Summary: A sermon that provides context to the suffering, trials, hardships of the Christian life

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1 Peter 4:12-19 – “Good grief, Charlie Brown!”

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.

Ever feel like Charlie Brown??

He goes out trick-or-treating, and while all the other kids get treats, he gets ROCKS. OR, when he attempts to kick the football, and Lucy pulls it away right before he makes contact - AAAAUUUGGHHH!!!!!!! and he falls on his back?

Ever feel like life just isn’t fair?

2,000 years ago, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am??” Some said He was a prophet…others suggested he may have been Elijah. But then Jesus pressed them and asked, “but who do YOU say I am??” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

I am intrigued by that statement...

“on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” 3 things seem clear to me in this passage:

The Church belongs to Jesus

It will continue until the end of time as we know it…

and until the Lord calls us home, we will suffer Satanic assault.

Peter wrote this letter in order to prepare those Christians for this Satanic “assault.” He knew trouble was coming. He knew that Christians would be attacked from all sides. And he knew that most of us would grow weary of it. So he wrote this letter to STEEL our faith, to prepare us for the inevitable questions that come to our minds as we experience trouble. Questions like:

Where is God? Why doesn’t He answer?

Is something wrong with my faith?

Does God care about the things I’m going through?

We didn’t sign up for this – did we? We expected Christianity to be filled with blessing and for life to get easier – not harder. After all, don’t the TV preachers tell us that if we have enough faith, all our problems will suddenly go away?

“I didn’t know that being a Christian would be so hard?” “I didn’t know that following the Lord might very well cost me friendships.”

Peter knew how they would feel – he had felt it himself. As a caring friend, he came to their side and said, “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.”

The day you became a Christian was a wonderful day – for the first time you knew what it was to be filled with unspeakable joy! You felt clean. You felt the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders. For the first time in your life, you knew what it was to be loved unconditionally.

But as great as it was to become a friend of God – your decision to follow Christ made you the enemy of hell. Though God has purposed to bring you good - to make something beautiful and useful of your life, Satan has purposed to bring you calamity and discouragement. He wants to destroy you AND your testimony.

Just as Christ LOVES the Church and gave Himself for it – Satan HATES it and will stop at nothing to destroy it. He will bring difficulty, confusion, and discord; he will attack you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Whatever it takes to rob your joy and create doubt in your heart towards God, he will do.

So Peter warns that “fiery trial” IS coming. And as we study this passage, he shows us three common sources of suffering.

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