The Book of I PETER
James J. Barker
THE TRIAL OF FAITH
- I mentioned in my
introductory message to this series on I Peter that there is an emphasis on
suffering in this epistle.
- The Scofield Study
Bible says, "The distinctive note of First Peter is preparation for victory
- The words "suffer,
suffering, sufferings, and suffered" occur sixteen times in the
- Scofield says suffering is
set in the light of:
(1) assured salvation (1:2-5)
(2) the greater glory at Christ's appearing (1:7)
(3) Christ's sufferings and coming glories (1:11)
(4) the believer's association with Him in both (2:20, 21; 3:17, 18; 4:12, 13).
(5) the purifying effect of suffering (1:7; 4:1, 2; 5:10).
(6) that Christ is now glorified in the believer's patient suffering
(7) that suffering is disciplinary (4:17-19; I Cor. 11:31, 32; Heb. 12:5-13)
- We are to "greatly rejoice"
despite the "heaviness" of "manifold temptations"
- Our Lord said in His Sermon
on the Mount, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and
shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding
glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the
prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5:11, 12).
- James 1:2 says, "My
brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers
- "Manifold temptations" (I
Peter 1:6) and "divers temptations" (James 1:2) refer to difficult trials and
- Our Lord said in John 16:33,
"In the world ye
shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world."
- The apostle Paul wrote in II
Timothy 3:12, " Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall
- Paul wrote to the church at
Thessalonica, "Ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the
word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost" (I Thess.
- "With joy of the Holy
Ghost." This was not something they
could work up on their own. It was
"joy of the Holy Ghost."
- That is how Paul and Silas
could sing praises to God when they were in the jail at Philippi. They had the "joy of the Holy Ghost."
- They had just been whipped
and beaten and put in stocks.
Acts 16:25 says, "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises
unto God: and the prisoners heard them."
TRIALS ARE TEMPORARY
- Note the words, "for a
season." Paul and Silas got out of
jail. Daniel got out of the lion's
den. Joseph got out of the prison
in Egypt. Jeremiah got out of the
dungeon. Jonah got out of the
belly of the great fish.
- Someone here may be
thinking, "But what about John the Baptist?"
- Well, he went to
heaven! You can't beat
- There is an expression found
times in the Bible: "it came to
- Trials and troubles are but
for a little while, they are only "for a season." Though they may be painful,
they are short and soon pass.
- Matthew Henry said, "Life
itself is but for a little while, and the sorrows of it cannot survive it; the
shortness of any affliction does much abate the heaviness of
- The apostle Paul was
frequently imprisoned, and whipped and beaten.
- He wrote in II Corinthians
11:25-27, "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered
shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in
perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in
perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in
perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness,
in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
- And Paul also wrote these
words: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to
be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans
- "Not worthy to be
compared." There is no
- Moses said, "The days of our
years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason
of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow;
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psalm
- Not worthy to be compared --
80 or 90 years of suffering and sorrow compared to eternity in
- I like that old song:
"We'll soon be
done with troubles and trials
Yes, in that home on the other side."
- In fact, there are many wonderful songs
Oft times the day seems long, our
trials hard to bear,
We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God's eternal day.
It will be worth it all when we
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
TRIALS ARE SENT BY GOD
FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE
- Note the words, "if need be"
(1:6). There are many examples of
this in Scripture. I have already
mentioned the apostle Paul. You may
recall that after Paul's conversion, the Lord said to Ananias, "He is a chosen
vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children
of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's
sake" (Acts 9:15, 16).
- Think of Daniel in the
lion's den (Dan. 6:16-28).
- Think of Daniel's three
friends (Daniel 3:13-30).
- These men were witnesses for
God in heathen Babylon. Like Joseph
in Egypt. And Mordecai in
- James 1:2-4 says, "My
brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (trials);
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work,
that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting
- Romans 5:3-5 says, "And not
only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation
worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope
maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the
Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
- In his book Full
Assurance, H.A. Ironside tells the story of a young Christian who sought the
counsel and help of an older preacher. “Pray for me,” he asked, “that I may be
given more patience.” Down on their knees they dropped and the preacher pleaded
with God, “O Lord, send this brother more tribulations and trials!”
on,” exclaimed the young man, “I did not ask you to pray that I might have
tribulations but patience.”
“I understood you,” was the reply, “but we are
told in the Word that ‘tribulation worketh patience.”
- "Every joy or trial falleth
from above, Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love" -- Frances Havergal, "Like
a River Glorious."
GOD SENDS TRIALS TO TEST OUR
- These trials are for our
benefit, not God's. The Lord knows
all things. Trials strengthen
us. Consider Job. Job 1:1 says Job "was perfect and
upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed
- The devil attacked Job (with
God's permission), and in the last chapter of the book of Job, Job says to the
LORD, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth
thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and
repent in dust and ashes."
- It was Job who said, "But he
knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold"
- Gold is tested in the fire
to see if it is genuine, and God sends trials to test our faith (I Peter
- Ron Hamilton was
27-years-old when his eye doctor found something unusual in his left eye. After
several weeks of testing, he was rolled into the operating room for surgery on
that eye. As he slowly regained consciousness several hours later, his wife told
him, "The doctor found cancer. Your left eye is gone."
- Ron Hamilton wrote this song
about his experience:
- God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant and molding a man.
Give thanks to the LORD though your testing seems long;
In darkness He giveth a song.
I could not see through the shadows ahead;
So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day;
Then peace came and tears fled away.
Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens His children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear.
O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried
I shall come forth as gold.
- Remember Abraham's great
trial. When Abram was
99-years-old, the LORD told him
that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a son. Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed,
and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years
old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" (Genesis
- "And God said, Sarah thy
wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac" (Genesis
17:19). "Isaac" means
- In Genesis 21, Isaac is
born, and in Genesis 22:1, we read, "And it came to pass after these things,
that God did tempt (test) Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he
said, Behold, here I am. And he
said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee
into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of
the mountains which I will tell thee of."
- And Abraham obeyed God. He rose up early in the morning, and
saddled his ass and climbed up that mountain. And up on Mount Moriah, just as
Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son, the angel
of the LORD called to him out of heaven and told him to put away his knife
- Abraham was tested and
Abraham passed the test (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19).
- God sends these trials for
our benefit and His glory.
John Vaughn was the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Greenville, South
Carolina. One night in 1978, he was
driving home and saw fire trucks and police cars and an ambulance on his
street. He got out of his car and
asked the policeman what had happened.
- My family and I heard him
give his testimony about what happened that night. The policeman told him there had been a
terrible fire and that his home was destroyed and his wife and daughter had been
- When I heard Pastor Vaughn
tell his testimony, he mentioned that at the time this happened he had been
preaching about fiery trials (cf. I Peter 1:7).
Lord got him through that fiery trial, and a few years later he opened a school
for handicapped children called the Hidden Treasure Christian School. In 1994,
he published a book entitled More Precious than Gold: The Fiery Trial of a
- When Peter wrote his two
epistles, Nero was the Roman emperor. Nero was the first emperor to persecute
- From The Church in
History, by B.K. Kuiper: "In the year 64 A.D. during the reign of Nero, fire
broke out in Rome. For six days and nights the fire burned. The greater part of
the city was laid in ashes. The rumor got around that Nero himself had caused
the city to be set on fire. This aroused great hatred in the people of Rome
against the emperor. To turn this hatred away from himself, Nero accused the
Christians of having set fire to Rome. The accusation certainly was not true,
but large numbers of Christians were arrested and a terrible persecution
followed. Many Christians were even crucified. Some were sewn up in the skins of
wild beasts; then big dogs were let loose upon them, and they were torn to
pieces. Women were tied to mad bulls and dragged to death. After nightfall
Christians were burned at the stake in Nero’s garden. The Roman people who hated
the Christians were free to come into the garden, and Nero drove around in his
chariot wickedly enjoying the horrible scene."
- According to tradition, it was not long after writing these
epistles, that Peter was crucified upside down
because he felt himself not worthy to die exactly like the Lord
- The apostle Paul was
beheaded under Nero's reign (cf. II Tim. 4:6-8).
- "That the trial of your
faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried
with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing
of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:7).