12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
Can anyone recall a time that you experienced suffering or trials? Can you remember what it was?
was it a time you lost a loved one
a tragedy that happen
a illness you went through
a time of abuse
maybe financial trials
or even future unknowns
These are what most of us would think about when we hear the word suffering or having trials and most of the time they are unexpected. They surprise us when they happen, because we try to avoid discomforts and hardships. Let me ask you this, was any of those times due to you being a Christian?
The suffering and hardships of these Christians were not based off of unforeseen accidents, but off of the way they live their faith in Christ! They followed Christ in such a manner that it was evident that they were different then the culture around them and suffered for it. They lived in the world but they were not like it and they were cursed and mistreated! Which Jesus gives us the reason for it, that following Him sufferings happens. John 15:18-19
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
So is their a lack of opposition in our lives that should concern us? Has the secular world around us become more tolerant or have we failed to take the claims of Christ with seriousness? Is our church nothing more than a club we join to enjoy benefits? Or our we taking up are cross and following Christ?
The cultural Christianity would not accept suffering and would be shock if it did because it is not the Christianity of the bible, it is more about politics than God’s sovereignty, it is more about the American way of enjoying life, comforts, and pleasures than being at risk of ridicule for sharing the gospel with a stranger. Live our life's like the world to enjoy the benefits of it! Maybe the reason you haven’t encounter suffering for the name of Christ is because the world excepts you as its own.
1 Peter 4:12
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
Peter begins this passage telling these Christians not to be surprised by their trials, or what he calls fiery ordeals, like it was unusual or something strange happening to them, because it should be expected if they our following Christ, if they have been given new life in Him. This verse sounds very similar to how he began this letter in the 1 chapter in verses 6-7, in those verses he said their trials was for the proofing of their faith, or the imagery he gave us was like how gold is proofed, by being testing by fire to purifying it, to refine it and here in verse 12 he calls them fiery ordeals that happens for their testing referencing back to those verses.
When we suffer for Christ it shouldn’t surprise us!
It is due to the fact Christ called us out of this world and we now act, look, and even smell different than this world. Don’t believe me look at 2 Cor 2:15-17
15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
When we suffer it is according to God’s will to follow the same suffering as His Son, because it refines us, it proofs our faith. That we are not peddling the word of God, but we have faith with sincerity! Fire separates gold from dross(the waste), it refines the impurities of our faith and it separates believers from those who pretend.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise for us to experience suffering because it is what Jesus experienced and it is what proves us! The surprise should be if we have a impaired sense of adversity! Do you have an aroma about you? that you have bathed in the fragrance of His grace and mercy that is evident in your life, that you act on it, speak like it, know about it, and suffer for it!
If our hardships should not surprise us, how should we react?
We should rejoice! Look at verse 13 (1 Peter 4:13)
13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
Peter tells these readers and us, Instead of being in shock about your suffering, you should rejoice at the honor, as long as you share in the sufferings of Christ.
We should rejoice in sharing in the sufferings of Christ, following our Lord down the pathway He went. Peter did not throw some random idea out or commanded something that he would never do, but he knew how this feels by his own experience! In Acts 5:41 the apostles where arrested by Jewish rulers for their faith and flogged for it and threatened not to speak of Jesus again, when they were released it says,:
41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Why did they rejoiced? because they have counted the cost and found Christ to be more valuable than being held in esteem, more than their pride, more than their love of their pleasures. They wanted to be found in His righteousness, to confess him before men for Christ will confess them before His father! To follow Christ who with joy set before Him endure the cross, despising the shame, and sat at the right hand of throne of God.
Do you rejoice? or do you groan about it? because another way you can look at is how you respond to suffering as a indication to whether you believe in God’s promises or not?
Peter tells us that the purpose of our joy is the future joy that will be revealed to us. That when Jesus glory is revealed we will receive the promise of our inheritance and we will rejoice with exultation. Which is what we saw in 1 chapter in verse 7 (1 Peter 1:7)
7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
So what does that tells us about our sufferings?
Peter explains it in verse 14 (1 Peter 4:14)
14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Peter is repeating what he learned from Jesus, In Matt 5:11-12 says:
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus says blessed our those who insult you and persecute you, to rejoice for you reward in heaven is great. See the christian faith is filled with paradoxes. Why do I say that? Well do you think religion is primarily intended to help people adjust to the realities of life? or what the believe the bible is Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth! When Jesus taught the beatitudes in the sermon on the mount. The blessed are not the self-confident, the aggressive, the honored, the achievers but the poor in spirit and those who mourn. Christ gives us a entirely different set of standards from the ideals and social values of man apart from Christ. Christianity is not about how to adjust to life, the bible is not an instruction book, it is about God revealing His glory to us through His Son and through the word of God.
We can not do anything, can’t endure suffering or follow Christ without God revealing His glory to us causing us to be brought out of our darkness into His marvelous light. And It is only by His grace that we do suffer for the name of Christ!
Which is the the reason Peter gives us at the end of verse 14 “Because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you”. Only by His spirit can we pick up our cross and follow Christ, only by His spirit can we fellowship with Christ’s suffering, and only by His spirit can we be saved and be blessed!
Believers who suffer are blessed because they are now enjoying God’s favor, tasting even now the wonder of the glory to come and experiencing the promised Holy Spirit.
You are blessed if you suffer for the sake of Christ! For sharing in His sufferings! and only if you truly follow Christ.
Let me ask this though? Does all of our suffering qualify for God’s blessing and joy?
And what we see in v 15-16 a right way to suffer and a wrong way to suffer, a way that glorifies God and a way that doesn’t.
Look at v 15-16 (1 Peter 4:15-16)
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
Peter knew that not all suffering lines up with Christ, because when we do wrong and do what is evil it will bring it’s on reward of suffering and he knew people will start justifying punishments that are deserved because of their sin and explain them as “Christian” suffering.
I am sure none of us will be guilty of murder and stealing, but if someone does suffer for their misbehavior we can distinguish from genuine Christian suffering and that which is due to misbehavior. But let’s look at the last one Peter gives us, NASB says “a troublesome meddler” or what the KJV say’s “a busybody in other’s men’s matters.” Which that one is more probable then most, to become busybodies seeking out sins of others. Do you meddle in other peoples affairs to correct them? A person who makes it a habit to pry into the affairs of others is a prime candidate for suffering, but that does not line up with Christ.
The idea here is when we are acting crudely or harshly and without social graces, and we suffer for it do not claim it as Christian suffering but as suffering by your own means, because of the attitude you represent. Remember blessed are the gentle, the merciful.
Drop a bomb and wipe out every muslim
Gays our the reason that bad things happen
When we add insults to the gospel to make it more offensive, you are not suffering because of Christ, you are suffering because your own sin. The gospel is already offensive enough! To tell some one Christ is the only way, well bring enough! The crucifixion of Christ is the ultimate statement about the moral perversion of man.
But we glorify God in the name of Christ by enduring suffering because of our allegiance to Jesus Christ! And if we follow Him we will be experience suffering from unbelievers and from those who pretend to be. When you seek homosexuals out of love for them and for the love of the gospel you will experience adversity, when you reach out to mormons, muslims, and atheist with love for them and for the love of Christ and His glory you will experience hardships, and when you set Christ as Lord of your life and live under His authority, you will experience mockings and attacks from other’s professing the same! Matt 5:16
16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
So do not be ashamed but glorify God in this name!
Peter gives us the reason why?
Look at verses 17 & 18 (1 Peter 4:17-18)
17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
Why should suffering Christians praise God?
The answer might surprise most, because it is different from what most accepted norms in are culture. So listen. Suffering Christians should praise God, they should glorify God because present sufferings marks the beginning of the final judgment. Where does it begin? It begins with us, it begins with Christians, it begins with the household of God.
What does this mean? Our sufferings as a Christian is part of God’s final judgment, again when we suffer we are being tested by fire, being purified, their is a separating effect that is happening, in a two fold manner it separates the imperfection of our faith to make it purer, and it also separates those who truly belong to God and those who don’t.
Peter is telling us if those who are going to be saved are purified and judged by suffering, then the outcome of those who do not obey the gospel will surely be a greater punishment.
Jesus says in Matt 24:9-10, 13
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
Peter restates this truth again in verse 18 (1 Peter 4:18)
18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
So It is hard for the righteous to be saved in the sense that leading a righteous life opens a person to all sorts of opposition and abuse. Peter draws this from Proverbs 11:31
31 If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, How much more the wicked and the sinner!
Our reward is God saves us through sharing in the suffering of Christ, and participating in the those pains believers escape the condemnation coming upon the wicked.
I know that this truth might seem strange to our modern ears and if it does it should reveal more about our commitment to Christ than anything else. We are dealing with how we understand the gospel! The gospel is not a quick fix we need just one time, it is an everyday thing! It is not a how to be comfortable or to live better or to finds one purpose, it is a call to suffer, it is a call to count the cost, it is a call to find yourself in Christ! Jesus tells us to come, not sit still, Jesus calls us to come to Him, drink from the living water, to eat the bread of life, to enjoy Him!
It is not about our difficulties in life and the suffering we have, submitting your life down to the one who suffered for you and not living on your own accord but by the one who has bought you.
So in verse 19 Peter give us the conclusion to all of this! (1 Peter 4:19)
19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
Believer have confidence in your suffering, knowing that God is in control. Entrust your souls to Him. Why because He is a faithful Creator, faithful to His promises and faithful to His people, He never abandons us in our time of need, and He always advocates for the righteous and condemns the wicked. When we entrust our life’s to Him we reveal it by doing what is right.
Have you entrusted your soul to God?