1st Peter: Episode 2

Beth's Notes

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.  1 Peter 4:1-6 (NIV)
This chapter is the heart of Peter's encouragement for the endurance of the saints.  Here he gives us practical instructions based on Christ's example in undergoing suffering.  It is not too dissimilar to the Apostle Paul’s admonition to us in Philippians:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.   Philippians 2:3-5 (NIV) 

Our attitudes are to be the same as that of Christ Jesus.  Conversion to God involves both an inward and an outward change.  When born again, one receives a new nature with new desires and new ambitions.  Also, in order to endure suffering, Christians are to arm themselves with Christlike courage; minister to one another with Christlike love and service; and commit themselves to God with Christlike faith.  All this is accomplished through the Holy Spirit’s power for the glory of God and for our good.  With Christ Himself as our example of patience in suffering, how can we, who owe all to Him, do otherwise than arm ourselves with the same mind and so endure as beholding Him by faith?  Many times God uses suffering to keep us from going into that which would dishonor Him.  Maintaining proper conduct in suffering requires that Christians maintain a Christlike attitude, living for the present in God's will, fully knowing that they will live for eternity in His presence.  Remember, earth is not our home, heaven is.  Paul tells us in Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12 (NIV)  

In this passage of Scripture Peter makes it very clear that when life is easy there is danger of drifting into a state of mind which accepts every blessing in life as if it were owed to us.  Think of how King David spiraled down the sin ladder when his life was at ease.  Believe me, if King David is capable of falling so too are we.  In ease, we come to the place where we do not prize or value life as we should.  God permits His children to suffer in order to keep us from sin and to give us a proper value of life.  God puts us to the test that it might draw us to Himself and give us a new direction and drive for life.  Such is the purpose of suffering.  When our life narrows down we are able to see what is protos – important.

“‘To live the remaining time…for God’s will.’  I do not know how much time remains, but it cannot be long even for the longest-lived person.  We must not forget that while we are talking about the rest of our life, it is already passing by.  Every moment we are here, we are traveling at an immense rate, speeding onward to the great goal of death.  We must be earnest.  For while we are making up our minds to be earnest, our time is slipping away.  The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little.  The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolved that we will do everything.”  C. H. Spurgeon    

Paul writes of Epaphras’ prayers in Colossians for the saints which should be our prayer for ourselves and our families as well:

12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.  Colossians 4:12 (NIV)

Next Peter tells us that we are to be done away with habitual, repetitive sin.  It is no longer to be our master – Jesus is.  He does not want us to be held in bondage to sin any longer. When we are, we have lost connection with the Head and it is a woeful and dreadful spiral down.  We fall into sin, yet holiness must be our pursuit.

“Professing Christian, is sin subdued in you? If your life is unholy, your heart is unchanged; and if your heart is unchanged, you are an unsaved person. If the Savior has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, He has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people not in their sins but from them ". . . for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."1 "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."2 If not saved from sin, how shall we hope to be counted among His people? Lord, save me now from all evil, and enable me to honor my Savior.”   C. H. Spurgeon revised by Alistair Begg

Through His death on the cross, Christ accomplished a mighty work for us.  Not only did He save us from our sins, He empowers us through the indwelling Holy Spirit to not remain in bondage to them.  We are not to go back to the pigpen to live as we are a Child of the King.  When we sin, we are to quickly repent – which means change – turn from the sin - keeping our accounts short - even if we have to do it 100 times a day.  No one but sweet Jesus can change a human heart.  No willpower, no outside influences, no good book on the subject – it is Christ alone Who changes a heart and gives it an entirely new leaning.

“There are such difficulties in the way of our salvation as could never be overcome but by that grace of God which is almighty.  ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.’ His grace can work on the soul, so as to alter the bent and bias of it, and give it a contrary leaning.”    Matthew Henry

Paul tells us in Romans 6:

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.   Romans 6:1-14 (NIV) 

Never take Christ’s work on the cross lightly.  There is healing power in forgiven sin.

Jesus Himself told the 72 who came back rejoicing that even the demons submitted to His Name:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 (NIV) 

We are clueless of what we have been saved from and for.  Therefore, because of what Christ has done for us, Peter states we are not to live the rest of our earthly lives for evil rather for God’s will. 

Peter referred back to Christ's suffering and applied the principles of patient endurance in unjust suffering to his readers' immediate situations – and they were dire.  He exhorted believers to arm themselves with the same courageous attitude or mind-set Christ had regarding suffering.  The word translated “arm yourselves” (hoplisasthe, used only here in the NT) referred to a soldier putting on his armor as in Ephesians 6:13:

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.   Ephesians 6:13 (NIV) 

“How strange the world is!  It speaks evil of men because they will not do evil.  Yet it has always been so.  Those of whom the ‘world was not worthy’ mentioned in Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame, have been the people of whom the worldly have said, ‘He should not be allowed to live’.  The world’s verdict concerning Christians is of little value.”  C. H. Spurgeon 

22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!”  23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air.  Acts 22:22-23 (NIV)

Remember, darkness hates the light because it exposes it.  It makes people uncomfortable in their own poor choices – even without us saying a word. Also, we are either going to live to please God or please man.  We cannot do both.  We live for God not in our own strength but in His.  

“Dogs do not usually bark at those who live in the same neighborhood with them but only at strangers.  When obscene tongues are lifted up against us, we have reason to hope that we are strangers and foreigners to the citizens of this world.”  C. H. Spurgeon 

Again, Paul tells us in Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.   Romans 12:17-21 (NIV) 

Peter tells us we are to have the same determination and care with which a soldier puts on his armor.  Christians are to adopt Christ's “attitude” – His resolution toward  persecution, an unswerving resolve to do God's will.  We must pray for that unswerving resolve to be obedient to His commands. 

Identification with Christ, arming oneself with His attitude, also means sharing in His suffering and death. Christ suffered in His body, and a believer suffers in his body also. One who has suffered in this way is done with sin, that is, his being identified with Christ demonstrates (as does baptism) his break with an habitual sinful life.  We no longer want to dwell there.  Because of Christ's death, “we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” as Paul wrote in Romans 6.  As a result, Christians who have adopted Christ's mind-set have counted themselves dead to sin. They live the rest of their lives not for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Next, Christians were exhorted to live for the present in God's will because old habits were a thing of the past.  In blunt language Peter stressed that there must be a definite break from what pagans choose to do -  the wasted years of debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and... idolatry.  You cannot live in sin and maintain fellowship with God – the two do not mix.  Paul tells us in Galatians:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV) 

God has made every arrangement for you and me not to live in sin.  He is fully aware that it always leads to death.  He wants His child safe from the evil and provides escape from temptation – we need only look for that door.  

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.   1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV) 

“Whatever the circumstances, whatever the call, whatever the duty, whatever the price, whatever the sacrifice – His strength will be your strength in your hour of need.”   Billy Graham  

This exhortation probably had a strong impact on Gentile Christians who used to live in gross sin.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) 

Christians are to live in the present for the will of God.  Many of our old associations will have to go.  Godless men are genuinely surprised by the changed lives of those who once were like they are. They think it strange.  A changed life provokes hostility from those who reject the gospel. Consequently, they heap abuse on believers.

Those who have spent their lives in indulgence and idolatry must one day give an account.  Scripture is not silent on this.  Jesus states:36 “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”   Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV) 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)  

Peter warned that these people must one day face the One who is ready (willing) to judge.  No one will escape this final judgment of the words and works of his earthly life, when Christ will judge both the living and the dead. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.  Romans 14:12 (NIV) 

As believers in Christ, we are not judged regarding our salvation rather our sanctification - regarding our works and words.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV) 

It matters greatly how we build on the foundation of Christ.  So how are we doing in this?  Paul gives us insight into this:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.   2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NIV) 

Peter concludes this section “For this... reason,” (because everybody must give an account to God), the gospel was preached even to those... now dead.”  Referring to those who those who heard and believed the gospel but have since died.  Peter encouraged his readers with the fact that rather than facing judgment for their sins, those who had heard and believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ faced an altogether different future.  The penalty for their sin has been paid for by Christ on the cross. The last earthly effect of sin is physical death. Believers still die physically, but for Christians, physical death does not lead to judgment of salvation but to eternal life.  Only the quality of our works will be tested.

In the next section Peter writes:  7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.   1 Peter 4:7-11 (NIV)

Peter begins this section by stating the end of all things is near reminding Christians that we are ever to keep the end in view.  This has been true since Jesus went back to heaven.  God is going to bring this world into a standstill one of these days – you can count on it.  We are not to live for the passing moment but as one who knows the end of all things of this present order is at hand.  Therefore, watchfulness and prayer are key for the child of the King.  We are to know our Bibles – the Truth of God’s Word and to be a wise as serpents and as innocent as doves and we are to pray on all occasions.  Paul tells us in Ephesians:

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

“You know the value of prayer; it is precious beyond all price.  Never, never neglect it.”   Thomas Buxton   

“And we do well to remember that this gracious God, who has condescended to place His almighty power at the command of believing prayer looks not lightly on the blood guiltiness of those who neglect to avail themselves of it for the benefit of the perishing….”   Hudson Taylor

Believers are to have a fervent love among the body.  There is not to be strife among believers.  The world hates the followers of Jesus giving us all the more reason to cling to one another in brotherly love.  We are to love each other “deeply” meaning – “stretched” or “strained” - used to describe the taut muscles of an athlete who strains to win a race.  A Christian's unselfish love and concern for others should be exercised to the point of sacrificially giving for others' welfare.  This love covers over – “hides” -  a multitude of sins.  This kind of strenuously maintained love is not blind to the faults of others, rather seeks not to dwell on those faults.   

12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12 (NIV)

James also tells us: 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.  James 5:19-20 (NIV) 

Wandering ones need to be brought back to the fold. James referred here not to evangelism but to restoration. Revival, not redemption, is in view. The rescue action is of great significance. A lost sheep is saved from destruction and his sins (the sins of the restored one, not the restorer) are covered as if a veil were thrown over them as in 1 Peter 4:8.  Enabling him to move ahead again on the path toward spiritual maturity.  In doing this demonstrates Christlike love:

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) 

We have to remove “It’s not fair” from our vocabulary.  The fair is in October!  What is extraordinarily not fair is that Christ died on the cross for us!  Peter also tells us that believers have an obligation or duty to be gracious to one another offering hospitality sans grumbling!  Often, needs arise in others’ lives that are not convenient for us (to say the least!).  God gives us many opportunities to die to self.  Remember as well, hospitality can manifest in many ways.  One commentator states:  

“I think hospitality can also be expressed in ways other than entertaining in your home.  The minister or missionary who is traveling and speaking in conferences needs to be alone.  He and his wife need to have a room in a hotel or motel where he can study and pray rather than be in a home where he has to carry on conversation all the time.  May I say, if you want to extend hospitality to your visiting speaker, take care of his hotel or motel bill.  Maybe simply invite them out for dinner.”  J. Vernon McGee

The point is simply to offer what you can do – not grudgingly or announcing it to the world with trumpets!  When we see the need and we have the resources to meet that need, we are to lovingly respond.  Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount:

1 “Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)

Remember as well that we too may one day need to be on the receiving end.  We are to treat others as we would want to be treated – and as nicely and compassionately!  Particularly those who are on the battlefield.  Sometimes I feel like our ministers and our missionaries get our leftovers in lieu of our firstfruits. 

Peter next addresses spiritual gifts.  Every born-again believer has at least one Spiritual Gift to be used for the body.  The gift is given to us but not for us.  We are to faithfully use it to serve one another or minister to one another in various ways.  There are a myriad of gifts and believers should be diligent in using what God has given them.  The phrase faithfully administering could also be translated “as good stewards.”  A “steward” was one who served as a house manager; he had no wealth of his own, but distributed his master's wealth according to his master's will and direction.  The “gift” stems from God's grace.  His grace is to be manifested to His church as believers exercise their spiritual gifts in service to one another other.  His grace is evident in its various forms, that is, it is “manifold”, variegated, rich in variety.  Also, if we do not use our gifts the body suffers. 

Lastly, Peter admonishes that when we speak we are to speak the very Words of God and minister in His power and strength.  God will never own what mere mortal flesh does apart from His power.  It is for naught when we run ahead and do things in our own strength.  All these things will be burned up – they are not eternal.  Believers are to know His Word - to speak the Truth in love – this is our responsibility.  God does not miraculously split open our heads and pour forth Truth.  We are to study and show ourselves approved, workman who do not need to be ashamed who can correctly handle God’s Word.  God is to be glorified by our words and deeds and this is done through His achieving power.  The praise and credit for Christian ministry should always be given to Christ.  As Piper states: “The One Who gives the power gets the glory”.

In our last section of Chapter Four Peter writes:  

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.   1 Peter 4:12-19 (NIV) 

When suffering comes, most of us react as if something strange were happening to us.  We can feel like no one has ever suffered like we have had to suffer!  I don’t know what your problems may be, but I do know that it is not something uniquely strange!  Others have gone through the same thing, and you will never be the one who will suffer more than anyone else!  All of us can fall into this fallacy in our thinking – especially when we are in intense pain.  To be sure, suffering is not something that is accidental – it is the normal Christian experience.  “Painful trial” means literally smelted in a furnace.  King David spoke of the fact that God’s testings of him were like putting silver into a furnace to purify it.  We find this thought throughout all of Scripture.  Indeed, Peter has mentioned this fiery trial several times.  He had personally endured suffering and he was yet to die a martyr’s death by crucifixion.  Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 12:4-11 (NIV) 
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”  7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.  How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 

“Out from the mine and the darkness, Out from the damp and the mold, Out from the fiery furnace, Cometh each grain of gold.  Crushed into atoms and leveled Down to the humblest dust With never a heart to pity, With never a hand to trust.  Molten and hammered and beaten Seemeth it ne’er to be done.  Oh, for such fiery trial, What hath the poor gold done?  Oh, ‘twere a mercy to leave it Down in the damp and the mold.  If this is the glory of living, Then better to be dross than gold.  Under the press and the roller, Into the jaws of the mint, Stamped with the emblem of freedom, With never a flaw or a dint.  Oh, what a joy, the refining, Out of the damp and the mold.  And stamped with the glorious image, Oh, beautiful coin of gold!”  “In The Crucible” Author Unknown 

We are to rejoice in trials because suffering prepares us for the coming of Christ and it is also God’s primary tool of choice in conforming us to the image of His Precious Son.  Our pain has purpose.  Paul writes in Romans:

16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.   Romans 8:16-18 (NIV) 

The writer of Hebrews writes:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:7-11 (NIV)

The harvest of righteousness and peace are certain for those who have been trained by God’s discipline.

Peter’s words are applicable to every time of trial and persecution.  There are no shortcuts to living the Christian life.  There is no easy way.  The Christian life is a banquet because Christ has invited us to the table of salvation – but it is not a picnic.  We are often called to suffer for Him and with Him.  Christ’s atoning sufferings stand-alone – none but He could endure such penalty for our sins and so make propitiation, in order that we might be forgiven.  But we share in His sufferings for righteousness sake.  And we will one day know the purpose for all the testings when we stand in His presence.  There is nothing chance or happenstance with God – each trial is purposeful.  The Word of God makes it very clear that suffering is a part of the Christian life.  Indeed, Christ tells us:

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV) 

We are to take heart and be courageous.  The greatest proof that you are a child of the King is that you can endure suffering.  We are to glorify God in whatever He allows in our lives.  

No one can be true to Christ and be loved by the world-system, for everything that Jesus taught condemns the present order and leads ungodly men to hate Him and His people.  But he who suffers for Christ’s sake now is assured of glory hereafter which will fully answer to the shame now endured.  The reproach of the world should not deter the Christian.  He need not expect the approval of those who reject and misunderstand his Savior.  It is our responsibility to so live as to give the lie to the false reports of the ungodly and so to glorify the One whose name they spurn.  

Next Peter tells us we are not to suffer for doing wrong and lists some of the sins as examples.  Interestingly, he places murder in with being a busybody or a meddler!  The busybody is linked with evildoers of every description and for a very good reason as they seek to steal men’s reputations, seek to assassinate their good names, and by their slander work all manner of evil.  The follower of Christ is called upon to be careful never to misbehave so as to deserve the ill will of the wicked.  He is not to be dishonest or corrupt in life, nor to be given to gossipy interference in other people’s affairs.  Thus by a holy and righteous life, he will adorn the gospel of Christ.  We are to leave the aroma of Christ in every encounter.  It matters greatly how we live our lives.  Paul writes:

15 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.   Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)

Peter states we ought not to be suffering for our own sins but if we suffer for Christ sake we are therefore never to be ashamed.  

Peter asks the question if judgment is to begin at the house of God what will be the outcome for those who do not obey?  Our Father God does not pass over the failures of His people.  He never winks at sin nor lets it slide – all for our benefit.  Sin cost Him the death of His Son and He does not take it lightly.  Rather God disciplines us for our good so that we may be careful to walk in obedience to His Word.  Therein is the abundant life He so freely offers us.  Sin will always lead to death and Christ always leads to life – make no mistake about it.  If He is particular in chastening His own, how solemn will be the judgment of those who do not obey the Gospel and persist to the end in rejecting the Savior He has provided.  If the righteous must endure chastening at the hand of God and persecution at the hand of the world, what will it mean for the unsaved and impenitent men to answer before the judgment throne for their persistence in refusing His grace? 

“If the wheat must be winnowed, how certainly will the chaff be destroyed?  If the gold must pass through the fire, how assuredly will the dross be consumed?  If there is a great fire in a city and a massive stone structure with iron girders can only be saved by the firemen with great difficulty, what will be the fate of a wooden house, covered with tar and full of oil?”  C. H. Spurgeon

Lastly, however hard the way and however perplexing their experiences, the suffering Christian may look up to God in confidence, knowing he can rely upon divine love and faithfulness, assured that all will work out for blessing at last.  That is the glorious promise of Romans 8:28-32:

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?   Romans 8:28-32 (NIV)

Believers are called out from the world and are responsible to live for the glory of Him who has saved them.  Furthermore, we are to go forth as God’s messengers into the very world from which we have been delivered from, preaching to all men everywhere the gospel – God’s offer of salvation through the finished work of His beloved Son.  We are to be Christ’s ambassadors as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV)

Whatever suffering or affliction this may entail, it is to be borne cheerfully for His sake, knowing that He will reward abundantly for all that is endured, when He returns in glory.  We will never out give God.

Tertullian declared that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.  This has been demonstrated over and over again.  Persecution can never destroy the church of God.  The more it is called to suffer for Christ, the stronger it becomes.  It is internal strife and carelessness in life that endangers it.  But so virile is the life it possesses that even this has never been permitted to destroy it, for although its outward testimony has at times been ruined by such things, God has always kept alive a witnessing remnant to stand for the Truth of His Word.  May those who come behind us find us faithful.    

“God hath not promised skies always blue, Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through; God hath not promised sun without rain, Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.  God hath not promised we shall not know Toil and temptation, trouble and woe; He hath not told us we shall not bear Many a burden, many a care.  God hath not promised smooth roads and wide, Swift, easy travel, needing no guide; Never a mountain, rocky and steep, Never a river, turbid and deep.  But God hath promised strength for the day, Rest for the laborer, light for the way, Grace for the trails, help from above, Unfailing sympathy, undying love.”   Annie Johnson Flint  

“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.”  Leon Bloy

“The Christian life is a joyful life.  Christianity was never meant to be something to make people miserable.  The ministry of Jesus Christ was one of joy.  The Bible teaches that a life of inward peace and outward victory is a Christian’s birthright.  ‘What a witness to the world Christians would be,’ wrote Amy Carmichael, ‘if only they were more evidently very happy people.’  Joy is one of the marks of a true believer.  Will others see the joy of Christ in your life today?”  Billy Graham

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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