March 3rd, 1974 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Peter 5:10
3-3-74 10:50 a.m.
We welcome to our radio and television audience a great throng of people, hundreds of thousands of you across Texas and New Mexico and Oklahoma and Arkansas and Louisiana. In our preaching through the letter of Simon Peter, we have come to verse 10 in chapter 5 [1 Peter 5:10]. Last Sunday we left off with verse 9 [1 Peter 5:9], and today the message is from verses 10 and 11 [1 Peter 5:10-11]. And it is entitled Eternal Glory, and this is the text:
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that we have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, sanctify, settle you.
To Him be glory, doxa, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
[1 Peter 5:10-11]
Simon Peter, after he has preached his sermon and after he has finished his exhortation, he then turns to prayer, and he prays for those to whom he has addressed his letter. “May the God of all grace, who has called us to eternal glory, after ye have suffered for a while, make you perfect, establish you, strengthen you, settle you” [1 Peter 5:10]. That’s the way it ought always to be, just as it is here in the life of the apostles, and in the revelation of the Word of God in the New Testament. After the preaching, the exhortation, then comes the bending of the knee and the bowing in intercessory prayer.
In the twentieth chapter of Acts when Paul was done speaking to the leaders of the church at Ephesus, the Scriptures say, “And he kneeled down, and prayed with them all” [Acts 20:36]. Every sermon ought to be accompanied by prayer. And the minister has a twofold office: one, he is to bring to the people the whole counsel of God. He is to preach the truth of the Word, of the Holy Scriptures.
In the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts, Cornelius says to Simon Peter, “Now are we all here gathered before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of the Lord” [Acts 10:33]. That’s why the convocation of God’s people. We gather together to hear what God has to say. Does God say anything? Does the Lord speak? If He does, what does God say, what does God speak? That is the first office of the preacher. He declares to the people the whole counsels of God.
But he also has another office. He also must pray for his people. He has a public ministry; standing up where all can look at him, and opening the Book in the sight of all the people and preaching the message of the Lord. Not some other message, but the message of the Lord.
Then he has a secret ministry, a private ministry: he is to bear up the people before the throne of grace in intercessory prayer. We need that. There is death in our midst. There is sickness in our midst. There is sore trial and temptation in our midst. There is need in all of our souls. And the minister of God is to bear up his people in intercessory prayer. When he preaches his sermon, he’s done but half of what he ought to do. The other half is to kneel before God, praying for his people.
Do you remember how the high priest was dressed? He had a fair mitre, and he had on a beautiful ephod made of linen, and he was beautifully decorated with bells and pomegranates; little bells, so that when he went into the Holy of Holies the people could hear him and know that he was there [Exodus 28:33-35]. But do you remember one other accouterment, an embellishment and a meaningful, significant one? After he was fully dressed, then he put on a breastplate, and on that breastplate were the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel [Exodus 28:21]. When he went into the holy place there to make expiation for the sins of the people, he bore them upon his breast in intercession, in prayer [Exodus 28:21]. That is the true assignment of the true pastor and preacher; he brings God’s message and he prays for his people [Ephesians 6:18, 2 Timothy 4:2].
Now in the prayer the apostle says, “May the God of all grace” [1 Peter 5:10], not of little grace, not of penurious grace, not of token grace, not of small minutia grace, but the God of all grace, abounding grace, overflowing grace, sustaining grace, saving grace, supporting grace, convicting grace, believing grace, blessed grace; may the God of all glorious gifts and grace [1 Peter 5:10]. That’s the kind of a God before whom we come to speak and to make petition and to ask in prayer: a great God with abounding, overflowing grace. We cannot come too often, nor can we ask too much. Just according to however our hearts will let us, according to the faith God would give us we are to ask, for He is a great God and is greatly able [1 John 5:14].
William Carey, who is the father of modern missions, William Carey preached a sermon that was world famous and it was entitled “Expect Great Things From God, Attempt Great Things For God.” Dr. Truett, my predecessor in this pulpit—Dr. Truett had a saying, “If God be your partner, make your plans great.” It does not honor God to disbelieve Him and to think He can only do a small thing, a little thing. It honors God to believe that He can do a great thing, and to attempt it for Him, and to expect it of Him.
There was a courtier in the kingdom of Alexander the Great, who because of personal valor and faithfulness, Alexander wanted to reward and to honor. So he said to the courtier, “You ask and I’ll give it to you.” So the courtier went to the treasurer and asked a great sum, so much so that the treasurer refused to give it to him, until first the treasurer could talk to Alexander. So he brought it to Alexander and when he told the great Greek general what his courtier had asked for, Alexander smiled and said, “It is too much, I know. It is a great amount that he asks, I know. But it is not too much for Alexander to give. Let him have what he asks.”
Our God is like that. It is not too much for God to give us according to however we would have faith to ask. Let us therefore ask, ask from the God who can abundantly give. Ask that the bush continue to burn unconsumed [Exodus 3:2]. Ask that the barrel of meal does not waste, or the cruse of oil does not fail [1 Kings 17:16]. Ask!
As some of you know, I am preparing a sermon to deliver to our people regarding our future five years. And in preparation for that message, I have asked our staff to give me what they dream of and believe in for them in their areas in the next five years. The financial office and our debt and the financial undergirding of the church, our mission division, our educational division, our recreational division, all of these divisions; what do you dream for in the next five years? And what are you expecting God to do through you in the next five years?
I have the answer. It’s on my desk now. And I’m pleased, oh, how encouraged I am. When I look through the leaders of each one of our divisions in the church and see the outline of what they expect from God within these next five years. And you know, as I think about that, if I am pleased with it, if I am delighted, then think how much more the great God of all grace is delighted to see His servants here in this dear church expecting great things from God.
It may be much for us to ask, but it is not too much for God to give. Ask Him and believe in Him if you can. According to your measure of faith believe in Him, and then see what God does, “the God of all grace, who hath called us unto eternal glory” [1 Peter 5:10]. Now isn’t that an unusual turn? “Who hath called us unto eternal glory?” I would think that he speaks of that because of the trial and suffering and martyrdom that these dear Christians faced in the terrible persecutions of the Roman Empire. So when he speaks of the God of all grace, he describes Him as a great God who has called us unto eternal glory [1 Peter 5:10].
God calls in four ways for four different things: one, He calls us to look at ourselves, to see ourselves as we really are [2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 John 1:8], and looking at ourselves we find ourselves sinful, and lost, and undone, and needing help. That’s the first call: it is a call of conviction to look at ourselves.
God’s second call is to look to Jesus. Look to the blood that sanctifieth. Look to the cross that is able to deliver us and to save us. Our second call is to look to Him who is able to bring us, cleansing of sin, forgiveness of iniquity, and salvation for ever [John 10:27-28; 1 John 1:9, Hebrews 9:14].
The third call is to look around us, to look at God’s people and God’s world and the Lord’s church, and we are called to service [Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 2:9], all of us have an assignment and have a place that only we can fill. There are gifts that you have that no one else has. There are assignments for you that no one else has. And when we do them the house of God is strengthened and perfected. We are called to service in the ministries, many, many kinds of ministries of the Lord.
Then there is a fourth call, it is a final call, one day, some day, some time, somewhere all of us shall be summoned one other time. One, to look at ourselves; second, to look to Jesus; third, to look around us in service, and there’ll be a fourth call to look to heaven [1 Peter 5:10].
Now when we look to heaven, what am I expected to look for? What is that call to? Well, a secularist, a materialist, an unbeliever would say that is a call to dust. It’s a call to worms. It’s a call to corruption. It’s a call to darkness. It’s a call to the grave. That final call will end in despairing disillusion and death; nothing other, nothing over, nothing beside, and nothing beyond. Of all things there is not anything more unchristian, non-Christian, anti-Christian than that. Just as a man to do violence to God is anti-Christian, non-Christian, unchristian, so to believe that is antithetical, diametrically opposite to the Christian faith.
No man who loves Jesus and believes in the Lord could ever, in the smallest beginning accept, give himself to a belief that that final summons, that great and last call that shall come to us, is a call to corruption and disillusion and darkness and despair and death. What does the apostle call it? He calls it, “We are called to eternal glory” [1 Peter 5:10]; doxa, glory, the brightness of the effulgence of the iridescent God—we are called unto glory.
Well, what kind of glory is that when the Lord summons us in this last call and we’re called to glory? What am I to expect? What is it? Well, I have to confess, when we think of that, I have to confess that God’s Book says I cannot enter into it. It is beyond what I am able in cognizance, in description, in expression, in experience to know. It is too great.
For example, the apostle Paul said that he was caught up to the third heaven, that he was caught up to Paradise, to where God is. And he says, “I heard and I saw things that it is not lawful for a man to speak. I can’t describe it. It isn’t lawful” [2 Corinthians 12:4].
You look at what he wrote again, “When God calls us to eternal glory” [1 Peter 5:10]. What is that glory? Paul wrote of it again quoting from the Old Testament Scriptures, “As it is written,” he says, “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of men, those things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9 ;Isaiah 64:4]. Eye has not seen.
Well, we have seen some marvelous things, our eyes have. We have seen the sunset in a beautiful autumnal evening, and the whole earth is filled with the color and beauty of the glory of God. The Lord takes out His paintbrushes and just splatters the heavens with hues of glorious colors. We’ve seen that. And there are purple mountain majesties, the rising of those peaks, some of them snow-crowned, piercing the blue of God’s infinity and His marvelous firmament, we’ve seen that, and the great depths of the ocean. Yet he says, “Eye hath not seen anything compared to that glory over there” [1 Corinthians 2:9].
And he says our ears have not heard anything compared to that. Think of what our ears have heard. The beautiful inspired songs and so many things that have brightened and gladdened our hearts, but we haven’t heard anything compared to what we shall hear over there.
Do you ever sometimes sit down and think, well, just what is it we’re going to hear over there? Just beyond what any man could ever think for. Then he says, “Neither have entered into the heart of man, those things that God has prepared for them that love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9]. Now can you imagine that? Out of all of the things, glorious things, the aisles made out of gold and studded with diamonds and whatever your mind can imagine: the beauty and the glory of which our hearts and minds are capable of. It’s beyond that, Paul says, beyond what one can imagine.
You know there are two worlds, there are two of them. Just which one of them, as I name them to you, would you say is real? There is the world of poetic fancy and imagination, the world made of dreams. And then there is this harsh world of dirt and filth and trial and trouble and heartache and tears. Which one of those worlds is real? The world of childhood when the boy dreams and his imagination is without circumference, his flights of fancy reach upward to the heavens, or the world that he finally learns as a man. Which one of those worlds is real?
Let me read you a poem about it. James Russell Lowell wrote this; first, how it was when he was a boy, he says:
When I was a beggarly boy
And lived in a cellar damp,
I had not a friend nor a toy,
But I had the Aladdin’s lamp.
My imagination, my flights of poetic fancy,
When I could not sleep for cold,
I had fire enough in my brain,
And builded, with roofs of gold,
My beautiful castles in Spain!
A boy’s fancy, a poor boy’s imagination. Oh, I know every syllable of that, dreaming dreams, imagination. Now he writes, he is a man,
Since then I have toiled day and night,
I have money and power good store,
But I’d give all my lamps of silver bright
For the one that is mine no more;
I’ve lost my childish fancies and my boyhood dreams.
Take, he says, Fortune, take whatever you choose.
You gave and may snatch away again;
I have nothing that would pain me to loose.
For I own no more castles in Spain.
[“Aladdin,” by James Russell Lowell]
The dreams and the visions and the imaginations of his heart, when he was a boy, all gone: they’ve been drowned in the harsh realities of his life. Do you remember Thomas Hood’s poem “I Remember”?
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their pointed spires
Were pressed against the sky:
‘Twas but a childish fancy,
But now ‘tis little joy
To know that I am further away from heaven
Than when I was a boy.
[“I Remember, I Remember,” by Thomas Hood]
There is a world of imagination. There is a world of dreams. There is a world of poetic flights of fancy. There’s a world that is new and beautiful where we all dwell, where we all young, where we all in the presence and glory of God, where we all blessed, where we’re filled with all the wonderful things of God.
Which one of those worlds is real? Is it this one? Is it this one? Filled with corruption, death, age and sickness and disease and violence and blood; filled with wrong, filled with everything bad. Is this the world that’s real? Or is it this one? “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and neither have entered into the heart of man, those things, good things, that a man dreams of in his heart that God hath prepared for them that love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9].
The Book says the real world is the world of glory. That this one will be burned up with fire, will be taken away, will be utterly, absolutely, endlessly, eternally, for everlastingly destroyed. The very elements of it shall melt with fervent heat [2 Peter 3:10]. That’s what God says. But the world that abides, that lives forever is the world of our poetic fancies, of our dreams, of the imaginations of our hearts. Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that unbelievable? Isn’t that beyond description that it should be true? The real world is the world of our dreams. It’s the world beyond the imaginations of our hearts. It’s the world God is preparing for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
Now at the 8:15 service I just went on and on and on. I got over there in my study and I said to myself, I’m going to compress the rest of this sermon in just a little bit, just a little bit, and give an invitation. Isn’t that an about reversal of everything you’ve seen in the pastor? I tell you.
“But,” the apostle writes, “eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and heart has not imagined; But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit” [1 Corinthians 2:9-10]. Heaven, this world of dream and imagination, is not as far away as some of us might think; nor is it surrounded by walls of impenetrable darkness; nor is it a strange and alien kingdom; but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. What are some of these things of that eternal glory that God has revealed to us by His Spirit? [1 Corinthians 2:9-10].
Now the apostle Peter here in my text names four of them; and he calls them four verbs. One is katartizō; that’s one. One is sterizō; that’s two. One is sthenoō; that’s three. And one is themelioō; that’s four. What are those four things? Katartizō, what is that? Well, actually katartizō means “to mend.” It’s just your common word for “mending.” In the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, Jesus walking by the sea called Andrew and Peter, and then as He walked on further He saw two brothers, one named James, one named John, who with their father Zebedee were katartizō their nets [Matthew 4:18-21]. They were mending their nets.
Now what is that world of eternal glory? It is one where God mends us, where God repairs us. You see, we’re fallen and hurt here, and we need God’s mending and God’s repairing. Some of us don’t have eyes to see; they are blind. God will katartizō, He will mend, repair. Some of us are bent with rheumatism, some of us are broken, some of us are on crutches, some of us are aged. Oh, there are lots of things that happen to us in this life: but in that life, it is translated here, “God will perfect us” [1 Peter 5:10]. In that world of eternal glory, we are mended, we are perfected, we are without spot and blemish [Ephesians 5:27], we are whole, we are young again.
You know, it’s the strangest thing to me: the favorite song of my father was “Where We’ll Never Grow Old.” Isn’t that strange? He didn’t like growing old; and that was his favorite song. Over there in that world of eternal glory we shall be perfected; we’ll all be young, we’ll all be well. There will be no halting, crippled limbs, there will be no blind eyes, there will be no anything except perfection in us [1 Peter 5:10].
What is this other one, sterizō, translated here “stablish”? [1 Peter 5:10]. That has a simple meaning, and it is this: all of the rewards in this life are transitory, they’re ephemeral. Just like the great arch of the rainbow, so beautiful, so gloriously colored, its hues are so majestically evident, iridescent, beautiful, but it’s a tapestry of sunbeams; it’s nothing but the light from the falling mist and rain. It is not established. Not so with us: in this eternal glory, sterizō, God shall set us firm; God shall establish us [1 Peter 5:10]. It will be a life that never fades away; it is a forever.
What is this next word, sthenoō, translated here “to strengthen”? That means “to enable” [1 Peter 5:10]. Who of us could stand in the presence of God’s great glory, and live? It is what a man cannot do, to look on God’s face, and live [Exodus 33:20]. Why, even the angels veil their faces in the presence of the great Majesty [Isaiah 6:2]. But we, when we are there in the presence of God, God will enable us: He will make us so perfect and so beautiful and so without sin, so without spot, so without blemish that we shall stand in God’s presence, enabled by His grace. Oh! to live with God, to speak to God! No wonder they said beyond imagination [1 Corinthians 2:9].
And this last, themelioō, translated here “settle you” [1 Peter 5:10], themelios: themelios is the word for “foundation,” themelios, foundation. The house, this great church is built upon a themelios, on a foundation. Themelioō is “to lay a foundation.” And that’s what God does for us in eternity. He sets us not on sand that dissolves, but God sets us in heaven on a foundation that is immovable: the foundation of the word of God, the foundation of the blood and atonement of Christ [Romans 5:11]. We shall never be moved, never destroyed; we’re on a foundation in eternal glory.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I’ll never, no never desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
[“How Firm a Foundation”; John Rippon]
The promises of God in Christ are everlastingly Yea and Amen [2 Corinthians 1:20]. It is an immovable foundation, a themelioō, it is an immovable foundation on which God hath set us in glory [1 Peter 5:10].
No wonder God’s people sing and rejoice and live in victory and triumph all the days of their lives, and then in glory just look for the fulfillment of every sweet, dear imagination of the heart. That’s what God does for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].
We’re going to sing our hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, a family, a couple, or one somebody you, coming to the Lord, coming to us, “Today I open my heart God-ward; I take Jesus as my Savior” [Romans 10:8-13]; or, “Today we’re putting our lives in the fellowship of this wonderful church” [Hebrews 10:24-25]; as the Spirit of God shall press the appeal to your heart, on the first note of the first stanza come. When you stand up in a moment, stand up coming down one of these stairways, walking down one of these aisles, “Here I am, pastor, here I am,” while we stand and while we sing.
turns from exhortation to prayer
Ought always to be this way(Acts 20:36)
minister of God to execute two offices for the people
God’s message to them(Acts 10:33)
up the people before the throne of grace in intercessory prayer
a. Breastplate of the
high priest bore names of twelve tribes
II. “The God of all grace”
the God of little grace, miserly token grace, but of all grace
cannot come too often, or ask too much
William Carey’s sermon, “Expect Great Things from God, Attempt Great Things for
Truett – “If God be your partner, make your plans great.”
in kingdom of Alexander the Great
Our five-year dream
III. “Called unto eternal glory”
calls us to look at ourselves – a call of conviction
calls us to look to Jesus, who is able to save us
calls us to look around us – a call to service
God calls us to look toward heaven
Eternal glory beyond what can describe(2
Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 2:9)
Which is real – world of fancy and imagination in childhood or the reality we
find in manhood?
a. James Russell
IV. God hath revealed them to us by His
Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10)
– “to mend, repair”(Matthew 4:21)
– “to fix, set firmly, establish”
– “to strengthen, to enable”
– “to lay a foundation”