Fiery Trial

Believers in Christ should not be surprised by persecution. Jesus told us we would face persecution. What should our disposition be when a fiery trial comes?

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Fiery Trial

1 Peter 4:12-16

  • Today we’ll be talking about Christian persecution
  • In the section just preceding our passage of the day
  • It talks about the manner of life Christians should lead in the midst of persecution
  • In today’s passage, we learn about how we should think about persecution
  • What should our disposition be when persecution happens?
  • And what can be accomplished when we respond correctly in persecution?
  • How do we respond in a “Fiery Trial?”
  • That is our theme today
  • As we approach 1 Peter 4:12-16
  • A chapter earlier, Peter describes the kind of persecution we’ll talk about today as suffering “for righteousness’ sake”
  • This is oppression of Christians, specifically because we are Christians
  • It’s people who believe in Christ being singled out
  • Being targeted by national or regional or local authorities, or even by individual citizens
  • It could mean committing violence against Christians
  • Or passing laws to punish and incarcerate Christians
  • Or just marginalizing Christians to the point of scorn and ridicule and mockery
  • Whatever the case, this is not unusual in world history
  • It is not unusual in modern history
  • It happens in more and less civilized nations
  • More and less educated nations
  • More and less religious nations
  • More and less wealthy nations
  • And Jesus said it would happen
  • He was very clear about it
  • When He said “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” in John 15
  • And we’re reminded about it throughout the new Testament
  • In passages like II Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
  • Therefore anyone familiar with the Bible and Jesus’ own words is unsurprise when Peter talks about it
  • You’ll note that it’s a frequent topic of conversation throughout many New Testament books
  • Here is how Peter speaks of persecution at the beginning of our passage of the day…

1 Peter 4:12

12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 

  • These believers, all believers, should live with an understanding of potential oppression for their faith
  • And that oppression could be quite serious
  • It could be “fiery” as this passages proclaims
  • That word means “a calamity or trial that will test the character”
  • It’s a “burning, by which metals are roasted and reduced”
  • Facing this kind of calamity – specifically because we believe in Jesus
  • Should not seem strange to a believer in any era or in any location
  • This is partially because we know the world hated Jesus
  • And partially because we are told, in no uncertain terms, that this is likely
  • The severity and the suddenness of it could shock us
  • The people carrying it out may be a surprise
  • The pain of it might be alarming
  • But the fact that it has reached us should not seem strange
  • Here is how we should react…

1 Peter 4:13

13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 

  • This is not too unlike a verse in the previous chapter
  • It says “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” in I Peter 3:14
  • You are hearing this correctly
  • There is happiness, joy, and rejoicing in the midst of suffering
  • Providing we are suffering for Christ’s sake
  • Let’s remember a few things before we go on
  • First, believers have a certain and permanent home in heaven with Christ
  • This is something which no persecution can threaten
  • Second, they (that is the persecutors) hate us because they hate Him
  • We are not of this world, just as He was not of this world
  • He brings light into the world that exposes sin
  • And men love darkness rather than light
  • And third, He provides power and strength and grace in every trial
  • He stands with His people in trial
  • We never approach anything (good or ill) without Him
  • It is an honor, a joy, cause for rejoicing to be partakers of Christ’s sufferings
  • Remember who He is
  • The One who removed our sins
  • Who cast them as far away from us as east is from west
  • Who entered this world the King over all and took on human flesh
  • What’s more, took on the form of a servant
  • And became obedient even unto death
  • The death of the cross
  • For us – sinners
  • There are more details in the next verse…

1 Peter 4:14

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. 

  • God is glorified in our suffering for Him
  • The Spirit of God lives in us
  • And it is possible to endure with happiness
  • He provides power to make this possible
  • These trials come upon all believers dishonestly
  • The charges are always trumped up
  • Lies are told about us
  • Evidence is falsified
  • Witnesses are lying
  • Believers are made to be the villains, even when there is no villainy
  • But God sees everything with perfect clarity
  • He knows every truth and every lie
  • Evil is seen for what it is
  • And obedience is see for what it is
  • So often, in circumstances of fiery trial for believers, His name is proclaimed to an even greater degree
  • His story is told
  • His gospel is believed
  • This could be because of how believers react in the midst of all this
  • It is certainly because His attributes are seen clearly in our joy in fiery trial
  • These are things the world cannot comprehend
  • But there is a way in which suffering definitely doesn’t glorify Him…

1 Peter 4:15

15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 

  • Persecution should come as a result of genuine Christianity
  • He is not talking about suffering because we have done wrong
  • Or committed a crime
  • Or a trespass against our community and our fellow citizens
  • This brings reproach to His name, rather than glory
  • One last verse…

1 Peter 4:16

16  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 

  • Suffering for Jesus is nothing to be ashamed of
  • It is an opportunity to glorify God
  • To shew forth His communicable attributes in the world
  • Whether it be in life or in death for Him

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