Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I PETER 4:12-19


1.     My message this morning is entitled, “Judgment Must Begin at the House of God” (I Peter 4:17). 

2.     We can see from our text that God’s judgment begins with the saved (“the house of God”) and it will end with the lost (“them that obey not the Gospel of God”).

3.     Before we go any further, I should point out that the theme of this epistle is “suffering” (4:15, 16).

4.     The Scofield Bible says, “The distinctive note of First Peter is preparation for victory over suffering. The last-name word occurs about fifteen times, and is the key-word to the Epistle” (Introduction to I Peter).

5.     As we study our Bible carefully we are constantly confronted with many references to suffering (e.g., the book of Job). 

6.     Certainly our Saviour suffered when He died on the cross for our sins (4:12, 13; cf. 2:21-24; 3:18).

7.     Let us consider the great apostle Paul.  Do you recall what the Lord said to Ananias regarding Paul?  “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for 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).

8.     And Paul did suffer greatly – he was afflicted, whipped, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, betrayed, and finally beheaded.

9.     The Christian life is not a playground, but a battlefield.  I like Isaac Watts’ old hymn, “Am I A Soldier of the Cross?”

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

10. Annie Johnson Flint wrote the words to the hymn, “What God Hath Promised.”

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.


I.                  A SERIOUS WARNING (I PETER 4:17).

II.               AN INTERESTING QUESTION (4:18).

III.           A FAITHFUL COMMITMENT (4:19).



1.     I do not think many Christians appreciate what God did for them when He saved them.  First Peter 4:18 says, “And if the righteous scarcely (“with difficulty”) be saved…”

2.     Job said, “I am escaped with the skin of my teeth” (19:20).  John Wesley used to say that he was “a brand plucked out of the fire.”

3.     According to the Bible, judgment must begin with God’s people.  The “house of God” refers to the local church (cf. I Tim. 3:15).  In I Peter 2:5, the church is called “a spiritual house.”

4.     This principle is taught throughout the Bible.  God judged Israel first, and then He judged the other nations.  Ezekiel 9:6 says, “Begin (the judgment) at my sanctuary.”

5.     The old-time evangelists used to start off by preaching every night to the church members, then the second week they’d preach to the unsaved.

6.     A certain church committee called Evangelist Sam Jones to come to their town to preach to sinners.  They were offended when he came because he preached at them instead.  Upon complaining to him they were told by Jones,  “Never mind, I will get to the sinners.  I never scald hogs until the water is hot.” 

7.     Sam Jones was an old-fashioned Methodist preacher.  He died in 1906. Unfortunately, there aren’t any more like him today.

8.     On another occasion someone asked Sam Jones why he didn't preach more against the Roman Catholic Church. He replied, “When I get through with the Methodists, it's bedtime.”

9.     Oftentimes, the carnality and hypocrisy of church members has been a big stumbling block to the unsaved.  I heard of a certain pastor who invited a respectable businessman to his church.  He said, “Come worship with the saints this Sunday.” 

10.The businessman replied, “Saints?  That’s the problem.  I do business with some of your so-called saints. They may be saints in church on Sunday, but they certainly are not saints the rest of the week!   In fact, some of them act like devils.”

11.This is why “judgment must begin at the house of God” (4:17). Hebrews 10:30 and 31 says, “The Lord shall judge his people.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”          

12.The “judgment” referred to here has a lot to do with the sufferings referred to throughout Peter’s first epistle. When persecution comes to the church, God often allows it because it has the salutary (or beneficial) effect of purging the church.

13.Sometimes, God judges the church directly.  Sometimes, God allows the devil to afflict us.  For a vivid example of how God judges the church directly, consider Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11, 14). And now 27 years later, Peter wrote these words, “Judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Peter 4:17).

14.Not only does God judge His people by direct intervention, but He also does it indirectly through the devil (cf. I Cor. 5:1-5). 

15.In the book of Job we see how God allows Satan to afflict believers (cf. Job 1:1-12; 2:1-8).

16.Let us once again consider Peter (cf. Luke 22:31, 32).  Satan is the sifter.  He sifts believers (with God’s permission).

17.While we are on the subject of the judgment of believers, allow me to say a few words about the judgment seat of Christ.  Every born again child of God will be there.

18.The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:10 & 12, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

19.Paul makes the same statement in II Cor. 5:10.

20.Are you ready to give an account? (Cf. I Cor. 3:11-15). 

21.When we stand at the judgment seat of Christ, all of self and pride and hypocrisy and insincerity will be burned up.  Only what is done for our Lord will be rewarded.

22.The apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 11:32, “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

23.Those of us that have trusted Christ will not be judged with the world.  We will not stand before the great white throne, described so vividly in Revelation 20.  When all lost sinners will be cast off into the lake of fire those of us who are saved by God’s grace will not be there.

24.That brings us to my next point.



1.     Actually we have here two interesting questions.

·        “And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be…?” (4:17b).

·        “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (4:18).

2.     The questions are similar.  Christians must pass through “fiery trials” (I Peter 4:12), but they are only temporary.  However, the judgment of the wicked – “them that obey not God…the ungodly and the sinner” (4:17, 18) – will go on for all eternity.

3.     Referring to eternal damnation, Revelation 14:11 says, “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.”

4.     Jude 7 refers to “the vengeance of eternal fire.”

5.     Jesus spoke often about the terrors of hell.  He described hell as a place of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  He also described it as a place of eternal punishment (Matt. 25:41, 46).

6.     In Luke 16, our Lord used the word “torment” four times.

7.     What is really sad is that most lost sinners do not realize they are heading for eternal torment in hell.  I came across this interesting quote yesterday.  It is from a new book by David Wells and it is entitled, Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World. 

8.     “The West in general and America in particular is to us a place of plenty, of opportunity, and of choices, not a place where we feel greatly endangered.  We certainly do not think of it as a place where we could lose our souls.  If such thoughts do cross our minds, we would be inclined to suppose that souls are lost by doing large and inhumane acts of evil, not by living in the realm of shallow and empty triviality where so much of our life is moored.”

9.     How tragic to waste a life spent in “the realm of shallow and empty triviality” and then spend eternity in the realm of eternal damnation!



1.     The conjunctive “Wherefore” (4:19) connects verse 19 with the preceding verses.  Does God allow suffering in the life of a Christian for a specific purpose?

2.     The answer to that question must be “yes” because I Peter 4:19 says, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God.”

3.     Therefore, we must commit the keeping of our souls to God, our “faithful Creator.”  It is significant that God is referred to as our Creator.  As our Creator, God is a God of order and purpose.  He has a plan for our lives.

4.     There is a big controversy these days over Creationism and Intelligent Design and evolution, etc.  Many people think the argument is over the first two chapters in Genesis. 

5.     I do not want to diminish the importance of the first two chapters of Genesis.  Those that undermine the book of Genesis are as foolish as a man that knocks out one of the foundation walls in his house.

6.     But my point here is that the doctrine of creation is not just taught in the early pagers of Genesis; it is taught throughout the entire Bible (cf. I Peter 4:19).

7.     Referring to the coming tribulation, the Lord Jesus Christ said in Mark 13:19, “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.”  

8.     Sounds like Jesus was one of those “creationists.”  In fact, our Lord is not only a creationist, He is the Creator (cf. John 1:1-3, 10; Col. 1:16).

9.     Up in heaven we will worship the Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity because He “hath created all things” (Rev. 4:11; cf. 10:5, 6).



1.     Romans 1:18 teaches us that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. 

2.     In that chapter many sins are condemned, including the terrible sin of homosexuality.  Romans 1:24 and 25 says, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

3.     This is what is happening today.  Let us commit the keeping of our souls to God “in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (I Peter 4:19).

4.     Let me give my invitation to the Christians first.

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