Summary: Persecution can and is real. The key is how we approach it. Peter offers 2 lessons of encouragement: We must "Cultivate Christian Love" and "Practice the Lordship of Christ".
Persecution is real for the believer. While it comes in many different ways, it is real – The group we’ve been studying about in 1 Peter suffered this horror in much a different way than we do as Christians today:
Dr. M.R. DeHaan put it this way:
In the early days of the church. . . , baptism was a declaration that the believer was identifying himself with that group of people who were called Christians and were despised and hated. To be a Christian meant something. To identify yourself with those who were called Christians meant persecution, maybe death; it meant being ostracized from your family, shunned by friends.
The one act which was the final declaration of this identification was BAPTISM. As long as a man gathered with Christians, he was tolerated, but when once he submitted to baptism, he declared to all the world, “I BELONG TO THEIS DESPISED GROUP, and immediately he was persecuted, hated, and despised.”
PERSECUTION CAN AND IS REAL. The key is how we approach Persecution. Our text today was written by Peter to prepare small and scattered churches for a time of Persecution. At least 15 times in this letter using 8 different Greek words, Peter referred to suffering from some form of Persecution. To better understand the reason Peter felt it necessary to write this repeated warning, I did some research…
This is what I found regarding this Fiery Trial About to Begin:
1. When the church began in Jerusalem, it was looked on as a “sect of the traditional Jewish faith”. They were Jews meeting in the Temple Precincts. And since the Jewish religion was accepted and approved, the Roman Gov. took no action against them.
2. BUT when it became clear that Christianity was NOT a “sect” of Judaism, things began to change.
3. This was ALSO when PAUL was arrested and tried defending the Christian faith before the official court in Rome (Phil 1). He was released the 1st time but THEN was arrested again. His SECOND defense failed and he was crucified by NERO.
4. It is believed that Peter was in Rome during this trial and witnessed this execution. NERO was also the emperor who crucified Peter after 2nd Peter.
5. NERO began the official persecution of Christians and emperors following NERO followed that example.
Peter’s lesson for this section teaches that a lot of the Effects of Persecution depend on the mind and attitude of the individual.
1. CULTIVATE CHRISTIAN LOVE (Vs. 8-12)
2. PRACTICE THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST (Vs. 13-16a)
TEXT: 1 PETER 3:8-15
I. CULTIVATE CHRISTIAN LOVE (Verses 8-11)
Peter addresses 3 Attitudes of Love
A. LOVE FOR GOD’S PEOPLE -
When times are tough – you can come together or you can pull apart
5 BUILDING BLOCKS FOR UNITY in verse
1. Live in “harmony” - to be of one mind. Working together for the common good of the gospel and the call to be a chosen people worthy of that calling.
ILLUSTRATION: just as if I play ONE NOTE on this keyboard. It sounds OK I guess. But if I ADD ONE MORE NOTE, it begins to take a new tone. But then if I ADD ANOTHER AND ANOTHER, - and WHAT IF I even play DIFFERENT VARIATIONS of the notes, they really become one gorgeous sound of harmonious music all working together.
APPLICATION: We- as God’s people should also work together harmoniously to compliment the other for the general good of the gospel.
2. Be “Sympathetic” – Willing to share in another’s needs – being responsive to another’s needs and feelings.
3. Love As “Brothers” – The word ‘brothers’ is used to express more than a general concern for another Christian.
4. Be “Compassionate” – Tender hearted, implying conscious of another’s needs – BUT MORE THAN AN AWARENESS. It includes a drive to alleviate that need.
5. Be “Humble” – Having an honest assessment of oneself before God. (WHAT IS THAT VIEW?)
- Does not negate one’s own worth – nor does it inflate that worth.
- ‘strangers in the world – God’s elect’ (1.1), we are to follow the example of Christ (2.21)
TRANSISTION - While verse 8 calls for a Love of God’s People to help each other through tough times, VERSE 9 takes the other side…
B. LOVE FOR ALL OTHERS --
Peter address the possible choices for responding to EVIL:
1. Can Return Evil for Good – Called the “Satanic Level”
…when one is jealous, different, grudge etc. and cannot see the good (I see this a lot – INSIDE the church rather than OUTSIDE)
2. Can Return Good for Good/Evil for Evil – Called the “Human Level”
One treats another based on how he is treated.