom you have not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him yet believing you rejoice with joy, inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls,” - because that's what it's all about, the salvation of your souls. On the outside, people who don't understand they have no idea where they're going, if they're gonna live, what happens after that. They're totally in the dark about things that we are very conversant with and can talk about with one another. We are living in quickly increasing godless society where it's becoming more and more fashionable to be an atheist. Academia celebrates it. Forty percent of college professors are atheists. These are the ones teaching your children. These are the ones who are preparing the next generation, 40% of them do not believe in a God. What's the job of a professor? It's to teach, it's to prepare for the future. And here's somebody who has no knowledge or desire or even a hatred towards God.

Godlessness is creeping into our laws, into our justice system, and certainly into morality. We know that very well. We see it. We see this creeping in. And we see the people who are righteous who are people who want to hold on to moral values being a decreasing, being a smaller, shrinking group. I read an interesting statistic about Ashley Madison. Ashley Madison is an app or a website for connecting people who want to have affairs. That's one of several. Its membership has increased to 70 million with 50 million being in the United States. Since the start of COVID, it went up by 5.5 million. Actually, last March, it really spiked as COVID started. People instead of trying to focus on what's right things to do in a crisis or what we had with a COVID, instead, they will go more into immorality. Pandemic has caused an upsurge. Seventeen thousand new accounts are created daily for Ashley Madison. And now more women are members than men. Just to let you know just the kind of world that we live in.

Pornography is the number one use of the Internet. And actually, the development of the Internet has been spurned on by the demand for pornography. Capacity, growth speed has brought on this technology improvement. The VCR was invented. People think, “Oh, nice. I could watch Disney movies at home by myself.” No. It was for porn where people who didn't want to be seen, could get pornographic videos and watch them at home. Those who fear God, love God, obey God are shrinking group as the ungodly are coming out unashamedly and broadcast their sins and are not ashamed of it at all. Eventually, people will hate us. They'll hate you. They'll hate you for what you stand. Christ says to the disciples, “They will hate you because they hate Me.” This whole world is going into a period of darkness and don't let that darkness come into your life. It's coming to darkness into other societies in other philosophies. In the Soviet Union, communism was a philosophical system of Marx and Lenin. I bring this up because it was a system that was based upon a hatred for God.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.” Hatred of God. That's the system that my parents came from, particularly my mother because she grew up in what was still the USSR. My father was part of Poland when he was born. But they had no knowledge of God. I remember when we started getting some books from the USSR when we lived in St. Paul, Minnesota, one thing that really struck me about the books that were published in the USSR is anytime there was any reference to God, it was always God with a small G. It was just almost like a real dig at God. In all of seventy years of Russian or communist domination, there's only one printing of the Bible in that country. It was a very small printing. In order to grow up and to go upscale in the Communist Party, you had to write a thesis. You had to write a paper, decrying the Bible and showing how inconsistent and how evil it is.

Under national socialism, also Nazism, hatred of God was also the underlying philosophy. The clampdown of the Word of God is in progress. And the famine of the Word is coming. I think that we hear in media, as we work here, we're very, very cognizant and very, very careful trying to see where this is going and how we could take evasive steps. Never have I seen the brazen censorship that I have as of the last year or so about the use of the Word of God and what we can say. The question is, can religious liberties now be taken away? Now one thing most of us have grown up in the U.S., I have two. My parents just talked about the repression of religion back in the Soviet Union. But in the U.S., you dare say that you're gonna take my religious liberties away that I can't listen or read or go online. This is the American way where things can change. Things can change very, very quickly. And we've seen acceleration of that which we need to be prepared for. Can our religious liberties be taken away? Can it happen in the USA?

Last month, five of us from the United Church of God, four from the home office and one from Tennessee. Peter Eddington, Clint Porter, Rudy Rangel, Gary Petty and myself, went to the National Religious Broadcasters Conference that had not been held last year because of COVID. And so much had changed in the discussion of subjects since the last time that were not even issues before such as safeguarding of religious liberty for Christians. That was a major discussion from day one. There was a lot of discussion in forums and workshops about the subject of religious liberty. A group called the Alliance of Defending Freedom had several presentations. In fact, the lady lawyer, her name was Kristen Waggoner, who argued the case of Jack Phillips, the cake man, the man who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage spoke and she was very, very fluid. I found that we are not alone. There are other people who are very concerned about our rights, they're concerned about our freedoms, and concerned about where this is all going. But safeguarding religious liberty for Christians and nonprofits was a big discussion to workshops alone. Another presentation was a human cost to denying religious freedom. And they had two people they interviewed and talked about there on the stage. And they were interviewed by Kristen Waggoner. One was the conversation with a Dr. Jerry Davis, president of a college in the Ozarks, called College of the Ozarks, who is suing the government for requiring colleges to house transgender students in girls' dorms. The transgenders are saying that, “We have a right. I was a boy, but I'm a girl now and I'm gonna be roomed with girls here. I wanna share their bathroom with them.” They found this to be unacceptable.

The other one was Jack Phillips, the baker in Colorado, masterpiece bakery Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex marriage. And he was sued. And actually, they won the suit. But Kristen Waggoner argued to Supreme Court and overturned that particular decision. But he was interviewed there why he didn't do it. He says, “I don't bake cakes for Halloween.” I was just interested in that. “I don't bake cakes for adult themes. And I don't bake cakes for same-sex marriages. That's just the way I am.” He says, “If they want one, they can go across the street. There's other bakeries right here in the shopping mall, wherever he's at, that could make that cake for him.” But these people, they wanted him to do it. They wanted to show that if he doesn't do it, he hates them. And that's a crime. That's a hate crime. Well, that case was overturned. But now, another transgender has come to him or transgender has come to him and wants him to bake a cake for them. It must be blue on the inside and pink on the outside to celebrate his change of sex. This is crazy. But this is a serious thing and now that's in court.

One thing that these people do, and they're increasing their attack on people who they target as people who may not do the things that they want to make them look like they hate them, is to bring up lawsuits and start a suit against someone to harass them, and then as soon as there's a response to it, they drop it, then they go and sue something else at some other point or sue somebody. They continually keep the agitation going for the lawsuits regarding their particular stance. This way, there will never be a precedent set. He said, “Well, in this case, you know, this is what they ruled.” They know they couldn't win, but they keep everybody agitated for that. And the third area that was talked about is platform censorship of Section 230 and the future of social media. We are concerned too ourselves because, you know, what can we post? And if we post it, can our platform be lost? I know this kind of had us all up in arms and some people said, “Well, we should get our own servers.” Okay. We get our own servers, but we still might be cut off. They'll come to the point where they'll cut off our power not to have us do what we wanna do. So, we're gonna have to look to God to help us to do the work and to accomplish the vision that we have.

We have been denied already Google advertising on a platform that we thought we had clear passage to. We thought that we could post Google keywords because we rely on Google to build or to maintain our base of subscribers for the Beyond Today Magazine and we thought that we were pretty safe there. I was sudden refined finding out two things. One is that we are denied to propose those keywords. And they're not necessarily controversial subjects, but they said, “No. We won't take you.” That's too whatever. And the other is, is that, yeah, they'll give a space on their page 17. I mean, you'll find that phrase, but you'll be shadowed and not allowed to see it, shadow banned way down deep into the search engine. So, that's already begun today where whoever it is, the technocrats, decide who has a voice and who doesn't. So, that was a thing that was discussed. That was an item that was discussed, quite interestingly, at this particular conference. Shadowbanning can work the other way too, though. We had... if you get on the front page of Google search, you know, you have business because that's where people they wanna find the first things. They hardly ever go even to page two. But by the time you get to page five, people aren't even there. But if through getting on page one, you do have the ability to go to the first place.

Godless billionaires, which is Gates, Bezos, Soros, and Zuckerberg. Because of their relative wealth, they don't own anything as far as God is concerned, but they have more than the next guy to them. They think they own the world and they have bought into a society or of darkness. This has just come out of nowhere. When our former president was banned from Twitter, well, I did not endorse all the things that he said. Some things were very unpresidential, what he said. But to have the president of United States banned, account canceled by somebody in a cubicle by pushing a button and saying, “You're no longer... you don't exist on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media.” How can that be? I thought, “Well, this will be overturned very quickly. We'll have the ACLU, they'll come up to a rescue.” Nothing happened. Nothing happened. So, some person there, some geek in the back room pushed a button and can decide whose material is up and spoken of and which material is not. In our environment, genuine practicing Christians will be persecuted. And here are some of the sources of that persecution. Academia. As I said, 40% of professors are atheists. They think they're smarter than God. Our persecution will come from these people where you come in as a freshman to college or immediately your mind is battered with atheistic thought. Everything that you've been taught growing up is going to be challenged, decried, and mocked. And many succumb to this. A source of persecution will also be the government. The government that is supposed to protect us.

But there's something else that was brought up in the conference. When you take a look at a big tech and them banning us, deep-platforming us, they said, “Do we really want the government to save us?” Isn't that like having being tossed out of the frying pan into the fire? Do you want to give the government and say, “Look, save us from this technocracy. Save us from these technocrats?” We'll give you our allegiance. The government say, “Yeah, great. I'm glad you asked.” And as in totalitarian systems, once you give your liberty away, you may not get it back. Persecution will come from media. Media is so bad right now that, you know, we finally cut cable yesterday. We should have done it three years ago. But there's just nothing to watch, nothing to watch. You can either watch extreme right, extreme left, you know, and there's just nothing that's satisfying anymore because just judging by who you're listening to, you'll get that party line or get that position. And so it's really hard to find just a Walter Cronkite type of news program where you kind of get just the news. Don't give me all what people are thinking. Just give me the news.

Another source of persecution will come from mainstream Christians who just don't like what we teach. Because we don't teach certain things that are in mainstream Christianity, we will be banned or even persecuted. Persecution will come from family. Hatred and love are very much intermixed. In some families where a whole family was together, attended Feast of Tabernacles together, then all of a sudden some persecution came or some situation came into their religious life where one went to one group and one went to another group, one dropped out completely. Because it was an investment in love, it becomes really the source of hatred once towards another and persecution. I could give you many examples of families who have been shattered. And you know too as a result of persecution that's taken place. Persecution will come from former brothers in the faith. And this is really part of my Peter 2 sermon. But I still have... and I am not joshing much here. I still have PTSD from what occurred 26 years ago at the start of the United Church of God. I'm so thankful for the United Church of God. I'm so thankful that we're here. I'm so thankful for all the heroes that stood fast. But what happened at ground zero in Pasadena where I worked?

I was part and excited to be part of a great work on television. We were number two in the nation. Number two. We were on hundreds of TV stations. The Plain Truth Magazine had seven million copies printed every month. We also had the Good News Magazine. That was only a million that we produced. We were too big to fail. We had a beautiful campus. We had what appeared to be just a very solid background, but it all collapsed like the Twin Towers. It just came crashing down. I was right there at ground zero where the things that we had believed very, very strongly in what we believe about the nature of God, which is very important to us, but the personage of God the Father in Jesus Christ and what the Holy Spirit is. These are things that we see from the Bible and we are willing to really put our life on the line for this. We believe about the law of God and obedience. All these things that were core doctrines for us, all of a sudden, a monster arose in our midst of just the very few that held the whole organization at bay and caused it to come crashing down. And we are some of the splinters that have taken place for this.

The Sabbath was changed to Sunday. The Holy Days were done away with. Adopted the Trinity. All these things were disgusting to us to be told in the spur of a moment that these things have changed. After being in the church and being a minister who just received, at that time, my 25-year watch and being assistant director of church administration. I was called, said, “Can I support this?” I said, “Are you kidding?” they said, “Okay. You're no longer a minister.” After 25 years, that's the way it happened. And several ministers at that time, in fact, what we see now with the United Church of God have come. I call it a few, the same day that I was removed from ministry and they said, “Did you get the test?” “Yep. I flunked too.” We came across... we came against a monolith that just could be swatted. It happened so quickly without us even seeing it. We felt like the tank man at the Tiananmen Square, you know, just facing this huge monolith and said, “Who are we in this?” Indoctrination that took place just overnight was intense.

A professor from Europe spoke to us about the nature of God that we were not used to. God was no longer a God, the Father who had prayed to. I imagined Him. I was talking to a personage. I know God is bigger than a six-foot man, but He's not a blob. When I pray to God, I feel like He is talking to me. He relates to me in human fashion. Jesus Christ came to be God who became man so that we can become God. And yet, what was presented to us overnight was dark, disrespectful. He started the conversation in the indoctrination session saying, “Bring up any scripture. There's no scripture that I can't answer. There's no argument that I won't face.” How would you like to start a conversation in an environment of learning with that type of intimidation? A fearful atmosphere, not a respectful one was established. And that God that many people have come to know who existed who they prayed to was no longer there. That the God that you were looking to, that's not Him. He's much more than that, which we understand. But people were crying and people were upset. Who have I've been praying to all these years?

We have indoctrination today. Your children, if they go to public school, will have indoctrination too in critical race theory and evolution, applauding LGBTQ. How do they get away with such godlessness when no one can stand up to it? We can see the lament and the frustration of Jeremiah in all these, what's happening to our country. This is just what's happened here in the last couple of years. How will this accelerate? I'm speaking because we need to prepare ourselves for this. We need to arm ourselves. One of the best things we could do is to read 1 Peter. It only takes 15 minutes to read. And read it over and over again. I'll speak about that more because just recently, like I said, I have a kind of a PTSD about what had happened. As assistant director, I was the one collecting letters of resignation that were sent directly to Bev and me for the start of the United Church of God. I kept them in a folder and I could not look at them. I couldn't look at them because they were so painful to look at. We said, “What should we do with these letters?” Now, one of the thoughts I had was just to toss them in the fire. I said, “No. They really are the property of the church. They really represent history of the church.”

And I've taken a look at a few of them and they talk. You have one minister after another who expresses his deep personal convictions about God. What he believes. I said to myself, “These are people who have come under fire and have had to explain what they believed. They put their life on the line. They didn't sell out. They didn't start keeping Christmas right away. They are people who stood for the truth.” Okay. Verse 13:

1 Peter 1:13 1 Peter 1:13Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×
– “Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind,” Peter says. What he's saying here is, “Listen up, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Be sober.” This is what he's telling people that are about to go through trials or having gone through trials. As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts as in your ignorance. “But he then called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct because it is written, ‘Be holy for I am holy.’ ” And the apostle Peter uses the imperative case commands just like James in his epistle, in his letter where half the verses are the imperative in the command mode just like Jesus Christ taught, not one like the scribes, but one who had a voice of authority. He says, “Listen up, gird up the loins of your mind. Get a grip.” Verse 14. “As obedient children, not conforming yourself to the former lusts, as in your ignorance for I am holy to read them.”

The solution? Live a clean life. In trials, lead a clean life. Don't start cursing. Don't start abusing the people close to you, your husband, your wife, and frustration. Live a clean life. Don't start drinking too much because when people quit their faith, they often don't bother with morality. And this country what's happened with some of the trials we had such as COVID has caused people to dive deeper into a terrible lifestyle. Verse one of chapter two,

1 Peter 2:1 1 Peter 2:1Why laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings,
American King James Version×
– “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babies desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Verse 11. “Beloved, I beg you as so generous and pilgrims. We are citizens of heaven, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may buy your good works, which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” It's interesting that he gets and this talking about the subject of conduct, behavior, obedience as an antidote as a buttress to the trials that are coming upon them, instead of caving in, giving up. Then he speaks about specific entities.

Verse 13. “Therefore, submit yourself to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, whether to the king, or to governors for those who are sent for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. As free not using your liberty as a cloak for advice, but as bondservants of God.” And here's the real big verse. “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” So, we get whipped up in some social media chatter. Can you honestly say that I'm honoring all people? I'm really loving the brotherhood by the things that I say. Am I fearing God? In other words, obeying and respecting things He says. Am I honoring the king? Okay. We may not like the king. But you know who is king at this time? This was Nero. Nero. Honor the king, his position.

Verse 18 talks about being submissive to masters. Be submissive to your boss. Do a good job at work, cooperate. Verse one of chapter three,

1 Peter 3:1 1 Peter 3:1Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
American King James Version×
– “Begin into submission to your family.” He talks about wives being submission to your own husbands. There's nothing worse than in the trial when something goes bad, usually, a family goes through trials, whether it be sickness. And many times even in a trial such as a loss of a child, people get divorced. After so many people get divorced, they just can't handle the trial. Wives, be submissive to your own husbands. He said, “Create an environment of peace at home. Buttress yourself. Protect yourself.” And in this particular case, he's talking about the fact that some of their husbands, some of the mates who obey not the word without a word, maybe one by the context of the wives, when they see your chaste conduct. And also work to husbands. “Husbands, do well with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife.” So, he speaks about submission. He talks about relationships. He talks about leading a clean life.

And then verse 13. “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of that which is good? But even if you just suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed.” The servers have suffered for righteousness' sake. It's not fair. There are things in my life that have happened that I said, “That's just not fair. I'm being asked to do things that I don't believe. I'm being asked to do things and go places where I don't want to go to. It's just not fair. God, don't you see this?” I've actually felt that way. “But even if you suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. Do not be afraid of your threats not to be troubled, but sanctify the Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is within you with meekness and fear.” Talk to people respectfully with meekness and with respect, fear. Everything meekness and humility is this. Meekness is the way you relate to other people. Humility is the way you see yourself. A humble person, you know, works on his humility, not seeing himself as being great. Meekness is the way you regard and work with other people with the respect that you show them.

Chapter four. Once again, he talks about the example of Jesus Christ is to be followed. “Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind for He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. For we have spent,” verse three, “enough of our past lifetime and doing the will of the Gentiles, that's what we came out of. And don't allow a trial or persecution, or worse, to undermine or to undo that. When we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.” This is exactly the state of our nation. And then chapter five is, again, I said, it's for the ministry. “The elders who are among you, I exhort.” He's talking to the elders, however, it really applies to everyone. “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Likewise, you younger people, submit yourself to the elders. It can be taken two different ways, is elders that are subordinate to other elders or younger to older.

“Nonetheless,” he says, “I'm an elder.” So, he's referring to the ministry. But all of you be submissive to one another. We in the ministry, there are two big issues that are brought up here in chapter five that aren't in the other four chapters. One is emphasis on humility because that is a difficult subject for the ministry. You know why? Because we're so important. We've always been looked upon as being important. And it's something that we have to fight. Don't you know who I am? We need to be humble as Jesus Christ was humble. Be clothed with humility. Put it on like a jacket like a coat. Be submissive to one another. As we work through trials as a whole ministry, we need to be respectful, kind towards one another. “Be clothed with humility. For God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Defer to one another.”

Be humble. Verse six. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant.” In other words, listen up again. Pay attention. I'm writing this because hard times are coming. “Because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” And we have seen fellow brothers who have fallen and who have been devoured. We don't need to be devoured. We need to listen to these points that I had given you and be strong. Resist him. Resist the devil, “steadfast in the faith, knowing of the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” The world is suffering all these things, but we suffer or we may be inconvenienced and we may be in pain, but we have joy because we have answers. We have solutions. We have the power of God that's working in us. We have been selected. We have been called. We've been chosen. We've been sanctified. We have been forgiven. We've been cleansed. Don't you know how valuable that is? The world doesn't even know what we're talking about, but we do.

I'll just conclude with verses 10 and 11. “But may the God of all grace who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthened and settled to you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.”