Bible Text: 1 Peter 4:17-19 | Pastor: Daniel Stertz | Series: A Study of 1st Peter
Peter develops the attitude we should have toward suffering. FOUR ways to view persecution…
12 – Expect It – Don’t be surprised. It is what Christ said would happen. It’s part of our calling.
13-14 – Rejoice in It – We have the privilege of being like Christ & we have the glory to come.
15-16 – Evaluate It – Are we really being persecuted for the Gospel or for our own sin? If we are being persecuted for the Gospel, don’t be ashamed.
17-19 – Understand It
Understand The Times (17-18)
Peter has already referred to “time” (v.7) which I believe in Peter’s teaching was a parallel to Jesus telling of events in Luke 21. Jesus was “indefinite” about the events to come but He stated “before all these things” they could expect persecution.
When Peter speaks of time, he used the word Kairos which means “kind of time” rather than chronos, which refers to the “clock”. This “time” is something that began at the Cross and continues to the end when Christ comes back.
The word (krima) speaks of a decision or verdict. The point is that in the plan of God Christians will experience judgment. As we’ve pointed out, there is a purifying purpose in us as believers. 1 Cor 11:32 says when the believer is judged He is not condemned (decided against – katakrima). He is “chastened” (paideuo – child training). When suffering comes we find out what’s important.
We also noted that suffering has a purging effect among the people. Unbelievers usually don’t stick around.
But the real focus is probably about the unbeliever. “What shall be the end of those who don’t obey the Gospel?” This is restated in v.18? If the righteous are scarcely saved, what about the unbeliever?
“Scarcely” doesn’t mean God could barely do it. It points to the Divine work of salvation.
It took Divine wisdom to plan & provide salvation by having His Son become a man to die for sin.
It takes divine operation of the Spirit to lead the sinful human heart to receive it.
It takes Divine grace to keep the believer from falling.
Where does this leave the unbeliever—the rejecter of the Gospel, the ungodly, the sinner? The answer is sobering. He is in big trouble.
Why does Peter bring this up?
On the one hand it is a reminder that though we suffer now, it is temporary and nothing in comparison. Peter is actually freely quoting Proverbs 11:31 –
Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. (Pro 11:31)
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (2Th 1:7) In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (2Th 1:8) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2Th 1:9) When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2Th 1:10)
It’s also likely that this is a reminder of the how our testimony could make a difference in their lives. Peter has already expressed this (3:15ff; 2:12ff). It was not an earthquake that led the Philippian jailer to be saved. It was the testimony of Paul & Silas in his jail!
Interesting note: Peter quoted from Prov 11:31. The verse before it is: The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Pro 11:30)
Understand the time & what is at stake: Purifying, purging, & precious souls.
Trans: We also see in understanding suffering to not only understand the times & what God is doing, but also…
Understand God’s Faithfulness (19)
“Commit” is a BANKING term (parathithemi). We are making a DEPOSIT. We are depositing our lives to God. When you deposit in God’s bank you receive eternal dividends. And you can’t lose.
…that is provided you do it on God’s terms. Note the words…
“Will of God”
If God will we face persecution, so be it.
If our suffering is true suffering.
Doing good is what will bring persecution on. It’s very simple. We just obey. We just do right. We “let come what may.” We go on doing right and trust God for what happens.
We tend to fear, “what if?” God says, “Don’t worry about the “what ifs. Just do right. I’ll take care of the rest.”
No defections – True obedience – Commitment – Faithfulness.
These are the things God promises to honor. Commit ourselves by doing what He says.
“as unto a faithful Creator”
God is forever faithful. He never abandons us. God has already promised us a future no matter what happens here. That’s why we can sacrifice, now. The Glory is awaiting.
Ill. Jer 32:6ff . Jeremiah bought property because he believed God. Most people would think he was crazy. But he believed.
Summary of passage.
Is persecution hard? Yes, or else it wouldn’t be any big deal. It is hard—sometimes very hard. In some places believers are being killed, imprisoned, having their buildings burned, etc. Yet out of it, God develops godly character. Because God is molding us into the image of Christ we should view life as a classroom. Don’t be surprised if God sends you a “pop-quiz”.
Remember also that Hard Times do also bring us closer to God. When we share in Christ’s sufferings we are getting closer. When we share in Christ’s sufferings we experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit & we rejoice.
Hard times are helpful because they lead us to do some serious self-examination. When we ask, “Why am I suffering,” we might learn it’s because we deserve it. We might also learn it’s because we are trying to live a serious Christian life.
Finally, hard times teach us to trust God in new ways. We learn how to have patience and to keep on obeying when it’s hard. We may not be able to change our circumstances, but we can keep our eyes on the cross and obey.