Don’t Be Surprised!
1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
A fiery trial is not a small thing. Although little trials sometimes try our faith more than greater trials, probably because we prepare ourselves for the big ones, and the little ones often catch us off guard, still it is the more severe trials which are being referred to here which God uses to refine us.
The types of trials being referred to here are said to be those which cause us to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. So, they would be suffering like he did. And he suffered for being the Son of God, for teaching the people the truth of the gospel, and for telling people about their sins.
He also suffered for doing good to the people, for healing the sick and afflicted, and for delivering people from demons, and for raising the dead. And so, we suffer as God’s children, who believe in Jesus Christ, who are doing the work of God, and who are sharing the truth of the gospel.
We are hated as he was hated, and we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, as he was, if we are genuine disciples of Jesus Christ, following him in his ways, doing what he says to do, and saying the kinds of things which he said.
In America, where I live, Christian persecution has not yet reached severe level, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist or that Christians are not being hated and persecuted. Those who are following Jesus wholeheartedly, and who are living for the Lord, doing what he did, do know persecution.
But we are to rejoice that we share in the sufferings of Christ. And we should not be surprised when these sufferings come, too, for they will. So, we should be ready for them. So, basically, we don’t let these trials take us out, nor do we let them incite us to back down or to compromise the gospel.
You Are Blessed
1 Peter 4:14-16 ESV
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
Have you been insulted for the name of Jesus Christ? Have you been personally attacked, called names, lied about, slandered, and had people try to trick you and trip you up? And have you been falsely accused of saying and doing things you did not do or say?
Have you had friends desert you, attack you, insult you, reject you and no longer want anything to do with you? Are you ignored? Have you been invited to leave certain “church fellowships” because of your walk with the Lord and your stand on the truth of his word?
Do you get the “cold shoulder” from certain people when you talk about Jesus and his word? Are some of these people those who profess the name of Jesus, too? They either look away from you or they look at you with those eyes which say that they don’t support what you are saying?
You are not alone. This is how Jesus was treated, and it is how many followers of Christ have been treated throughout the years. And the Scriptures teach us that we are called to such suffering as this, that we are blessed, and that we should not be ashamed of such suffering.
So, what do we do in such circumstances? We pray. We ask the Lord for wisdom to know and to do his will, and then we continue to do what he has called us to do no matter what happens to us. And we love our enemies and pray for them and do good to them in Jesus’ name.
It Begins with Us
1 Peter 4:17-19 ESV
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“’If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
Some people are teaching that Christians shouldn’t have to suffer, and that we should be happy all the time, and that things should go well for us, all because we believe in Jesus. But Jesus taught we will be hated and persecuted as he was, and that we will suffer for his sake.
Some people are also teaching that once we are “saved” that God can no longer see our sin, but all he sees is Jesus, and therefore we can continue living in sin, for they say it is all covered, and that our salvation was the insurance against that probability that we will keep on sinning.
But that isn’t what the Scriptures teach. They teach that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in practice) in darkness (sin) that we are liars who don’t live by the truth. And they teach that if sin is what we practice that we will die in our sins. We won’t have eternal life.
They teach that we must walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and that we must walk in obedience to our Lord’s commands, and righteousness should be what we practice, not sin, if we want salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
And they teach that God does judge his people, and that he prunes us, and he disciplines and rebukes and chastises us for our good that we may share in his holiness and that we may bear the fruit of righteousness. God will allow us to suffer in order to purify us and to make us holy.
So, what we need to understand here is that a profession of faith in Jesus one time in our lives, while we then live however we want, and we continue living in deliberate sin, will not save us. We must live according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we must obey our Lord.
For, God’s gift of grace to us is not just forgiveness of sins so that we can go to heaven when we die. His gift of grace delivered us from our slavery to sin and it empowers us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. But if we continue making sin our practice, we will die in our sins.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
God is With Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.