First Peter with Andy Murray

Entrusting Your Soul To God

Amazing Grace

Andrew Murray

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

 

Our Lord’s Assurance

Jesus said, in John 15:18-20

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Jesus did in fact promise persecution to His people.

Steven full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:9) was lied about and brought before the Jewish leaders. Stephen bore bold witness to the Righteous One and before the high priest and when the council heard his testimony (Acts 7:54-8:1),

“…they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of his execution.   

But even as this young man named Saul stood by and approved and watch over the garment of those who killed Stephen, God was pleased to save that young man and to use Him mightily. Saul himself, or Paul as we call him, also personally experienced this promised persecution. We read in Acts 14:19-22,

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

As Paul says (in 2 Timothy 3:12), “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

According to Foxes’ Book of Martyrs James the son of Zebedee, Phillip, Matthew, James the less, Mathias, Andrew, Mark, Peter, Paul, Jude, Bartholomew, Thomas, Luke, Simeon, John, and Barnabas were all martyred in the first century. The was wide spread persecution under Nero in 67, Domitian in 81, Trajan in 108, Marcus Aurelius in 162.

John Piper recounts,

In AD 202 the Roman emperor Septimus Severus issued an edict making conversion to Christianity illegal. The resulting persecution was felt most severely in Carthage, on the North African coast.

Vibia Perpetua, a 22-year-old mother of an infant son, along with her servant girl who was eight months pregnant, was arrested for joining a class of Christian believers. Perpetua nursed her child in prison and made arrangements with her mother to take him if anything should happen. The servant girl gave birth to her child in prison.

When Perpetua’s father learned that she was to be thrown into the arena with wild beasts, he tried to get her out. But he was beaten instead. On the day of the execution the men were taken first. Among them was Saturus, the Bible class leader. He stopped at the gate for one last word of testimony with Pudens, the prison governor, who later turned to Christ and became a martyr himself. The men were sent into the arena with a bear, a leopard, and a wild boar. As Saturus was mangled by the beasts, the spectators shouted, “He is well baptized!”

Next Perpetua and her servant were stripped and sent into the arena to face a “mad heifer.” The torture soon became too much for the crowd and they cried, “Enough, enough!” The women were taken to the executioner. Perpetua called out to some grieving friends, “Give out the Word to the brothers and sisters; stand fast in the faith, love one another, and don’t let our suffering become a stumbling block to you.” The first blow of the gladiator was not sufficient. Perpetua cried out in pain, took the gladiator’s hand, and directed the sword to her throat. (For sources see Ruth Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, pp. 33–35.)

Not Just In The Past

According to Open Doors (a non-profit organization focused on serving persecuted Christians),

World wide 322 Christians are killed each month for their faith and 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages).

Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution [persecuted Christians] experience on a daily basis.

According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians). Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

According to the World Watch List today Mali, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait are ranked as places where sparse persecution is taking place today. The Palestinian Territories, Brunei, Laos, China, Jordan, Bhutan, Comoros, Tanzania, Algeria, Colombia, Tunisia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Oman are ranked as places with moderate persecution taking place today. Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Qatar, Kenya, Turkmenistan, India, Ethiopia, Egypt, Djibouti, and Myanmar are ranked as places with severe persecution. North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, and the Republic of Maldives (south of India) are ranked as places where there is extreme persecution of Christians taking place today.

Throughout the history of the Church believers have faced persecution. Right now our brothers and sisters in Christ, throughout the world are living in the reality of Jesus words: If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you… If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Are You Prepared

I claim no authority to see what God has planned for tomorrow, but as I look at the cultural currents and the pace of cultural change in the west, if things continue the direction and pace they are going now you and I will have an opportunity to identify with the sufferings of Christ in ways we would not have thought possible in the United States just ten years ago.

How serious is your faith? How real is you love for Christ? Are you willing to lose everything and give your life to honor the name of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, risen, and coming again? We are quickly leaving the days when you can be a genuine Bible believing, Christ-exalting, Gospel proclaiming Christian and be considered a welcomed member of this society. Will you be ready?

Peter’s Aim

This morning Peter is writing to prepare the church for suffering. What I’d like to do is to sweep through our passage twice this morning. In the first sweep I want to ask the question, “What is Peter preparing us for?” and in the second sweep I want to ask the question, “How is he preparing us for it?”

What is Peter preparing us for?

  1. Fiery Trials for Testing (4:12)

So as we come to the verse 12 let’s be listening to what Peter is preparing us for. He says,

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Peter is preparing us for fiery trials which will come upon us for our testing. This ought to remind us of what he spoke of in chapter 1 after he described the glorious unshakable benefits of God’s love toward us in Christ Jesus he says in verse 6,

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Peter is preparing us for trials, for suffering, for discomfort of various sorts. And in 4:12 he calls these fiery trials, that is trials that bring particular agony and pain. And he says that these come upon believers for a purpose: for our testing in 4:12. The testing of what? The genuineness of our faith according to 1:7.

  1. A Share in Christ’s Sufferings (4:13,14-16)

But Peter further defines what he’s preparing us for in verse 13, 14, and 16. He calls it a sharing Christ’s sufferings, being insulted for the name of Christ, and suffering as a Christian. So Peter is preparing us for fiery trials that come because we are known as Christ followers – Christians. Peter is preparing us for the suffering that will come simply because we are living with authentic faith in and allegiance to King Jesus.

So in as much as we are hated and persecuted because we love and honor and trust our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we are participating in His sufferings. Peter wants to prepare us for this kind of suffering.

  1. Judgement (4:17-18)

But notice that Peter further identifies what he is preparing us for in verse 17 and 18. He calls it “judgement.” Listen to verse 17 and 18,

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And (then he appears to be quoting Proverbs 11:31)

“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

What does Peter mean that it is time for judgement to begin at the household of God? I thought that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). What does he mean that these fiery trials which come as a result of our faith in Christ are judgement?

Well, remember that these fiery trials are designed to test the genuineness of our faith and as Peter makes plain this judgement which begins with the household of God does not result in our ruin and condemnation but in our salvation (4:18 “…scarcely saved” and 1:7 “resulting in praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” and 1:9 “obtaining the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls”).

Look how he contrasts the result of this judgement for the unbeliever compared to the believer. He says “…if [judgement] begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God…” and the implication is that they will be utterly ruined. So this judgement will result in salvation for those who obey the gospel but it will result in ruin of those who do not.

The judgement Peter is talking about is not a condemning or a repaying of wrongs; it is a testing and a purifying. It is not designed for punishment but for proving. Like gold refined in the furnace, so our fiery trials are designed to strip away all that is not genuine faith and what is left is proved, tested, genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So Peter is preparing us for fiery trials, that is particularly painful sufferings because we are Christians. And this is in fact testing from God designed to prove that our faith in Christ is real, designed to show that Christ is worth more to you than houses and gold and the praise and approval of people and more to you than life itself.

  1. Suffering According to God’s Will (4:19)

And Peter makes it explicit that what He is preparing us for is not ultimately pain at the hands of the Devil. It is instead suffering which accords with the will of God. Listen to verse 19,

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

The suffering Peter has in mind is what God wants. It is in harmony with His will. It is part of His plan that we be proved through trials of various kinds.  Even as wicked men plan and commit wicked deeds against God’s people (for which they will be judge), He is working those things for the good of His beloved saints (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 12:3-11; Habakkuk).

The suffering that Peter is preparing us for is not outside God’s will or beyond His sovereign control or thwarting His good plan for your life. It is according to His will.

How is he preparing us for the fiery trial?

Now we must sweep through this passage again with a different question: How is he preparing us for these fiery trials? In other words, what is Peter instructing us to do?

  1. Do Not Be Surprised (4:12)

The first things Peter tells us to do is expect it. He says,

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

It is amazing how surprised we can be when the slightest thing goes ‘wrong’ in our lives. As you more and more begin to loose the respect of friends and family and co-workers and employers because of your allegiance to Christ do not be surprised.

As you more and more lose influence in the culture and lose personal freedom because of your unwavering faith in King Jesus do not be surprised.

As we are more and more exposed to the dangers of unemployment, the dangers of being arrested, the dangers of having our families targeted and our children taken because we will not deny our Savior Jesus Christ do not be surprised.

  1. Rejoice (4:13)

Verse 13 says, instead, we are “…rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

When you lose respect among those whose esteem you once had, rejoice that you are being identified with Christ because if you rejoice in suffering with Him now you will receive honor and praise forever more when His glory is revealed.

When you lose the seat of influence you once had in the culture – rejoice that your name is written on His hands because when He appears glory will be yours forever.

When your personal freedoms are more and more taken  because of your faith in Christ rejoice that you share in Christ’s sufferings because your everlasting safety and freedom is secured by the King of kings which no power or government can ever touch.

When the horrors of poverty and having our persons and property seized and having our families torn apart – rejoice that you are Christ’s and Christ is yours so that when He appears you may be filled with exceeding joy.

  1. Know That God Has Not Abandoned you (4:14)

Peter is not done. He is going to flesh this out further. How can we rejoice at such horrors? Well, he next explains that things are no indication that God has abandoned you. In verse 14 he says, If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

If we could but grasp the blessing that is even now ours in Christ Jesus. When these horrors come upon us because or our unwavering faith it means that God is with us and for us and has not abandoned us. The Spirit of Glory and of God has made His home with you. Oh, that we would know how blessed we are – even as fiery trials come.

So, do not be surprised, but rejoice that you share Christ’s sufferings, remembering that in Christ God is for you and with you. He has not abandoned you.

  1. Do What Is Right (4:15)

Now, I can imagine an objection,

“…but shouldn’t we fight for good and just laws, and desire to have a voice in the culture and try to convince wicked people to stop doing wickedness and shouldn’t we fight for our families and our children? Is Peter suggesting we should sit by passively just letting all these things happen?”

No. I believe as we have power and influence and resources and recourse we should do all we can to protect one another, protect our children, and protect ourselves (Paul used his citizenship for example to escape whipping in Acts 22:25). So yes, we will keep looking for work. Yes, we will advocate for good and just laws. Yes, we will keep working and laboring to get our children back.

Peter does not give us a treatise on how to behave as a believer in every conceivable persecuted situation. There are examples in Scripture of believers fleeing and hiding (Acts 17:10), there are in fact examples in Scripture of believers lying (mid-wives in Exodus 1:19-20, Rahab hid the spies in Joshua 2:3-6).  

But as Peter makes plain in verse 15 we are never to commit sin. And it is Jesus Himself who is our ultimate example. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” We are not to take matters into our own hands to repay evil for evil or to avenge ourselves, rather we are to leave it to the wrath of God (Romans 12:19). We are to behave at all times as our Lord Jesus behaved.

Peter says Christians are not to suffer because we are murders or thieves or evildoers or meddlers. Our character is to be above reproach.

Do not be surprised, but rejoice that you share Christ’s sufferings, remembering that in Christ God is for you and with you. He has not abandoned you and always do right.

  1. Be Not Ashamed, But Glorify God In That Name (4:16)

But Peter gives us another instruction to guide our behavior as we prepare for fiery trials. He says in verse 16,

…if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Here Peter tells us that when the heat is turned up, when the painful trials come it is then that our true colors are revealed.

How tempting it would be if a masked gunman were to enter this room and say, “All who renounce and deny their faith in Jesus Christ are free to leave. Those who refuse to renounce the name of Jesus will be shot.” – how tempting in that moment to convince ourselves that we are not truly renouncing Christ. We are just fooling this wicked man, staying alive to do God’s will on earth as a husband, father, employee, etc.

But what would we be saying about the glory and worth and value of Christ our Savior as you leave safely? The real question that the gunman forcing is this: is Christ more precious to you than life? Is the honor of your Lord worth defending and losing homes and retirement and the esteem of others and even life for? How valuable and and precious is Christ to you?

Peter’s instruction here is to not be ashamed of Him. Do not be ashamed to be named as one of His, but rather publicly honor and praise His name and work. Give God glory by showing that Christ Jesus is so valuable and worthy of honor that you gladly wear His name even if that means you will be treated as He was.

Though all the world rage, Christians, do not renounce Christ.

  1. Entrust Your Soul To Your Faithful Creator (4:19)

By way of summary Peter says in verse 19,

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

The bottom line is this: will we entrusts our souls and the souls of our loved ones into God’s sovereign and good hands? How do you prepare for fiery trials? By entrusting all you are and all you have and all you hope for to His capable hands and to live doing right – whatever difficulties come our way. He has not lost control and He has not abandoned you.

Will we trust Him?

Conclusion

I have been praying that this message does not seem like and irrelevant subject, but that we all would be examining our own hearts and the genuineness of our own faith. Are we here on this planet to know and honor Christ with our lives? Are we here to extend the love of Christ to others? Are we here to see the lost saved and gathered in and strengthened in the faith? Why are you here?

Trials will come,

  1. Let us not be surprised,
  2. But rejoice that we share in Christ’s sufferings.
  3. Let us recognize that we are indeed blessed – God has not abandoned us. He is for us and with us and in us.
  4. Let us always strive to do what is right.
  5. Let us not be ashamed of Christ, but always honor Him before all people.
  6. Let us entrust our souls to God as our faithful Creator who will work all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

~ Andy

About Andrew Murray
Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.