"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"
Persevering Through Persecution (1 Pe 4:12-19)
1. We have observed in our study of 1st Peter that the original
recipients of this epistle were undergoing "various trials" - 1 Pe 1:6
2. In an earlier lesson, "Preparing For Persecution" (1 Pe 3:13-18),
we saw where Peter gave instructions on how they (and we) should
prepare themselves for hard times
3. Now in 4:12-19, Peter continues to discuss persecution, but with a
slightly different slant
4. The slant is that he now mentions things that relate to "Persevering
Through Persecution", not just preparing for it
[While we might not ever endure "physical" persecution, it is unlikely
that we will escape occasional "verbal" or "social" persecution.
Therefore, what Peter has to say can be of great benefit to help us
persevere in such circumstances. For example, we should...]
I. EXPECT PERSECUTION (v 12)
A. IT IS NOT UNUSUAL...
1. A point Peter stresses twice in this verse
a. "do not think it strange"
b. "as though some strange thing happened to you"
2. It is something other Christians were experiencing at that
time as well - 1 Pe 5:9
3. Jesus warned His disciples of hard times to come - Jn 15:18-21
4. Why does God allow such things to happen? Read on...
B. "FIERY TRIALS" SERVE TO TRY ONE'S FAITH...
1. Just as gold is tested by fire, so our faith is tested by
persecution - cf. 1 Pe 1:6-7
2. This is why God allows the devil to bring such persecution
3. But just as God blessed Job after his trials, so He will bless
us! - cf. 1 Pe 5:10
[As someone has said, "First comes the cross, then comes the crown."
So don't be surprised if you find yourself being ridiculed, ostracized
or even facing physical persecution for the cause of Christ.
(cf. Ac 14:22; 2 Ti 3:12)
Should it come, what then?]
II. REJOICE IN PERSECUTION (Vs 13-14)
A. THE CALL TO REJOICE IS NOTHING NEW...
1. Jesus taught it in His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:11-12
2. Paul found reason to "glory in tribulations" - Ro 5:3-5
3. And James taught that trials ought to be an occasion for joy
- Ja 1:2-4
B. WHY REJOICE IN PERSECUTION?
1. As explained by Jesus...
a. "for great is your reward in heaven" Mt 5:12
b. "for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you"
2. As explained by Paul... Rom 5:3-4
a. "tribulation produces perseverance"
b. Which in turn produces "character, and character, hope"
3. As explained by James...
a. "the testing of your faith produces patience"
b. And patience can help one be "perfect and complete, lacking
C. PETER OFFERS THREE REASONS TO REJOICE IN PERSECUTION...
1. It means glory in the future...
a. "when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with
b. This will occur at His second coming - cf. 2 Th 1:10-12
2. It means blessing in the present...
a. "blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests
b. A reference to the Holy Spirit, and possibly alluding to
1) Described by Jesus in Lk 12:11-12; Lk 21:12-15
2) Exemplified in the case of Stephen - Ac 7:54-60
c. Such a blessing might have limited application to the
special circumstances of the first century, but God's grace
will still provide whatever we need to endure trials -
cf. 1 Co 10:13
3. It means Christ is glorified...
a. "on your part He is glorified"
b. When we endure persecution through the strength Jesus gives
us, we make manifest the "life" (power) of Jesus - cf. 2 Co 4:7-11
c. And so by our conduct we can bring glory to Christ (God)
- cf. 1 Pe 2:12
[We have every reason, then, to rejoice in times of persecution. But
for us to make the most of such situations, we need not only to
"rejoice", but also to "reflect". I.e., use the time to...]
III. EXAMINE YOUR LIFE (Vs 15-18)
A. IF WE MUST SUFFER, MAKE IT WORTHWHILE...
1. Make sure it is not for reasons listed by Peter...
a. E.g., as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer
b. Or for doing what often brings unnecessary suffering to the
church: "as a busybody in other people's matters"
2. Make sure it is because we are Christians...
a. In which have an opportunity to glorify God
b. In which we can demonstrate the grace He gives us to endure
B. CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT REMAINING FAITHFUL...
1. God allows persecution of the righteous because it serves as
one way to judge "the house of God" (i.e., God's family, the
church) - 1 Pe 4:17
2. As Paul wrote, it is "evidence of the righteous judgment of
God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for
which you also suffer" - 2 Th 1:4-5
3. If God is willing to so judge His own faithful children,
what about those who are disobedient? As Peter asks:
a. "What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel
b. "Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
4. Paul provides the answer, in 2 Th 1:6-9...
a. Those God will "repay with tribulation"
b. Jesus will come "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those
who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"
c. Yes, they "shall be punished with everlasting destruction"
[In view of the coming Judgment of God, of which the persecution of the
saved is only a precursor, we should use times of persecution to reflect and make
sure of our standing before God.
Finally, you can be successful in "Persevering Through Persecution"
if you will...]
IV. COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD (v 19)
A. "HOW" TO COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD...
1. By doing good, no matter the circumstances
a. Whatever evil is done to you, respond by doing good -
cf. Lk 6:27-28
b. Remember the examples of Jesus (Lk 23:34) and Stephen (Ac 7:59-60)
2. Don't let persecution be an excuse for misconduct
B. "WHY" TO COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD...
1. Because God is a "faithful Creator"
2. As "faithful" (trustworthy), He can be trusted to do what is
right in the end
3. As "Creator", He has the power to do what is right in the end
1. Certainly we should hope and pray that we never have to endure the
sort of persecution experienced by the early Christians
2. But if we do, will we be prepared? We can be, if we take to heart
the words of the apostle Peter as found in his epistle!
As for being prepared, have you not yet obeyed the gospel?
Some may think it odd that the gospel is to be obeyed, and not just
believed; but both Peter and Paul warn of the end of those "who do
not obey the gospel" (1 Pe 4:17; 2 Th 1:8).
How does one obey the gospel? - cf. Mk 16:15-16
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