Pastor Aaron Preaching
Big Shanty Festival
- Tyler's Brother's Friend
Taylor's Cousin's Marriage
Steve Goforth's New Prison Ministry
Cecilia Smith's Tooth
Canyon's Chaplain Interview on May 3rd
Text – 1 Peter 4:12-19
So a review, what has Peter been talking about in chapter 3 and the beginning of 4? The resurrection and the Christian life. Now he is going to put the two together with living with the resurrection in view. This passage contains a ton of good information and it would be very easy to get off on a rabbit trail and miss Peter's intention, so I want us to keep remembering that this is pointed at eternity and not just how to live a happy life; albeit doing this will, as Peter said in chapter 3, lead to a happy life.
1 Peter 4:12-19 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
v.12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you...
This verse is personally convicting to me, even though trials I've been facing are not fiery at all. The Christian has aligned themselves with the enemy of the world, and for us to expect for the world to just ignore that fact is ridiculous. If we are living a Christ radiating life we are going to be persecuted.
Dr. Ergun Caner, who I took three classes from, claims that the best way for you to test how you are doing with evangelism is to see how many unbelievers call you friend. Caner is wrong on a multitude of things, but none so much as this anathema belief. If the world has no problem being friends with you, then you really ought to test yourself to make sure you're in the faith.
James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
I have a lot of "friends" on facebook who are unbelievers, and they are constantly getting offended and upset by things I post and posting rebuttals from their worldview. All of these friends don't really get along and I don't hang out with them nor talk to them about normal stuff, because we're from two different worlds.
This is why we aren't supposed to be surprised when trials come on us, but it isn't apart from God, because remember nothing can happen to you that God has not allowed, and he is working all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes.
v.12 it comes upon you to test you...
This isn't for malicious purposes or because God doesn't like you, but to improve your faith. This is to test our faith, ensuring first of all that we have it, and second of all to purify it.
1 Peter 1:7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In order to keep moving through this passage we're going to leave it at that, but Peter is going to do an awesome follow-up in chapter 1 of his second Epistle.
v.12 as though something strange were happening to you
In 2009, 176,000 Christians lost their lives for Jesus Christ, we are very sheltered and privileged in the United States not to constantly be in danger of death for our faith. Jesus Christ was crucified for living a Christlike life, we must expect no better if we are obeying his gospel.
The reason that this convicted me so much is because I've been running into issues with police and security guards a lot recently, and I was surprised, but this verse says don't be surprised. I guess I let the idea of freedom of religion become an idol that the world wouldn't persecute me and the Word of God because I was preaching in America. Christianity is only allowed in America today when it is watered down and weak and doesn't offend anyone. Yet true Christianity should make you enemies with the world, them even going so far as doing evil things to you.
In 2009 an older Christian in Pakistan, I think he was 65, was caught smuggling Bibles from Kashmir into Pakistan, his whole trunk was filled with them. So they bound him, stacked the Bibles up, and burned the pile with him on top. This is the sort of thing a Christian preaching garners in most of the world, and should garner in the United States if we were preaching a true gospel, not one like "Jesus loves everybody," or that the Christian shouldn't judge; Which verse is that?
v.13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
When we are persecuted with Christ Peter says we are blessed, which means happy, among other things.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
While it's not Peter's intent here to go into the Trinity, we see one of the greatest verses for the divinity and personhood of the Holy Spirit in this verse about him being the Spirit of Glory and of God. Jesus is called the Lord of Glory and King of Glory in James 2 and Psalm 24, and the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of Christ in Philippians 1:19. John's Gospel is without a doubt the best place to discern the divinity of the Holy Spirit, especially chapters 14 and 16.
So we're going to suffer as Christians, Peter says it is practically inevitable, and remember in chapter 3 that Peter said that we suffer for doing good, and in doing so those who are doing the persecuting will be put to shame. Verse 15 completes the thought of suffering for doing good,
v.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.
The Christian should be mindful of the laws of the land and obey them as much as they don't contradict the laws of God. God's law will almost always be more strict, albeit when Peter and John were told not to preach the name of the Jesus this is what happened:
Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."
When we break the laws of the government the punishment should fit the crime. One of the beauties of a Christian government is that it should be just and have fair punishments. For example I just read the book Sounder and in it the father steals a ham, which is definitely against the law, and goes to prison for three years, which is an excessive punishment. As the crime increases, so does the punishment:
Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."
But that's a rabbit trail, the point is that suffering for doing bad is warranted, and so the Christian does their best not to suffer for doing evil. The word for meddler is something that we don't see in English, but is a point Peter is going to make in chapter five, the word for meddler is allotrioepiskopos. Here is a Greek review, what does epi mean? On top of. And skopos? See-er. What is an episkopos in the church? He is the overseer, the bishop, the senior pastor. Now we add allotrio which is someone else, or another. So a meddler, busybody, or gossip is someone who is overseeing someone else's life, being on top of the affairs of others, being all involved in other peoples' lives. It is very interesting that Peter draws a direct line between murder and gossip as being things worth punishing.
v.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
One of the Apostles, Bartholomew, was crucified upside down and flayed alive. A few years ago Hindus crucified upside down and flayed a Christian in India, as he was dying he thanked them for removing his body of death since in Heaven he had prepared for him a body of life, imperishable. This is an extreme example, but it totally captures the intent of this verse, that in our suffering we glorify God. This is reminiscent of chapter 3 where Peter says that we honor Christ as holy by not being afraid of men or even being troubled by them. We have an eternal hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so in everything that happens to us we can rejoice and bear witness to the saving work of Jesus Christ.
v.17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Some of the ways that Christians are killed are quick and painless, others are extremely painful. Peter is speaking of the pain that the Christians will go through to test and perfect their faith, then how much more will be the pain of those who are doing the afflicting when they are punished in Hell.
Revelation 6:9-10 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
And who is this house that is judgment begins with. Many people will argue with you that it is the temple that was destroyed in AD70, or the Jewish nation, but when we read Peter in context we see that it is the church of God;
1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The idea is that both believers and unbelievers are subjected to suffering and pain, but the reaction is radically different, as evidenced by verse 18;
v.18 And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
Does anyone remember how gold is refined? In the fire, in the crucible, you heat it up to a ridiculously hot temperature and all impurities burn off and you'll left with pure gold. Our faith is more precious than gold, and is tested through adversity. Imagine we had two massive piles of wood stacked in front of the classroom, in one is an ounce of gold, it represents those whom God counts righteous, the other is pure wood. We light them both on fire. What is going to be left? In the unbeliever pile nothing is left, but in the believer pile all that is left is an ounce of gold.
It was scarcely saved, almost nothing was left, but the imperishable parts were left. This is the outcome of our faith; the salvation of our souls. Our sin will be burned off, our impurities gone, everything that is not God glorifying is removed from us when we pass from this life to the next. But for the ungodly, the conflagration is complete, nothing is redeemed and nothing will be saved from the fire of Hell.
Our application is verse 19,
v.19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Through all of Peter's writings he is pointing us at both how to live a happy rejoicing life, and how to set our affections on Heaven for eternal joy. There are certain preachers who seek to have us live our "best life now" here on earth, and for those that follow them, they will have their best life now, but we have a much better life waiting in eternity. So here we focus not on our ultimate happiness and avoiding pain, because if Jesus had sought to avoid pain to the exclusion of all else we would be without hope, but entrust our souls, which is the same word that would be used to deposit money into a bank.
We put our trust on God, knowing that he will bring us through safely through the fire, burning off every impurity in the testing of our faith. And so doing then we turn our efforts towards extending our Redeemer's Kingdom, to preaching the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. If we are to suffer we ought to suffer for doing good, and not for doing bad.
In this we can enjoy life and see good days, but we know that stored up for us is our best life then in Heaven when all of our impurities are shed, when sin and death die, and when we have full communion with the Spirit of Glory, the Lord of Glory, and the Father of Glory.