Summary: Explore the message that the early Christians recieved to give them hope while facing Nero’s insane persecution. Discover the three proofs of faith which can help you truly know if you are developing as a follower of Christ.
Opening Skit: Stamped For Eternity (available upon request)
VIDEO INTRO: PROOF (available upon request)
We struggle to believe what we cannot see, but we cannot see, because we are not really looking.
We all hope for the best most of the time. Even when the odds aren’t quite in our favor, or circumstances around us don’t seem bright.
A little boy wasn’t getting good grades in school.
One day he quite surprised the teacher.
He tapped her on the shoulder and said, "I don’t want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don’t start getting better grades somebody is going to get a spanking!"
We all have something coming to us. For some, what we have coming is scary -- For others, what we have coming is thrilling.
In our text this morning, we are going to see how Peter describes the hope we can have—the hope that will give us proof of purchase—of our salvation.
This hope that we cannot see, because sometimes -- we are not really looking.
Today we will look at three results, that will give us proof for those of us who have been purchased—according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:20 “For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.”
On July 19, A.D. 64 the great fire of Rome began and lasted for three days.
The Roman historian Tacitus clearly placed the blame for the fire on the Emperor Nero and indicated that Nero scapegoated Christians as responsible for the fire.
The persecution that Nero ordered was so horrendous that the Christians population who were despised in Rome, actually gained some sympathy from many of the Roman citizen population.
William Barclay in his Daily Study Bible recounts from Tacitus what took place:
"A huge multitude of Christians perished in the most sadistic ways.
Nero rolled the Christians in pitch, and then set light to them, while they were still alive and used them as living torches of flame to light his gardens.
Some Christians, he would sew up in the skins of wild animals, and then set his hunting dogs upon them for hunting pleasure...
Or even for some, he would set them in an arena and loose large lions upon them that had been denied food for a lengthy time.
What does Peter, this first century pastor have to say to people who are enduring such torment?
What message did he have for families who were torn apart---
Torn apart by the persecutors who took delight in separating children from parents and husbands from their wives—
So that one could witness the suffering of the other.
How could mere words even begin to ease the pain of such evil?
How can Peters words help us today as we encounter various trials that bring stress to our families and tear them apart at an alarming rate?
Read 1 Peter 1:3-9
The Reason for the Proof
The most amazing thing about the people who endured Nero’s wrath was their reaction.
Think about it. If most people you know (including yourself) were in their shoes... what would the reaction be?
“How can God let something like this happen?”
“How can there be a God in a world like this?”
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” and sometimes....