A Steadfast People

By God’s Grace, Christians can endure fiery trials.

This lesson is focused on the encouraging words of Peter, as he exhorted believers in the churches of Asia Minor facing persecution. Through personal experience, Peter was able to boldly proclaim to these suffering believers that if they remained steadfast in their salvation, they would receive an eternal reward and also be effective witnesses of Christ in spite of their current suffering. His timely words to those churches provide an important reminder of the hope and security all have who have been called of God to eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. It was, and is, by God’s grace, that believers in Christ could in the past, and can now, endure fiery tests of their faith. 

Golden Text-
1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Speaking Up

A. Suffering for Good

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

Peter begins this chapter by addressing the roles of the wives to their husbands, then the role of the husbands to their wives, and then addresses the role of the believers to their fellow believers. I believe it is important to understand here that Peter is trying to get them to understand first the importance of a unified body, and that the eyes of the Lord are upon those that strive together. What a comfort that is! 

We must strive together as believers because their will be those that do come against us. As the church, we must be prepared to phase physical and spiritual persecution, and we should be prepared to fight those battles together. Peter asks, who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of good? We must realize who our enemy is and who our enemy is not. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness. 

14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

The word “happy” here is the same greek word that is translated as “blessed” in Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In the times of this suffering it is important to realize that those who come against you are are enemies of God, his face is against them, his power is above them, they are the objects of his curse, and can do nothing to you but by his permission.

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

To be ready means to be prepared, willing and equipped. Other Greek synonyms for these words found in scripture include the idea of being swift, prompt, and responsive. Even in the midst of persecution, we must keep our eyes on Christ and be ready to testify of His goodness. No circumstance or trial can remove the hope that we have through our risen Savior.

B. Having a Good Conscience

16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

We must uphold our testimony through the good and bad times. The outcome of suffering for the cause of Christ far outweighs the punishment for doing evil. Romans 8 says that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is going to be revealed in us. Be faithful in the midst of darkness and great will be your reward.

Suffering in Christ’s Name

A. Expect Suffering and Blessing

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

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.

While not all suffering seems to have value, when we suffer for doing good God can bring good from it to fulfill His own purposes. As believers in Christ we are able to bring glory to God in suffering, while witnessing for Christ and growing stronger in faith. We ought not focus on the hostility of those that come against us, but we should be able to rejoice in knowing that we are able to be identified with Christ in His sufferings. For if we suffer with Christ, we will also reign with Christ.

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.

It is so easy to focus on the immediate results of things. We base our reactions off of what happens in moment. My prayer is that I start to understand the eternal result of every situation. When we start to understand that every situation could bring an eternal reward, I believe, we will start to see different results from our trials. What a joy it is when the “spirit of the glory and of God resteth upon you”, but we need to understand that it is just a sign of a greater glory that awaits us if we remain faithful.

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.

Let it not be our goal to remain steadfast for our personal gain, but rather that we can bring glory to God.

B. Trust God While Suffering

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?

We, as believers are the temple of God, and we as Christians must look inward to evaluate ourselves, before we try to correct the issues that we see in our brothers and sisters. When believers are purified through persecution we can be confident that God will provide all that we need to come out victorious, but if we allow persecution to drive us away then the outcome will be much different.

18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

If we do not rely fully on Christ in every situation then we will be overcome. This short verse shows the power of the triumph of Christ over evil, and if we fail to rely on him, then our sufferings will bring no glory.  

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.

We must not forget that we serve a faithful creator who is control and who is Lord over all. When we suffer, “according to the will of God”, we can fully trust that He is working all things for our good.

Staying Humble and Standing Firm

A. Faithful Leaders

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

In the closing chapter of this letter, Peter addresses the leadership of the church. Let us not be deceived into thinking that those God has appointed over us are exempt from any suffering. Peter counts himself as an elder at this point of his life, and addresses that he can write these things as a living example of someone who has fought these same battles first hand. Let us lift up our leaders as they face these persecutions, while also having the responsibility of feeding us as well.

3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.

A good leader is not the one that only gives the commands, but also lives by the commands they make. 

4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

We are reminded that while we may not understand the reason for each trial while we are here on earth, there will come a day that everything that we have faced will all make sense. The pain and torment of these trials will all fade away when we are able to lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.

B. Prepared to Stand

5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Peter closes his address to the church in this letter the same way we began this lesson, by addressing the importance of us fighting for one another. Don’t be deceived into thinking that the attacks of hell will lesson as time goes on, but let us be prepared, as a mighty army, to fight and to fight for one another. When humility is practiced in the church, there is a mutual submission, selflessness, and Christlikeness. When humility is present, pride is absent, and when pride is absent, God is present in times of persecution.

7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

It could be said that worry is taking responsibility for something God never meant for us to handle, or attempting to handle a situation different than what He desires. We must constantly make a decision to turn all our fears, anxieties and concerns to God and trust His way and His time in handling them.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

When the enemy comes in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him. It is the moments that we cast our cares on Him, that we find the greatest peace. Once that peace comes, and we see the victory, we begin to understand the reason for the trial.

11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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