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The Fiery Trials and Christian Life

Good Morning Beloved,
It's always such a blessing to have all of you here
thank you for joining us today

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word, the incredible message You have for us today.
Let us be refreshed, O Lord, by each verse and we know that we have the promise that no matter what this world may bring upon us, that if we suffer for righteousness sake, we can rejoice in it,
because we have the privilege of sharing in the suffering intended for you.  The same kind You endured, suffering for righteousness, because we are gaining an eternal weight of glory and because we are experiencing the presence of the Spirit of God, who rests to lift us up, to transcend what the world brings.

Father, we just thank You, that we can be with those we love as the world hurriedly rushes by us
that we can rejoice, worship and sing the songs of our faith that glorify You
And we thank You Lord, for all that you have already done, in and through each of our lives
and that which will be done in faith believing in, as You are the author and finisher of our faith.
In Jesus' name, these things we ask and pray
Amen and Amen

"Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a "Christian," he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator."

Today's Message - The Fiery Trial and Christian Life - Part 1

Today, we continue in our study of I Peter. I would invite you to open your Bibles with me, to I Peter chapter 4. Our study will be on the particular verses 12-19, we'll have to see how far we get today. Allow me to set up the background for this text, so that you kind of get the feeling of what Peter is writing and why he is saying what he’s saying.

It was in the year 64 AD, July 19th, Rome burned while Nero fiddled. That’s rather a famous point in history. So nearly everybody remembers that Rome burned and Nero fiddled, right?  But that has significant impact on the writing of this epistle.

This great city of the ancient world, as you may recall, was consumed that day in an unbelievable catastrophic fire. Rome was a city with very narrow streets. It was a city of high wooden tenements. They built what we would know today as apartment houses out of wood, and they were very close together. The fire spread rapidly, and although it began on that 19th day in July, it lasted three days and nights, and it broke out over and again, though they tried to contain it. The Romans actually believed that Nero was responsible for burning their great city and their homes. Why? Because Nero had this strange fixation with building, and he wanted to build a new city, so they believed that he burned down the old one. He stood in the Tower of Messines, and he watched as the city burned to the ground, with joyful pleasure. In fact, it is said that he was actually charmed by the loveliness of the flames.  People who put the fire out or tried to put it out were hindered by his soldiers and new fires were started. The people were absolutely devastated. They lost everything.

The Temple of Luna, the ara maxima, the great altar, the Temple of Jupiter, the Shrine of Vesta, their homes, all their household gods, everything was gone and they were left homeless. The resentment obviously was very great. The bitterness was deep and deadly. And so, Nero needed to divert the attention away from himself, he needed a scapegoat. And so, he decided upon a scapegoat, which would be the Christians. He publically blamed the Christians for burning Rome. It was an ingenious choice on his part, quite frankly, because the Christians were already the victims of extreme hatred and the victims of slander. They were connected with Jews in the minds of most people who had been dispersed in the diaspora. And since there was a growing anti-Semitism, it was quite easy to have an anti-Christian attitude as well. The Lord’s Supper, which Christians held, was closed to pagans, so they had developed all kinds of strange imaginations about what happened. They'd heard these Christians were eating flesh and drinking blood and they accused them of cannibalism. In fact, they began to say that they ate babies and Gentiles at the Lord’s Supper. They also said that the Christian, kiss of love which supposedly was used at their love feast, was really a demonstration of this unbridled lust and orgy that took place called the Lord’s Supper. They really had some rather strange illusions about the Lord's Supper.

And Christians were already very unpopular, because they divided families. When a man became a Christian and his wife did not, it was an obvious fracture, and the same would be true in reverse. Since Christians used to speak about a time when the world would be consumed by flames, so it would be easy to blame them for this fire as well. The thinking was they had tried to develop a fulfillment for their own prophecy. And historians tells us that even though there were in Rome some judges who were honest enough and prepared to acquit the Christians of this baseless charge, those judges were overpowered and ignored. Christians were incendiary, Christians were anarchists, Christians were guilty of hatred against a civilized society. This really began what later developed into a full-blown persecution. If you go later than Nero to Domitian, Trajan, and the other Roman emperors, you find that what began here as an initial hatred of Christians became a fixed policy.  And the question whether a man was a Christian became the most essential part of any charge brought against him. And as a result of this accusation, persecution began. Tacitus, the Roman historian, reported that Nero rolled Christians in pitch or oil, then set them on fire, while they were still alive. They were used as living torches to light his garden parties. He served them up in the skins of wild animals to his hunting dogs to tear them to shreds. And they were even nailed to crosses, et cetera.

Christians perished in a frenzy of savagery at that time, even lynching became quite common. Within a few years Christians were imprisoned, racked, seared, broiled, burned, scourged, stoned and hanged. Some were lacerated with hot knives and others thrown onto the horns of wild bulls.

It was a savage time for Christians. To be a Christian meant great renunciation, the joining of a despised and persecuted sect, the swimming against the tide of popular prejudice, the coming under the ban of the Empire, the possibility at any moment of imprisonment and death under its most treacherous forms.

Now, what is most interesting about that in relation to I Peter, at least from what we can ascertain, this letter was probably written just after that all began, some time toward the end of that same year, 64 AD. So, it would be written then at a time when Christians were undergoing the beginnings of the horrific 200 years of persecution. As we now look at verse 12, and I'd like to direct your attention to it, we are not shocked, to read the words of Peter, "Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you."

Now, as we approach today's text, Peter then is going to draw their attention to the recurring theme of this epistle, and that is the Christian’s response to suffering. And he gives them four key elements in a proper response. And so, if we can get a good grip on these principals,  I believe it will go a long way in helping us deal with suffering for righteousness sake in our own lives.

If we are to be triumphant through a fiery trial, the first thing we must do is to expect it. So number one, is to expect it. Number two, is rejoice in it. Number three, is to evaluate its cause. And number four, to commit yourself to God. Expect it, rejoice in it, evaluate its cause, and then entrust yourself to God. Now, this sums up all of the instruction in this epistle heretofore along the lines of suffering. Much has already been said on the subject of suffering.

So as we begin our study today, let's first examine verse 12. "Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you."

The point here is to expect suffering, we must learn to expect it, so don’t be surprised by it, don’t think it to be some strange thing, expect it. Peter has throughout this epistle, consistently said that persecution for the Christian in it's various forms is inevitable. It is inevitable. In fact, the surprise would actually be if it didn’t come.  In I John 3:13, John said, "Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you." So, again, don’t be surprised. Then Jesus said, in John 15:18, "If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you." 

Paul in writing to Timothy says all that live godly in this present age will suffer persecution, in II Timothy 3:12. And so, Peter is really echoing the instruction of the others who have written in the New Testament, that we’re not to be surprised when suffering comes. Godly lives lived in an ungodly world confront the world, and we become an unwelcome conscience that is very distasteful to them. And, if we proclaim the name of Christ loudly enough, we become offensive. The goodness alone of a Christian is found be an offense to a evil and wicked world. And then, when you add to that the proclamation of the name of Christ, we become particularly offensive to the world. It’s as though Peter is saying suffering is the price of Christian discipleship.

In Luke 14:28, Jesus obviously had that in mind when He said, "For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000?" So you certainly wouldn’t be so foolish as not to realize that when you become a Christian, you take up a cross, and the cross speaks of pain and suffering and even death. There is definitely a price to pay because if you proclaim the name of Christ, you will become a conscience to an evil and wicked world, which let's be honest, does not welcome such a conscience.

In I Peter, chapters 1 and the first part of chapter 2, Peter spoke about suffering for our precious salvation. Then, later in chapter 2 through the 1st part of chapter 4 he talked about suffering in our present situation. And so now, he begins to talk about suffering until our perfect salvation. But the whole epistle is about suffering. 

In view of our precious salvation, he said early in the epistle, suffering is nothing. In view of our present situation, suffering is very important because how we react to it determines how effective our evangelistic testimony is. And in view of Christ’s personal Second Coming and our ultimate salvation, it isn’t even worthy to be compared, said Paul, with the glory which shall be revealed in us. So, are we understanding already this far in the epistle that Peter is very concerned that we see suffering in a right perspective.

So, beloved, we can ascertain, that it is inevitable that a faithful Christian will suffer some level of persecution, and that is what Peter is talking about here. He’s talking about suffering for righteousness sake, suffering because you’re a Christian, or suffering because you proclaim the name of Christ. When we first introduced I Peter, I tried to give you a little list, and maybe it’s time now to quickly remind you of that list. A list of the kinds of suffering that Christians endure. This is taken right out of the New Testament. Matthew 5:10 says, "those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs." 

Then, Matthew 5:11-12 says, "You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you." 

And in I Peter 4:4, Peter tells us that, "So they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of wild living—and they slander you." Matthew 10 says we will endure false accusations. Matthew 10:14, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town." Matthew 10:17, "Because people will hand you over to sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues, beware of them." Matthew 10:21-36, "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will even rise up against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of My name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered."  

John 15:18-21, "If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.  But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me."

Acts 5:41, "Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name." So we will endure shame cast upon us for Christ’s sake. Then in Acts 7:58 says, "They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They were stoning Stephen as he called out: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" So we can expect that some of us will endure martyrdom. James 1 tells us we will endure temptation. "A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." Acts 14:22, "strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, "It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God." Acts 4, Acts 5, Acts 12 reminds us that many Christians will endure imprisonment. 

And according to Acts 14:19, "Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead." II Corinthians 11:24 and 25 reminds us that some Christians have endured beatings. In I Corinthians 4:9 says we will be made a spectacle to men. I Corinthians 4 says we will be misunderstood, we will be defamed, and we will be despised. II Corinthians 6:8-10 says we will endure troubles, afflictions, distress, tumults, labors, watchings, fastings, and evil reports. Now, that’s a little list of the kind of things that a Christian endures in a culture that is non-Christian. They are the suffering that befalls the believer in a fallen world. So, the bottom line is, that we should learn to expect it. Suffering will come. It's part of being a follower of Christ.

And so, back to our text. It starts by saying, "Dear friends," Peter is being very pastoral here, but he is also introducing a new section.  The 2nd section in the epistle began in chapter 2:11 with the word "Dear friends," and now the third section and last one begins in chapter 4:12 with these same words, “beloved.” It does introduce the final section, but it is a pastoral word, it is a word of tenderness, it is words of compassion, it is words of affection, it is words of great care. And, if you will remember, way back in chapter 1:22,  Peter spoke about a sincere love of the brethren. Then, earlier in chapter 4:8, he talked about the fact that we are to keep a fervent love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins. Here he’s exhibiting that compassion, that fervent love, that intense love as he speaks of these believers in this gracious term. It is a reminder that they are loved by Peter; and more than that, they are loved by God. That, my dear friends, is like a sweet pillow to rest your weary soul on in the midst of persecution. You are still the beloved of God; you are still the beloved of your Christian brother.

And, I suppose, that it would be a temptation in the midst of suffering, in the midst of temptation and who knows that some of the very Christians to whom Peter was writing were suffering under the terrible reign of terror of Nero. It would be very easy under that kind of situation to question the love of God, wouldn’t you agree? Do You really love me? Do You really care? If so, why is all of this happening? I guess, you would be sort of cashing in your chips if you had bought into the prosperity gospel, isn't that true? You would be wondering if what you had been told was in fact true. If somebody came to you and said Jesus wants to make you healthy, wealthy, and prosperous and no sooner had you given your life to Jesus Christ then somebody was rolling your children in pitch and using them as human torches for their garden party. And you might be saying, "Hold on! Just wait a minute here, God, this doesn’t look like  such a loving God to me." Circumstances might make it seem as though you are not really loved by God. In the midst of persecution like that the enemy would tempt you like Job’s wife, curse God and die, haven’t you had enough? And so, Peter gives us this lovely reminder, "Dear friends, you are still the beloved of God, you are still the beloved of the Apostle. Dear friends, do not be surprised."

Dear friends, don’t be amazed that you’re being persecuted. Don’t be shocked that life is difficult. Don’t be surprised when somebody takes issue with your testimony. Don’t be surprised when you can’t get the promotion you want at work, when your employee friends are hostile toward you, when you’re mocked, when you don’t get what you deserve. Don’t be surprised when your neighbors seem to have a vendetta against you for a reason that you can’t understand. Don’t be surprised. Don’t be amazed. Christians should easily understand that suffering goes with the Christian faith. It isn’t foreign, it isn’t strange. It actually belongs. Christianity never promises immunity from suffering. It promises, are you ready for it? Suffering. Christianity promises suffering.

What kind of gospel presentation would it be if instead of saying Jesus wants you to be happy, and joyful, and peaceful, and solve all your problems and make you prosperous and wealthy and healthy and all of that. If we said to someone, you know, you’re in desperate need of Jesus Christ to save you because you’re on your way to an eternal hell and you have this choice, you can suffer forever in hell, or you can become a Christian and suffer here for a while? Because that’s the bottom line.

Personally, for me, that’s not really a tough choice. I’d rather take a few shots here than endure an eternity in hell. But men seem to want to live under the illusion that if you claim Christ, and if you name Christ, and if you quote-unquote serve the church, God will eliminate all your difficulty, all your adversity, all your pain, all your persecution. That is what is being taught in many modern churches, but the reality is, that's simply not true. That is just not true. And, it's not biblical. In fact, I think the more effective you are for God, the more faithful to divine truth, the more you stimulate animosity. You become, to those who believe, a saver of life unto life; but to those who do not believe, a saver of death unto death.

So, "don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you." What does that mean? Well, literally the term is a burning. The word is used for furnace. In the Old Testament, the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew, it is used for furnace. In the New Testament it has the idea of a furnace as well. In the Old Testament it was used of a smelting furnace where metal was melted down to be purged of foreign elements. So, he is saying: don’t be surprised when God puts you in the furnace to melt you down. Psalm 66:10 for example says, "For You, God, tested us; You refined us as silver is refined." In other words, God, You did it. It is here then, a symbol of affliction, a symbol of persecution, a symbol of rejection that God designs to be a purging, and purifying process. Then back in  I Peter 1:6-7, for a moment, because here we find the same concept. In verse 6 it says, "You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." And so, he says, "Look, you’re willing to endure some fiery trials here because you know it will prove the genuineness of your faith which will be rewarded at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

So, the fiery trial here is not just any trouble. It’s talking about persecution for your faith, persecution for righteousness sake, persecution because of the identification with Jesus Christ. But God allows it to come. Verse 12 says, "don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you." So God allows it to come because it proves the genuineness of your Christianity. Do you remember the parable of our Lord Jesus, the parable about the soils? And do you remember that some seed fell on stony ground? And it went into the soil, and all of a sudden a plant shot up out of the ground. But it says there was rock underneath the soil, and the roots couldn’t move down to get the water and when the sun came out it burned that plant to a crisp, and it never bore fruit. And our Lord was describing the kind of person who hears the message of the gospel, has an emotional response, gives some outward semblance of reaction. But because the soil of the heart has never really been plowed up, as soon as tribulation comes, they’re gone.

Well, this is exactly what Peter is saying. Suffering for the sake of Christ reveals who’s genuine, right? The phonies aren’t going to hang around. That’s why through the years we have always said the persecuted church is the pure church. That’s why we worry about Russia and Eastern Europe now being open. As soon as they become open, and there’s no cost to Christianity, then you don’t know who’s real, do you see what I mean? Just like in the United States of America. I have spoken to several pastors, have said that to me when I said to them, "It must be pretty difficult in your country to pastor the church." And most of them replied, "Not true, but it must be difficult to pastor a church in America. Because, with the persecution happening, we actually know who the true Christians are." So, it comes for your testing. It’s an essential feature of God’s working in you to try you, to prove you, to purge you, to cleanse you.

So, he says expect it, and don’t treat it as though some strange thing were happening to you. That verb “were happening” is an rather interesting verb, sumbain, it means to fall by chance. Don’t think that when you’re persecuted it’s something that happened by chance. No, because God allowed it and designed it for your testing, your purging, your purification, your cleansing. First, it proves whether you’re a real Christian and then it purges the dross out of your life. Beloved, persecution, affliction, suffering are not accidental, nor do they interfere with God’s plan. They are right in the midst of God’s plan, and therefore, should be common to all Christians. They are common to all faithful Christians.

Now, the next thing that Peter wants us to know about suffering, is to rejoice in it. Not only are we to expect it, but when it comes we’re to rejoice in it. I'd like to direct your attention to verses 13 and 14. "Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." Now, just take that phrase in verse 13 "rejoice with great joy." This is the right attitude in the midst of persecution. This is the right attitude in the midst of affliction, rejection, anything the world brings against you for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ. Any of that which comes against you should be cause for rejoicing with great joy. Remember the words of our Lord? In, Matthew 5:10-12: "Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs."You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. "Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Beloved, that is rather a strange one, isn’t it? "Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven." So, you’re in good company.

So, you are to rejoice in it. Then, you are to keep on rejoicing in it. What’s the motivation for that? Well, there’s a future motivation and a present motivation. Let's examine the text. Let's start with the future motivation. Keep on rejoicing, verse 13. Why? "Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory." Did you catch that? So, to the degree that you share His suffering, you will share His glory. And so, if you keep on rejoicing now, you will really be rejoicing then.

That phrase that begins verse 13, "rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah," must really be understood. So what does it mean? It simply means, you share the sufferings of Christ in this way: Jesus Christ suffered at the hands of men because He did what was right. Isn't that true? He didn’t do what was wrong. Because He was without sin. Jesus Christ suffered because He did what was right. Jesus Christ suffered because He spoke the truth. It isn’t that we share in the redemptive sufferings of Christ. It isn’t that we share in the atoning sufferings of Christ. That’s not what Peter is saying here. What Peter is saying is you are a partner in the same kind of suffering Jesus endured, your suffering is for doing what is right, suffering for saying what is right, suffering for preaching the right message. So share in that kind of suffering, because, you then, are suffering for righteousness sake.

So, beloved don’t be discouraged, and don’t become disheartened, because you are being given a privilege: the privilege to share in the same kind of sufferings Jesus Himself experienced. Beloved, what an honor, what a privilege. Peter has had much to say about the sufferings of Christ. You remember chapter 1:11, where he talked about the suffering of Christ? Then, in chapter 2:21, where he talked about Christ suffering again? Chapter 3:18, he talked about what? That's right, Christ’s suffering again. Chapter 4:1, Christ’s suffering in the flesh. This is such a major theme to Peter, and we have been through that in great depth. And what he has in mind is the earthly suffering that Christ endured at the hands of persecuting sinners. The earthly suffering Christ endured at the hands of persecuting sinners. So, when you as a Christian suffer, you are sharing those same kinds of sufferings when you suffer at the hands of hostile, rejecting, mocking, unkind sinners. And you should rejoice. That's a privilege.

The apostle Paul certainly understood that, didn’t he? Do you remember what he says at the end of Galatians chapter 6? He gives a testimony there that is absolutely marvelous. He says in verse 17, "From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I bear on my body scars for the cause of Jesus. Brothers, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen." Paul is saying that the scars that I’ve received when people whipped me, when they beat me with rods, all of the scars that I’ve received in my life are the marks of Jesus Christ. Because I received all of them because of Him. The world couldn’t get to Him, they hated Him, so they hated me in His place, they couldn’t strike Him so they struck me. And, Paul says, that’s my badge of honor. It’s as if he pulls back his cloak and says, "You want to see my trophy case? I bear on my body the marks that would have been given to Jesus had He been here, but they gave them to me because I named His name."

In Philippians 1:29, again, the apostle Paul, reminds all of us that it has been granted for Christ’s sake not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake and to experience the same conflict which Paul was having. Anyone who is a faithful Christian living in a hostile world to one degree or another is going to receive suffering. And, of course you remember in chapter 3:10 Paul said, "My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,  assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead." He sees there a camaraderie, a bond between himself and the suffering Christ. In Colossians 1:24 he says, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His body, that is, the church." In other words, again the same thing he said in Galatians, "I’m scarred with wounds that were intended for Christ." So again, I remind you of that great truth. Paul was eager to take the blows for Christ who took the blows for him.

So, when we suffer, we share with Christ. Not in His atoning suffering, but in the same kind of suffering, suffering for righteousness sake, one step beyond that, we are literally taking the blows meant for Him. The sinners hate Him; they only hate us because they hate Him. And so we take the blows they would otherwise give to Him.

You might imagine it would be different if Jesus came back into the world today. They would do to Him today the same thing they did to Him the first time. And if you are in need of proof, beloved, simply look at how the world treats Christians. That is all the proof you need, the world despises Christians and what we stand for, truth, righteousness and holiness. We are the representation of Christ.

Then, he says, back to our verse, and we want to understand every great truth here as much as we can. He says, "Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory." Now, the revelation of His glory is what Luke 17:30 says "It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed." It’s His Second Coming. By the way, a little theological footnote, Jesus is already glorified, I don’t want you to miss that. He is now glorified, but His glory is not yet revealed on earth. Do we understand that? Christ is now glorified. In John 17 when He said, "I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed." that glory was given to Him when He ascended and went back to the right hand of the Father. He is glorified but His glory is not yet revealed. It is not yet unveiled for man to see.  But at the revelation of His glory, when He comes in great glory, Matthew 24: 29-30, Matthew 25:31, both talked about Christ returning in great glory. Well, in that day when He comes back at the revelation of His glory, he says, "Then, you may rejoice with exaltation." Well, it’s a stronger word than the first word. When it says “keep on rejoicing,” that’s the word chair, it’s the usual word for joy. But when it says "rejoice with exaltation," what it means is to exalt and rejoice with a rapturous joy, to really rejoice. It would be the difference in English if we said, "Keep on being happy." And if you keep on being happy, someday you’ll be ecstatic. That’s the idea.

If you’re faithful to suffer and to take persecution for righteousness sake in this life, bearing as it were the marks of Christ, then someday when He appears you will really rejoice, you will really rejoice with a rapturous joy, a joyous outburst surpassing all other joys. Peter’s point is pretty clear. If you suffer for Him here, rejoicing in the privilege of such fellowship in His sufferings, and remember that the degree to which you suffer here will be the degree to which you will receive glory at His revelation, you know then that you can rejoice now because you will greatly rejoice then. You’re eternal reward will bring you eternal joy.

Now, if we had time we could go into a deeper study, but let me just give you the thought. Your eternal reward will directly reflect your suffering. Your eternal reward will directly reflect your suffering. Your suffering will reflect, to some degree, your faithfulness. I mean, if you’re a secret Christian, you’re not going to suffer a lot. If you’re a bold, aggressive, faithful, confrontive Christian, you’re going to suffer, but your eternal glory will reflect God’s reward for that.

Listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 6:22. "You are blessed when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil because of the Son of Man." Get this "Be glad in that day, and leap," the Greek says. Be so happy you’re jumping around. I’m being persecuted, I’m being persecuted. "For behold, your reward is great in heaven." Do you remember when James and John with their mother came to Jesus and they said, "We want to sit on your right and left hand in the kingdom?" Jesus said, “That’s not mine to give, it’s not mine to give, that’s the Father’s to give.” And then, He said this, "Can you drink the cup that I’m going to drink?"

He is saying that glory is related to what? Suffering. It was the cup of suffering. He was in effect saying, "If you expect to be glorified in the kingdom to come, you better be ready to endure suffering in the here and now." Beloved, eternal glory will be proportionate to temporal suffering. And so, we would rejoice, wouldn’t we, because of the future reality that as we suffer in identification with the Lord Jesus Christ, suffering at the hands of sinners for righteousness sake, we in a sense are gaining an eternal reward which will bring us an eternal joy. That’s what caused Paul to say in Romans 8:17 that we suffer with Him in order that we may be glorified with Him, and that the sufferings of this present time aren’t worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Beloved, if you have your head screwed on right, you’re going to live your Christian life this way, you’re going to live an aggressive Christian life, you’re going to live boldly, loving Christian life, you’re going to live a confrontive Christian life, you’re going to be conscience in the world, you’re going to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ courageously because you know that if they persecute you, and if they alienate you, and if they ostracize you, and if they reject you, and if they scorn you, you are simply being persecuted for righteousness sake, which was what came to Jesus, and so you identify with Him. Furthermore, you are gaining for yourself an eternal weight of glory. And so, you can leap for joy in the midst of it because you can anticipate that eternal joy which will come to you by the grace of God.

What a tremendous promise. So, rejoice. Rejoice because of the future reality of eternal glory. But there’s also a present reason for rejoicing. Look at verse 14. This is a present reason for rejoicing. "If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed." So, hold on a minute, what does he mean if you are reviled for the name of Christ? To be reviled means basically to be insulted. It’s a word used in the Septuagint again to speak of reproach or insult which was heaped on God, and heaped on God’s people by the wicked of the world. And it’s also used in the New Testament to speak of indignities and mistreatment against Christ, the things that He endured at the hands of sinners. So, if you are mistreated, if you are reproached, if you were insulted, if indignities are done against you, if you’re treated unfairly, unkindly, unlovingly, unjustly, then, rejoice, rejoice! Rejoice, if it’s all for the name of Christ. Please keep that in mind, will you? That needs to be underlined. If it’s for the name of Christ. Self induced suffering because of bad choices, is not the same as suffering for Christ's sake.

What does it mean "for the name of Christ?" Simply put, it means for being a representative of all that He is. His name sums up all that He is. But, there’s something more here. The name of Christ refers to the fact that Christians were always proclaiming His name. It implies the public proclamation of Christ’s name as the cause of hostility. It wasn’t just that they bore the name of Christ in their hearts and minds; no, beloved, it was that they boldly proclaimed the name of Christ. And, you could almost add to this verse these words, "If you are reviled for the proclamation of the name of Christ." Because, that’s the idea here. The name, even the term "name" as a term in and of itself became synonymous with Christianity. The pagans would say, "They’re always talking about that name, the name of Christ. They’re always preaching the name of Christ." So if you had been proclaiming His name, preaching His name, and are identified with His name and are vocal about it, then you would expect be reviled and reproached and insulted. In Acts 5:41 it says that the Christians went on their way from the presence of the council, the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for the name. They were suffering shame for the name. You didn’t even have to say what name it was; everybody knew what name it was. It was almost as if they didn’t want to say it. And then, Peter, you’ll remember, said to them, "Look, there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." That’s why we preach the name of Christ.

When the apostle Paul was on the Damascus Road and confronted by God, the Lord said, "He is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles." He’ll take My name and proclaim it to the Gentiles, and I’ll show him how much he must suffer for My namesake. In Acts 15:26 ,it says, "who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Those who have risked their lives for the name.

So, says Peter, "Look, if you’re insulted because you proclaim the name of Christ, you are blessed. You are blessed." Blessed? Yes, and you could translate it this way: you are benefited, you are benefited. We already learned because you’re gaining an eternal weight of glory, and you have the privilege of identification with the suffering of Christ; but he gives another reason. Take a look at verse 14, I absolutely love this: "If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." That's a glorious blessing, wouldn't you agree? He’s not just saying you’re blessed period. No, it’s not a non-descript blessing. Here is the blessing: you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. The blessing is not subjective happiness. It is objective presence. Did you catch that? It is not a subjective happiness; it is the objective presence and power of the Holy Spirit. You’re blessed in the midst of suffering for righteousness sake because the Spirit of God comes upon you.  What a powerful statement, think about that: the "Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."

The Spirit of God, first of all, is called the Spirit of glory. Let me put it another way. The Spirit who has glory, the Spirit who is glorious, the Spirit who has glory as His essential attribute. Do you think they knew what that meant? Sure. They knew what that meant. They knew all about the Shekinah glory of God. And they knew the only being who had glory was God. In the Old Testament, the glory of God was represented by the Shekinah light. The Shekinah glory that appeared in the garden, the Shekinah glory was that luminous glow that signified the presence of God, that glow that Moses saw on the mount, that glow that came to dwell in the tabernacle, and moved into the sky to lead the children of Israel, that glow that came into the temple. The Shekinah was the presence of God. And when Peter says you are suffering, and you have the Spirit of glory, he means you have the presence of God. And he says it, "The Spirit of glory, even of God rests upon you."You become like Moses, whose face was shining with the glory of God.  You become like the tabernacle which was so filled with the glory of God that no one could even go in there. You become like the temple when the glory of God still occupied the Holy of Holies, the presence of God.

This is such a marvelous statement. What it says is that when you suffer, God’s presence rests on you. And God’s presence comes in the form of His Spirit, the Spirit who is glory in His essential attribute, even the Spirit who is God. My, what a tremendous, tremendous truth. The Spirit of glory, yeah, the Spirit of God. As the Shekinah rested in the tabernacle and the temple long ago, so the Shekinah glory of God, the Holy Spirit in glorious splendor and power rests upon suffering Christians.

Now, what does the word "rest" mean? Rest simply means to refresh by taking over for you. Rest, in the sense of refreshing by taking over, by becoming the dominant power in the midst of your suffering. Perhaps the best illustration of this, if you would please turn to Acts 6:8 for just a moment and see the testimony of a wonderful servant of God by the name of Stephen. In verse 8 of chapter 6 says he was full of grace and power. He was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Obviously, he had the power of the Spirit of God. And when he was being persecuted at the end of chapter 6 verse 12, they accused him of blasphemy, they dragged him away, they falsely witnessed against him. And  then, in verse 15 it says, "And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel." I believe the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God was resting upon him, and they could even see it. Wow, that's incredible.

What is the face of an angel? I'm pretty certain it doesn't mean like a light bulb, I think it means peace, serenity, tranquility, a gentle joy, absolutely unaffected by all the hostility. And then, in chapter 7:54, after he had spoken to them, they were so infuriated that they literally began to grind their teeth at him, verse 54, but he was full of the Holy Spirit, so he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He was literally detached from the situation which he was in. He was beholding the glory of God. He was seeing Jesus Christ. His face was occupied only with that transcendent scene. And they were grinding their teeth in anger and fury. And he said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Do you know what happened? The Spirit of glory, and grace came upon him, the Spirit of God came upon him and literally took over, took over his mind, took control of his life so that he saw beyond the hostility to the glory of God. And they rushed on him screaming, and covering their ears so they wouldn’t hear what he said. They drove him out of the city, began stoning him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.  They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

In Closing....

Beloved, it is my conviction, that Stephen became absolutely oblivious to what was happening to him, and going on around him.  He saw heaven open. He saw the Lord Jesus, and he was asking the Lord to receive him, he became unconscious of the pummeling of the rocks that were crushing out his earthly life. And he cried loudly at the last, said, "Lord, don’t hold this sin against them," and he fell asleep.

In the midst of the most severe persecution and suffering, God grants a special dispensation of the presence of His Holy Spirit, and He rests upon the believer, which means He then takes over. And the mind transcends.

So, Peter says suffering, point one, expect it. Point two, rejoice in it. We'll address points three and four, next time, as we continue our study of I Peter.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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Brian Monzon Ministries

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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