John A. Keith

Peter was a man to whom probably all of us can relate. It seems that early in the ministry of Christ, Peter was always acting impulsively or speaking before thinking. I am reminded of the arrest of our Lord in Mathew 26, when Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus' ear. Christ told him to put the sword away. Also, when Christ was transfigured, Peter wanted to build three tabernacles; but God said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." (Matthew 17:5). Acting or speaking impulsively is a problem plaguing many of us yet today and no doubt will continue as long as the world stands.

In the English language, the meaning of words can be diminished or altered through years of overuse or misuse. The word "gay" certainly does not mean what it once did. People carelessly throw the word "awesome" around when describing even the most trivial things. Another word which we have reduced, I believe, is the word "never."

"Never" is defined, "Not at any time" ( Vine); "Not at all"; "positively not" (Funk & Wagnalls). It is a very strong, definite, absolute word. Even so, we hear, "I'll never speak to you again!" or "I'd never do anything like that!" I recall hearing a preacher comment that he "almost shudders" when we sing "I'll Never Forsake My Lord." That is the right goal for Christians. However, we need to keep in mind Paul's warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

That is exactly what happened to Peter. He responded to Christ's prediction saying, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended" (Mt 26:33). Jesus went on to say that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed that night. In verse 35 Peter said, "... I will not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples." By the time we get to the end of Chapter 26, it has happened. Never think you are too strong to fall.

Even before this denial of Christ, Peter's hasty words were met with rebuke. In John 13, Christ was teaching the disciples a lesson in humility and service. He began to wash their feet, and, when He came to Peter, Peter stopped Him saying, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." (v.8). Jesus responded saying, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." Peter then said, "not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Should not Peter have realized that if Jesus was doing something it was for a very good reason? Never question the will of God.

I certainly don't mean to imply that we should never use the word "never" for it definitely has a place in our hope. In His discussion with a woman of Samaria, Jesus told her in John 4:14, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." "Everlasting life" is another way of saying "never-ending life"

Jesus also said, in John 6:35, "... I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger." We now return to Peter who, after he learned and grew, summed up a treatise in 2 Peter 1:10-11: "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting (never ending -jak.) kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

Obedience to God is the key. Consider these sobering words of Christ found in Mathew 7:21-23: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Let us obey God that we might one day rise to Heaven and enjoy the never ending pleasure that awaits. Through faith, repentance, baptism for the remission of our sins and faithful living (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; Revelation 2:10) we will never know the real horror of hell. 70 Gale Ave., Newport, OH 45768.


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