Tuesday, 10 December 2019
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11
Peter now details two gifts which may have been imparted to individuals which demonstrate “the manifold grace of God,” which he referred to in verse 4:10. In naming them, he will explain how they should be handled. Along with this, he will give the reason for it. First, he begins with, “If anyone speaks.”
This display of grace is speaking. The context, however, is more than just speaking in general. And yet, it certainly should be inclusive of all speech. To define what he means, he says, “let him speak as the oracles of God.” One might think, “Oh, Peter is referring to preaching because he is referring to someone speaking about Scripture.”
It is certainly true that if a person is preaching, he is to do it based on Scripture. A sermon which is not based on the word may be a motivational speech, it may be an incitement to wage war, it may be a political rally, but it is not “preaching” as intended by Scripture. But there are other types of speaking that must surely be on Peter’s mind, such as teaching, counsel, tongues, prophecy, etc. Each of these must be “as the oracles of God.”
For example, if someone speaks in tongues, and it is not in accord with God’s will and his directives for tongues (which are laid out clearly in Scripture), then that person is in violation of Peter’s exhortation here.
Understanding this, all forms of speaking which involve Scripture are to be “as the oracles of God.” But should that be the end of the directive? No. In Deuteronomy, it says this –
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9
This set of words was probably what was on Peter’s mind. It is not merely speaking by someone invested with an office, but all people at all times. “When you speak, do so as you have the oracles of God on your lips.” And this does not mean the fulfilled law of Moses, but the entire body of Scripture. As Paul says elsewhere –
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:16, 17
Next, Peter says, “If anyone ministers.” This display of grace is ministering. The word signifies caring for the needs of others in a practical way, and as the Lord guides. This is obviously a function within the church. The word is translated into English as “deacon” in 1 Timothy 3:10. However, it is a word which is broadly used to refer to any type of ministering, serving, etc.
Again, the thought should not be limited to those in church employ, but rather to all people who minister at any time. In such, Peter says, “let him do it as with the ability which God supplies.”
People are given the ability to minister in an almost infinite variety of ways, but the thought is inclusive of talent, level of authority, amount of strength, level of wealth, availability of property for use, and on and on. God has supplied all people with their station in life. It is the obligation of God’s people to then use that station for His glory in the conduct of the service of others.
Peter then says this is so “that in all things God may be glorified.” What good is speaking without bringing glory to God? What good is serving without glorifying the One who gave the abilities to serve in the first place. Everything is temporary and fleeting except that which is done for the glory and honor of the Creator. Our station is not to work independently of Him, but in accord with Him and His will for us.
And this can only truly be done properly when God is glorified “through Jesus Christ.” Without Jesus, we truly only have a limited idea of who God is. Jesus is the Christ, meaning “Messiah.” It was He who was prophesied to come, even moments after the fall. It is He who was the hope of all of the faithful of ages past.
The Lord directed the people’s attention to this coming One, so that when He came, it would be He who expressed God in a way in which we could concretely see and understand. Without him, religions have formed 7 jillion “gods” out of their own imaginations. But in Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), and He is, therefore, the way that God has chosen to express Himself to us.
Understanding this marvelous thing, Peter finishes with a short doxology by saying, “to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” All things came from God, all things belong to God, and all things are to bring glory to God forever and ever. He alone is sovereign over all things, and it is right that all things are to be done by us to bring Him all of the glory that He is due.
Life application: Deuteronomy 11 repeats the same idea as cited from Deuteronomy 6, which is quoted above. Peter uses this familiar idea. Whenever we speak, our language should be continuously salted with verses and our words should be sprinkled with glorifying God. It doesn’t matter who we speak to, we should be bringing the knowledge of Jesus to those around us.
Likewise, Peter tells us that God doesn’t supply half-heartedly And so, we shouldn’t minister that way either. In all we do – whether speaking or ministering, we need to do it to glorify God. If we are doing otherwise, then we are depriving the Lord of the honor, glory, and dominion that He alone is due. Let us never fall into this error, but rather let us be living testimonies to the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ – to the glory of God. Amen!
Lord, as Isaiah cried out – “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” We ask you today to purify our hearts and souls and bring us to the place where we speak, act, and live solely for You and Your glory. On our own, we cannot do this, but with Your Holy Spirit surely we can. Glory to You O God! Amen.