Sermon Notes & References

Suffering to God’s Glory

! Peter 4:12-19

September 15, 2019

12 Beloved, do not consider the burning ordeal among you to be alien – as a random, alien happening – it comes nigh you as testing; 13 But according as you are sharing in the sufferings of the Christ, rejoice now in order that also in the revelation of His glory you may rejoice exuberantly. 14 Blessed are you if you are being reviled for bearing Christ’s name, because the Spirit of glory, even that which is of God, is resting upon you. 15 so, let not any of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as one interfering in other’s affairs. 16 But if is as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but rather let him glorify God for possessing that name. 17 For now is the season to commence judgement of the household of God, and if first of us, what will be the end of those disobedient to the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, where shall the impious man and sinner show themselves? 19 Consequently, let also those suffering according to God’s will, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator in well-doing.        (RGH)


A. Introduction

    1. Resuming the Letter after a Break

    2. A Summary

B. Suffering Expected (v 12)

    1. Addressed to the Faithful

    2. The Natural Lot of Pilgrims Footnote

C. Suffering an Honour (v 13)

    1. A Testy Fellowship Footnote

    2. A Joyful Fellowship

D. Suffering: Wrong & Right Reasons (vv 14-16)

    1. Wrong (v 15) Footnote

    2. Right (vv 14, 16) Footnote


E. Suffering Purposeful (vv 17-19)

    1. Chastening (v 17) Footnote

    2. Warning (v 18) Footnote

    3. Binding (v 19) Footnote

F. Application

Endnote  1 Peter 4:12-19. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Suffering to God's Glory


A. Introduction

    1. Resuming the Letter after a Break

        a. since it is four weeks since last looked together at this letter of Peter

        b. it is probably worth taking a moment or two to remind ourselves of what has gone before


    2. A Summary

        a. this letter was, and is, written to Christians as being pilgrims

            (A)    they no longer really belong in this present, sinful world

            (B)    yet, though they are citizens of heaven

            (C)   they still have an allotted time here to serve God’s purposes

        b. so the letter is interlaced with a number of themes

            (A)    throughout re-echoes the truth that Christians will suffer

            (B)    but also that our pilgrimage is a blessed situation

                 (1)    for we are accompanied by God in this journey

                 (2)    and Jesus Christ, our Leader has preceded us on the way

                 (3)    indeed, He suffered as has no other, for our sake

            (C)   and that the course of our pilgrimage, we have been given duties

                 (1)    of living as earthly citizens

                 (2)    of following Christ’s example

                 (3)    of family, of husband, and of wife

            (D)   these threads are gathered up in this fourth chapter

            (E)    that we should leave our old, unregenerate life

            (F)    live our new, regenerate life to God’s glory

            (G)   and today, that anything we suffer is to be to the glory of God


B. Suffering to Be Expected (v 12) – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;

    1. Addressed to the Faithful

        a. ‘Beloved’ – Peter, the Holy Spirit by Whom he wrote, and their Lord

            (A)    never forgets that these words are addressed to true Christians

            (B)    and neither should we forget this

            (C)   lest we should take some of what is said

                 (1)    as only applying to false brethren, or nominal believers

                 (2)    or other words as applying to those in God’s family


    2. The Natural Lot of Pilgrims

        a. these and we pilgrims are aliens in an alien land

            (A)    in this alien environment, we should not be surprised, amazed that we should suffer

            (B)    it is we who are the alien, not the suffering, for that is normal

            (C)   the Bible reiterates the truth

                 (1)    it was found by the OT people of God, as the Psalmist laments: “8 Bless our God, O peoples, And sound His praise abroad, 9 Who keeps us in life, … 10 For Thou hast tried [smelted] us, O God; Thou hast refined us as silver is refined [smelted]. … 12 … We went through fire and through water; Yet Thou didst bring us out into a place of abundance.” (Psalms 66:8-12)

                 (2)    Jesus taught, “… In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

                 (3)    and Paul wrote, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

        b. according to God’s will His people dwell as strangers and pilgrims

            (A)    with this will naturally come suffering

            (B)    in order to work His perfect work in them


C. Suffering as an Honour (v 13) – but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

    1. A Testy Fellowship

        a. we all like fellowship, do we not?

            (A)    having a meal, laughter, conversation one with another

            (B)    we try to do this with our business meetings (we’ll need one soon)

        b. well, that word, ‘share’ is the same as ‘fellowship’

            (A)    it describes having something in common with others

            (B)    suffering in the fashion that follows, is part of sharing in the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ

            (C)   Paul describes it as part of his life goals: “8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, … 10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;” (Philippians 3:8-10)

        c. I am afraid that few of us have that on our list of ambitions.


    2. A Joyful Fellowship

        a. yet, Paul had his values and priorities right

            (A)    as did Helen Lemmel when she wrote

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace. Endnote

            (B)    how will our life’s story read when it has been completed?

        b. for there is a glorious completion coming

            (A)    when our Lord and Saviour shall appear in the clouds

            (B)    and he speaks His ‘well done!’ to his faithful servants.


D. Suffering: Wrong & Right Reasons (vv 14-16)

    1. Wrong (v 15) – By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;

        a. Peter makes it clear here that he is not condoning, nor saying that there will be any joy to, those who suffer because of sin

            (A)    for sake of inclusiveness he refers to three categories of sin

                 (1)    the commandment sins

                 (2)    the general sin

                 (3)    the subtle sin

        b. the commandment sin

            (A)    we might presume that no Christian would murder or steal

                 (1)    but church history records that one disciple of the Apostle John was a murderer Endnote

                 (2)    moreover, Christians were accused of stealing idols from the temples (whether correctly or not, I do not know)

            (B)    but Romans 13:1-4 tells us that we can expect to be punished when we break the law of the land

        c. the general sin, is simply that of doing evil, causing harm to others

        d. but (also, only as) ‘a troublesome meddler’ carries with it a wealth of meaning

            (A)    literally it is ‘an overseer (i.e., bishop) of what belongs to another’

            (B)    in my early years in business, one of my duties was to expedite the work of programmers by devising tools and methods by which they could locate and fix problems and errors

                 (1)    whether I was any good at it, you can ask Maureen

                 (2)    but one day I was caught up short, when someone said, ‘Garth is OK, but he has nose trouble!’

                 (3)    which meant I pushed my way in to ‘help’ someone solve a problem without letting them first work on it themselves

                 (4)    I was a ‘nosey Parker’ in their view; and they were right

            (C)   so the word conveys with it the ideas of

                 (1)    looking or spying into other’s business

                 (2)    doing so without being asked or having authority, presuming the right to do so, regardless of the consequences

            (D)   such a busybody putting on the face of innocence is the last straw!


    2. Right (vv 14, 16)

        a. for Jesus Christ’s reputation: 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

            (A)    such reproach or insult may come because of

                 (1)    our testimony on His behalf

                 (2)    by our defence of His Person and work

                 (3)    reacting against those who blaspheme His name

            (B)    but these and other reasons are evidence

                 (1)    that such response is proof of Jesus’ own testimony, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” (Matthew 5:11)

                 (2)    that God’s Holy Spirit is working in and through us to bring about His purpose in His people: to give glory to God

        b. for being Jesus Christ’s disciple: 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.

            (A)    Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

            (B)    this is the prospect for those who would follow in His steps

            (C)   for this cause of suffering, there is no shame, but rather that by that name of Christian he or she is bringing glory to God

            (D)   but, this question has been posed, “If you were accused of being a Christian, is there enough evidence to convict you?” – think on that


E. Suffering Purposeful (vv 17-19)

    1. Chastening (v 17) – For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

        a. sometimes suffering comes as part of the cleansing work of God of His people – “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6 NIV, Proverbs 18:24)

            (A)    now, remember that this is speaking to and about true believers

            (B)    an unclean people cannot properly bring glory to God, for their suffering can well be the exercise of the spiritual law, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

        b. the Greek is, literally, ‘begin from the household of God’

            (A)    God’s correcting work begins with those who know better

            (B)    outside of the persecuted church in the world today, the church of Jesus Christ, by and large, is in lukewarm state

            (C)   that must be corrected before it will bring glory to God

            (D)   and before it provides a real testimony to the gospel as the power of God unto salvation, to a lost world, to give a ...


    2. Warning (v 18) – ‘and if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?’

        a. since, as we pointed out at the start as well as in the previous verse

            (A)    this is addressed to true Christians

            (B)    the righteous in this verse refers to those made righteous in Jesus Christ, not by their own works

            (C)   and we must then asked, which meaning ‘of saved’ is meant

            (D)   not, the salvation that came once for all when we were born again from above by the Holy Spirit

            (E)    nor, the salvation of just men being made perfect when we shall be taken up to Christ, and this mortal becomes immortal,

            (F)    but the ongoing daily, present salvation – the Spirit’s sanctifying work – one of God’s tools in this be that of suffering

        b. and if our case be so difficult, what then of the unbelieving?

            (A)    the godless man is not necessarily the irreverent or irreligious, but the one who lives as though there were no God: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.” (Psalms 14:1)

            (B)    which introduces the second category: the sinner

                 (1)    we are sinners, but repentant and forgiven sinners.

                 (2)    but this word means sinners without any thought of repentance

        c. is you life a glory to God in warning such of ‘the wrath to come’?


    3. Binding (v 19) – Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

        a. ‘suffering according to the will of God’ has already been defined

            (A)    it is that which is for the right reason, verses 14 & 16

            (B)    It is that where the sufferer can echo the attitude of the early church, “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:41)

            (C)   such suffering will bind one closer to the Lord

                 (1)    putting their trust more completely in Him

                 (2)    and recognizing more fully that His is faithful

        b. this is part of God’s purpose, stated so beautifully of His OT people: “I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, And I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; And I bent down and fed them.” (Hosea 11:4)


F. Application

    1. we should from these verses have plenty to take to heart and to apply to our lives; but, just a thought or two to wrap it up:

    2. A Closing Prayer

        a. A pastor who sometimes worshipped in the church I attended as a youth, had a favourite way of closing his prayers

        b. “Now keep us, Lord, close, clean and clinging unto Thee.”

        c. given the way that this chapter in Peter concludes

        d. that is the prayer and lesson we should take from this passage that we have considered together this morning.