PHBC August 2, 9, 1998

Series: First Peter, Ser. #56

PILGRIMS SUFFER IF THE WILL OF GOD BE SO


Scripture: I Pet. 3:13-17

TEXT: 1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

INTRO: Many in the so-called "Christian" world deny that suffering can ever be according to the will of God. If a storm hits and destruction takes place, these folks are quick to deny any Divine purpose being served and any Divine participation in any thing that causes suffering or results in suffering, especially the suffering of a Christian.

Our text indicates otherwise. And, as we will see shortly, this verse is far from being alone in teaching this. When we groan and moan about our suffering, let us remember that we cannot suffer except the will of God be so. Let me repeat that very slowly. We cannot suffer except the will of God be so! If you ask me the question, "Why do Christians suffer? I would say again, We cannot suffer except the will of God be so!

I. LET US CONSIDER SOME GENERAL TEACHINGS ABOUT SUFFERING AS CHRISTIANS

A. God's pilgrims may offer suffer for their convictions concerning the truth and work of God. 1 Peter 2:19-20 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

B. When we suffer as Christians, we need to remember that is for Christ's sake that we suffer. Jeremiah 15:15 O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke.

C. In the sermon on the Mount Jesus revealed that true Christian suffering is for his sake. Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousnessí sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

D. Jesus warned us that we might be called upon to suffer for his sake. Matthew 10:18-22 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my nameís sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

E. Even if we lose our life in suffering for Christ's sake we will truly find that life. Matthew 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

F. We should also remember that when we suffer for Christ's sake and glory, God is faithful to reward us. Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my nameís sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

G. When we suffer for Christ's sake, we can rest assured that our suffering is according to the will of God.

II. LET US REMEMBER THAT NOTHING CAN HAPPEN TO US THAT IS OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF GOD'S WILL

A. He who works all things after the counsel of his own will would surely have control over any suffering that might come the way of his children. Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.

B. He whose hand cannot be stayed and who does according to his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth surely could restrain the hands of those who would harm us. Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

C. He who has a hedge around his people that is so secure that even Satan cannot breach must surely be in control of any whom he allows through that hedge. Job 1:6-12 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

1. God has a hedge around the pilgrim himself and no one can touch him without it being God's will.

2. God has a hedge around the family of the pilgrim and no one can touch his family without the will of God being so.

3. God has a hedge about the possessions of the pilgrim and not one nickel's worth of his possessions can be touched without the will of God being so.

D. Much more could be said of God's sovereign control over all things but let me close this point of the message by reminding you of two other verses which show that God is in absolute control of all things and therefore, no suffering can ever come our way except the will of God be so.

1. He is in the heavens and has always done whatever he pleases. Psalm 115:3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

2. He does as he wills all the time and everywhere. Psalm 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

III. LET US LEARN THAT SUFFERING FOR PILGRIMS IS ALWAYS ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD AND ALWAYS SERVES HIS PURPOSE

A. Christians are called to suffering and are fellowshipping in the suffering of Christ when we do suffer. 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.

B. In another message we saw that when we are suffering for our stand for truth we are actually to consider ourselves to be participating in the sufferings of Christ. 1 Peter 4:13-16 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christís 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 menís matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

C. There are several Scriptures that show unequivocally that our sufferings in this life are according to the will of God.

1. Consider again the text. 1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

2. Consider Christ's words concerning Paul's appointed sufferings. Acts 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my nameís sake.

3. Consider these words from the lips of Paul himself which show that he recognized that his sufferings were from the Lord. Acts 20:22-23 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

4. Consider what Job said about his own sufferings being appointed by God. Job 7:3 So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. Job 23:13-16 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. 14 For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him. 15 Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him. 16 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me.

5. Consider these words from the pen of God's prophet, Micah. Micah 6:9 The LORDíS voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.

6. Consider Paul's words to the Thessalonians concerning his own suffering as well as the suffering of those with him. 1 Thessalonians 3:3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

7. That any suffering we experience as Christians is the will of God is evident from these words of Jesus Christ. John 15:19-20 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

8. Consider also these words from our loving Saviour. John 16:1-4 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

9. Paul certainly had no question that sufferings he endured were according to the will of God. 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christís sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

IV. REMEMBER ALSO THAT WHEN IT IS NOT THE WILL OF GOD THAT WE SUFFER, HE CAN DELIVER US OUT OF THE SUFFERING IN ONE MANNER OR ANOTHER

A. No man could hurt Paul while he was in the wicked city of Corinth. Acts 18:9-11 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

B. Remember again that no one could hurt Job until it was the will of God that he suffer. Job 1:9-10 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

1. Until it was the will of God that he suffer, Job had lived in peace and comfort in the land. Job 1:9-10 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

2. Until it was the will of God that he suffer, God had blessed the work of Jobs hands without measure. Job 1:10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

3. Until it was the will of God that he suffer, God had caused the substance of Job to be increased greatly. Job 1:3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

4. Until it was the will of God that he suffer, the family of Job had lived in peace without great harm coming to them. Job 1:2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

C. Remember how God delivered some from evil that was to come upon the land by taking their lives before it happened. Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2 He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

D. Remember how God delivered the three Jewish captives from the fire in the furnace Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 3:27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the kingís counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

E. God delivered one son of Jeroboam from the horrible deaths others would die because his heart was toward God.

1. Abijah, the only godly son of Jeroboam fell sick. 1 Kings 14:1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick.

2. Jeroboam sent his wife in disguise to the prophet Ahijah to inquire of him for her son; she was informed that it was God's will that Abijah die early and be buried for the rest of the sons of Jeroboam would never be buried. 1 Kings 14:11-13 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it. 12 Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. 13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.

F. Josiah was a godly king of Judah and God took his life to deliver him from seeing the evil that came upon the land. 2 Kings 22:1-2 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his motherís name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath. 2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

1. When Shaphan the scribe read some things from the book of the Law to Josiah, he realized that his people were headed for severe judgment and rent his clothes. 2 Kings 22:11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.

2. Because of the great wrath that he knew was coming he sent some men to a prophetess to learn what the Lord would do. 2 Kings 22:13-17 Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. 14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. 15 And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, 16 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: 17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.

3. But, she informed him that he, Josiah, would not have to live to see these evil things happen for God would graciously bring him to the grave to deliver him from it. 2 Kings 22:18-20 But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; 19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. 20 Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

G. The song of the children of Israel recorded in Exodus 15 is an account of times when God delivered Israel out of the hands of those who would mistreat them and foretold other times when that would be the case. Exodus 15:1-19 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. 2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my fatherís God, and I will exalt him. 3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. 4 Pharaohís chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. 5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. 6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. 8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. 9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. 10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. 11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? 12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. 13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. 15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. 17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. 18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. 19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

H. Remember how God delivered Jacob from harm when he commanded him to go up to Bethel. Genesis 35:5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

I. Remember the words of Rahab to the spies concerning how God had prepared her people for the coming of Israel. Joshua 2:9-11 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

J. Remember how God put his fear into the Philistines when Jonathan and his armor bearer killed only 20 of them and they were prevented from crushing Israel. 1 Samuel 14:15 And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.

K. Remember how the Lord kept the Syrians from crushing Samaria and drove them into a self-destructive frenzy. 2 Kings 7:6 For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.

L. Remember how the Lord caused his fear to come upon all the kingdoms around Judah causing them to refrain from making war with Jehoshaphat and even causing them to send him gifts of great value. 2 Chronicles 17:10-12 And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat. 11 Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats. 12 And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.

M. Remember how he drove out the inhabitants of Canaan out before Israel in a manner that not only protected Israel from harm but kept the vineyards, etc. safe for them to use. Exodus 23:27-30 I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. 28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. 29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. 30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.

N. God even protected the land of Israel when they would go up for the feast each year. Exodus 34:24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

O. Let us remember how God protected David from the mad wrath of Saul. 1 Samuel 18:10-11 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saulís hand. 11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

P. When it pleases God to do so, he can put his fear into the hearts and minds of men and deter them from harming his people. Deuteronomy 11:25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

Q. God caused the hearts of kings to melt in fear of Israel when it was his will that they not be harmed by those kings. Joshua 5:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

CONC: In this message we have been reminded of several things. We have been reminded that God controls all things according to his will. We have also seen again that the suffering of a Christian is according to the will of God. We have seen that, when it suits his purpose, God can and does prevent the suffering of his people. But, if it is for their good and his glory, he will cause their suffering or permit Satan and his cohorts to cause his people to suffer.

Let us rejoice in the fact that God's great wisdom, knowledge, and sovereignty rule and control our suffering so that nothing that is not for our good and his glory can and will never come our way.

When, therefore, suffering comes your way, be it persecution or other forms of suffering, remember that only that which will serve your good or God's glory can ever happen. There are many reasons why we may suffer. We may suffer because we have committed specific sins for which God is chastening us. We may need to have dross removed from our lives. We may need to be kept from exceeding pride, and need humbling. We may need to be reminded of God's great ability to protect us. Whatever the cause, we will suffering when the will of God is that we suffer; when it is his will that we not suffer, we will not suffer. Praise be to him who works all things after the counsel of his own will as he preserves, perfects, protects, and corrects his people in their pilgrimage through this life.

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