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The Triumph of Christ's Suffering Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 21, 2023 4:00 am

The Triumph of Christ's Suffering Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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July 21, 2023 4:00 am

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While his suffering is not substitutionary and it is not redemptive, the suffering of a Christian could be the tool by which someone might be brought to God when they see how we handle that suffering. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. A celebrity once said, people hate me because I'm a multifaceted, talented, wealthy, internationally famous genius. Now, perhaps some would see those words as, shall we say, lacking appropriate modesty, and that could cause people to dislike him. But what about people who've done nothing to provoke others and yet they're attacked, verbally, even physically? Is it possible that you may one day find yourself in that position, or are you there right now? Well, today John MacArthur examines the example for handling persecution that was set by Christ himself and shows you how you can follow Christ's lead. The title of John's practical study, Through Suffering to Triumph.

And now here he is, John MacArthur. Let's open our Bibles at this time now to the study of the Scripture that God has brought us to, 1 Peter chapter 3. 1 Peter chapter 3. We come now to a new section of teaching in this great epistle. Verses 18 to 22, the concluding section of this third chapter, brings us to the study of the triumph of Christ's suffering. The triumph of Christ's suffering.

Let me give you a little bit of a background. Peter's recurring theme is simply living in the midst of suffering, living in the midst of suffering. And all the way through the epistle, his great example is Christ. If you want to know how to view suffering, then look at Jesus Christ. In chapter 2, you will remember verse 20 and 21 where he talks about the fact that when you suffer, you must endure it with patience, for this finds favor with God. And then he says, for you've been called for this purpose since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in his steps. When you and I suffer, when any believer suffers for doing what is right, if we want to get a perspective on that, we look at Christ, who is the model of suffering for righteousness' sake. In chapter 4, please notice verse 1.

Peter comes back to the same theme. Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. Again, we will suffer in the flesh.

Christ is our model, and we are to have the mind of Christ. In that same chapter, would you notice verse 12 and 13? Peter writes, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of his glory you may rejoice with exaltation.

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed. Then again in chapter 5 verse 1, Therefore I exhort the elders among you as your fellow elder, and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed. So on a number of occasions in this epistle, Peter's theme of suffering turns to Christ, and Christ becomes the model or the pattern for how the believer endures suffering for righteousness sake. Now obviously, as Peter was penning this epistle under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was writing to believers who were in dire difficulty.

They were enduring some very hostile persecution. In fact, back in chapter 1 and verse 6, he says you have been distressed by various trials. In verse 7, he says you are being tested by fire. In chapter 2 and verse 12, he says you are being slandered by the evildoers in the society in which you live. In verse 18, he says obviously some of you will be treated in an unreasonable way by those who are over you.

You will suffer unjustly, says verse 19, and of course they already were experiencing that. In chapter 3 and verse 9, he assumes that they will receive evil, they will receive insults, but they are not to return evil for evil, nor are they to return insult for insult. In verse 13, he says, and who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?

Again, implying that there were people just waiting to do harm to these believers. In chapter 4, verse 14, as I just read, he says if you are reviled or spoken against for the name of Christ, you are blessed, and if you are, in verse 16, he says if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed. In verse 19, he says let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful creator. So again and again and again, he remarks about their suffering. In verse 10 of chapter 5, he says after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

The theme then is one of suffering, and in this matter of suffering for doing what is right in the midst of an ungodly and hostile society, we must keep our focus on Christ. Christ shows us how to deal with unjust suffering. When he was reviled, he did not revile.

When he was evil-treated, he did not give that back. When he suffered, he uttered no threats, but kept entrusting himself to the one who judges righteously. We are to respond to our trials the way Christ responded to his.

Quietly, confidently, graciously, trustingly committed himself to God. That's how we are to respond. But there is something more to be added to this picture, and that we're going to look at in the particular passage before us. Not only does Peter want us to respond to trials the way Christ did, but he wants us to see that Christ triumphed in his suffering, triumphed in his suffering, and we may triumph also.

That's the intent of this passage. It isn't just stiff upper lip, bear it, hold on. It isn't what you really would like. It isn't perhaps the best, but you can slug it out.

It isn't that at all. It is that there is triumph, there is victory, there is conquering in the midst of trial, and that is nowhere illustrated as graphically as it's illustrated in the case of Jesus Christ. And so we learn then not only to have a right attitude in suffering, and that is one of committing ourselves to the just God who is our God, but to even anticipate that through our suffering we will triumph. There will be some note of triumph. Something triumphant will come even out of our suffering. That is Peter's purpose in verses 18 through 22.

Don't be discouraged. There is the potential of great spiritual victory. Verse 17 reminds us that there are two kinds of suffering for the Christian. You can suffer for doing what is right, or you can suffer for doing what is wrong. Now, most likely, all of us at one time or another will suffer, and you may choose which kind of suffering you want. You can choose to suffer for doing what is wrong, and if you suffer for doing what is wrong, you suffer at the hands of God, for God will chasten you. If on the other hand, you suffer for doing what is right, you suffer at the hands of men, and God will protect you.

So take your choice. In the society in which you live, there will be pressure to compromise. When you compromise and live the worldly life, you will suffer. You will not suffer at the hands of men, but you will suffer at the hands of God. On the other hand, if you choose to be obedient, be obedient at any cost, and live a godly and virtuous life, you may suffer at the hands of men, but you will be protected and blessed by God.

That's the simple choice you make. You will suffer most likely in this life. Choose the nature of your suffering. Now, as you view your suffering for what is right, keep in mind that not only are you to have the attitude of Christ, but you may triumph as He did as well. Let's read verses 18 to 22. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit, in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison, who once were disobedient when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah during the construction of the ark in which a few, that is eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. Now, as I read this over, it's so typically Peter that I find a smile coming into my mind and ultimately on my lips. Peter is not like Paul. Paul is very ordered in his thinking. He's very logical. He's very sequential. He's very reasoned. Peter tends to be a bit less reasoned, a bit less orderly. He seems to be a bit tangential. He says something and shoots off on something else and shoots off on something else and finally comes back to where he started.

That's exactly what he did here. What he wants us to understand is at the beginning and the end of the section. He wants us to understand that Christ died for sins and He died unjustly. He died the just for the unjust. He didn't deserve to die.

But even in being treated unjustly, would you please notice that He triumphed through the resurrection and is at the right hand of God and all those demon beings who were part and parcel of His suffering are now subjected to Him. That's the point. The point is that Christ, even though suffering unjustly, triumphed in that suffering. That's the message. That's the message.

His point is very, very clear. He suffered unjustly. He suffered for doing what was right and God caused him to triumph.

A marvelous and glorious truth. Peter says he suffered death in the flesh, death for sinners, but he was alive in the Spirit. And as a living spirit, he immediately was able to go and proclaim his victory to the spirits in prison right at the cross while his body was dead. His spirit was alive and already he was proclaiming the victory.

That should give us great hope in our suffering. That should give any believer who endures suffering for righteousness sake a great confidence that God sounds a note of victory in the midst of that difficulty. Now, as we look at the pieces of this great passage, I want to show you four areas in which he triumphed.

Four areas. It was a triumphant sin-bearing, a triumphant sermon, a triumphant salvation, and a triumphant supremacy. To understand the immense richness of this section, we have to spend some time on it. And frankly, Peter will plunge us, I believe, more deeply into the cross-work of Jesus Christ than we are ever plunged anywhere else. This will be the deepest dive you will take, mentally and spiritually, into what is going on at the death of Christ. The richness here, frankly, is matched only by the difficulty of this text. And we could understand that it would be difficult because it plunges us into such deep and mysterious things.

But by the time we have come back up, I believe we will be gloriously encouraged and enriched. This passage, frankly, demands the best from the interpreter. It demands the best from the preacher. It demands the best from the people if we are to grasp the triumph of Christ's sufferings, not only for their sake, that is the sake that we might know those great triumphant realities, but for our sake, that we also may understand our triumph in Him. Let me talk to you about point one, a triumphant sin-bearing, a triumphant sin-bearing. Verse 18, for Christ also died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.

Just reading that demands a moment of silence, to just let it sink in. Christ died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God. Beloved, Christ was unjustly executed. He was without sin. Pilate was dead right when he said, I find no fault in Him. The Jews had to fabricate lies about Him. The Jews had to fabricate lies about Him.

They had to pay off and bribe false witnesses to bring about the illegal conviction, because there was no sin in Him. He was the just, the righteous, dying for the unjust, the unrighteous. But in spite of the fact that He suffered unjustly, He triumphed in that through His suffering, He has brought us where?

To God. And there is sort of underlying that, I'm sure, in the heart of Peter. The reality that even a believer, while his suffering is not substitutionary, and it is not redemptive, the suffering of a Christian could be the tool by which someone might be brought to God when they see how we handle that suffering.

So there's even an example there that we can follow, which example was clearly pointed out and delineated in chapter 2, verse 21 and following. Now, as we look at this great statement, I want just to separate out several features of the sin-bearing of Christ, all right? Number one, it was ultimate.

It was ultimate. The suffering of Christ was ultimate. It says this, for Christ also died. May I please note that word, also? What is its implication? Its implication is this.

The also means, in addition to somebody else, who else is He talking about? He's talking about believers. He's been talking about the fact that you will suffer for doing what is right. But keep this in mind, Christ also suffered. You shouldn't be surprised then if you suffer.

In other words, our Lord, in asking you to be willing to suffer for righteousness' sake, is only asking you to do what He also was willing to do, right? He was the just when He suffered. He suffered unjustly, and His suffering, first of all, was ultimate.

What do you mean by that? It's simply this, for Christ also, what's the next word? Died. That's what I would call ultimate suffering, wouldn't you? You can't suffer any more than that. In fact, the writer of Hebrews reminds the people to whom he writes in chapter 12 that they haven't suffered yet unto blood. Chapter 12, verse 4, they hadn't suffered yet unto blood. In other words, you didn't suffer yet. In other words, you have suffered, but not ultimately.

You haven't had to give your life. Christ also died. Many of the manuscripts, ancient manuscripts of this particular portion of Scripture, use the word suffered. In fact, when those people who operate in what is called lower criticism, that's simply a title for people who deal with manuscripts, when they compare the manuscripts that say Christ died with the manuscripts that say Christ suffered, they really cannot make a choice as to which is best. So some of your Bibles probably say Christ died and some of them probably say Christ suffered.

And that's fine because the words would be interchangeable in terms of meaning anyway. The implication here is that Christ suffered to the point that He died. He suffered ultimately. The ultimate suffering is to be murdered for righteousness sake. He's not asking anyone in this life in the church of which He is the head to do anything that He Himself has not done in terms of suffering because the most that any martyr could ever do would be to die.

Christ has done that. His suffering was ultimate. Secondly, and we start to build on that, His suffering was related to sins, to sins, not His own. His suffering was related to sins, not His own. You say, why are you saying that?

That's what it says. Christ also died for sins. When a believer is unjustly treated, when you and I suffer criticism, abuse, hostility, persecution, or when some Christians in some parts of the world even suffer death, it is related to sins, not their own. There's a sense in which they are suffering because of the sins of other people, right? The sin of hatred, the sin of animosity, the sin of hostility, the sin of anger, the sin of jealousy, the sin of envy, the sin of murder, or whatever. So there's a sense in which even when the believer suffers for righteousness sake, we are suffering because of other sins against us.

So it is in the case of Christ. He suffered for sins only in a very different way. They weren't His sins.

They were the sins of others. Chapter 2 verse 22 says, He committed no sin. He lived His entire life without committing a sin. He never had an evil thought. He never said an evil word. He never did an evil thing.

Let me go a step further. He never thought anything that wasn't perfectly holy. He never said anything that wasn't perfectly holy.

And He never did anything that wasn't perfectly holy. And yet, He suffered for sins. It was sins that put Him there. In fact, there's a sense in which this phrase, died for sins, is used in the Scripture to speak of a sin offering. It is so used in Romans 8, 3.

It is so used in Hebrews 10 verses 6 and 8. He suffered as an offering for sin. The Bible says the wages of sin is what?

Death. The Old Testament laid it out. God said because of your sins you must make an offering. And God required the death of an animal as a symbol of the need for someone to die to cover sins. And so, Jesus Christ in His death died for sins.

He died to pay the penalty that sins required. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, with today's look at Finding the Path Through Suffering to Triumph. That's the title of his current study here on Grace To You. And John, you and I both know that there are people listening today who are right in the middle of a storm of suffering, an illness or an accident or the death of a loved one, maybe even a spouse or a child. When that's where someone finds himself, how should he respond?

How can he keep the anxiety, the fear, even the anger from becoming overwhelming? Yeah, I think there are two ways to answer that question. Number one is you go back to your theology and you hear people, kind of witless people, say, well, doctrine divides. No, doctrine doesn't divide. True doctrine sets a foundation for life that becomes an anchor. Doctrine holds you firm and strong.

That's such an important thing, too. I think most Christians tend to underestimate the importance of having a solid doctrinal foundation. Yeah, people think doctrine is bad.

They think we all need to be loving and accepting. And so you float through life without sound doctrine and you hit a crisis and you've got nothing to stand on. So you want to be sure that you have a foundation of sound doctrine. And then you want to be sure that you understand all that the Bible says about the purposes of God in our suffering, that you count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the trial has a perfecting work. That's James 1. The Lord is using that trial to make you more like Christ.

How you understand God and how you understand his purposes and trials defines how you respond to the difficulties of life. I want to mention again a book. It's always going to be available to anybody who wants one. You can always order one and purchase one from grace to you. The title is Anxious for Nothing. But because this is such a huge issue with people, being anxious and not knowing how to respond to the troubles of life, we want to have a special offer. And for any of you who have never contacted this ministry before, if you contact us now, we'll send you a free copy of Anxious for Nothing, 200 pages of how to face life and defeat fear and anxiety. Wouldn't you want to live that way?

Wouldn't you want to be able to take what comes in a triumphant way? This book puts you in touch of the biblical truths that establish the kinds of foundations that'll make you anxiety free. And again, it's always available to anyone who wants to order them, but for those who've never contacted us, we'll send it free of charge. Connect with us today and ask for a copy of Anxious for Nothing.

That's right. Again, this book is free if you've never contacted us before, so get in touch today and request your copy of John's book titled Anxious for Nothing. Just call 800-55-GRACE or visit gty.org. Again, our phone number, 800-554-7223.

That's 800-55-GRACE. Or you can visit our website, gty.org. Anxious for Nothing shows you principles from God's Word that you can turn to no matter what kind of trial you face. It provides practical help for praying your way through anxiety and learning to be content in dealing with problem people, and much more.

It also includes a guide for personal study or that you can use in a small group setting. Again, we'll send you Anxious for Nothing for free if you've never contacted us before. Just call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson with a special note. We're preempting next Monday's broadcast to bring you a brand new interview with John MacArthur. We'll be talking about the new documentary film called The Essential Church, which tells the story of God's faithfulness to the church that John leads when it faced governmental restrictions and the threat of severe penalties during the COVID-19 pandemic. You won't want to miss that interview. So make sure you're here for our next half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-21 05:36:46 / 2023-07-21 05:46:05 / 9

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