PHBC August 1, 1999

Series: First Peter, Ser. #74

PILGRIMS SHOULD REJOICE WHEN CALLED UPON TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST


TEXT: 1 Peter 4:12-14 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 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.

INTRO: To our "victimized" society, our text must sound very strange. The idea of rejoicing in suffering goes against every thing we are taught by those belonging to this world system and by much of the so-called "Christian world."

Suffering has been a very real and often-present characteristic of Godís chosen and called people throughout history. The first murder in human history was the result of a difference in religious principles.

Sometimes Godís people have suffered as a means of Divine chastisement. Israel spent seventy years in Babylonian captivity because of their sins. At other times Godís people have suffered to test their faith, as in the case of Job. Suffering has often been the means of God revealing the total depravity of man. Man, by nature, is at enmity with God and this is repeatedly revealed by his hatred for Godís people. The Apostle John wrote, 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

Jesus warned, Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my nameís sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Again, he said, Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my nameís sake.

In this country in which we have all been privileged to live, it is easy to forget that trail of blood left by the martyred brethren of the past. Of the research of J. M. Carroll, the late Clarence Walker wrote, "The history of Baptists, he discovered, was written in blood. They were the hated people of the Dark Ages. Their preachers and people were put into prison and untold numbers were put to death. The world has never seen anything to compare with the suffering, the persecutions, heaped upon Baptists by the Catholic Hierarchy during the Dark Ages. The Pope was the world's dictator. This is why the Ana-Baptists, before the Reformation, called the Pope The Anti-Christ" (Trail of Blood, J. M. Carroll, P. 2).

But, how should we look at this suffering. The answer seems to be the import of our text.

I. DONíT CONSIDER IT STRANGE WHEN YOU ARE CALLED UPON TO SUFFER

A. We should not expect to be treated better than Christ was treated by the world. John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

B. We should not be surprised even when we have done nothing to provoke this hatred from the world. John 15:23-25 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

C. Do not think it strange that they hate us even if we are simply trying to bring the light of truth to them. John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

D. If we would lie to the world and to those in false movements and tell them how great they are, there would be no hatred, but because we tell them the truth they do hate us. 1 Kings 22:8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.

E. Ahab counted Elijah his enemy because the prophet told him the truth. 1 Kings 21:20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.

F. Josephís brethren hated him simply because he revealed to them what God had revealed to him. Genesis 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

G. Israel hated the prophets whom God compassionately sent to them. 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

H. Consider the attitude of Israel toward Jeremiah. Jeremiah 18:18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.

I. Consider these words from another prophet, Amos, concerning the Israelites to whom he prophesied. Amos 5:10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

J. If we were of this world there would be no problem, no persecution, no hatred. John 15:19 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.

K. Along with the fact that we are not of this world is the fact that we seek to declare all the counsel of God, the truth. John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

L. Consider Paulís questions to the church in Galatia. Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

M. Regardless of what some tell you, it is not going to get any better; in fact, it will get worse. Revelation 11:7-10 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

N. We have considered enough evidence that we should never think it strange if and when we are persecuted for righteousnessí sake. Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousnessí sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

II. REJOICE TO BE A PARTAKER OF CHRISTíS SUFFERINGS

A. Rejoice because when we are persecuted for the truth of the gospel and all of Godís word, we actually are identified with Christ in his sufferings. 1 Peter 4:13 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.

B. Rejoice because we are identified with the prophets who suffered. 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.

C. Leap for joy when you are persecuted for God will greatly reward you for suffering for Christís sake. Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of manís sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

D. Be confident that you will have an answer for those who persecute when it is needed. Matthew 10:18-20 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.

III. HAPPILY ENDURE PERSECUTION FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST

A. Your suffering because of Christ and the truth means that the spirit of glory and of God is resting upon you. 1 Peter 4:14 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.

B. Happily endure persecution because while Christ is evil spoken of by the persecutor; his is glorified in our suffering for him. On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

C. Happily endure persecution because persecution cannot come unless it is Godís will. 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.

D. Happily endure persecution knowing that it is for Christís sake that it comes. 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.

CONC: We are blessed to live in a land where we are not called upon to suffer physically, even unto blood and death, for the cause and sake of Christ. Let us be reminded that it has not always been true in this land. In a past message, I read you Patrick Henryís defense of some of our Baptist forefathers here in this country who were on trial "For preaching the Gospel of the Son of God!"

Let us ever be mindful that the path of Godís elect has always been marked by blood and littered with the bodies of his saints. May God give us grace to endure again, if we are called upon to suffer for Christís sake.

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