SUFFERING GLORIFIES CHRIST – I Peter 4:12-19
I Peter 4:12-19 – 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 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.
In I Peter 4 we have seen that “Suffering Purifies the Christian” 4:1-6; “Suffering Unifies the Church” 4:7-11; and I must apologize here because last Sunday I inadvertently said “purifies” rather than “unifies.” One thing I have learned during this Lockdown period is that it’s much easier to preach a sermon than to write it all out word for word.
Now, in 4:12-19, we see that suffering glorifies Christ.
Expect It. 4:12
Since the inception of the Church, persecution and Christianity became acquainted; they are not strangers. Peter begins with a word of comfort that is often used of believers, Paul used it often as did John; you will also see it in the book of Jude: “Beloved.” We learn in Scripture that Christ is God’s Beloved, and in Ephesians 1:6 we learn that the Christian, by God’s grace is accepted in the Beloved.
So the Holy Spirit, through Peter, upon informing us that we will face some suffering for Jesus, begins with a word of comfort, assurance, and encouragement: we are God’s beloved! As Father God brought His Beloved Son from suffering to glory, so He will do the same for us.
Keep in mind that the sufferings spoken here are Christ’s sufferings, that is suffering for Christ because you are a Christian.
These believers were living in provinces of the Roman Empire and Peter knows that the persecution of Christians in Rome would soon spread out to the surrounding provinces.
The message here is not that we look for trials or think something is wrong if we don’t have any at present, but that they should not take us by surprise or off guard.
Recall that the term “fiery trial” pictures the fiery furnace that is used for the purpose of refining silver and gold by removing all the dross, making their value and usefulness increase.
Notice also that it is called a trial: “is to try you.” God has allowed it as a test or trial. Christians and trials are not strangers. Jesus said to His disciples in John 16:33: “in the world you will have tribulation”
Accept It. 4:13-15
Verse 13 tells us how to react in such situations – “Rejoice.” That is exactly what Jesus said to do in John 16:33 after telling us we would have tribulation “be of good cheer: is the same as saying “rejoice.” That’s certainly not how we normally would react. WHY?
“we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” thus indicating we will also be partakers of Christ’s glory and will be exceeding glad.
In Acts 5:40, 41 the apostles were beaten unlawfully for preaching Christ, yet they were rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
They were “partakers” – they had a part in His suffering, though the council tried to shame them publicly. Remember how the Roman soldiers tried to shame Christ by mocking Him before the crowd with a crown of thorns and purple robe as a pretend king.
When the world tries to mock you or shame and belittle you as a Christian, rejoice that you have a part of taking your stand not only for Jesus, but with Jesus.
II Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
James 1:2,3 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
Verse 14 says the one that is reproached for the name of Christ is blest and the Spirit of God rests upon him. That is,” the Spirit of God rests with refreshing power” upon the suffering believer.
Philippians 1:29: For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake”
Jesus said in Matthew 5:11: Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Matthew 5:16 says: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. That’s when we can really let our light shine!
In Daniel 3:19-30 – the 3 Hebrew children had faith as they went into the fiery furnace that God would deliver them. God not only delivered them but walked with them in the fire!
God promised to bring us through the flood and the fire, not into.
Expect trials – Accept trials and rejoice in them – and seek to Glorify Christ through them.
The suffering we endure now is but a Prelude to the Glory we will share at Christ’s coming.
Verse 15 admonishes us not to be put to shame because of sin in our life. Peter mentions murder, thievery, evil, and busybody and not distinguishing one worse than another, thus implying sin is sin! Of course, in reality some are worse than others, but sin is not measured; sin unconfessed in a believer hinders prayer and causes a loss of rewards, while sin in an unbeliever is what sends the lost person to Hell.
Thank God for I John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Reflect Christ. 4:16-19
4:16 lets us know that if our test or trial is not because of sin in our life but because of Christ in our life, we never have to be ashamed. Rather, we should take the opportunity to glorify the Lord.
4:17,18 – If God sends trials to the Church now, it is proof that He will someday judge the lost. We have our trials now and glory later – the lost have their glory now but suffering later.
This is the only heaven the lost will ever know!
Verse 18 refers to Proverbs 11:31: If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.
You may recall Asaph’s psalm, Psalm 73 – In verse 3 Asaph says he was envious of the wicked because of their prosperity and boastfulness. In verses 12-14 he mentions their life-style and wonders if his belief in God and godly living was in vain since he was often chastened.
But in verse 17, when he talked to God about it, he came to understand their future, they were slipping right into eternal destruction. It wasn’t worth it. So in verse 24 Asaph prays “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
Verse 19 tells us that if our suffering is allowed by God, is according to His will, commit your soul to Him and do good, that is reflect Christ through the testing, do right. It is the soul that is eternal, believers will have new glorified bodies. Luther’s great hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” comes to mind: “the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever.” God’s truth we know is “absent from the body, present with the Lord” for the Christian. Those who seek to destroy the Christian only usher them into the presence of Jesus!
The word “commit” here is a banking term meaning “leaving an amount on deposit for safe keeping.” Referring back to I Peter 1: 7 we read: “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Our Lord Jesus Himself, set the example in His own sufferings with a forgiving and loving spirit.
He endured the cross and even won a soul while suffering; and then later, one in charge of His crucifixion, a Roman Centurion, said “truly this Man is the Son of God.”
Knowing that Jesus took our place on the cross, knowing that Christ died for us, we may be partakers of His sufferings and identify with Him as He identified with us.
We have the assurance that as He then received the glory, so shall we, because He is faithful.
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