Persecution Is Not A Strange Thing For God’s People

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Persecution Is Not A Strange Thing For God’s People

Persecution Is Not A Strange Thing For God’s People

I Peter 4:12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
16  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Christians should not be surprised that they would be attacked by the world. Lost people run and hide when attacked. There are many professing Christians who prove who they truly are. When they face opposition, they cower in the corner. They start to attack those who stand for the truth. They demand that they stop “attacking” the lost. They do not want the truth and thus anyone who speaks the truth is “attacking” them.
God told Peter to write about the “fiery trial.” That sounds quite intense to me. That sounds like something we need to be equipped for. This is why we need to be fully equipped as Paul wrote in Ephesians 6. True Christianity is not for the faint of heart.
In Acts 13:13 we read of an unprepared Christian named John Mark. Paul and Barnabas chose to take him with them on their evangelistic endeavours in chapter 12. When John Mark saw the opposition that Paul and Barnabas faced, he left and went back to Jerusalem. He was not ready for the task at hand. In chapter 15 Paul and Barnabas were preparing to go on another evangelistic endeavour and Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them again. Paul disagreed and their disagreement was so strong that Paul and Barnabas separated. Paul took Silas with him and continued to preach in many different areas. Paul understood that John Mark was not ready to stand for the truth. He needed baby sitting and you cannot do that in the midst the battle. Later in Paul’s ministry he invited John Mark to come to him. John Mark had learned the importance of standing upon the truth and for the truth. There will be battle scars but the Master is always with His servants.
In verse 13 we are reminded that we need the right perspective on what is going on. Rather than focus on ourselves and our suffering, we need to remember Who we are serving. Jesus Christ suffered far more than any person ever will. He endured those sufferings for our sakes. He did not sin. He did not deserve the punishment put upon Him. He was hated by the Jews and the Romans. He endured the suffering and went to the cross and died there. He shed His blood there, making it possible for us to be saved.
There will be many who reject the truth. There will be a few who will eventually turn to God and be saved. Those few makes it worth it all. Remember the words of Jesus:

Luke 15:7  I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:10  Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Heaven sees things different than we do on this earth. True Christians need to be trained to see things as God sees them. God is not willing that any should perish. God wants all to be saved. He is rejoicing over every lost sinner that repents and is saved.
Back in our text, in verse 13 we see that when we will enter heaven and see our Saviour and Lord, we will be overwhelmed with joy. The apostle Paul was looking forward to being in the presence of the Lord. He was not complaining to Timothy as he was nearing the end of his life. He was encouraging Timothy to fight the good fight of faith.
We have talked of this often. Our fight is not with street protests and placards, etc. Our fight is a spiritual war that is fought with the Word of God. We preach Christ crucified. We exalt the true God with the Gospel of Christ. We endure the slander and the mockery. We continue to proclaim the truth.
In verse 14 we see further that being reproached for the name of Christ is where we need to be. We need to be careful that we are not in the flesh. We need to stand strong and proclaim the truth with joy. When we suffer for the name of Christ, God is pleased. We will know that in our spirit. In Acts 5, Peter and John left the counsel, having been beaten and threatened, rejoicing. They were rejoicing in that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s name. They had done nothing wrong. The Jews had enacted an ungodly law that Peter and John were not going to bow to. They were servants of the true God.
In verse 15 we are reminded that true Christians should not suffer for murder or as a thief or an evildoer or a busybody. We need to be serving God faithfully. We do not take up material weapons and try to overthrow the lost. We defend ourselves if needed, but we do not take the side of the physical aggressor. We do not steal to get by. We work hard with our hands to meet our needs and help others in need as well. The apostle Paul needed to take up tent making while serving in Corinth. The saints there were carnal and they did not look after his needs. He provided for his own needs and he also helped others in need. A “busybody” is someone who interferes in another person’s life. Christians rebuke and exhort other believers. However, they do not snoop into another persons’ affairs. They do not go around and spread lies about others either. Christians need to be balanced in their labours. We teach the truth and warn the unruly and leave things in God’s hands. We set godly standards in our churches and we hold to those standards. We let the Lord deal with those who want to be rebels. We do not go looking for trouble. We go proclaiming the truth and warning the ungodly.
In verse 16 we are again reminded that suffering as a Christian is nothing to be ashamed of. We need to glorify God in the midst of the suffering and seek to encourage others to follow after righteousness as well.
In verse 17 we are reminded that God must clean house. Jesus needed to cleanse the temple in Jerusalem two times. It was the house of God and the false teachers had turned it into a den of thieves.
The Bible tells us that New Testament Christians are the temple of the Holy Ghost. He indwells the true child of God. We need to look after our temple. We need to understand that we are the house of God. We cannot allow idolatry into our lives nor into our churches. We cannot accept or promote false teaching. We need to shine as lights in a dark world. We cannot do that if we are filthy.
In this winter weather, the roads are sometimes sloppy. Vehicles splash salt water onto the headlights of the vehicle making night time driving difficult. We need to stop at times and wipe off the headlights so we can see better. Spiritually, we need to be careful not to allow the slop of the devil to dim the light of the Gospel in our lives. Jesus declared that a light cannot be hidden under a bushel. It needs to shine brightly and clearly.
I was sent a link to a video of “revival” in Ireland. The speakers all talked of the different religious groups getting together and large numbers of people getting saved. Nothing was said of the heresy of Calvinism that permeates the different groups involved in this “revival”. Most of the reading that I have done about man-proclaimed revivals have been of the ecumenical nature. Doctrine has been dismissed. Which Jesus are they preaching at these “revival” meetings?
Peter was directed by God to remind us of the need of purity in the house of God. That is in our personal lives and in the churches we attend. We need to be serious with God and humbly submit to Him.
Peter declares that if this judgment begins at the house of God, what will be the end for the ungodly? The Bible warns of the severity of the judgment of the lost as well. The lake of fire is no picnic. It is for all eternity.
In verse 18 we see that God’s judgement is serious. Paul wrote of those who are saved though as by fire in I Corinthians 3:15. Paul did not have that testimony. He was looking forward to meeting the Lord. He was anticipating that crown of righteousness that is available for all those who love His appearing. Those who love His appearing are those who walk humbly and faithfully with the Lord. There are many delusional people out there. Let us be those who take God at His Word and humbly submit to Him.
In verse 19 we are further encouraged to suffer according to the will of God. As we do so, we need to commit the keeping of our souls to Him. God knows how to look after His own. He will bring them safely home. God is the faithful Creator. Let us exalt His name and be a blessing to others in these last days. God is good and He is able to bless His children with real blessings.
Pastor Bartel

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