1 Pet 4.12-19

Introduction

  1. This passage is the third and final time that the word “Christian” appears in the New Testament.
    • The first in Acts 11.26 focused on Christians as Christ’s people.
    • The second in Acts 26.28 focused on persuasion for becoming a Christian.
  2. The context of today’s text is suffering because of persecution and the need for faithfulness.
  3. Peter begins this passage by addressing his readers as “beloved” v. 12. They are precious to him, because their faith is precious to them.

What does it mean to suffer as a Christian?

  1. Suffering is to be expected, 13.
    • It ought not to surprise us. The Scriptures inform us repeatedly that we will be persecuted.
    • Jesus warned us, Mt 5.11-12; Mt 10.22.
    • Paul stated it clearly, 2 Tim 3.12.
    • The history of the church is one of persecution. It started early, Acts 4, and intensified quickly.
  2. Suffering means sharing with Christ, 13.
    • The verb “to share in” is from the koinonia family of Greek words, of “fellowship.”
    • Christ suffered to save us. We suffer to save others.
  3. Suffering brings great joy, 13.
    • Any time we share with Christ (see above) is a reason for joy.
    • Suffering is the path to future glory. Suffering now means glory later.
    • Suffering because of persecution also means we are a part of Christ’s mission. If we kept quiet, no one would bother us!
  4. Suffering involves the Holy Spirit, 14.
    • Peter associates the Spirit and glory here.
    • The Spirit resting upon us indicates that he makes real the presence of Christ and the power of God.
    • In a real sense, the Spirit makes things happen in the spiritual realm. For example, “the God of peace” makes hope abound “by the power of the Holy Spirit” Rom 15.13.
  5. Suffering is a motive to glorify God rather than be ashamed, 15-16.
    • Peter makes it clear that it is suffering as a Christian, and not for some sin whose punishment is deserved.
    • To be a Christian is to proclaim Christ, 1 Pet 3.15, to be saved in him and offer salvation to others in him.
    • Glorifying God is often associated with conversion, Mt 5.16; 1 Pet 2.12.
  6. Suffering is a sign of judgment, 17-18.
    • Judgment starts with the saved. Those who have had the most opportunities and the greatest privileges will answer first for how they have lived.
    • Part of this judgment is happening now, in suffering. It is a fire, v. 12. This fire purifies our faith, 1 Pet 1.7. God looks to prove in a positive way our faith.
    • To be barely saved doesn’t mean a lack of God’s power or willingness. It indicates the difficulties that must be faced.
    • If for the family of God judgment is hard, the ungodly and sinners don’t stand a chance, because they refuse to obey the gospel of God.
  7. Suffering as a Christian is an act of trust, 19.
    • The faithfulness of God is full motive.
    • As Creator he is omnipotent and has control over all creation and all events.
    • Trust means we keep on doing good, what’s right, speaking for Christ.

Conclusion

  1. It is an honor to wear the name Christian.
  2. It is also an honor to suffer for the name Christian.
  3. To be a Christian means to be faithful in face of persecution, to speak unceasingly when it’s unpopular, and to find joy in sharing with Christ.
  4. To become a Christian, we must believe and obey the gospel.