In our last study we covered the first part of the fourth chapter of Peter’s letter to the Christians of Asia Minor, present day Turkey, we recognized the tremendous reward associated with perseverance through persecution.
While the first few verses of the fourth chapter also focused on perseverance, Peter now directs his writing toward the fact sufferance for Christ among believers is to be expected.
“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.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Much like today, early Christians were faced with suffering as they adopted a lifestyle contrary to that of the secular world. By choosing Christ as Lord and Savior, believers knowingly cast themselves out of the world as they await Jesus’ triumphant return.
Upon the Lord’s second coming, Christians will inherit the kingdom of God and through grace, they will be blessed with the gift of eternal life in heaven.
All that which started with a prayer will be fulfilled through the holy word of God. Believers will in deed rejoice in the second coming of the Lord.
Those persecuted for worshiping the king of kings will be blessed as the Holy Spirit continues to flow outwards from within their redeemed hearts. God will bring eternal rewards to those who follow in Christ’ footsteps, to all those who believe in Him.
“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.” (1 Peter 4:14)
Peter writes about blessings upon believers who are insulted in the name of Christ. While this concept is certainly not new, it can be challenging to embrace. After all no one seeks insults or persecution, however for true believers it is a way of life.
“15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” (1 Peter 4:15)
Suffering is glorifying as long as it is done in a Christ like manner, for the glory of God. On the contrary self inflicted sufferance is certainly not purposeful. In the next verse Peter invites his audience to rejoice in suffering in the Lord’s name.
“16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:16)
As we are persecuted for walking with Christ we are to consider persecution a blessing from God as those in Christ will be judged first as cited in the next verses in which Peter writes about the great reward that awaits those redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
“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?” (1 Peter 4:17)
It is important to note God’s judgment does not always involve condemnation rather, in this case and throughout the word, judgment is associated with eternal rewards.
As for those “who do not obey the gospel of God” it is clear their fate lies deep beneath the earth in the pits of hell where there is whaling and gnashing of teeth for all eternity.
“18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:18)
In this verse and throughout the bible the righteous are not deserving of salvation. Not by their works or their own doing, the righteous, much like sinners and the ungodly are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
“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 4:19)
In spite of sufferance and persecution Christians are called to embrace their mission and accept God’s plan willingly, wholeheartedly without shame.
Trusting God and the perfection that surrounds Jesus Christ, believers are to allow the Holy Spirit to flow from within themselves as they endure through trials brought on by the world and everything in it.
As we wrap up the fourth chapter of this letter to the Christians of Asia Minor I invite you to rely on the scripture herein and more importantly on God’s mighty power to overcome challenges in your life and that of those around you. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Peter,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of the apostle Peter.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through trials
Through persecution and suffering as we live in You,
Fill our hearts Lord with your love, your power, with your wisdom, your weapons
Guide us to abide by your word as we endure through the battles against evil
Becoming examples of faith through humble obedience.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre