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August 20, 2021 4:00 am
Any saying if God is already purifying his church. If there is a purging going on in his church that is necessarily want to go to be like when he brings his final judgment on those who do not obey the gospel of not that's true is that Nero blamed the Christians in Rome, ushering in widespread violent persecution of Christians throughout the Roman Empire and it was in that environment or very similar one that Peter wrote his first epistle in the comfort and guidance. Peter gave to persecuted Christians in his day is just as relevant in our day. As you'll see in a few minutes when John MacArthur continues his study faith through the fire and out with a look at how you can keep your spiritual footing in a hostile world. Here's John Peter is saying what. If you suffer as a murderer, and the government comes in puts a penalty on you if you suffer as a thief, and the government comes in and sentences you if you suffer as some kind of evildoer involving any other criminal offense and the government takes you prisoner or if you have become an agitator of the status quo and a social revolutionary, then don't count that as suffering for righteousness sake should be ashamed of that you have to do an inventory. You have to evaluate the suffering Sam suffering why my suffering.
Verse 16 says, if anyone suffers as a Christian.
In other words, you suffer just for being a Christian, but to not feel ashamed. The implication is if you're suffering because you're a murderer you're a thief you're a criminal of some kind or you're a troublesome meddler disrupting the society, you should be ashamed. But if you suffer while you're doing your job. Living a quiet and tranquil and peaceable life honoring Jesus Christ being the best citizen you can possibly be, and proclaiming faithfully the gospel of Christ and you suffer.
You have no reason to be ashamed.
In fact in that name, let him glorify God, what a state if anyone suffers as a Christian in that name. The name Christian you will glorify God's beautiful term.
By the way, Christian early Christians spoke of themselves as brethren, they spoke of themselves as the Saints or the holy the consecrated people. They spoke of themselves. I love this phrase as those of the way Jesus being the way the truth and the life. But their Jewish opponents stigmatize them as the Nazarenes.
They also gave them a name which they intended to be a name of derision. They called them Christians that was not first of all, name the Christians assumed I don't think they would been so bold as to assume that they could bear the name of their Christ. It was given to them by the world first in Antioch.
According to X11 Agrippa. Again the next 26 writing about verse 28 makes reference to it and eventually it came to be claimed by believers but at first it was a was a mocking term. It came to be a beloved term as it is for us, so he says if you suffer because you're a Christian, don't be ashamed.
Don't be ashamed. But in that name. The name Christian in that name as a follower of Jesus Christ but him glorify God was at me.
Praise God for the privilege.
Praise God for the privilege. Why because your sharing in the sufferings of Christ because the spirit of glory is strengthening you because you are adding to your weight of eternal glory. All three of those reasons and there's one more reason number 74. It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God. If it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God. This is an interesting verse, he is saying if you suffer as a Christian then for the sake of the name Christian, you want to be happy to suffer and you are to praise God for the privilege because your sharing Christ sufferings because the spirit of glory rests on you and strengthens you and you must rejoice in the strength of the spirit and because you are adding to the weight of your eternal reward.
Then he adds, here you should look at suffering as a sign that the end is near.
And so it's time to clean up the household of God, we that's an important state back in verse seven is the number seven starts the end of all things is at hand. The end of all things is at hand. So he says there in verse 17 it is the time for judgment by the way, the word time here is not Chronos. Not clock time it skyrockets, it means it is the crucial moment is. The point is the season for judgment to begin. This is a great statement with the coming of Jesus Christ. I want to follow my thought here with the coming of Jesus Christ came the Christian dispensation we know is the dispensation of the church.
Christ came and suffered and died.
That is the beginning of the end is the last time already. Christ appeared in the end of the age where living in the end time. The last time.
So Peter says it is already the time for judgment to begin where to begin. It began on the cross when our sins were judged in Christ we are living in a season of judgment, the sufferings of Christians then are a part of God's plan for an unfolding judgment which culminates in the great white throne. Follow this Peter is not speaking of condemnation when he uses judgment he speaking of chastening of testing of purifying of purging, but he is saying is giving us a hint about this dispensation he saying in this dispensation. God will be judging and to begin his judgment. He is judging or purging or testing or chastening purifying his church, and it starts that way and it ends with the final condemnation of the ungodly.
That's what he says if judgment begins in God's purging the household of God and begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God. In other words, if God has a judgment for those who believe and it says important and serious as it is than what will the judge would be for those who do not believe the people of God are being judged, tested to remove the chaff there being sifted purged to remove the dross. The church is always in the process of being purged and purified the household of God here means the church. The assembly of redeemed people in a collective way back in chapter 2 verse five we are called a spiritual house, a spiritual house in first Timothy 315, the household of God is the church of the living God. First Timothy 315 says the household of God is the church of the living God. So that's what he say Peter is talking about the church and he is really speaking collectively here and he saying if God is already purifying his church. If there is a purging going on in his church that is necessary now what's it going to be like when he brings his final judgment on those who do not obey the gospel of God, this purging this evaluating this testing is necessary in this age as a kind of wonderful analogy of this in Ezekiel 96.
Back in Ezekiel 1, God looked over the sinful people on the earth, and he wanted to cleanse them. He said I want to cleanse the earth. That was his intent and he said this and I quote begin at my sanctuary.
Start with Israel. God ultimately will judge the ungodly.
Right now he's purging purifying his church. So when you suffer for righteousness sake is God's purging God's purifying God's testing and I'm telling you when you look at the church that is been purged and you look at the church that is been tested, and you look at the church that has been persecuted, you find the pure church. Do you not so look at your persecution. See it for what it is, is it God beginning the judgment at the household which he loves, and beginning the purging of his judgment. During this age. See before the full final judgment comes the church has to evangelize the world and in order to be effective in evangelizing the world. The church must be purged from sin.
The true separated from the false, and the carnal cleanse door removed and then the pure church can move out. So look at the persecution as the judgment of God that must come, and it must come first on the household before it comes to the strangers. First, he will purify his church, then he will judge the ungodly, if it begins with us first, and it does what's going to be the outcome of those who do not believe God's judgment does begin at the household. It doesn't end there. Peter looks beyond the tragedy of eternal judgment.
And what is he saying here's the point. Get this. It's far better to endure suffering, as the Lord purges the church and endure it with joy then to endure suffering in the future, which is eternal. She is born a look at your suffering and consider this you say it's tough to suffer better. You should suffer now as he tests and purges you and fits you for usefulness and glory than that you should not suffer now but suffer.
Then, forever and ever.
That's far worse, far worse, and it comes on those verse 17 who do not obey the gospel of God is reminiscent of Romans 11 to 5 were Paul uses the same phrase the gospel of God. The good news about Christ.
What will be the outcome.
Yes, I'll tell you what terrifying judgment, eternal damnation.
Second Thessalonians, 14 and following talks about the persecuted church and how the church is persevered and faith in the midst of persecution and affliction and then in verse five he says, is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you indeed are suffering. He saying you want to know that this is a plain indication all this tribulation. All this trouble all the suffering is a very plain indication that God is judging you. He's purging you he's cleaning you he's testing you, making you more useful is letting you share in the sufferings of Christ is building for you in a great eternal weight of glory. And that's far better, far better than what the rest of the world is going to experience. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, and these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, so don't be complaining about suffering now and having glory later.
There are many who miss the suffering now, but will endure it forever and ever and ever. Peter then supports his point with a quote in verse 18. This quote is taken from Proverbs 1131 Peter says, and if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved. What will become of the godless man in the center.
Proverbs 1131 actually says if the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the wicked in the center. Peter freely interprets the words when he says, and if it is with difficulty that the righteous the same difficulty refers to the hard time. The persecution brings to the believer. Our salvation brings persecution. Our salvation brings a hardship, a judgment, a disciplinary corrective per negative, instructive remedial testing through suffering that get this keeps us from committing damning since that judgment will continue in the church until the rapture and even after that when God redeems a new generation of people they too will suffer and if it's so difficult and there's so much suffering as a Christian being encouraged what will become of the godless man and the sinner.
He asked what kind of suffering will they endure. If we have to endure this.
The answer is a far greater self will be cast into the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone forever never where the worm dies not fire is not quenched. So all of this helps us to see the importance of a clear evaluation of our suffering is to be for righteousness sake, not because of sin, we are not then to be ashamed when we suffer, but to honor God because he is purifying his church were judgment must begin if were going to be up your people to reach the world. And so when you see yourself suffering look at it see if what is evaluated.
It should be a good reminder of how much more severe judgment could be and will be for those without Christ. How do you handle suffering expected. Rejoice in evaluated seed for what it really is God graciously purging his church for usefulness for communion with Christ for greater weight of glory. It's not to be compared with that terrible suffering that the sinners and ungodly will endure forever. One final point expect suffering rejoice in suffering evaluate suffering. Fourthly, trust yourself to God and trust yourself to God. Godless men can do that sinner can do that be too late. You and I can in the midst of our suffering. Verse 19. Therefore let those also who suffer according to the will of God and trust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. The word therefore is there because of the true perspective on suffering.
Just summed up because you now understand suffering. You now understand that it is remedial, corrective, purgative, instructive. You understand that God uses it to test you to purge you to make you more useful to give you a greater weight of glory. Therefore, in the midst of it. Let those also who suffer according to the will of God is in his will as he cleanses his church and trust their souls. We are suffering. According to the will of God.
It is his purpose is his intended purpose for his children to purge purified adjacent to make us tender to make us affected the word in trust by the way is a banking term means to deposit for safekeeping. Just go through suffering taking your soul and depositing it with God. The word soul means your life you're being your person give it to a faithful Creator. That's the only place in the Bible where that phrase is used. Why does use it wasn't uses the word creator to remind us that were simply giving back to God what he created, which means that he is most capable of caring for right and when we say he's a faithful Creator, we can trust him with it, as creator, he best knows the needs of his beloved creatures as a faithful Creator. He will meet those needs.
Because he is faithful to his promise my God shall supply all your needs. By the way the word and trust are in trust their souls to a faithful Creator power to semi-is the same word exactly used of Jesus when on the cross he entrusted his spirit to the father same word in the midst of his suffering. He gave himself to God. Peter says give your life to God for him to sustain in the midst of the greatest suffering and he is trustworthy and he will be faithful in that verse ends in doing what is right. That's were not to be.
We do what's right, we commit ourselves to God, we suffer, we entrust our souls for a faith to a faithful Creator and do what is right to say it another way, while doing what is right. Take what counts. Commit yourself to God. No defection, obedience, commitment, faithfulness, just keep doing what is right. So when suffering comes to the believer. We expected. We rejoice in it.
We look at it closely and evaluated as a result of sin or is it a result of righteousness and is God just purging purifying testing that we might be more useful, more glorious. Speaking of Jeffrey bull the age of 30 he had been held for three years and two months for the Chinese communist part of the time he was held in solitary confinement. He was half starved, threatened badger subjected to the infernal techniques of brainwashing, he was desperately holding on to some power of objectivity in his brain by making at one time a special study of the six different types of mosquitoes in his cell just to keep her sanity in the midst of all of this he composed a long long poem, which I could never take the time to read but I will read you five stanzas brief. This was his prayer in the midst of horrible suffer. Let not thy face grow dim. Dear God, nor sense of the department. Let not the memory of thy word burn low within my heart.
Let not my spirit. Lord grow numb through loneliness or fears. Let not my heart to doubt succumb and keep my eyes from tears. Let not the distance come between us.
Months and years increase. Let not the darkness close me and let me not lose thy peace. Let not the pressure of the folk crush out my love for the let not the tiredness in the wall eclipse thy victory. The last verse for thy joy is my joy and my hope, thy day and thy kingdom gracious God shall never pass away.
We have to live in that kind of confidence but spoke.
Father, we thank you for the testimony of a faithful saint in the midst of unbearable circumstances who found his strength in you. We thank you Lord that it is your will to purge and purify and cleanse us through difficulty, and particularly through persecution, as we are bold for Christ. May we know that if we are not bold for Christ.
We shall not know the suffering, nor shall we know the glory of communion with the suffering Savior, nor shall we know the glory of the spirit resting on us, nor shall we know the eternal glory.
No Lord if were not willing to be bold for Christ. We can escape, but we cannot be tested, refined purge purified useful. This subtest is Lord as we are faithful and will thank you for such a privilege. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us this series. John wrapped up today from first Peter four is titled faith through the fire John. I have enjoyed this study and profited from it, even though the topic suffering isn't really the sort of positive thing you'd expect to enjoy.
I've enjoyed your teaching on it and I wondered you have any final words of encouragement for that person who may be listening who one way or another, has been the target of hostility because of his or her faith. What would you say to that person. I would say this embraced the suffering prepare your heart for the suffering because it is inevitable. I love what the apostle Paul says that he shared in the sufferings of Christ that you remember when the apostle Paul said, I bear in my body the marks of Christ.
What was he saying he was saying. The people who resent Jesus Christ can't hit him.
They can't wound him because he's not here so they wound me in his place. This was a badge of honor to him to bear the marks of Christ to suffer for Christ and and that's what Peter says when you suffer for righteousness sake your blessed in the spirit of grace and glory rests on you, but by all of this, we don't mean that you should be obnoxious and draw hostility because of the obnoxiousness of your personality, but when you suffer for Christ. When your faith has to be poured through the fire for God to do his work. When the culture turns on you with this hostility as it's doing right now when there's a price for being a true and obedient believer embrace that rejoice in that because God will use that to refine you to strengthen you. I think there've been many Christians who've lived in knowing our history here in the Western in America have never been persecuted they they've had trials in life, but not the level of hostility that all of us are facing today and I think we're hearing from people. While this is a tough time this is going to be really hard on the church but again I remind you when you suffer for righteousness sake the spirit of grace and glory rests on you, which is to say you're provided with the strength you need to go through this and for it by God's grace and purpose to refine you and conform you more to Christ.
I would remind you that the study is available on MP3s you can download email@example.com or you can order CDs if you want if you want the six CD album you can get it from Grace to you and only from Grace to you. Just let us know you want faith through the fire. That's right, how can you respond to trials the way Christ did. What hope should you cling to.
Even in the most intense persecution answering those questions is what this study is all about to pick up John series called faith through the fire, contact us today faith through the fire is available in a six CD album get the CDs for your personal study or to give to a friend call us toll-free at 855 grace or go to GT Y.org if you prefer downloading this study. Every lesson is available free of charge.
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GT Y.org now for John MacArthur.
I'm Phil Johnson reminding you to watch grace to you television this Sunday and then be here when John examines what true faith looks like and what it doesn't look like that study is titled show me your faith and it starts next Monday, so tune in for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you