Faithlife Sermons

Suffering in Light of His Return

Notes
Transcript
When it comes to trials, hardships, persecution, sickness, pandemics, loss, and death, One thing that we need to remember is that we live in a world cursed by sin and death and that God is sovereign and uses and works all things for his glory. We see in Job that Satan had to get God’s permission to be able to do anything to Job. God uses our suffering as a sign of judgement. Now let me explain what I mean here. I do not mean that those who are sick and suffering or those who have gotten the corona virus have done something extra evil to incur God’s wrath, instead what I mean is that God uses these things to remind us that judgement is coming. This life is not all that there is. It is this reason that though out church history we see times of revival after pandemics. Spurgeon wrote of the revival that took place in his time of the 1850’s during a cholera outbreak and states that people were ready to hear the gospel. This is because when we face death, we begin to realize the frailty and shortness of life.
So just like God used Job’s suffering to bring him to a real and better knowledge of God, so too God will use these pandemics to remind us that judgement is coming. This should be even more motivation for us to be focusing primarily on the proclamation of the Gospel. We are living in a lost world effected by the fall and subject to death, and they need to hear not our theories about this, not our politics, not our fighting, they need to hear the gospel. We need to tell them that we are all hopelessly lost in sin, we are all deserving of death, and it will come for each one of us. However, In God’s kindness and love he has shown us mercy by sending Christ. Jesus lived among us, he suffered, and he died in our place, and God raised him up. He has taken the punishment of death that our sin deserves upon himself, and by believing in this message, and by submitting to him as Lord, His perfect righteousness is placed on me and I can have forgiveness and eternal life with God.
This has really been the message of Peter all along. He has been telling us how to live as a dispersed and suffering people. Peter started out by reminding us of our salvation and then he reminded us of our example before men, we are to live peaceful lives in submission to various authorities. We are to live before men in a way that shows the glory of God and the beauty of salvation to a watching world. And we come now to a section that really began in the passage that we saw two weeks ago when he said:
1 Peter 4:1–7 ESV
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
And here is what Peter’s final exhortation for how we are to live through suffering: Remember that Jesus will return!

Lessons of suffering in light of his return:

1. Expect suffering

1 Peter 4:12 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.
We are not to be surprised when a fiery ordeal comes our way. When we face hardships, we are often surprised by how intense the hardship is. And yet Peter says not to be surprised by the fiery trial. Fiery tells us to expect there to be trials in life that are intense.
We are not to be surprised because Jesus told us to expect them, Paul has told us to expect them. In fact they serve a purpose in our lives. When we face trials and suffering there is a purpose behind it. Peter says it is a test. James also confirms this.
James 1:2–4 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
God uses trials and suffering to sanctify us, to grow our faith. John Newton, the slave trader who met Christ and became a pastor, known for his beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace,” wrote another hymn which tells of his experience with such trials:
I asked the Lord, that I might grow In faith, and love, and every grace; Might more of His salvation know, And seek more earnestly His face.
I hoped that in some favored hour At once He’d answer my request, And by His love’s constraining power Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart; And let the angry powers of hell Assault my soul in every part.
Yea more, with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe; Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.
“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried, “Wilt thou pursue Thy worm to death?” “‘Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, “I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I employ From self and pride to set thee free; And break thy schemes of earthly joy, That thou may’st seek thy all in me.”
If you are a Christian, your faith must be tested and refined through trials. So, as we face a world that is quite different due to the Corona Virus, I m reminded that none of this took God by surprise. In fact, He is using it to strengthen our faith, to cause us to grow in sanctification. Has your focus been on what God is doing in your faith and walk with him? This takes us to the very next lesson that Peter shares.

2. Rejoice in suffering

1 Peter 4:13–14 ESV
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
Here we are told we should rejoice in suffering. This seems difficult and a little odd to us. But we can rejoice because we are sharing in Christ’s suffering. Jesus predicted that his followers would face suffering and he showed us that God’s agents will suffer. We rejoice because suffering is a product of our union with Christ. We are united with Christ! In that we can rejoice! The proof is that God’s Spirit rests upon us.
But we also rejoice because his glory will be revealed. This is talking about Christ’s return. Christ and His glory are now hidden from human sight. We can guess, but really can’t know, what it will be like to see Him coming in the clouds with His mighty angels with Him! But our sufferings now on His behalf will get us a front-row seat for the big event, so that we will burst with joy at seeing Him. Paul put it:
Romans 8:18 ESV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
We rejoice because even in our suffering King Jesus hasn’t abandoned his church. He will return!

3. Suffer for God’s glory not for your own shame

1 Peter 4:15–18 ESV
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. 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?”
We are not called to suffer for sin or for non gospel causes. Peter gives us a list of sins we are not to suffer for. This list at first seems so obvious. don’t murder or you will suffer the consequences. That makes sense. Don’t steal, don’t do evil. Yep, these all make sense. I am not called to do these things and them expect God to get me out of suffering. In these instances the suffering I experience is deserved punishment. But the word meddler seems to be out of place. It is an interesting word because It doesn’t seem to fit murder and theft, we recognize them as kinda big sins. But meddling? I think that Peter uses this first off to show us that we should never suffer for any sin, no matter how small. He just spent the previous verses telling us to stop sinning and serve God.
But beyond that, I think John MacArthur sums up what this word entails:
“The word literally means, “one who meddles in things alien to his calling,” “an agitator,” or “troublemaker.” Paul’s exhortations to the Thessalonians illustrate the word’s meaning:
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you. (1 Thess. 4:11)
For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. (2 Thess. 3:11–12)
Christians are never to be troublemakers or agitators in society or in their places of work (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1–3; Titus 3:1–5). They may confront the sins in the lives of other believers, help administer church discipline, challenge unbelievers with the gospel, and exhort fellow saints to greater levels of godliness; but regarding others’ private matters that do not concern them, believers should never intrude inappropriately. More specifically, Peter was referring to political activism and civil agitation—disruptive or illegal activity that interferes with the smooth functioning of society and government. Such activity would compel the authorities to mete out punishment”
Suffering for our own sins is shameful because, as Christians, we are bringing dishonor to the name of God. We should be ashamed when we realize this is what we have done, and why we are suffering. Conversely, “if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (v 16).
That Peter here includes meddling in his list of sins may mean that some disciples, in their zeal for the truth and resentment of paganism, were causing trouble in society for reasons beyond a sincere and legitimate concern for the gospel.

4. Entrust your suffering to God.

1 Peter 4:19 ESV
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Peter also tells us how to endure suffering. Curiously, he does not command us to be faithful; he reminds us that God is faithful. So we should continually entrust ourselves to the faithful Creator. The word translated “entrust” means “to commit something to the care of another.” The “thing” that we commit to God is our very life, and we do so because we believe he is faithful. That is why David told the Lord,
Psalm 31:5 ESV
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
and it is why Jesus said the same words even as he died on the cross (Luke 23:46). The command is in the present tense, which means that we continue to commit ourselves to God, knowing that he is faithful. And while we suffer and trust, we do good, as he defines it in Scripture.
In light of what God is doing through our suffering and in light of His return Peter gives guidance to the church leaders.

Requirements of Church Leadership

1 Peter 5:1–4 ESV
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The Elders are to continue shepherding the church during these trials. This means that Elders are to be leading and teaching and applying scripture to the lives of the church.
And Elders are not to do it for their own agenda, or their own gain, but for the agenda of God. This is why it is so important that they take everything back to Scripture for making decisions, or for offering guidance. Sometimes there are many faucets of Scripture to wrestle with before you give an answer or make an decision. And the danger is to cherry pick verses and use them without taking into account all of God’s Word. There is a tee shirt that I have seen that says “I can do all things through a verse taken out of context.” This is sometimes a danger. But as leaders Elders must always remember that it isn’t their church, this isn’t their flock. It is the Chief Shepherds flock.
This is why the decision to close church gatherings during Covid 19 has not been taken lightly, nor has the reopening (be looking for more word on that in the next week). I will be posting an article that walks through some of the challenges that church leaders have had to face in that regard.
An Elder also does’t just Shepherd with words, but with their example as well. This is why Paul says:
1 Corinthians 10:32–11:1 ESV
Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
A final thought on this point. Remember that Peter’s main argument here is that we endure suffering because Jesus is returning. Well Elders are to shepherd the flock during these trials for the same reason. Christ is returning. That is what Peter is saying in verse 4. Jesus is returning!

Victory in Our Suffering

Peter finishes his letter to the church scattered by giving them a battle plan for realizing victory in the Christian life both in trials and not. This is seen in a number of attitudes that we are to have.

Submission

1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
So Peter reminds us that (assuming our elders are striving to be the kind of leaders Peter has just called them to be) we must “be subject to” our leaders. If we have “followable” leaders, then it is our task to follow them! That requires humility, for we may not always understand a decision, or naturally wish to walk in a certain direction, and we will need in those moments to remember that we have followable elders, whom we now need to follow.

Humility

1 Peter 5:5–6 ESV
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
Within these words, there are three calls to humility. The first focuses upon the attitude of humility, "clothe yourselves with humility." The second focuses upon God's disposition toward the humble and proud. "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The third focuses upon the result of humility. "God will exalt you at the proper time." All of these words are calling us to a life of humility.
Now, when Peter says, "Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another." Literally, this word means, "to tie the apron of a slave upon yourself." With these words, I'm sure that Peter was thinking about the time in the upper room when Jesus girded Himself with the towel to wash the feet of the disciples. Just as Jesus humbled Himself to serve others, so also does Peter call us to humble ourselves to serve others. You are to tie humility all around yourself, so that you are ready and willing to serve others, in whatever way you can.
Peter is here addressing far more than merely the act of service. He is addressing your entire attitude in service as well. We are to consider ourselves as slaves, who serve our Master willingly, because we feel that it is our calling. There's no self-pity in these words. There's no "woe-is-me!" in these words. There's no sorrow in these words at the station in life we have chosen. Rather, there is a willingness to serve and an eagerness to lighten the loads of others. There's no expectation for others to take notice. There's no looking for the reward. There's no looking for expecting of thanks. Rather, there is a delight in the realization that you have helped other people.

Trust

1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
As believers endure humbly and submissively, they find their strength in the midst of trials, by means of confident trust in God’s perfect purpose. Peter is quoting David here:
Psalm 55:22 ESV
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
David’s anxiety came from attacks by a Judas-like friend (see vv. 12–14), a most difficult trial to bear since it comes from one who is loved and trusted. Peter drew from that text to instruct all believers in all kinds of trouble to follow David’s example and give themselves to the Lord’s care.
This is how we demonstrate our humility before the Lord. We give all of our troubles and our worries and our struggles to Him, and trust that He will help us at the proper time.

Resist And Stand Firm

1 Peter 5:8–9 ESV
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
No sooner has Peter got us to relax by casting our cares on the Lord than he yells, “Wake up! Be alert! There’s a lion on the prowl, and he’ll eat you for lunch if you aren’t careful!” George Morrison put it: “God does not make His children carefree in order that He may make them careless” The fact is, in a time of trial, you are especially vulnerable to the enemy of our souls. You must be sober and alert so that you can resist his attacks.
Remember that verse 6 comes before verse 9: We must bow before God before we stand against the devil. Resisting the devil is a defensive posture. I don’t advise stalking him like a lion hunter. But if he roars against us, we stand firm in the full armor of God and he will flee.
Resist means “to withstand,” or “to stand up against.” It is a term of defense and victory. Theologically, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection won the decisive victory in the war against the powers of darkness. This, however, does not mean that the battle is over.
To resist the devil effectively, we must draw on the power of Christ and not yield to Satan in our lives. Furthermore, to resist the devil, the believer must be standing firm in the faith. We should draw strength from what we believe.
However, many of God’s people are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks because they’re not alert to spiritual danger. If a real lion were on the prowl and had just been spotted outside, would you go for a casual stroll, admiring the flowers? Would you let your children play out there? And yet so many Christians watch filth on TV or in movies, and let their kids watch it, and wonder why they aren’t more interested in spiritual things.
Or, they’re going through trials, but they forget that they are especially vulnerable. They tolerate their own grumbling or complaining, not realizing that they are playing right into Satan’s attack to devour their faith and to discredit the goodness of God.

Hope

1 Peter 5:10 ESV
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Our hope is a confidence, a sure thing, that after our trials and difficulties of this life, we can count on God glorifying us in heaven. We do not need to fear suffering because As Paul tells us:
Romans 8:35–39 ESV
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our final salvation, where there is no more sin, no more suffering, where we will be in eternity with God is a sure thing! Cling to that hope!

Worship

To wrap this whole thing up, in our suffering, we have confidence that God is doing a great thing, because he has said that he works all things together for good. We can trust him. He has not left us alone or without help or hope. And that beloved, leads us to worship.
1 Peter 5:11 ESV
To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Beloved worship the King.
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