Summary: ‘Fiery Trials’ 1 Peter chapter 4 verses 12-19 – sermon by Gordon Curley (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Expect ordeals (vs 12)
Rejoice in suffering (vs 13-14)
Examine your life (vs 15-18)
Commit yourself to God (vs 19)
• Persecution of Christians around the world has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic,
• With many Christians being refused help and aid in many countries.
• More than 340 million Christians – one in eight,
• Face high levels of persecution and discrimination because of their faith,
• According to the 2021 World Watch List compiled by Open Doors.
• It says there was a 60% increase over the previous year,
• In the number of Christians killed for their faith.
• More than nine out of 10 of the global totals of 4,761 deaths were in Africa.
• Well ever since Stephen (Acts chapter 7) became the first Christian martyr,
• Persecution and Christianity have gone hand in glove.
• And for many, maybe even the majority of believers around the world,
• Persecution is the norm; it is not unusual.
Here in our country, we tend to see suffering as something to be avoided at all costs.
• I would guess not a single person here wants to suffer!
• But as a Christian expect it! sooner or later it will come your way.
• Especially as Christianity is being more and more marginalised in the UK.
• And if you get updates from the organisation, ‘Christian Concern’,
• Then you know persecution and discrimination is openly going on today in the UK,
• And if you work in certain sectors of society
• i.e., Health, education, journalism and media, and government,
• Then you have no freedom of speech,
• Because if you use it to speak out, then you may well lose your job.
• And struggle to be employed again in that type of work.
Now when it comes to persecution, surprisingly the apostle Peter says, welcome it.
• Earlier on in this letter the apostle Peter has already dealt with "normal persecution,"
• If we can call it that!
• Like the saying, “Can you be a little bit pregnant!” - you either are or you're not
• In one way, you are persecuted or you or not, yet Peter here goes to a deeper level.
• In our section today,
• The apostle Peter talks about a special kind of persecution that Christians face,
• He calls it a “fiery ordeal” or a "fiery trial".
• This type of trial,
• Would not be the occasional personal persecution from people living around them,
• But rather it is official persecution from those in authority above them.
Note: Up to this point in Church history:
• Christianity had been tolerated by Rome;
• Because they considered it a sort of ‘sect’ of Judaism,
• And the Jews were permitted to practice their faith freely.
• But, that attitude was about to change;
• And the fires of persecution would soon be ignited,
• First by Nero, and then by other emperors that would follow him.
• In response to this fast approaching "fiery ordeal.",
• The apostle Peter gives to his readers four instructions.
(1). Expect ordeals (vs 12)
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
• We should not be surprised because we live in a fallen world,
• A world that is in rebellion to God,
• So, if the world rebels against God it will rebel against us.
• As Christians we are swimming against the tide, so expect bumps and collisions!
Remember also that God does not view persecution as we do.
• We see trials through our human understanding,
• God sees it through another perspective,
• He knows that trials can often produce in his Church a deeper faith and hope.
• Monarch butterfly emerging time lapse (1.30)
• YouTube: https://youtu.be/pgtmlVqCKxc
• TRANSITION: One day A man found a cocoon of a butterfly like in the video.
• He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours,
• As it struggled to force its body through a tiny opening.
• Then it seemed to appear exhausted, making little progress.
• So, the man decided to help the butterfly.
• He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of cocoon.
• The butterfly emerged easily but there was a problem,
• It had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings.
• The wings were unable to expand and support the body.
• Sadly, this butterfly would have to spend the rest of its life.
• Crawling around with a swollen body and shrivelled wings.
• It would never be able to fly.
• Note: The man who tried to help the butterfly had actually hindered it.