Yesterday we considered a few lines from the third verse of Martin Luther’s beloved hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Now let’s look at the entire third verse:
And though this world, with devils filled should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo! His doom is sure;
One little world shall fell him.
Martin Luther led his church to sing about the glorious defeat of the devil. Although at first blush it might seem strange, but it’s incredibly practical and encouraging. If you’ve been reading the blog this week you know that we have a real enemy who desires to sift us like wheat. He’s a grim prince of darkness, a roaring lion, a slithering scaly snake who hates Christ and His people. We learned a fourfold strategy to resist this foul best, but there comes the rub. Because for many of us we’re tempted to despair whenever we’re told how to battle the enemy. We tend to think, “I can’t do this. It’s just too hard. I’m going to mess it up somehow.” But here’s the good news that Luther and the Reformers so desperately wanted their congregations to understand: if your faith is in Christ you’re not fighting for victory, you’re fighting from victory.
I believe that’s what Peter is trying to communicate in 1 Peter 5:10-11, And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (11) To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” There’s so much beauty in these verses, let’s walk through them together.
And after you have suffered a little while. Peter is not necessarily saying that our suffering will be short. Your life may be plagued by suffering, much of it at the hands of the enemy. But in the end, it will seem but a little while. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17—For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Christian, compared to what awaits you, a life of suffering will be but a vapor. If you’re not a Christian, compared to what awaits you, a life of pleasure will be but a vapor. Unless you repent.
The God of all grace. Not some grace, but all grace. Everything good, everything true, everything beautiful, everything worth celebrating flows from God Himself. The Puritan Thomas Goodwin said this about the mercy and grace of God: “God has a multitude of all kinds of mercies. As our hearts and the devil are the father of variety of sins, so God is the father of variety of mercies. There is no sin or misery but God has a mercy for it. He has a multitude of mercies of every kind. . . . If your heart be hard, his mercies are tender. If your heart be dead, he has mercy to liven you. If you be sick, he has mercy to heal you. If you be sinful, he has mercies to sanctify and cleanse you. As large and as various as are our wants, so large and various are his mercies. So we may come boldly to find grace and mercy to help us in time of need, a mercy for every need.”[i] He is the God of all grace and all mercy.
Who has called you. If you belong to this God of all grace, it’s not because you were mighty. It’s not because you were wise. It’s not because you were good. It’s because He called you. But what did He call you to?
To his eternal glory in Christ. God is inviting you to join Him in eternal glory. Pleasures beyond anything you can imagine await you in Christ. Purpose higher than anything you can fathom awaits you in Christ. Dear friend, this is what you’ve been craving for all your life. Glory! It’s yours if you’ll trust Christ.
Will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Wounded and weary Christian, this is what awaits you at the end of our battle against the enemy. God Himself will restore you. That word restore is the same word used for a fisherman mending his nets. God will pick you up and mend you, ready to make you whole again. He will confirm you, standing you up on your two feet. He will strengthen you, because by the end you’ll likely be weary. And He will establish you.
Screwtape contrasts the enemy with God’s love this way: “We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over.”[ii] How should we respond to this sort of love?
To him be the dominion forever and ever. If we really believe this is true, we’ll erupt in praise as Jesus does here. Satan is a dog on a leash, he’s a toothless, chained lion whose bark is worse than his bite. He’s a defeated foe. Jesus has won, He’s proclaimed His victory, and He’s coming back!
And Peter concludes our passage today with one word: Amen. We often act as if this word is simply the word that signifies the end of a prayer. It’s like the spiritual equivalent of saying “over” at the end of a Walkie-Talkie transmission. Oh, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a word that Christians all over the world have used for two thousand years to say “I agree! I believe! Let it be so!” So if you agree, say amen! And may we sing along with Luther:
That Word above all earthly powers no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
the body they may kill: God's truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever!
[i] Thomas Goodwin, The Works of Thomas Goodwin, 12 vols. (repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2006), 2:187-88 [ii] Lewis, 38.