The text of Scripture in Matthew 27 and verse 44 tells us that those thieves hanging on either side of him hurled insults at him. They reviled him.
We are fellowshipping in the sufferings of Christ. Whenever you are reviled, whenever you experience unjust treatment, whenever you experience unjustifiable accusations, maybe it's a demotion, maybe it's an insult or an unkindness, you are uniquely experiencing the reviling of Christ. Jesus was mocked and scorned his whole life. His followers have been persecuted ever since. As his return draws nearer, the hatred for Christians will continue to grow. Satan will see to that. Friend, you need to know how to stand strong in your faith and how to glorify God even when you suffer for Christ's sake. Steven wants to help you. Today, Steven Davie will open God's Word and address this topic.
This is Wisdom for the Heart and this lesson is called Wearing the Name Brand Well. I came across this not too long ago. George Walton was born on May 15th, 1907 in Virginia as an estate appraiser. He often got the first look at rare coins and guns and jewelry and even stamps and he would purchase some of it when it came available and he built up quite a large collection. At one estate sale, a rare 1913 Liberty Head Nickel was a part of the estate and it was only one of five minted in the U.S. and he jumped at the chance. He saw the value and he scraped everything together that he had and he paid just under $4,000 for that coin which, by the way, and I kind of Googled, went online and got the, you know, what would that mean today and today that would be about $60,000.
So no wonder he reassured his family that it was worth a fortune. Unfortunately, he died in an automobile accident and his family, as they settled the estate, brought the nickel to experts who evaluated it and then declared the nickel was a fake. It was a fraud and returned it to his disappointed family and for 60 years it stayed in a box on the floor in one of the closets in their home. Eventually, Walton's nephew Ryan Givens inherited the nickel as it just sort of went from family member to family member and he tucked it away as well. Then in 2003, Ryan read in the newspapers that the other four 1913 Liberty Head Nickels were going to be on display at a museum and along with that came this request that if anybody had any information about the missing fifth nickel to come forward and Ryan wondered. And so he found the nickel, dusted it off, brought it and after hours of comparing and contrasting and testing, the appraisers announced that Walton's nickel was the missing coin.
With that, he put it on auction and sold it for $3.1 million. The moral of the story is save your nickels. I had a guy come up to me after the second service and he said, I got something for you and he handed me a nickel so I'm going to keep it and 100 years from now it'll be worth a nickel. But at any rate, the true moral of the story is that experts can miss the real value of many things. In fact, oftentimes what people devalue happens to be of great value, right? In fact, as I read that, I couldn't help but think of the testimony of every genuine New Testament believer. Imagine for a moment a parable where you become that nickel.
Imagine what it would feel like to be hidden away for most of your life feeling forgotten, overlooked, ignored, viewed as perhaps even worthless. Imagine what it would be like for your owner to bring you to experts who study you and evaluate you and then come to the conclusion that you aren't worth much more than a nickel. That's essentially what's happening to the first century believing world. The believers are facing this downward shift in popular opinion and as we've studied, trouble is brewing and frankly the Christians are belonging to a marginalized group of people and their value is going south.
That's because they're wearing the wrong name brand. It is considered for the most part worthless. And the question would be, what do you do when your value is placed at your culture as something as low as that? Well, the apostle Peter is telling us how to respond and he's going to tell us how to respond to the low valuation people are attaching but I want you to know ahead of time before we dive in, he's going to take us deeper. He wants us to change our own personal valuation of suffering because we often get that wrong as well. So take your copy of the New Testament. Let's go back to 1 Peter chapter 4 and if I can put the following few verses into three principles, the first one would be this, suffering can revitalize our spiritual relationships.
Suffering can revitalize our spiritual relationships. Let's pick up where we left off at verse 14 of 1 Peter chapter 4. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Let's not go too fast here. Notice again, if you are reviled. Now, at first glance, the English reader thinks that maybe Peter's opening the door to maybe you won't be, maybe you will be. Maybe he's casting doubt.
We're not quite sure it could possibly happen to you. Well, Peter uses a conditional statement here that actually assumes it is going to be happening. In fact, you could correctly amplify this text to read, if you are reviled for the name of Christ and you will be. That's actually what Peter is saying with that conditional statement, which means suffering is not an if but a when. Suffering, being ridiculed for wearing the name brand of Christ is not just conceivable, it is eventual.
It's going to happen. Now, the word Peter uses here for revile has to do with verbal attacks and insults and unjustified accusations. At this point in history, as I've pointed out, the physical threats they're mounting, but that's about a decade away, but you never get there right away.
Your life isn't threatened before a lot of other things happen first. So they're beginning to see a mounting attitude in their own community toward them. They're considered despicable, worthless. They're pariahs.
We really ought to get rid of them. In fact, the same word revile is the treatment that Jesus Christ received on the cross. The text of Scripture in Matthew 27 and verse 44 tells us that those thieves hanging on either side of him hurled insults at him. They reviled him.
Same idea here. By the way, I think Peter is taking that word under the Spirit's direction to draw our attention back to that, because remember, he's already told us we are sharing, we are fellowshipping in the sufferings of Christ. Whenever you are reviled, whenever you experience unjust treatment, whenever you experience unjustifiable accusations, maybe it's a demotion, maybe it's an insult or an unkindness, you are uniquely experiencing the reviling of Christ.
It might be as simple as laughter in the classroom as you enter the room. They've been talking about you. It could be the rolling of the eyes when you speak up in the boardroom, yeah, there's that Christian again giving his opinion. It might be the cold shoulder at the water cooler or at the family Christmas tree.
It might be even outright mocking. Peter makes it clear that your mistreatment ultimately is because of the name of Christ. According to New Testament record, if I go very quickly here, believers were originally called followers of the way. They were members of the way.
In my early teens that was a cult. That was actually the first expression for the believers, Acts chapter 9 verse 2. Then over time they were often referred to, of course, as disciples of Christ earlier even than this. And it isn't until the church is established in Antioch where believers are referred to as Christians, that is belonging to the party of Christ, Acts chapter 11 verse 26. And it wasn't that the Christians got around one Lord's day and said, you know, we really ought to come up with a name for ourselves.
You know, the way sounds kind of weird. And disciples, well, anybody can be anybody's disciple, so let's come up with something that ties us to Christ. I got it, Christian. No, this was a derisive ridicule of the unbeliever attaching it to these people. And they said, oh, you follow that Christ. Just like there was a political party that followed Herod called the Herodians, you'll be called Christians.
You belong to the party of Christ. It was a term of derision in that day and mockery and you would in the first century perhaps immediately feel the sense of value going down the tubes. They might not be telling you in these terms, but they're telling you you are not worth more than about a nickel, if that. Notice Peter says, if you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed. You can translate that, you are fortunate. We don't feel fortunate at those moments. And that's because, beloved, we often respond to the devaluation of our world by equally devaluing suffering for his name.
We get to change our valuation system. Peter does. He says, I want you to know you're fortunate. You're blessed.
There are privileges to that. In fact, he gives us one here. Notice the spirit of glory and of God rests on you. The spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
This is amazing. He is going back to Isaiah chapter 11. This is an expression he's quoting where the Messiah was promised when he came, he was promised that God's spirit would rest on him in order to help him accomplish his messianic mission.
That's the idea here. Peter is attributing this promise to the believer who suffers. In other words, the same empowering spirit who rested on Christ, he's saying this, I can take Isaiah 11 and apply it to you. The same spirit that enabled the Messiah to fulfill his mission is now resting on you, which in this instance and context enables you to handle persecution and suffering for his namesake so that you can endure the reviling of the world. By the way, beloved, what this means is even further, suffering for his name isn't some kind of proof that God has abandoned you. It is actually proof that he is going to uniquely empower you. Because when we're suffering, we feel God's abandoned us. How about he's setting us up so that we can have that measure of grace and strength to persevere.
He's going to be involved in your life like never before. Now, don't misunderstand, the Holy Spirit already indwells you and that is permanent. Remember, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, 1 Corinthians 6, 19, and Peter says here that there is going to be this empowering, this extra sense of grace to meet the need when you're under pressure in order to endure the mockery. So according to Peter, trials become an opportunity to draw upon divine power.
That has a way of changing our perspective. And by the way, I want you to notice before we move on that although the word Trinity never appears in the New Testament, the text here is one more definitive reinforcement of that doctrine. You might circle in your text as I have the reference to Christ there at the beginning of verse 14. Then a little later, Spirit, that's a capital S, not a lowercase s which would reference your spirit. This is the Holy Spirit known from the grammatical construction of that definite article.
And then you could also circle God which is the common New Testament reference to God the Father. So you have here in this one text as it relates to the suffering you're about to go through, the involvement of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Suffering then becomes an opportunity for those relationships to be revitalized as it gives you strength in how we need that, don't we?
How we need the Lord, especially in the valley. When faced with excruciating trials, we easily come to an end of ourselves. Every Christian in here among us can easily become mentally confused and emotionally drained and physically exhausted and spiritually spent.
In fact, from a purely human perspective, we would consider them to be the worst of times. Peter says, I want you to reevaluate that. From a divine perspective, these are the best of times to draw you closer to that endumen and sweet presence of the Word of God.
You've been there. You know what I'm talking about, believer. In fact, notice how he adds to the text of the words, the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. The word rest can be translated refreshment. In other words, as you revitalize your dependence upon the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God imparts his refreshment to you. And even through tears, you're able to endure the suffering. Reviling by the world can bring refreshment from the Spirit.
That's his point. This was the experience of Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission more than 100 years ago, who said this, the issue is not where the pressure lies, but that it presses us closer to Christ. Suffering has a unique way and is extremely valuable as it presses us closer to Christ. Secondly, suffering can result from a poor reputation. Notice Peter adds a warning, make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer or a thief. Murder and thievery were serious crimes in the first century and beyond. They often resulted in capital punishment. Peter adds then to murderers and thieves, evildoers.
This is sort of a general term for someone who engages in every other kind of criminal behavior. So you sort of make sure everybody's covered here. What Peter is saying here is that the believer can't say as he's taken to jail or to the gallows, man, am I ever about to suffer for being a Christian? Woe is me.
No. Peter is warning the believer not to assume that the consequences of sin are the same thing as suffering. And I think we go way too far in our use of the word, I am suffering.
It might be the result of our bad attitude or we didn't do the homework. I'll give you more modern illustration. Look, don't speed down Tryon Road because you're late for church on Sunday morning and run the red light there at the intersection.
You know, and then when the policeman turns on his siren to chase you down, look, don't pull in here. Notice Peter adds an interesting character to the list. You wouldn't think this would be here, but a troublesome meddler. We got murderers and meddlers in the same list. This is a reference to what you could translate as a nosy agitator. They don't want to be part of the solution.
They're really not part of the problem. They just want to be in the know. They, you know, they just love being a grape on the grapevine. They become a troublesome, you could render it a troublemaking meddler in their own reputation. One author writes, this word refers to someone who usurps a role that does not belong to them in an attempt to gain influence or prestige.
I know about it. See, they're not really interested in building anybody up and running people down. This kind of behavior diminishes the quality of the gospel of grace, doesn't it? And they actually developed a reputation of being a nosy agitator.
They can kill an assembly and divide it terribly. Peter says, don't be known by this kind of behavior. And by the way, keep in mind, he's really thinking about there, okay? Not so much in here. Any of your matters.
He's thinking about out there. What kind of nosy agitator might you be out there? Don't be that. And if you are and you suffer because of it, don't say, oh, woe is me, I'm suffering like Jesus.
Now be careful. Don't think that the consequences of sinful behavior and selfish and immoral behavior and any other kind of criminal or self-centered behavior is the same thing as suffering for Christ. I say this with all seriousness. If you're going to live like the world, if you're going to live like the devil, don't tell anybody you belong to Christ.
It's a great time to keep that to yourself. It only devalues further the glory of God and the integrity of the gospel. Now, suffering can revitalize our spiritual relationships. Suffering can result from a poor reputation. Third, suffering can remind us of the value of our Redeemer. Notice further, but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed.
It's interesting. Peter just speaks again with reality. He doesn't launch immediately in how we're not supposed to feel ashamed.
Just don't feel ashamed. And again, he uses this conditional comment, but if anyone suffers as a Christian, you need to add in your mind, and you will, they will, don't be ashamed. The truth is we really can't prepare entirely for whatever does happen to us, right?
As much as we'd like to, it's difficult to cover every base. Sometimes you're in the middle of it and you respond to it. Peter wants to encourage us. Here's the reality. Things are going to happen and you're going to be under the pressure, in the crucible of suffering, and it won't be all that encouraging.
In fact, notice he speaks with reality. If anyone suffers as a Christian, and they will, he's not to be ashamed. This is the Christian high school student in a public school who sits in a class and the science teacher says, before I lecture on this subject, how many of you in here believe that God actually created the world? Raise your hand. And there is that temptation for that student to keep it down. This is the college student who's invited to a party he shouldn't go to and he turns down the invitation and when asked why, he's tempted to just, you know, well, I'm just not feeling well. This is the businessman or businesswoman who is asked with all the other employees to voluntarily go through diversity training in that company and the trainer at some point says, is there anyone in here who believes that homosexuality is wrong? Raise your hand.
And the temptation is to remain quiet. I remember standing in a visitation line waiting to greet the family members of a deceased man, a well-known man in our community, although I didn't know him personally. Standing in front of me in that long line was a man I did know who was a believer. He was in his early 50s. We stood there and talked a while and kind of caught up and he mentioned he knew the man that had passed away and I asked him, was that man a Christian? He immediately got tears in his eyes and he said to me, Stephen, I've been standing here thinking about that.
I worked at the same company as this man. In fact, there were times when we carpooled together, just he and I, and I never told him I was a Christian. God just never came up. Oswald Chambers in his classic work said this, when you fear God, you fear nothing else.
But if you do not fear God, you will fear everything else. Don't be ashamed. Don't feel dishonored. You're wearing the brand name Christian. That term was a slur.
It was an insult. In fact, as our culture continues to move in the direction, it's moving, marginalizing genuine Christianity. Cultural Christians will have no trouble.
They will suffer nothing for the name, for the name means nothing. But for those who genuinely walk with Christ, who get their marching orders from scripture and their definitions of what's in and out, right and wrong, you will wear it as an insult, right? Peter says, rejoice in that we are reviled because of his name. Notice, we glorify God. Literally, we praise God. You see, when you reevaluate this thing, you end up thanking God. You are fellowshipping with his son. And you wear that name brand as a badge of honor. Yes, I am of the party of Christ. I am a Christian. In the world's eyes, you're nothing more worth little more than a nickel.
So just stay away. Go back to that dusty corner. Pipe down. But you know, you have been given an inheritance that would boggle the mind of all of us and our world. It's all wrapped in gold. It is the glory of God and his coming kingdom. And you are royalty. You know that's who you are in Christ. And you happen to follow a Redeemer who was devalued, insulted, mistreated, ultimately crucified. In fact, Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, these words, he was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised and we did not esteem him. That phrase, esteem him means we didn't consider him valuable.
He's not worth much more than a nickel either, if that's the idea. So we come along to spread his fame and enhance his reputation. We represent him and we say, hold on, when you revile me, I want you to know I praise God that I belong to the one you mock, Christian. Let's wear it well, especially when the pressure squeezes us and the heat is turned up. The issue is not where the pressure lies, but that it presses us closer to Christ. Living for Christ will bring you into conflict with the world. And I hope this challenge will help you do that well.
When that pressure comes, God's desire is to press you closer to Christ. What a great reminder. Our ministry is on social media. Not everyone knows this, but as you interact with our ministry on social media, that actually helps more people find it. When you comment on one of our posts, that indicates that you appreciated what you read. And as more people do that, that post gets seen by more people. So interact with what you see. Be with us next time for more wisdom for the heart. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-20 00:15:20 / 2023-01-20 00:24:33 / 9