December 09, 2020
Suffering for the Gospel fulfills the will of God
1 Peter 4:1-6 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
· Suffering for the Gospel fulfills the will of God
Isaiah 53:10 (GNT) The Lord says, “It was my will that he should suffer; his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness.
Matthew 16:24 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way [experience the pain of loss], take up your cross, and follow me.
Philippians 3:7-9,10b But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…and share in His sufferings.
1 Peter 4:7-11 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
· Suffering for the Gospel affirms the supremacy of God
· Love deeply
· Offer hospitality
· Use your God given gifts
· Speak graciously
· Rely on God
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 5:1-2 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
· Richard Wurmbrand: “Did I believe in God? Now the test had come. I was alone. There was no salary to earn, no golden opinions to consider. God offered me only suffering—would I continue to love Him?”
1 Peter 4:12-16 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (Context: the fiery ordeal: Peter was likely in Rome when he wrote this epistle and Nero was emperor. Nero was known for burning Christians like a torch to light his garden. For Peter and his readers, understood this with a greater depth than we can.) 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name
· Suffering for the Gospel manifests the glory of God
John 12:27-28 Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
· It is interesting to note that Peter connects Joy to suffering and suffering to Glory.
· Richard Wurmbrand: “There’s always a good reason to rejoice. There is a God in Heaven and in the heart. I had a piece of bread this morning. It was so good! Look now, the sun is shining! And so many here love me! Every day you do not rejoice is a day lost, my son!”
Hebrews 12:1-3 … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
· What possessions and what perspectives in your life do you need to throw off because they are hindering you from manifesting the glory of God?
1 Peter 4:17-19 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
· Suffering for the Gospel solidifies our faith in God
· Richard Wurmbrand: “A faith that can be destroyed by suffering is not faith.”
All Bible references are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted. NLT = New Living Translation.