Summary: Exposition of 1 Peter 3:13-17
Text: 1 Peter 3:13-17
Title: How to React to Persecution
Date/Place: LSCC, 11/27/05, AM
A. Opening illustration: the persecution of the insurance companies, the suffering of the bricklayer—ill file
B. Background to passage: Peter again takes up the subject of Christians being persecuted, and suffering for righteousness sake. Although the text indicates that this may be unlikely, we know that Christians are called to suffer persecution in the advancement of the kingdom. He wants them to react well to it. So,
C. Main thought: we will see the four reactions that we should have to suffering/persecution
A. Consider yourself blessed (v. 14)
1. This is the same word used here that was used by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. But the connotation here is a little different. Here it means “privileged” or “honored.” The text indicates that this blessing will occur alongside the suffering or persecution. God is always about using suffering in our lives to shape us and accomplish his purposes and plans.
3. Illustration: someone asked, “why do Christians suffer?” One writer asked “why not, they are the only ones who can handle it.” Paul’s thorn in the flesh—2 Cor 12:7-9, Charlie losing Rhonda and God working in his life to change his perspective and direction, then later bringing them back together, blessed.
4. We should count it an honor to serve Christ. Look for the purpose in suffering, but if you cannot find it, trust that it is there. Realize that God is working in you, and has found you worthy to suffer for Him. Expect blessing to follow your persecution. Refuse to believe that God has forsaken you, forgotten about you, or just delights in your pain. Refuse hopelessness, and express your faith in Him.
B. Put your trust in Christ (v. 14-15)
1. Peter quotes here from Isa 8:12-13, and exhorts them not to fear. Original context is invading Assyrians. Peter says don’t be shaken or troubled. Peter further instructs them to “treat as holy or reverent” Christ in their hearts; meaning to make Christ first, central, primary in your heart. He says to firm up your loyalty, love, adoration, and obedience to Christ.
2. Matt 10:27-28, Prov 3:5-6, Ps 37:3-7, 62:8, Isa 12:2, 26:3,
3. Illustration: “The vine clings to the oak during the fiercest of storms. Although the violence of nature may uproot the oak, twining tendrils still cling to it. If the vine is on the side opposite the wind, the great oak is its protection; if it is on the exposed side, the tempest only presses it closer to the trunk. In some of the storms of life, God intervenes and shelters us; while in others He allows us to be exposed, so that we will be pressed more closely to Him.” When the emperor Valens threatened Eusebuis with confiscation of all his goods, torture, banishment, or even death, the courageous Christian replied, “He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.” Mary’s willing submission and trust in God—Luke 1:38,
4. We are to fear God first, and not men. And where we can really tell who we fear is under trying circumstances. This does not mean that it is sinful to feel emotional fear. This means that it is sinful to allow that fear to determine your behavior over against the clear instruction of the Word. So, it is OK to be afraid, but simply be more afraid of God. As believers, when we suffer, we are to reaffirm our submission to His control, instruction, and guidance in our lives. Affirm theological truth that He is in control; He is good; He is wise! Preach to yourselves! Take fearful, untrusting, unsubmissive, self-centered thoughts captive, and bring them to the obedience of Christ.
C. Use opportunity to witness (v. 15-16)
1. One of God’s strongest witnesses in the history of Christianity has been the voices and actions of the persecuted. This has melted the hearts of countless men and women that hated Christ. So, Peter says to always be ready to give a defense of your faith. The word is apologia. He stresses that believers need to be prepared as to how to defend their faith before the trial. He even instructs them on the attitude in which they should deliver the message.
2. 2 Tim 2:25, Matt 10:19-20,
3. Illustration: Last month, many of the leaders taken into custody saw the event as an open door to share the Word of God. Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, the first Chinese to have the title “evangelist” printed on a business card, preached the gospel to interrogators without ceasing. At the end of the questioning, one of Zhang’s exhausted interrogators was quoted telling him, “Man, you preach too hard!” During China’s Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and in front of that one gate placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot. Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eighth student, a young girl, refused to commit the sacrilegious act. Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose and moved carefully around the cross, and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, the last ninety-two students followed her to the firing squad.