Summary: Your suffering guarantees your present faith and your future fate.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”
B. JESUS’ INTRODUCTION OF PERSECUTION
1. Jesus warns of persecution. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:10).
2. Jesus emphasizes why you will be persecuted. “Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).
3. Jesus gives the motive of the persecutor. “They will put you out of the Synagogues . . . who kills you . . . because they have not known the Father or Me” (John 16:2-3).
1. A Christian must expect trials. “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trials which try you” (1 Peter 4:12).
a. Don’t doubt your faith. God still loves you.
b. Don’t think you are unusual. You are not the only one suffering.
My Usual Reaction
2. Identify with Christ when suffering. “You partake of Christ’s suffering” (v. 13).
a. Your sins were identified with Christ, i.e., His substitutionary death.
b. Now you identify with His sufferings, i.e., your present-suffering life.
c. Your reaction, rejoice.
3. Your suffering guarantees your present faith and your future fate. “That when Jesus comes in glory, you will partake in it also” (v. 13, ELT).
4. Persecution is a sign that the Holy Spirit rests on you. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you” (v. 14, KJV).
a. Not happy for pain or suffering.
b. Happy to be identified with Christ.
c. The word “happy” is “blessed,” as in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:10). Not just future benefits, but present blessings. You may suffer outwardly, but rejoice inwardly.
5. The cause of persecution is confessing Christ’s name. “Reproached for the name of Christ.”
a. Will silent Christians escape suffering?
b. Will Christians suffer the most who confess the loudest, or the most effective?
c. Opposites led to opposition. “On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” (v. 14).
d. The “spirit of glory” is our Shekinah, i.e., the presence of God.
6. Our suffering is not the issue; it is our identification with Christ.
a. Not punished the same way as a murderer, thief, or evil doer.
b. Not because you do those evil things.
c. Don’t seek suffering for the sake of suffering. Suffering is not a virtue, Christ is our virtue.
7. Identify with the name Christian. A “swear” word for the world.
a. “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
b. “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28).
c. “If anyone suffers as a Christian” (1 Peter 4:16).
I belong to Christ.
I proclaim Christ.
I live for Christ.
I love Christ.
8. You should “not be ashamed” (v. 16).
a. Don’t be ashamed of your suffering.
b. Don’t be ashamed of Christ.
c. Don’t be ashamed, be your self- identity.
9. Persecution separates the dedicated Christians from the casual professing ones. “The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (v. 17).
a. Clean up the house of God.
b. Clean out the house of God.
10. Our persecution and suffering guarantees their punishment. “If it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” (v. 17).
a. The persecutors will be persecuted even more.
b. “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly or the sinner appear?” (v. 18). Their punishment is guaranteed.