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.
God created man to be a social being. It is normal for people to want to have friends. Some people do not have many friends and they choose to have a pet of some sort as their so-called “friend”. Animals were created by God but they are different than people.
In our text we are reminded of the fact that in this life, those who are saved and walking faithfully with the Lord, will suffer persecution. God directed Peter to describe that as “the fiery trial which is to try you.” That fiery trial will separate the sheep from the goats. Peter was one of the 12 apostles and history tells us that his life ended in a violent death. He was warned of that by the Lord Jesus Christ shortly before His ascension back to Heaven.
Peter was a timid disciple until after Jesus’ resurrection, spiritually speaking. He became a very bold and faithful man of God after that. He was endued with power from on high when he and the other apostles received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. All Christians since that time receive the same Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. The Holy Spirit is given to the child of God to enable him or her to serve God faithfully. We do not need to wait for the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. We do not pray for that either.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Serving God faithfully will lead to trials. It will lead to a limited number of individuals who will want to associate with you. The apostle Paul found himself alone at times because he served God faithfully. He did not draw back and try to find a way to compromise so that others would like him. He knew he had a friend that would stick closer than a brother. That Friend was Jesus Christ.
Peter wrote that born again Christians should not think it strange to face persecution. It is quite normal for a true child of God to face persecution. There are many religious people who want to assume they are Christians. However, they do not want to identify with those who take God’s Word seriously and seek to follow God faithfully.
In verse 13 we are reminded that the saved person should rejoice in the fact that they are counted worthy to be partakers of Christ’s sufferings. It is much better to be identified with Jesus Christ than to be one that He will declare He never knew.
Peter had experienced the sufferings of Christ almost immediately after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 3 he was privileged to be used of God to heal a lame man who was sitting and begging at the gate of the Temple. His testimony and his preaching offended the religiously lost Jews. After Peter was used to heal this lame man, he preached a powerful message to the Jews who were present. In chapter 4 the religious leaders demonstrated their great displeasure with Peter and John. They did not like it that these men were preaching the facts about Jesus Christ. He is the eternal Son of God and He did rise from the dead and He is seated on the right hand of God in glory.
The religious leaders had quite a bit of human power at that time. The Roman government did not believe in God and they did not care if true Christians were persecuted. They did not want unrest in the country. The religiously lost leaders stirred up the people to assume that the problem was the apostles who were preaching the truth, rather than they themselves who were opposing the truth. They laid hold on Peter and John and put them in a hold until the next day. They then called them and demanded to know by what power Peter and John had healed the lame man. God had used that event and the strong preaching of Peter to work in the hearts of many people. The religiously lost people were losing control of the people. They had the power of the Roman government backing them up, but that was nothing compared to the power of God that was governing Peter and John. God was blessing the preaching of His Word.
In that context, Peter answered the religious leaders. He was not afraid of them. He knew he was serving God faithfully and he answered them with conviction and boldness. Peter declared to these religiously lost people that salvation was only found in trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no other way to be saved. The false teachers taught their brand of salvation through works. They had no confidence that works could guarantee salvation, but they knew that their message could keep the people in bondage to them. They wanted that.
In Acts 4:13 we read that these false teachers saw the boldness of Peter and John and they perceived that they were ignorant and unlearned men. They also recognized that they had been with Jesus. That is a compliment that any true child of God would be happy to accept.
Peter wrote in our opening verses that those who serve God faithfully will be glad with exceeding joy when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back. Jesus Christ will reward those who are faithful to His calling for them at His coming.
The flesh of the saved person does not like suffering. We want to be liked. We want people to praise us. We do not like rejection. The reality is that a true child of God does not look for rejection. However, the true child of God also does not shy away from serving God faithfully.
In verse 14 we see that it is important to face reproach for the name of Christ. That is what Peter and John faced in Acts 4. That is what they faced for the remainder of their lives on earth. They did not walk around with long faces because of it. They found comfort in the fellowship they could enjoy with the Lord and with other true believers. There were other godly people at that time who prayed for them and they could meet together with other true believers, at times, as well.
That is the hope that true believers have now as well. There are professing Christians in our time that are missing out on great blessings because they refuse to obey God and they refuse to join together with other saints in prayer and fellowship. They are more content to be with those who do not get too serious about God’s truth.
Peter wrote that the spirit of glory and of God rests upon the faithful child of God. The world, which includes the religiously lost, will speak evil of the Lord Jesus Christ and they will also speak evil of those who seek to serve God faithfully. Speaking evil does not just mean they say things that are not nice. Speaking evil means saying things that are not true. There are many false teachers who speak lies about Jesus Christ. They do not know Him and they teach their gullible followers things that are not true. They like to focus in on healing. They misuse the Lord’s Supper as well. They are evil people according to God’s Word.
God reminded Peter that those who would follow Jesus Christ would speak highly of the Lord Jesus Christ. True Christians are not ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ. True Christians exalt Jesus Christ in truth.
We have mentioned before that these past two years have been a test in many ways. It has been a test to reveal those who are truly saved. They are not ashamed to identify with the Lord Jesus Christ even though the government is seeking to silence the truth. A few churches have remained open and a few people have been faithful in attending true churches during this time of testing. There appears to be more testing coming. We are praying that many will see the importance of God’s salvation and the importance of fellowship with other saints in these last days. Regardless of how few or how many choose to follow the Lord, true saints can be encouraged that they are suffering for the name of Christ. They can rejoice in being part of God’s family and they can know that they will be rewarded for their faithfulness to Him now and at His appearing. That makes it worth while living faithfully for the Lord.