Summary: The believer’s suffering is in the will of God. Do not be supprised and rejoice!
INTRODUCTION: If you would like to follow along with me, I will be reading a passage out of 1Peter 4:12-19. Before I do, I’d like to give a brief couple of facts about Peter’s life. Peter was a fisherman, businessman and an Apostle. The Apostle Peter became a disciple through the witness of his own brother and eventually became the leader of all 12 Apostles. Peter knew a thing or two about persecution. He actually publicly denied Christ at the crucifixion and then later repented rather bitterly. Peter was also eventually martyred by crucifixion. It is said that he felt so unworthy to be crucified as his Lord that he begged to be crucified upside down. The letter of 1Peter is categorized as a “general Epistle” which means it was not written to a specific church or individual, but rather to all Christian believers.
SPECIFIC PURPOSE STATEMENT: The purpose of this letter is to challenge, strengthen and council believers on how to stand against the onslaught of persecution being leveled against them. The church was being severely persecuted, suffering in all kinds of trials. They were suffering for standing up for the name of Christ.
1Peter 4:12-19, “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; 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. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 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? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
Persecution is a strange thing. Why would God ever allow a person who believes in God, who really loves and follows God, to suffer persecution? This is the point of this passage, to discuss the question of persecution that the believer sometimes has to suffer. I want to challenge you to stand up against the fiery trials of persecution. We are first going to discuss to not be surprised that you are persecuted ad have to suffer. Second, we will discuss to rejoice in persecution. Next, we will talk about not bringing persecution or suffering upon yourself and lastly keep on doing good and commit yourself to God.
1. Do not be surprised if you are persecuted and have to suffer. Believers often do not understand why they have to suffer. When they suffer, they are surprised and astonished and wonder why God does not protect them from the suffering and persecution. This is especially true when persecution is fiery and painful. As long as the believer is on the face of this earth, he will be called upon to face fiery trials. Being a genuine believer in a corrupt world is difficult. The world just cannot understand the demands of Christ for self-denial and discipline and in particular Christ’s insistence that they give all they are and have to His cause. So, when a person really begins to live for Christ the world often wants little to do with them. It may be next door, in the office, in school, in the government or in a hundred other places. The genuine Christian is often avoided, mocked, neglected, questioned, mistreated, slandered, persecuted, imprisoned and killed. Why does God allow the believer to suffer persecution? This verse tells us that He allows it for one very basic reason. To test, try and prove us.
Persecution measures our faith. Any person’s faith can be measure by how much they are willing to sacrifice or bear for it. Suffering persecution for Christ shows how strong or weak our faith really is. Persecution proves our faith and attracts others to Christ. When we suffer and are persecuted, others can see the strength of Christ in us. They see that our faith in Christ is a living reality and they are drawn to Christ, to His salvation, love, care and strength. When others see us suffer for the hope of salvation and eternal life, the Holy Spirit uses our suffering to speak to the heats of the persecutors and observers. He convicts them, and some eventually turn to Christ. [Illustration]. Our faith is proven to be true and it bears fruit. God is able to bring meaning into even the worst situations or suffering. He points to the peaceful attitude of suffering people to teach others about Himself.