Can’t we talk about something nice? Like charity or kittens? This talk of persecution and suffering is a downer!
The easy answer is: we follow the text. But there are more reasons we need to talk about persecution, and they are listed in 1 Peter 4. As promised Sunday, here they are. In case you’re wondering why we are so fired up to share these truths with you from Acts, read Peter’s Holy Spirit-inspired take on the subject.
1 Peter 4:12-19:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
We Are Studying Persecution:
- So I Won’t Be Surprised. (1 Peter 4:12) Sometimes Christians seem genuinely shocked when the world acts like the world. Peter says, “Don’t be surprised, like this is a strange thing.” It’s a world that hates Jesus. And if you align with Him, the world hates you, too.
- So I Will Know How to Respond. (1 Peter 4:13) Like the early church, persecution suffering shouldn’t result in “woe is me, poor me, pity me” attitudes – they should result in rejoicing! A hymn of praise lifted to heaven for this opportunity! How can this be? Read on...
- So I May Share in the Sufferings of Jesus. (1 Peter 4:13, see also Acts 5:41, Philippians 3:10) It is a glorious truth from God’s Word: suffering isn’t just some unfortunate event. You are actually sharing in the sufferings of Christ! Share in suffering now, rejoice in glory with Him soon. What a marvelous thing to share the life of Christ now AND in eternity!
- So I May Be a Strong Witness. (1 Peter 4:16, see also 2 Timothy 2:3) Suffering persecution isn’t a season of delay in ministry – it is a new opportunity to glorify God!
- So I Learn to Trust God in a Deep Way. (1 Peter 4:19) Trusting God when things are hard always teaches us to trust Him in ways we don’t experience when things are smooth. You want to go deeper in your walk with God? It happens when you are persecuted.
We’re going to suffer persecution if we stand for Jesus. Let’s suffer well.