1 Peter 4:12-19, Suffering and Persecution

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right."

Peter warned his readers about the coming of a more intense period of persecution. He again stressed mental readiness. However, the section of scripture could also be applied to the historical reality of the Neronian persecution. Christians were blamed for the burning of Rome. Some were covered with pitch and used as living torches to light the imperial gardens at night. Peter may have believed that the provincial officials were likely to follow their emperor's example and stake-burning of Christians in Asia Minor. Such persecution should not take the Christians by surprise as though something strange (xenou) were befalling them.

  1. You are to rejoice when you share in the sufferings of Christ. (the fiery ordeal)
    ***Verse 13 says, Abut to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation"
    1. Don't be surprised that you will suffer C you live in an imperfect world.
      1. For not being a Christian
      2. For being a Christian
    2. Will the Lord miraculously deliver you from persecution?
      1. Maybe yes, Maybe no.
      2. If you read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, you will find countless people who were persecuted and tortured to death.
      3. Tribulation: pre or post?
  2. V. 14-16, You are blessed when you are reviled for the name of Christ
    *** Verses 14-16: "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God"
    1. Do not let yourself suffer for things unrelated to Christ.
    2. Bear well the persecutions for the sake of Jesus.
      1. Glorify God in your suffering for the name of Jesus.
        1. Acts 5:40-41, "And they took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."
    3. When you suffer for being a Christian, you further identify with Jesus in His sufferings.
      1. Phil. 3:10: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
    4. There is no shame in suffering for the Lord. Instead, it is to be counted as a blessing.
    5. The word "Christian" is only used 3 times in the Bible. Once here and the other two in Acts 11:26; 26:28.
      1. It may have been used as an insult by unbelievers at the time.
  3. God takes your sin seriously
    *** Verses 17-18 say,"For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?"
    1. That is why God will judge His house first, and then he will turn his eyes to the unbeliever to visit His judgment upon them.
      1. As a Christian you acknowledge that sin is evil and that God can have nothing to do with it
    2. If God is going to judge the Christians, how much more will the judgment of the unbeliever be?
      1. Much greater....and unto damnation.
    3. God has called you for the purpose of sanctification not for sin, (1 Thess. 4:7).
    4. Your sin cost Jesus his life.
    5. Do not become complacent (explain complacency).
    6. Sometimes God allows persecution to purify the person, and the church.
    7. Peter is not teaching that salvation is earned through personal trials or works, but simply that those who are saved are not exempt from the temporary disciplinary judgments which are the natural consequences of sin.
      1. Heb. 12:7 "It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?"
  4. V. 19, "Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right."
    1. God knows what he is doing with the world and with your life.
    2. Though you may have times of great difficulty and you may not understand what is happening, you must still trust God to save your soul.
    3. Therefore do no fear in doing good.
      1. Even if the unbeliever has the ability to harm you.
    4. Endure the trials and tribulations by excising faith in Jesus. By trusting Him. Depending on Him.
      1. It strengthens your walk with God.
      2. It builds character
      3. It brings glory to God.

Conclusion

Through sufferings and trials, keep your eyes on the Lord and remember that the Lord is in control and that faith is the mechanism by which you will endure the tough times. It glorifies God and it strengthens you.

Look to Him always and never forget the cross.

 

 

 

 
 
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