Finish Well

Finish Well

Keep your Eyes on the Game Clock

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Not From Around Here / 1 Peter 4:7–8

Although the Cleveland Browns remained a competitive and strong team in the post-Jim-Brown era, they had yet to earn a Super Bowl win.

However, a combination of a strong quarterback in Bernie Kosar and skilled receivers in 1986 helped the team gain a level of success that they hadn’t achieved in years.

For a start, they won their first playoff game since 1969 when they beat the New York Jets in an overtime game.

Kosar had a career season that year – he threw for nearly 4,000 yards and became the king of comebacks and thrilling last-minute wins.

During the Jets game, he set records with 33 completions in 64 attempts as he piled on 489 yards.

And in the AFC Championship Game, he would be facing off against the Denver Broncos and a young John Elway, a talented quarterback who also seemed to know how to win in tight spots.

The game was a brutal back-and-forth competition that saw both teams at their best for the season.

However, the Browns led 20-13 with 5:32 remaining after scoring and kicked the ball to Denver.

The Broncos struggled to get the ball into play and started on their own two-yard line. Cleveland fans were pleased, but Denver was confident in spite of their position.

The first play of “The Drive” was a five-yard pass that took Denver out of safety danger.

On second down and 5, running back Sandy Winder ran three years to the 10-yard line.

Winder ran again the next play to pick up two yards and the first down.

Now on the 12-yard line, the Broncos had a little breathing room – the next play was a winder run for three yards and the next an 11-yard Elway dash.

On the 26-yard line, the Broncos still had some room to go and some time to burn.

But on two consecutive passes, Elway moved the team 34 yards (22 and 12 yards, respectively) to put the team on their 40-yard line.

The two-minute warning occurred just after the play – the Broncos had moved over half the football field in about three minutes.

Many assumed they still did not have time to finish, but others noted the Browns had yet to force a fourth down.

They wouldn’t for the rest of the game.

At first down and 10, Elway missed a pass to Vance Johnson – one of only a handful of unproductive plays in “The Drive.” Cleveland’s Dave Puzzuoli then sacked Elway for an eight-yard loss that seemed to seal the deal on the game.

However, Elway connected with Mark Jackson on third down and 18 to get 20 yards and the first down on the 14-yard line.

After another incomplete pass – with 0:57 left – Elway scrambled for nine yards to set up a five-yard touchdown pass to Mark Johnson.

With just 0:39 left on the clock, kicker Rick Karlis added the extra point to tie the game 20-20.

Denver won 23-20 in overtime with a field goal.

Cleveland was stunned – though Denver would lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl 39-20 – Elway would later win two Super Bowls and was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

While Kosar went on to earn a Super Bowl ring in 1994, the Browns have still never won as a team.

John Elway was known as the quarterback responsible for THE DRIVE. He knew time was running out and acted accordingly. He knew how to manage the clock to his best advantage.

The Apostle Peter warns us to be aware of the clock. Like Elway, our time is limited. We are in the 4th quarter with less than 5 minutes to play. Let us follow the advice given in this general epistle and finish well.

The End Is Near

1 Peter 4:7 KJV

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

 • Death is certain and life is short.

Psalm 90:12 KJV

So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

James 4:14 KJV

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

 • Christ’s Return is Imminent 

Romans 13:12 KJV

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Revelation 22:20 KJV

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

There is a great contrast between the believers of the apostolic age and ourselves. The voyager detects the near proximity of land by the fresh land-breeze which breathes in his face, wafting the sounds and scents of forest, or prairie, or heather covered hill. So through these Epistles we inhale another atmosphere than that with which we are so familiar in Christian societies. We live in the world and pay occasional visits into the unseen and eternal; they lived in the unseen and eternal, and paid periodic necessary visits into the world. We conform to the world; they were transformed by the daily renewing of their minds. We read the society papers, discuss society gossip, send our children into society, and strive to hold our own in dress and appointments with the cream of society around us; they, on the other hand, were thought strange and ridiculous, because they lived amongst men as “the children of the resurrection.” Surely the contrast is not to our credit, although we vaunt our fancied superiority.

(F. B. Meyer, B.A.)

Be Sober

1 Peter 4:7 KJV

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

sophroneo (????????, 4993) signifies (a) “to be of sound mind,” or “in one’s right mind, sober-minded” (sozo, “to save,” phren, “the mind”), Mark 5:15 and Luke 8:35, “in his right mind” – VINE

Peter uses this expression a great deal. He actually means, “Be ye therefore intelligent.” Be an intelligent Christian. An intelligent Christian is one who knows the Bible; that is, he will know it the best he can. (I often make the confession that I marvel at my ignorance of the Word of God. The more I study it, the more I see how little I really know about the Word of God.) But, my friend, an intelligent, sober–minded Christian is going to know all he can about the Word of God.1

1 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Epistles (1 Peter), electronic ed., vol. 54 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 86–87.

Matthew 10:16 KJV

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Be Watchful

1 Peter 4:7 KJV

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

This sanity will lead to being “clear-headed,” an idea Peter uses half of the times it occurs in the NT (1:13; 4:7; 5:8; cf. 1 Thess. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 4:5). The opposite of such clear-headedness was intoxication (cf. Eph. 4:18), so this term meant literally “not drunk” and figuratively that the mind was alert and clear, devoid of mental “intoxication” or fuzzy thinking. Thus our author is calling for a mental alertness that sees life correctly in the light of the coming end. This will lead to prayer 27—not the prayer based on daydreams and unreality, nor the prayer based on surprised desperation, but the prayer that calls upon and submits to God in the light of reality seen from God’s perspective and thus obtains power and guidance in the situation, however evil the time may be. 

Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 156–157.

Matthew 24:41–42 KJV

Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Colossians 4:2 KJV

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

1 Corinthians 15:34 KJV

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

An Australian air traffic controller left some airline passengers up in the air. The controller overslept and arrived late to work. As a result, the control tower at Canberra International Airport opened 20 minutes late, which forced an arriving Qantas Boeing 737 from Perth to circle over the city for 20 minutes because the only person on duty at the tower was not senior enough to issue a clearance for the plane to land. Ben Mitchell, spokesman for Air Services Australia, acknowledged the error. He said, “The guy slept in.” Mitchell said the passengers were never in any danger and the plane was able to land only 12 minutes after its scheduled arrival time. Authorities have changed the roster to ensure that two senior controllers are present when the tower opens to eliminate the problem—assuming both wake up on time.

Our laziness and lack of responsibility may not leave people literally up in the air, but nevertheless they have real consequences.

—Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell1

1 Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell, “Air Traffic Controller Oversleeps and Causes Delays,” in 300 Illustrations for Preachers, ed. Elliot Ritzema (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015).

Be Loving

1 Peter 4:8 KJV

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

 • In light of the temporary nature of things.

 • In light of the fact that we will soon have no more chance to forgive and restore.

 • Love and cover the sins of the past.

1 Corinthians 6:7 KJV

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Proverbs 10:12 KJV

Hatred stirreth up strifes: But love covereth all sins.

1 Peter 1:22 KJV

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

In Randy Alcorn’s book In Light of Eternity he imagines two twins having a conversation in their mother’s womb. “You know,” one says, “there’s a whole world out there–grassy meadows and snowy mountains, splashing streams and waterfalls, horses and dogs and cats and whales and giraffes. There are skyscrapers and cities and people like us–only much bigger–playing games like football and baseball and volleyball and going to the beach.” “Are you crazy?” the other twin responds. “That’s just wishful thinking. Everyone knows there’s no life after birth.” (Alcorn, In Light of Eternity, pg. 25)

It is easy to get caught up with the rhythm of life and lose track of the game clock. There are fewer and fewer chances to catch up. Let us be sober /intelligent. Let us be watchful/alert and driven to prayer. Let us love each other, pushing grievances against our brethren to the forgotten closet of our minds where they belong. There are better days coming and they are coming soon. Keep your eyes on the game clock and finish well.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 12:07 PM September 29, 2020.

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