A Christian Response to Trials of Fire: 2017 Study of 1 Peter #14
This is an exposition of 1 Peter 4:12-19. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, August 13, 2017.
It’s a fun game. People love to play and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. You don’t have to have game pieces, no dice are required and it’s not a card game. Now the game can get a little rowdy. If you’re not careful it can get out of hand. Tempers can flare but it generally is a crowd pleaser. The game is known by various names but I like to call it – “Yea, well that’s bad but it’s nothing compared to what I had to go through.” Others may call it “One Ups-manship” or “Top That” but it’s all the same game. The object is to prove that you live with greater tragedy than the other players.
Life is hard. Trials and tribulations are a common denominator. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, republican or democrat, male or female, child or adult – there is one thing you can count on – life is going to dump on you. Life in this sinful, fallen world is filled with trouble and being a Christian does not make you immune.
Peter is writing to a group of folks who are well aquainted with trials and tribulation they are the victims of the first great wave of persecution. Many of them have lost their families and have suffered greatly due to their faith. Peter is writing to encourage and strengthen them in the midst of their struggle. In 1 Peter 4 he deals directly with living in the midst of adversity.
Text: 1 Peter 4:12-19
Peter has been called The Apostle of Hope – which is amazing in light of his record!
Old “foot in his mouth” didn’t seem like “pillar material” in the Gospels.
The Peter we meet in the Gospels does not exactly cause you to think of calm leadership in a time of crisis.
Yet after the baptism of the Spirit, recorded in Acts 2, Peter became a leader and spokesman for the church. Now as a “statesman” he is writing to believers scattered, due to persecution, and offers them hope and encouragement to stand firm.
His message is simple and straightforward:
- We live as aliens and strangers in a hostile land.
- Holiness matters.
- Live transformed lives.
The context of this section deals with what Peter calls “painful trials” or in another translation “fiery ordeals.”
That is a pretty apt description of life, as we often know it.
As a child of God I view life differently. My perspective is different because I see life as God declares it and not as I understand it. This is part of what it means to be a peculiar or holy people. In fact I think the message of our text is simply this:
Thesis: The people of God see in suffering an opportunity to grow and a chance to glorify God.
Now that is radically different from the way an unbeliever responds to crisis. But please understand I’m not talking about “positive thinking” or “possibility thinking.” This is not a mind game – I’m talking about faith in action. Peter does not write these words in a vacuum. He has already established that these folks have been given new birth into a living hope…into an inheritance that is forever fixed and settled in heaven. They are a royal priesthood, a holy nation – a people of God’s own choosing.
This is the basis for their living by faith – it is not a leap in the dark. It is to rest in the arms of God. It is to trust him who is worthy.
There are two things I want us to note in our text.
- The people of God find in troublesome times the opportunity to rejoice. (4:12-13)
- The people of God find in troublesome times an opportunity to grow. (4:14-19)
When suffering comes you must entrust yourself to God (4:19).
Peter, as a loving pastor, gives us very practical advise for responding to times of severe trial –
See it as an opportunity to grow/mature in your faith
See it as an occasion to glorify God.