Christ’s Example in Suffering: 1 Peter 4:1-11
Peter encourages believers to have the same attitude Christ had when He suffered. To suffer for the gospel is to follow in the footsteps of the suffering of Christ. He suffered at the hand of sinful men in order to accomplish our salvation. We must think about Christ rather than on our human passion so that we may not grow weary and become fainthearted in sufferings (Hebrews 12:3). Christ’s suffering ended at His death and entered into glory. Likewise Christians should live no longer for their lustful passion but to do the will of God. They have been saved to live a godly life. While suffering may not eliminate every sin in our lives, godly priority can be established in life. Only in the gospel of grace do we have the power to live for Christ. No wonder that their former friends are surprised when Christians no longer live in sin. Unbelievers do not understand this so they slander Christians. Christian life is a life that shuns sin and delights in Christ. One day unbelievers have to give an account of their sins before Christ who will judge the living and the dead. If we are willing to endure suffering for Christ, we shall reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Unbelievers are under condemnation and have judged themselves worthy of death. They need to hear the gospel to get saved. Verse 6 does not teach that men have a second chance to get saved after death. People have the opportunity to get saved while they are still alive (Hebrew 9:27). Unfortunately evangelism has taken a back seat among Christians today. The end of the world is at hand, opportunities will be lost and souls are at stake. So Peter encourages Christians to be earnest in self control, in prayer, fervent in love, hospitable and use their spiritual gifts to serve one another so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. If we have true love for others, their shortcomings will not be remembered but be forgiven (1 Peter 4:8). The key to loving others is to first see the love of Christ for us (Ephesians 4:32). Are you thankful for God's great love toward you?
Fiery Trials in Christian Life: 1 Peter 4:12-15.
Christians are the beloved people of God. Yet they face trials in their lives. Peter encourages them that they should not be surprised when they go through fiery trials. Some suffer for their own sins and there is no virtue in such suffering. Others suffer for righteousness sake. Christ’s suffering was redemptive. He willingly endured it to save us from sin. Sometimes God allows fiery trials in Christian life to cleanse us from our sins and slumber. We should be glad in fiery trials because it makes us partners in Christ’s suffering and we will receive glory when He returns. Christ was not ashamed of us when He died on the cross. Christians should not consider it strange to suffer for Christ’s name sake. Suffering and curse are the result of sin (Genesis 3:16, 17). Christ told His disciples that they will be persecuted for His name sake (John 15:20, 21; 16:33). Christians are not exempted from suffering (Philippians 1:29). We also should rejoice when we are insulted for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41). Christ has promised His presence and protection in our trials (John 14:18, 26). He is the only Savior (Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12). There is power in His name (Acts 4:10). One day at His name every knees shall bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10).
Trust the Lord in Suffering: 1 Peter 4:16-19.
Christians have to enter into the kingdom of God through much suffering (Acts 14:22). Suffering of our own making will not bring glory to God. It is a privilege to suffer for being Christians. The name “Christian” is mentioned only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). It means "Christ's ones". They belong to Christ. This name was used as a derogatory title for the disciples. Just being a Christian was punishable by death at that time. For the time has come for judgment to begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). Here Peter quotes Proverbs 11:31. God judges His people for their sins before He judges nations for their sins (Jeremiah 25:15). God does allow suffering to refine the church and make us spiritually mature (Malachi 3:3). Someone has said “A faith that is not tested cannot be trusted”. If the righteous are refined for their sins, it is inevitable that the wicked will be judged for their sins. Christians should demonstrate their freedom from judgment by doing God's will (4:19). Peter exhorts us to face suffering with boldness and in a manner that is pleasing to God. In fiery trials we are encouraged to entrust our lives to our faithful Savior.