A Balanced Outlook of Persecution: Part 2
Bible Text: 1 Peter 4:13-18 | Pastor: Daniel Stertz | Series: A Study of 1st Peter
Our Missionary, Tim Smith, was kicked out of Russia something like 6 times. He stated that the last time he sat across from the KJB Officer who said to him, the next time he will never be heard of again, that he realized this was probably true. Tim was bold to keep returning, but something “told him” (probably Someone—the Lord) this time it would be different.
So Tim changed to a different field of ministry, still in places where great boldness was required. We heard him recently tell us how a survey trip resulted in detainment so before he took his family, he did another survey trip to be sure.
App. Peter speaks of living for Christ in the face of persecution. He does not mean being “stupid”. Just as Jesus told the disciples, we should be “wise as serpents & harmless as doves.”
So Peter’s approach to teaching Christians how to live under persecution started with teaching us how to live. The key verses were 2:11-12 (read). Live like you don’t belong here—you are foreigners & pilgrims. Live like you belong to Christ so that your good works will be seen by the world around you & so God will be glorified. He then developed this thought through 4:11.
Next, Peter develops the attitude we should have toward suffering. Obviously attitude plays a big part in the behavior seen earlier, but here Peter develops more of the mindset. We noted last time (Sunday PM of June 11) from here to the end of the chapter, FOUR ways to view persecution…
12 – Expect It
13-14 – Rejoice in It
15-16 – Evaluate It
17-19 – Understand It
Last time we looked at the first one….Expect It (12).
We are not to be surprise. Even though the believer is part of God’s “dearly beloved” persecution is something to be expected.
This flies in the face of the Prosperity Gospel people who teach falsely that “health & wealth” are a divine right of the believer. It certainly denies Jesus’ words: “If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.
Besides it being part of the calling of a Christ follower, God uses persecution to help us be like Christ. We’ll see more of this developed the passage as we go on. One thing, though, the “fiery trial” has a way of purifying both the church & the individual believer. The false disciples usually don’t stick around in persecution. And individually, we realize what is most important & what we’re living for when persecution comes.
Trans: We turn to the second way we are to view persecution.
Rejoice In It (13-14)
Note the various ways this is stated: “rejoice” (13) & “happy” (14). Added to this is “gladness” with “exceeding joy” at the appearance of Christ when we suffer for Him.
Scripture points to joy in trials in multiple ways. This might seem like a “dumb question” but why would we rejoice in persecution? Peter answers that here in part at least.
Ill. Stoical Way.
First note that there are some people who approach hard stuff with an I-Can-Do-This attitude. There is a stoical mentality—which means a “resigned,” “matter of fact,” “dispassionate” approach.
Eg. When I was in high school there was a kid named Joel, who boasted having strong stomach muscles. He would go up to guys and say, “hit me.” Come to find out, he and his older brother used to practice punching one another in the stomach to strengthen their muscles.
OK…. I think that’s just plain dumb (maybe his brother missed and hit his head occasionally). I suppose it might come in handy someday. It ranks right up there with the Polar Bear Club who cut holes in the ice and take a swim in the middle of winter.
App. We could approach suffering & persecution with this “grin & bear it” mentality, but note what Peter says. We rejoice because….
We Share In The Sufferings of Jesus (13) – “Ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings”
The disciples considered in an honor & privilege.
Php 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
“And they [the Apostles] departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Act_5:41).
Jesus meant so much to them, that it was an HONOR to suffer for His sake.
Ill. This idea hearkens back to our brother who spoke last week—Mark Hynek. When Mark shared his testimony as someone who was tired of a life of drugs & alcohol and searching for peace—when he found Jesus saved Him, he couldn’t get enough of knowing Jesus. And you can tell, he hasn’t gotten over that thought today.
App. Neither should we. If we have, there’s a problem. Either we really don’t know Him as Savior, or we don’t know our Savior. We are not growing in fellowship and relationship to Him.
By the way, we see how Jesus takes this personally as well. When Paul, before he was saved, was persecuting the Christians, Jesus stopped him in his tracks and said:
Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Act 9:4)
Do you know WHO Jesus is? Do you remember that the Creator came down and lived a perfect life to show He alone could die and pay for sin? Do you remember that He exchanged places with you, the sinner—that He became sin that God could judge, and you took His righteousness so you could go to heaven?
HIS ROBES FOR MINE
(Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger)
His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.
His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He embraced and welcomed home!
I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.
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Trans: Rejoice to suffer with your Savior. Second, we rejoice because…
We Are Assured of Glory (13) – “when His glory shall be revealed…”
This has been a big part of Peter’s “case”. We go all the way back to 1:7. When Christ comes back, He will do so with great glory. As a believer, we will be a part of that. Here in 4:13 he reminds us again that when we suffer we will be really glad when that happens.
The world sees no suffering to be glorious. But in God’s way suffering & glory go together. Glory follows suffering. It is how things were with Jesus. He suffered but has been, continues to be, and will be glorified.
Ill. There is even a principle today that is similar. For many things that are really worth while we “pay the price” today so we can enjoy in the future.
Eg. piano practice takes a lot of work and effort, but the glory is being able to play a beautiful piece.
Eg. athletes labor in exercise and drills so they can do will in the game.
App. As a believer we suffer but rejoice in what will be. And, it will be all the more joyful knowing what we went through.
…if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Rom 8:17-18)
Note also the “inasmuch as” = “to the extent of” or “to the degree of.” To the extent we suffer with / for Jesus, we will rejoice when His glory is revealed.
Trans: Why do we rejoice? Because we Share in Christ’s Sufferings, We are Assured of Glory, and…
We are experiencing the ministry of the Holy Spirit (14) – “the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you”
“Happy” = makarios, the word “blessed.” We are “blessed” when we are “reproached” or “insulted” because of the name of Christ. Why?
Because it is evidence that the “Spirit of glory and of God rests on” us. This would appear to be an allusion to Isa 11:2 where the description of the Messiah was that the Spirit of God would rest on Him. As followers of Christ, that Spirit is upon us as well.
Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
Note how this fits in with what Peter goes on to say. “On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” When the unbeliever insults our testimony he is blaspheming God (“evil spoke of”). On our part God is being glorified.
What happens? The believer is able to share the wisdom & knowledge of God through his testimony. Just as Jesus told the disciples,
Mark 13:11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
Jesus says, “Don’t worry about what you would say. The Holy Spirit will give you the right words at the time.
We remind you that this is not to say we should not prepare. In 3:15 he tells us to be ready. We need to grow in and learn more about Christ, but we don’t have to worry about having a “practiced speech” for everything.
Summary: Rejoice in Suffering. That’s how we are to approach persecution. Don’t be surprised by it. In fact, Rejoice in It because:
We have the enormous privilege of suffering with our Savior.
We have the wonderful promise of glory to come.
We have the illuminating partnership of God’s Spirit to our aid.
Trans: Let us note the next way to view persecution. Expect It, Rejoice In It, and…
Evaluate It (15-16)
These verses point to a cause of suffering. Why Am I Suffering?
Am I Really Being Persecuted? (15)
Ill. Not the devil but your stupidity.
Forgive me if I have shared this story before. It’s hard to remember when you tell true-life stories. Years ago we were part of an annual men’s retreat and a speaker was invited who got up and started telling how the devil didn’t want him to come to the meeting. He had driven up to near Platteville, WI from the Chicago area. When he needed to turn his lights on he got stopped for a headlight out. He got a warning and then decided to stop at the next place to get it fixed so he didn’t get stopped again. He got a light and put it in. But soon he got stopped again—the same headlight was out.
He proceeded to tell how this scenario repeated itself several times and then said again, “The devil was trying to keep me from coming.”
Afterward an “old guy” walked up to him and in a blunt manner asked him what kind of headlights he had. The guy kind of shrugged and the “old guy” asked, “Were they halogens?” Then the speaker realized what he was asking, and said, “Yes, they were halogens.” The “old guy” said, “How did you put them in?” Again the man didn’t understand what the “old guy” was asking, so the “old guy” said, “Did you use your fingers?” Well of course, was the guy’s reply. And the “old guy” meant, “Did you touch them with your fingers?” Again the speaker realized what he meant and said, “Yes.”
The “old guy” then told him that was his problem. At that time halogens were fairly new. Because of the high heat intensity you don’t touch them because the oil on your skin will heat the bulb and cause it to fail. The “old guy” said, “That wasn’t the devil. That was your own stupidity.”
When is persecution really not persecution? When we deserve it. The point of this is we need to consider whether or not we are really suffering persecution or for our own fault.
He mentions four wrongs that might be perceived as suffering persecution: Murder, thief, evil doer, and busybody. Don’t these seem a little “odd” to be telling Christians they ought not to do? In fact, I can’t remember ever having a message application with, “Now folks, don’t be killing anybody this week.” Let’s analyze these for a moment:
Murderer – When would a Christian kill someone and think he is being unjustly persecuted?
Eg. I can think of a number of scenarios—a person blowing up an abortion clinic & killing people.
Eg. Killing an officer of the law who comes to serve us with a violation that we think is infringing on our religious liberty.
Thief – When would a Christian steal and think he is being persecuted for it?
Eg. Cheating on taxes since the government is using my money for wrong reasons.
Evil doer – this is a general word, meaning criminal.
Eg. Steven L Anderson, from AZ, has a large internet presence, and made headlines by preaching a message, “Why I Hate President Obama.” In the message he said he prayed that Obama would be killed. This drew attention by the Secret Service because it seemed to imply he was calling for someone to do it. (He was also tased one time for not complying with a checkpoint in AZ.)
Busybody in other men’s matters – the word allotrioepiskopos. This is possibly a “made up” word by Peter, combining the word for “other people’s matters” and the word for “overseer.” It’s basically sticking one’s nose in other people’s business. What he means is not clear, though Paul spoke repeatedly about people who were gossips and lazy—who, instead of working, were meddling in other people’s affairs.
Eg. Following the same application we have already given, it could be that Christians would become more political and jump on “bandwagons” for the sake of being against the establishment.
If we are truly being persecuted, Peter has already stated in 3:9, “not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing.”
Trans: Second evaluation question. Besides, “Am I really being persecuted”…
Am I Ashamed of being persecuted? (16)
When it comes to really being persecuted, Peter encourages believers not to be ashamed.
Ill. ProLife Lit – Monroe. I can think of an instance where I felt ashamed, not directly for being a Christian, but the feeling was similar. We were passing out ProLife literature near our high school. An elementary kid got one and brought it home. Her mother took it to the newspaper and they published a frontpage article against our church with all kinds of misinformation.
While I was feeling “low” we got notes from believers in town who commended us.
Peter’s use of the word, “Christian,” is one of only three places found in the NT. We’re used to hearing the term applied to all kinds of groups. It certainly does not have the meaning today it did back then. The term meant, “Christ followers”.
My “take” on this word is that it was considered an “insult” to call someone a Christian. In Acts 11:26, the believers were first called Christians in Antioch. It was most likely a derogatory title—a put-down.
But Peter says, “Don’t be ashamed.” It is true. We are Christ-followers. If we are called names that reflect our love and obedience to the Lord, then so be it. Let God be glorified.
Few like to be in the minority.
We don’t like to be ridiculed.
We don’t like scorn.
We don’t like getting called names.
How do you get passed that? If our testimony points to Christ, God is being glorified. Don’t be ashamed for being recognized for what you are supposed to be.
So we should ask ourselves, “Am I really being persecuted as a Christian or because what I’ve done is wrong?” Our best example is the Savior who when He was reviled, reviled not again & didn’t threaten back (2:23). And when we are persecuted for being what a Christian is supposed to be, don’t be ashamed.
The Lord Jesus suffered for us. He took our sin on Himself. That act of Love should be our biggest motivator to living for Him.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Have you received that love? It’s been offered, but has it been received? Have you turned from your sin in faith in Christ’s offering of love? If not, the Savior’s invitation is, “Come unto Me, and I will give you rest.”
As a believer, let us never “get over” what Christ did. Let’s count it an honor to live for Him and suffer for Him if it comes to that.
Don’t be surprised, if it comes.
Rejoice to be counted worthy.
Consider that it is real persecution and not punishment for your own wrong-doing.