ONE LAST THING AS YOU SUFFER BELOVED
1 Peter 5:12-19
Jesus walked a different path in His incarnation, and He calls us to do the same without reservations, and opposition, as His children. How should the believer respond to suffering? The word suffering and its results are used 21 times in this epistle. So this indicates that Peter has a lot to say about suffering to comfort exile believers. Why? At this time, Nero was having Christians covered with tar and burned at the stake to light up his garden. These Christians needed to hear that suffering was part of the will of God and that they should not be shocked by it.
How should we respond to suffering
by our culture & friends for our belief system?
How should we respond when sometimes even
our families don’t understand us?
Peter talks about this in the closing of this letter. (v12-v19) you can sort of say this is Peter’s last instructions to suffering well. It is good to remember that it was Peter who at the possibility of suffering for Christ, denied Him in his greatest hour. Yet now Peter is not only willing to suffer but is now preparing other believers to suffer as well. Christ told him after he had returned from his denial that he must strengthen the brethren. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32
Christians Should Not Be Surprised At Suffering For Christ. (v12)
It seems that many of the Christians in this context were shocked by the suffering they were enduring. Expect the gospel to be offensive and this will produce persecution. However, Peter says they should not be shocked or surprised at all by this painful trial. The word “painful” can also be translated “fiery” He may specifically be referring to the common practice of burning Christians at the stake. “fiery ordeal” portrays figuratively a painful experience, it’s also used of a furnace melting down metal to purge it of impurities. The prophet Malachi wrote about the process of this purifying fire, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.” Mal 3:1-3
The believer’s purifying is important because in the next chapter of Malachi, God is characterized as a consuming fire over the lost. Such mistreatment from the world proves the genuineness of your faith; and the destruction for those who love their sin, and rebellion. "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” Mal 4:1
Suffering for righteousness not only refines us, but demonstrates whether you are truly His. Matt 13:1-23 about the parable of the 4 seeds. During Christ’s ministry, He spent a large amount of time not only telling His disciples that He would suffer but also preparing them to suffer as well. And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matt 24:4-13
To “endure” means “to remain firm in a commitment to be true to the commandments of God despite the temptation to flee when opposition, and adversity arises.” Those who endure to the end and are saved will stand firm…. through ridicule and hatred when others will fall away and hate one another. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18–19.Christ said if you belonged to the world, it would love you, but since you do not belong to the world that is why it hates you. This takes us back to the beginning of Peter’s epistle. He calls these exile believers “strangers in the world” 1 Peter 1:1. We are different; we are not of this world, and that is why we are hated by many.
Paul said this Timothy, “ Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
2 Tim 3:12-15
Christians Should Rejoice In Our Sufferings For Christ. (v13-v14)
Believers must also respond to suffering by rejoicing in it. This seems to be an oxymoron, a demented way of responding to suffering. How can we rejoice when we are going through a difficulty or being persecuted for Christ? Paul and Silas demonstrate how we can rejoice in difficulty even as we proclaim the gospel to a lost and hostile people. “And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice." The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” Acts 16:20–25
What Paul and Silas encourage our hearts to do in suffering is exactly what Peter is telling us here…. The believer can rejoice because it is a privilege to suffer for Christ. “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (v13). What is Peter saying? The same thing Paul said to the believers in Philippi. “ that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Phil 3:10-12
Our suffering is a honor to suffer for Christ and to be like Him. The believer can rejoice because he will be rewarded at Christ’s second coming. “So that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed” (v13) Scripture constantly proclaims that at Christ’s second coming, it will not only be a time of judgment for the lost but it will be a time of reward for the faithful. Look at what John writes in his last letter. “And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” Rev 22:10-12
The believer can rejoice because the Spirit of God rests on us during trials. “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (v14) What does “the Spirit of glory and of God resting on us” mean?
The Spirit Of Glory Rests On Us” Means An Intimacy In The Presence Of God.
An intimacy and presence that Moses had with God. “The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:16-19 . Moses would enter the glory cloud and speak to God face-to-face. God’s glory cloud would also cover the tabernacle while Moses was in there, to speak with him.
To suffer for Christ means to have intimacy with Him in a special way. We see this with Stephen as he dies as a martyr. “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed 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, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:55-60. His conduct signified peacefulness, quietness, and joy of the Spirit, undiminished before he died for righteousness sake.
The Spirit Of Glory Rests On Us Means To Be Changed Into His Image. Not only does the Spirit of glory resting on us mean intimacy, but it meant to be changed in such a way that the people reflected the glory of God. James reveals this truth as well. “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.” James 1:2-4. The glory of God rests on us in the midst of suffering as Christ changes us into His image. The Spirit Of Glory Rests On Us, Means We Become Empowered By The Holy Spirit. Paul demonstrated that truth when he wrote about his sufferings. “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10. In weakness, Paul says, “Christ’s power rested on him”. In fact, this imagery was used throughout the Scriptures in the Old Testament as the Spirit came upon people to do great feats for God. “Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here." And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he." Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward.” 1 Sam 16:11-13. In suffering, there is a special way where God empowers us to not only persevere, but to serve Him. The Spirit Of Glory Rests On Us, May Also Mean To Give Us Relief Or Refreshment. “Rests” from the present tense means “to give relief, refreshment, intermission from toil” A picture of this is what Jesus said in the gospels. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 11:28-29. “Rest, to give relief” comes on those who suffer for the sake of the Savior and the gospel; and which is to be enjoyed.
Christians Should Properly Evaluate Their Sufferings For Christ. (v15-v18)
Peter also says that when suffering come into a believer’s life, it must be properly evaluated.
In order to evaluate trials we should ask ourselves these questions: Are these sufferings because of my sin or is it because of righteousness? (v15) Peter lists a few things that could cause the believer to endure the wrath and reviling of civil authorities and unbelieving observers. Paul said to Timothy this is our aim daily, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” 1 Tim 2:1-3.
How can I glorify the name of Christ
in the trial? (v16)
The “name” is the name Christian, which was at first an offensive term used by unbelievers. First century believers referred to one another as brethren, as saints and those of the “Way”. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2. The name Christian was associated with hatred and persecution because to be recognized as one of His followers brought much affliction and hatred. Acts 11:26. Nevertheless in our suffering we stand unashamed as our identification with the name of Christ. It means to be a “little Christ/Christ followers.” Because we bear that name, so we must ask ourselves how can I glorify the name of Christ in the trial?
To glorify God in this context means to praise Him for the privilege and honor of suffering for His name. ”Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,” Phil 1:27-29
How can I respond in the way that glorifies God? The Apostles responded by giving praises to God after they were abused. “and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Acts 5:40-42
How can I have an eternal perspective in
looking at my trial? (v17-v18)
Here Peter sees the hardship Christians experience as part of God’s way of judging the earth and ridding it of sin. He connects the judgment on Christians with the judgment on those “who do not obey the gospel of God.” This is a little shocking, but Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 11 when God judged Christians for abusing the Lord’s Supper. Paul says when believers are judged by the Lord, they are being disciplined; so that they will not be condemned with the world. Discipline and suffering in the life of the believer are instruments that God uses to get rid of sin in our life. However, in the final judgment, God will ultimately rid the world of sin through judging the world as He cast them into the Lake of Fire.
Peter makes an argument from the lesser to the greater, think about this for moment. If God allows intense hardship to happen to Christians to rid them of sin and to make them holy. This is nothing compared to how much more harsh God’s final judgment shall be on the lost? (v18) God does discipline us for our good and to keep our focused on Him and not our flesh. As the Hebrew writer said, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Heb 12:4-11
Here is a great test to whether or not you’re His. Are you being chastened in your unrepentance and sin? Peter says we should evaluate our trials in view of God’s eternal judgment on the world for sin. He allows the believer to go through hardship in order to make them holy and pure. But one day, judgment will happen to the lost. This final punishment will not be discipline though, it will be punitive. Christians Must Entrust Themselves To God While Suffering For Christ. (v19) The word “commit”, or it can be translated “entrust,” is actually a banking term; it means “to deposit for safe keeping.” Paul uses this word in the same way with Timothy, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Tim 1:12
The next chapter over Paul encourages Timothy to endure suffering as a good soldier because of this deposit and for the sake of the gospel confession. ”Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Tim 2:3-13
Paul says in the midst of his suffering he was not ashamed because he knew God was faithful. He could trust God with his life, and so can you.
We can do this because Christ entrusted himself in God’s hand during his suffering, his death and throughout his life. “He said, “Take this cup from me, but nevertheless, Your will be done.” Luke 23:46 Entrusting our souls to God during trial include turning our situation over to God a God who loves you and is faithful to see you all the way through to the end. We must do the same. It should be noted that Peter uses the title Creator to refer to God. Peter seems to use this title in order to encourage these saints. God created you and God only has the best for you, even if you are going through trials.
Have you invested your life in God?
Are you entrusting him with your suffering?
We are to do this! “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” Prov 3:4-7. When we suffer for Christ’s sake, we are to consider ourselves blessed because suffering for Christ’s sake is not a curse but a blessing. The suffering we experience for Christ’s sake is brought about by the expression of Christ’s righteousness in our lives. Suffering for Christ’s sake is the will of God. Even as it was the Father’s will for Christ to suffer for our sins, so it is His will that we suffer as we identify with Christ. Suffering for Christ are never wasted or mistaken but to bring out the virtuous character of Christ deep within us. Suffering sets us apart from unbelievers as a people of faith and it develops and strengthens our faith to persevere. Suffering simplifies a detachment from this world, and its lusts, and those who suffer for righteousness evidence a certain measure of victory over the flesh. AND! Suffering now is much more desirable than entering into the suffering of eternal judgment as so many will in the end for all eternity.