The Book of I PETER
James J. Barker
SUFFERING ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD
- My message this evening is entitled, “Suffering
According to the Will of God” (cf. I Peter 4:19; 3:17).
- The title, and even these Scriptures, sound strange to
multitudes of nominal Christians who have been led to believe that the Christian
life should be free from all suffering and pain.
- But the Bible does not teach that the Christian
life should be free from all suffering and pain. We have stressed that in our series in
this epistle (cf. 1:6, 7; 2:19-21; 3:14-17; 4:1, 12-16).
- It has been noted that "suffering" is the key word in
- The Scofield Bible says, “The distinctive
note of First Peter is preparation for victory over suffering” (Introduction to
- As we study our
Bible we are constantly confronted with many references to suffering (e.g., the
book of Job).
- This past
Wednesday night we were studying Hebrews 11. Verse 34 says that through faith, they
"escaped the edge of the
sword." Yet verse 37 says through
faith, others "were slain with the sword."
- And I mentioned the story recorded in Acts 12, where the
Lord sent an angel to rescue Peter, but He allowed James to be executed by King
- Do you recall what the Lord said to Ananias regarding
the apostle Paul? “For I will shew
him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake” (Acts
- And Paul did suffer greatly – he was
afflicted, whipped, beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, betrayed, and
- 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
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy
SUFFERING BRINGS HAPPINESS AND JOY (4:13,
- Twice in I
Peter 4:12 we are told that suffering is not "strange." In fact, it is a normal part of the
- Years ago, my
family and I were at a Christian camp and the speaker was Pastor John Vaughn
from Greenville, South Carolina.
- In one of his messages, he said that he preached this
text (I Peter 4:12), and not long after that a fire broke out in his house,
badly injuring his wife and daughter.
- We are not to
consider suffering as something "strange."
- You may recall
that Peter himself once thought suffering was strange. When our Lord told Peter
and the other disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem, "and suffer many things
of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again
the third day," Peter "began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord:
this shall not be unto thee" (Matt. 16:21, 22).
- Our Lord then
turned, and said unto Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence
unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of
men" (Matt. 16:23).
- "Then said
Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). The cross certainly signifies
- "The emblem of
suffering and shame" is how the songwriter put it.
- John the
Baptist suffered. He had his head
chopped off by Herod because he rebuked Herod's
- Peter was eventually martyred. Our Lord told him he would be (cf. John
- In fact, all of the original twelve apostles (excluding
Judas Iscariot) were martyred, except for John who was exiled to the island of
- Stephen was martyred. His death is recorded in Acts 7.
- The apostle Paul suffered greatly, and he was eventually
- The early Christians were thrown to the lions.
Tertullian, a preacher who lived in the second century, said, “The blood of the
martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
- But many find all of this "strange" (I Peter 4:12). Today, many churches do not preach
these passages of Scripture. They are worldly and entertainment-oriented. But we are to preach "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).
- First Peter 4:13 says, "But rejoice..." We are to be "happy" (4:14; cf.
- This is precisely what our Lord said in Matthew 5:11,
12. "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."
- We are to rejoice now, and be happy now, but our joy and
our happiness will be much, much greater when we see Christ
- In Philippi, Paul and Silas were arrested and beaten.
The Bible says they "laid many stripes upon them" and "they cast them into
prison," and put their feet fast in the stocks.
- And then we read, "And at midnight
Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them"
- We could preach all evening on the sufferings of the
apostle Paul. Paul said in II
Timothy 3:12, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer
- First Peter 4:13 says, "But rejoice,
inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings..." (cf. Phil. 1:29;
- What is "the fellowship of His sufferings"? And how could we ever be "partakers of
Christ's sufferings"? This cannot
refer to the cross. We could never
partake of His sacrificial sufferings.
- But we can partake of His other
sufferings. Hebrews 12:3 says, "For
consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye
be wearied and faint in your minds."
- Christ was hated, slandered, misunderstood, and
betrayed. We can partake of
SUFFERING BRINGS GLORY TO GOD (4:14,
- This is taught
all throughout the Bible.
- When our Lord
predicted that Peter would be martyred, He said Peter's death would "glorify
God" (John 21:19).
- In 1956, Jim
Elliot and four other missionaries were killed by savages in the jungle in
Ecuador. But soon more than twenty
pilots from the United States applied to take the pilot, Nate Saint's
- And eventually
more than 1,000 college students volunteered for foreign missions in direct
response to the story of the death of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and the other
- Acts 5:41 says
the apostles rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his
- Romans 8:17, 18
says we are "joint-heirs with
Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified
together. 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."
- First Peter
4:14 says, "the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you." The Holy Spirit provides special grace
during times of suffering.
- This explains
how martyrs could rejoice and sing hymns while being burnt at the
- "He is evil
spoken of" by the wicked (4:14b), and then Peter adds, "but on your part he
- Suffering brings glory to God.
- Suffering and glory are interwoven throughout this
epistle. God does not replace
suffering with glory. God
transforms suffering into glory.
SUFFERING IS FOR OUR GOOD AND GOD'S
- God allows
suffering for our good. FB Meyer
said, "The malignant deed of cruelty may proceed from the treachery of a Judas;
but the cup must be taken as from the Father's hand. Though the missile may be
hurled by malice and ill will, yet if it is permitted to pass through the
environing presence of God, it has become his appointment for the refining and
maturing of the sufferer's character. In this sense his permissions become his
- There are many
examples of this in Scripture -- Job's sufferings, Paul's thorn in the flesh,
- Paul prayed
three times that the Lord would remove this painful thorn ("the messenger of
Satan to buffet me"), but the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Cor. 12:9).
- Paul said the
Lord allowed this, lest Paul "should be exalted above measure" (II Cor.
12:7). In I Peter 4:1, Peter
says those that suffer in the flesh "cease from sin."
suffering is for our good; for our benefit (cf. I Peter 4:19). There is no glory
when a Christian suffers for sinning (4:15; cf. 2:19, 20;
- In this
context, "judgment" (4:17) refers to persecution against Christians. God allows it for purposes not often
clear to us.
- One obvious
reason is it purges and cleanses the church (4:17-19).
- If God judges
His own people, what will He do to the ungodly? (4:18).
- Our chapter
ends with a reminder that God is our "Creator" (4:19).
- As our Creator,
God is a God of order and purpose.
He has a plan for our lives.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.”
- The Lord Jesus
Christ Himself is our Creator, for John 1:3 says, "All things were made by him;
and without him was not any thing made that was made."
- Our sufferings
here on earth will not last long. And 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).