Faithlife Sermons

How Should We Respond to Suffering for Christ?

The Marks of a Faithful Disciple  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:20
0 ratings
· 14 views
Files
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Introduction

Last week we looked at the Marks of a Faithful Disciple, taken from . These were the characteristics that we identified:
Faithful Disciples Suffer for Christ -
Faithful Disciples Proclaim the Truth -
Faithful Disciples Fear Only God -
Faithful Disciples Trust in God -
Faithful Disciples Walk the Talk -
Faithful Disciples Deny Themselves -
Faithful Disciples Carry the Cross -
Faithful Disciples Bless Others -
If you’ll remember I had you take a quick little pop quiz to score yourself. Do you remember which areas you need to work on in order to improve your discipleship score?
As I promised we are going to begin looking at these as we work through this teaching on Discipleship. Today we’ll be looking at Suffering for Christ.
Our verses from Matthew 10...
Matthew 10:24–25 NASB95
24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. 25 “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!
Remember that in , Jesus is preparing the disciples for living a life of persecution. He is telling them here that they should expect to suffer, as He will have suffered...

Suffering in General

I know that many of you suffer in the general sense of the word. We all suffer from time to time with:
Health
Finances
Relationships
Suffering is part of human life. We live in a fallen world where suffering is always happening. We won’t be free of human suffering until Christ returns to call us home. We’ve talked about the anxiety and depression that can come from that kind of suffering when it goes on for a prolonged period of time.
And we’ve talked about the anxiety and depression that can come from that kind of suffering when it goes on for a prolonged period of time.
I just want to warn you today that suffering is not a symbol that you are at odds with God. Now on the contrary, if you are at odds with God, it can and will bring many kinds of suffering into your life. But suffering is not necessarily an indicator that God is angry with you, as many seem to think.
Romans 8:16–18 NASB95
16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Sometimes suffering is ...
a consequence of some sin or negative pattern of action in your life.
a consequence of some sin or negative pattern in somebody else’s life… that happens to be impacting you.
the hand of God in your life.
Today we are talking about that kind of suffering. The kind of suffering that comes when we are dedicated to God, and God begins to put us into training for the work of His Kingdom. Let’s read today’s passage...
However, today we are talking about a different kind of suffering. Let’s read today’s passage...
1 Peter 4:12–19 NASB95
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.
[pray]
1

Fruit of the Spirit

We must understand that it is not the good times in life that shape our character, but the difficult times. Anybody can have joy when times are good, but having joy when times are tough, is probably the hardest thing in the world.
In fact the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control are born in the soil of difficult times. I know of many Christians who have declared “Patience! Oh no! Don’t ask God for patience! That’s only inviting trouble!” But I disagree. I think that we MUST have patience in order to be more Christ-like. We must also have love for others, peace in our hearts that we are right where God wants us. We must be willing to be vulnerable and put ourselves in difficult situations so that we might come out better on the other side.
This is why soldiers go through Basic Training. They are put through an intense period of difficulty in order to shape them into soldiers. The Fruit of the Spirit is the resulting character of Christ-likeness that we expect from the training experience of Christian suffering.

Romans 8:16–18 NASB95
16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Isaiah 64:8 NASB95
8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.
If Christian suffering is the inevitable result of God shaping us and molding us in the image of Christ, and it is the bearing of the Fruit of the Spirit within us, then we should determine a healthy response to Christian suffering in our lives...
If Christian suffering is the inevitable result of God shaping us and molding us in the image of Christ, and it is the bearing of the Fruit of the Spirit within us, then we should determine a healthy response to Christian suffering in our lives...

How should Faithful Disciples of Christ respond to Suffering for Christ?

The Apostle Peter has given us a blueprint here for responding to Christian suffering...

I. Don’t Let Suffering Surprise You -

1 Peter 4:12 NASB95
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;
1
Peter understood the human condition that we sometimes get into the routine of living daily life and ignoring the spiritual that is always taking place around us. We are often dulled to it, especially living in the modern Western world. As a result of this dulled manner of living, we can sometimes find ourselves surprised when we look up and find a battle taking place around us.
Christians are different from unbelievers (or should be)...
2 Corinthians 6:14 NASB95
14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
[and following]
2 Cor 6:14
Or to put it in the words of God, from the mouth of the prophet Isaiah...
“COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE” says the Lord (Isaiah 52:17).
As a result of this dulled manner of living, we can sometimes find ourselves surprised when we look up and find a battle taking place around us.
2 Corinthians 6:14–18 NASB95
14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.
Christians should live a different kind of lifestyle as the world around them. We see in the Western world a heavy dependence upon lies, pride, pleasure, and the desire for MORE.
The Christian should depend on truth, humility, holiness, and the desire to glorify God.
WE should expect suffering and trials...
In the words of Jesus...
John 16:33 NASB95
33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Galatians 6:14 NASB95
14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
This idea of going through the fire in is not an uncommon idea to describe someone going through difficulty. But Peter was thinking of fire as a refining fire rather than divine judgment. The fire that Peter is thinking of comes because we are being faithful to God. It is a fire that comes because we bear the name of Christ.

II. Rejoice in Your Suffering -

1 Peter 4:13–14 NASB95
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.
Peter says χαιρετε (chairete)! Which means “Rejoice constantly!” or be in a continuous state of rejoicing (and don’t stop). That reminds me of an old Christian song lyric that says “If you’re going through Hell, just don’t stop!”
Peter is saying that the more you suffer, the more that you have to rejoice about. This is the same thing that James says...
James 1:2 NASB95
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
James 1:2–4 NASB95
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

1. Suffering for Christ is a Privilege -

Philippians 1:29 NASB95
29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
I will say that not every believer has this privilege. This is a point at which God says, “I think can trust this believer with more. Let’s give him a little more to handle. Let’s see how he responds.”
Philippians 3:10–11 NASB95
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

2. Your Reward is Forthcoming - v 13,

1 Peter 4:13 NASB95
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.
We are told in scripture that we have a reward waiting for us in Heaven. We will not see it nor receive it until it is granted to us by the Father after the Great Judgment...
1 Peter
Revelation 22:12 NASB95
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
Peter is saying, you may suffer now, but you will receive your great reward in the end.

3. Rejoice when the Spirit of God rests on us - v 14

1 Peter 4:14 NASB95
14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
1 Peter
The themes of suffering and glory run throughout Peter’s letter. Because we suffer, we receive a blessing of going deeper with God and receiving glory from God. This means that we can expect a deeper level of intimacy (friendship) with God. It also means that we are being shaped into the image of Christ and the image of God. And finally, it means that we will find rest with God.
Christian suffering does not last forever, it just feels like forever to our limited experience. There will come an end to our suffering and we will be able to completely rest and be refreshed in God’s presence.
a. means intimacy in God’s presence
means intimacy in God’s presence
b. means to be changed into His image -
James 1:2–4 NASB95
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
means to be changed into His image -
c. may also mean to give us rest (relief or refreshment) - John MacArthur quote
Rests (from the present tense of anapauō) means “to give relief, refreshment, intermission from toil” (cf. ; ), and describes one of His ministries. “Refreshment” comes on those believers who suffer for the sake of the Savior and the gospel. The Spirit gives them grace by imparting endurance, understanding, and all the fruit that comes in the panoply of His goodness: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self–control; against such things there is no law” ().
may also mean to give us rest (relief or refreshment) - John MacArthur quote
That kind of refreshment and divine power came upon Stephen, a leader in the Jerusalem church and its first recorded martyr. As he began to defend his faith before the Jewish leaders, they “saw his face like the face of an angel” (). His demeanor signified serenity, tranquility, and joy—all the fruit of the Spirit—undiminished and even expanded by his suffering and the Holy Comforter’s grace to him. The Sanhedrin became enraged as Stephen rehearsed redemptive history to them from the Old Testament, an account that culminated in the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah. Stephen’s Spirit–controlled rest was evident as “he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ “().
That kind of refreshment and divine power came upon Stephen, a leader in the Jerusalem church and its first recorded martyr. As he began to defend his faith before the Jewish leaders, they “saw his face like the face of an angel” (). His demeanor signified serenity, tranquility, and joy—all the fruit of the Spirit—undiminished and even expanded by his suffering and the Holy Comforter’s grace to him. The Sanhedrin became enraged as Stephen rehearsed redemptive history to them from the Old Testament, an account that culminated in the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah. Stephen’s Spirit–controlled rest was evident as “he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ “().
- John MacArthur, Jr. (2004). 1 Peter. MacArthur New Testament Commentary (253–254). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

III. Evaluate Your Suffering -

We have a responsibility when suffering enters our life. We must evaluate our suffering...
1 Peter 4:15 NASB95
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
1 Peter 4:15 NASB95
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
In other words, we need to make sure that our suffering is not some consequence for our own sin, but truly suffering with Christ. There are a few evaluation questions that you can ask yourself when suffering comes your way...
Q1 - Why am I suffering?
Q2 - Is my suffering because of my sin or because of my righteousness?
Q3 - How can I glorify the name of Jesus Christ because of this trial?
Q4 - How can I look at this trial with eternal perspective?
Answer these with God’s help. This can only come through prayerful time spent with God.
If you determine that the suffering is not the result of some sin or consequence for your own actions, then you can continue...

IV. Be Not Ashamed of Your Suffering, But By It Glorify God -

1 Peter 4:16 NASB95
16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.
This is where the celebration comes in rejoicing…
This is where we are allowed to bask in the glory of God right here on earth in the midst of our suffering. When our suffering brings glory to God and we embrace the suffering then the result is that we can also be glorified with God.
This explains how martyrs throughout the ages are able to sing praises to God, while they burn and suffer excruciating torture. This explains how the persecuted saints can be led quietly to jail or to their death without loud complaining resistance.
When our suffering brings glory to God and we embrace the suffering then the result is that we can also be glorified with God.
Romans 8:15–18 NASB95
15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
This also reminds us of the martyred brothers and sisters who have taken the opportunity proclaim Christ in their persecution...
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Ten: Facts about Furnaces (1 Peter 4:12–19)

Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna about the middle of the second century. He was arrested for his faith and threatened with death if he did not recant. “Eighty and six years have I served Him,” the saintly Bishop replied, “and He never did me any injury. How can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

“I have respect for your age,” said the Roman officer. “Simply say, ‘Away with the atheists!’ and be set free.” By “the atheists” he meant the Christians who would not acknowledge that Caesar was “lord.”

The old man pointed to the crowd of Roman pagans surrounding him, and cried, “Away with the atheists!” He was burned at the stake and in his martyrdom brought glory to the name of Jesus Christ.

V. Entrust Your Suffering to God -

1 Peter 4:17–19 NASB95
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.
When we have ensured that we are suffering for the sake of God’s will, we can put our trust in God and know that He will carry us through. We are committing ourselves into God’s care.
The word entrust (in the NASB) is παρατίθημι (paratithēmi) in the Greek. The word is a banking term meaning “to deposit for safekeeping.
2 Timothy 1:12 NASB95
12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
When we make a deposit in the bank, we are expecting to be able to count on having access to those funds again. We know that when we hand our suffering over to God (or when we put our lives in His care) that we can assured that God’s work is being accomplished and our trust has not been wasted.
This trust, this commitment is a constantly ongoing attitude that pervades the life

Conclusion

If we believe that Jesus is coming again and we truly place our hope in that truth, we will obey God’s Word and lay up treasure and glory in heaven. We will begin to share our faith and point unbelievers to God as their hope.
Unbelievers are controlled by their past.
Believers are controlled by their hope for the future… by their trust that Jesus is returning on the clouds to take us home and establish His Kingdom.
Philippians 3:12–21 NASB95
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
We are not yet what God would have us be.
As individuals we can go through these fiery trials in life that take us to ever deeper levels of faith in God.
As a church we can expect the same thing. A great fiery trial is coming to the church. We can expect it to refine the church and make it pure to achieve God’s purpose. Our witness for Christ will be strong.
Whether the church as a whole or each individual, we have nothing to fear in the trial—in the suffering, for it is the will of God that we are made more than what we are currently before God.
My question for you is this:
Where are you with God today?
Are you spiritually dull, living outside of God’s will?
Are you in basic training, going through the trial, being made perfect and more like Christ?
Are you out of training, living in the battle, doing God’s will whenever He places a task before you?
Would you choose to accept Jesus Christ as your savior today and make him the Lord of your life?
Do you need to turn back to Jesus Christ? Have you fallen away from your desire to serve Him?
I’ll be here at the front to receive you as we sing. Please come.
Related Media
Related Sermons