Why Christians Suffer I Peter 4:12-19
I am doing this lesson in response to the many people who have contacted me through my website. I knew that suffering would be a hot topic with my fire service ministry due to the nature of the business, but the fact of the matter is being exposed to the suffering of others as well as our personal suffering takes its toll on us all. I hope that this lesson will help some of you who have contacted me with questions and concerns as well as those who haven’t but are still affected by suffering which I’m sure is all of us at one time or another.
Suffering is usually an unpopular subject, but due to the nature of our business, we see more than our fair share of it. Here are a couple things to keep in mind as we enter this lesson: Salvation is more pleasant that suffering and heaven is more pleasant than heartache. I’m sure that you are saying “no kidding” at this point, but bear with me here for a minute.
Suffering is a real part of life. Every house fire and traffic accident we are dispatched to reminds us that suffering is real. Suffering is not only physical, but it is mental as well. Just look at the success of Ann Landers or Doctor Phil. Also consider the number of depression assistance and suicide prevention organizations.
Some people think that salvation excludes us from trials. This is not the case. Christians too have trials. It is not an easy road that we travel to heaven. Lets see what the Bible says about this topic.
In I Peter 4:12 it says: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you! This tells us that trials should not be considered strange, but rather an ordinary thing.
We as Christians have trials because we live in a sinful world. We are all part of a fallen race. We are all born with a sin nature that the nature of being human. There is no way around this. We live in a world where there are wars and rumors of wars, there are earthquakes and tornadoes, and sin runs rampant and greed brings violence.
Christians also have trials because of the power of Satan as found in Ephesians 6.
Ephesians 6:11-12 KJVR
(11) Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
(12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. Keep in mind that a trial is not punishment or proof that you are off God’s path. Quite the contrary, in fact I believe that trials are more of a sign that you are on God’s path than off of it. Satan does not like seeing Christians mess up his work. Living for Christ daily makes Satan’s job harder. I believe that a Christian on the wrong path is no threat to the work of Satan and thus will not have the trails that others will. We see here that God enables us to stand against the power of Satan.
Christians also have trials because we are on a collision course with this world. John 15:22-27 sheds some light on this subject.
John 15:22-27 KJVR
(22) If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
(23) 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.
(26) But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
(27) And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
Jesus came and exposed the sins of the people. They no longer could hide their sins. This caused a hatred for Jesus. To hate Jesus is to hate God as well. It says in verse 27 that we bear witness to this also because we are in Christ. The world hates us because we are Christians. The world needs no other reason to hate us.
We have seen that we have trials for no other reason than we are followers of Christ. But being followers of Christ makes our trials different. Verses 13 and 14 of our reading tell us this. Let’s look:
1 Peter 4:13-14 KJVR
(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.
(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.
Rejoice when you suffer in Christ’s Name, when His glory is revealed you will have exceeding joy! When you go through trails for being a Christian, be happy because the Spirit of God is in you! When the world talks bad of you for being a Christian, Christ is glorified! This is hard to do. It is so easy to say woe is me, but we are told to rejoice in our trials. Think of it this way, the testimony of your faith through your daily life is stronger when you live for Christ in your trials. How you live your daily life when all is well in your life does not speak nearly as loud to the world as how you live in the midst of trials. We can live for Christ though the trials of life because He is there to see us through. Unlike the world, we have help in our times of trials. We suffer nothing alone. We also will not suffer anything that Christ has not already endured. He has been where we are, no matter where that is. He WILL see us through anything and everything if we will let him.
We have seen several reasons why we as Christians suffer. Here is another. Sometimes we suffer because we bring it on ourselves. I Peter 4:15-19 covers this.
1 Peter 4:15-19 KJVR
(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.
(16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
(17) For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
(18) And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
(19) Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Let none of you suffer as an evildoer. Do not bring suffering upon yourself. Verse 17 says the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. We must look into our own lives before condemning others for their behavior. Do not invite suffering through hypocrisy. I can’t say you must repent for your actions if I do the same things. This invites suffering. Don't be ashamed to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God that you belong to him. God has already begun judging his own people. And if his judgment begins with us, imagine how terrible it will be for those who refuse to obey his message. The Scriptures say, "If good people barely escape, what will happen to sinners and to others who don't respect God?" If you suffer for obeying God, you must have complete faith in your faithful Creator and keep on doing right. Sometimes God send trials to correct our actions.
Hebrews 12:6-7 KJVR
(6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
(7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own. Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don't all parents correct their children? God corrects us as parents correct their children. We are children of God! Why wouldn’t he correct us.
In conclusion, I ask you, are you willing to suffer as a Christian?
There will be suffering on this earth for Christians for many reasons. Suffering is unavoidable. But remember, the suffering of God’s people brings glory to God. We must also take this chance to look at our lives and ensure that we are not engaging in activities that will bring suffering upon ourselves.
Lord, I pray that you take this lesson and touch hearts with it the way that you touched mine in the writing of this lesson. I thank you for the opportunity to share your word with others.
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