PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Who Is Jesus?

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090628_who_is_jesus.mp3

Who is Jesus? I want to ask the question this morning because the answer to this question is absolutely central and has eternal implications. The identity of Jesus is not peripheral. What we think of Jesus will determine whether we admire him and delight in his presence for all eternity or whether we suffer under his wrath for all eternity. Jesus himself said:

John 8:23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am [he] you will die in your sins.”.

Everyone has an opinion about Jesus. Some think he was just a good man, a great moral teacher, or a prophet. Some think he was crazy, his life was a failure and his death was a tragedy. Some think he was a blasphemer and the worst of criminals, deserving the punishment he received. Some even think he was demon possessed. Some think wasn’t really human, but only appeared to be human. Some think he was an angel. Some think he was one of God’s many spirit children. Jesus claims that what you think about his identity will impact your eternal destiny. Today we will focus not on the opinions of men but on the testimony of God concerning Jesus, on Jesus’ own testimony about himself, on the testimonies of those who walked with him and knew him. Jesus said ‘I am from above… I am not of this world …unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins’. A few verses later he says:

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We must know the truth about him. Jesus warned his followers:

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (cf. Mark 13:22)

Paul expressed the same concern this way:

2Corinthians 11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Today we’re going to take a birds eye view of the biblical Jesus. We’ll move quickly over what should be most familiar; we’ll linger on those aspects that may be less familiar to us. We’ll see Jesus as God the eternal Son; the humble servant; the sinless substitute; our present mediator; the promised messiah; the conquering king and wrathful avenger of the righteous honor of God’s holy name. Any one facet of who he is without the whole picture is less than who he really is.

The goal of this sermon is not to fill your head with information, although that can be good and helpful. The goal is to fill our hearts with worship and admiration of Jesus in all the complexity and beauty of his nature and character. Seeing Jesus for who he is and savoring the beauty of his characteristics will be our pleasure for all eternity. Now we have only a short hour, so think of this as a table of contents or a rough outline pointing the direction of who we will enjoy for all eternity.

We’ll start with Jesus as God the eternal Son, equal with the Father. The Gospel of John starts by saying:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John affirms that the Word was with God in the beginning. He is eternal. And he identifies the Word as God – the Word was God. He identifies the Word as the Creator – everything was made through him. And he identifies the Word as the self-existent one or YHWH; the one who is, the one who has life in himself. Then, in verse 14, he makes it expressly clear who he is referring to:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is the Word, the self-existent creator God YHWH, the all-glorious only Son from the Father. Look at John 8; Jesus said:

John 8:56-59 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Jesus claimed to be a contemporary of Abraham – in fact to predate Abraham. But he changes the normal grammar – he doesn’t say ‘I was before Abraham; he says ‘I am’ – and the Jews understood what he was claiming – he was claiming to be the God of Abraham – the one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3:14 –tell the people ‘I AM’ has sent you – the self-existent one. Then in John 10 Jesus said:

John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”

The Jews take great pains to make sure we get our theology straight. If Jesus’ words weren’t clear enough on their own, the Jews reaction shows exactly how Jesus was to be understood.

.John 10:31-33 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

They accused him of blasphemy because he was claiming to be God. Now look at Jesus prayer in John 17:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Jesus in his prayer to the Father is claiming that he was with the Father before the world existed, and he is claiming that he possessed God’s glory – the magnificent display of the divine nature and character was his. Let’s look at Isaiah 42:8 so we don’t miss the significance of what Jesus is saying:

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

YHWH is a jealous God who does not share his glory with another. Jesus is asking the Father to again put his nature and character as God on display so that he will be honored and worshiped as God. This is an audacious request unless his statement that he is one with the Father is also true.

Paul says:

Philippians 2:5-6 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

He says that Jesus existed in the form of God. Jesus’ being is the very being of God. Equality with God would be something any created being could only unsuccessfully grasp at, but Jesus possessed it by nature and by right.

So Jesus is the self-existent YHWH, the all-glorious Creator-God who breathed the universe into existence, equal to and one with the Father. Paul goes on; he:

Philippians 2:6 …did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus, as God’s eternal Son, also became the humble servant. The creator of the universe entered into his creation as a helpless baby. God without ceasing to be God for a moment, took on an additional nature – he took upon himself a human nature. God who is spirit, took on a mortal body of flesh. Jesus made himself nothing!

And as the humble servant, he became our sinless substitute.

Philippians 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

…12 …because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

1Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, …

1Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

2Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Not only is he the sinless substitute, but he is our present mediator.

1Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Jesus is the one who goes between God and man to work reconciliation. The author of Hebrews points to his better priesthood:

Hebrews 7:24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for us:

John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,…

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus prayed for us then, but the bible tells us he is still praying for us now. ‘he always lives to make intercession for them.’

Romans 8:34…Christ Jesus is the one who died––more than that, who was raised––who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Think of that – Jesus, right now is seated at the right hand of the Father and is constantly interceding for us, praying for us, mediating for us. At the cross, the work of redemption was finished, but Jesus continually applies his finished work to us in the presence of the Father. Jude 24-25 says:

Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jesus can keep us from stumbling because he is right now talking to the Father on our behalf.
Jesus is the promised Messiah, the coming King. The wise men from the east came:

Matthew 2:2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well:

John 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

In Acts, Apollos:

Acts 18:28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

After the his resurrection, his disciples asked him:

Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus answered that it was not for them to know the times or seasons

that the Father has fixed by his own authority. So Jesus is the coming King, but what will he be like when he comes again? Jesus is the wrathful avenger of the righteous honor of God’s holy name.

We tend to have this Sunday school flannel graph image of Jesus, meek and mild. Long blond hair and blue eyes with fair complexion, slight build, wearing a long white dress and turning the other cheek. If that’s what we think of Jesus, we will be shocked when we read the gospels.

John 2:14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money–changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money–changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

We will be even more shocked when we see him as John saw him in his revelation; John hears a loud voice like a trumpet behind him:

Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two–edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Later in Revelation he is described again:

Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

This is who Isaiah is talking about when he says

Isaiah 63:3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. 4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.

Jesus is who the unbelievers fear when they say:

Revelation 6:16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

The wrath of the Lamb; this is Jesus:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

This is Jesus; God the eternal Son; the humble servant; our sinless substitute; our present mediator; the promised messiah; the conquering king and wrathful avenger of the righteous honor of God’s holy name. And the appropriate response is worship. We get a glimpse of the white hot holy affection for the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenlies in:

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 28, 2009 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Terror and Beauty of God; 1 Peter 3:18

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090621_1peter3_18.mp3

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,

The goal of what Christ did was to bring us to God. But is that a good thing? Do we want to be brought to God? How many of you are sinners? The rest of you are lying, or you’re calling God a liar.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

1John 1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Let’s say you broke the window of the grumpy old man next door. You were hiding under the porch. Your mom grabs you by the ear and drags you over to his front door. Is that an enjoyable experience? If we recognize our massive guilt and offense toward God, being brought to God could feel just like that. Is this the ride in the police car to bring us before the judge for sentencing? What is this judge like; what is God like?

Nahum 1:2 The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. 5 The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. 6 Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.

If you’re a sinner like me and understand the absolute holiness and righteousness of God, being brought to him is a terrifying thought.

The question is asked ‘who can stand?’; ‘who can endure?’. This is a terrifying picture. Or consider what God says in Isaiah 33:

Isaiah 33:13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

Being brought into the presence of God is a paralyzing thought. In fact in the book of Revelation it says:

Revelation 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Everyone in the whole world, no exceptions, would rather be crushed and buried in an avalanche than to have to face up to their Creator. We desperately want to run and hide, whatever the cost. If we truly appreciate the gravity of our sin and the depth of our offense by our total disregard of our glorious Creator, we desperately want to avoid encountering him at all costs. Even the children of Israel, after God led them out of Egypt, were terrified.

Exodus 19:16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Exodus 20:18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”

But as I studied, I observed a strange pattern in the Psalms. Those who fear the Lord do not run away from the Lord; rather they run to the him!

Psalm 115:11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.

Those who fear him also trust in him for help. Psalm 119:120 says:

Psalm 119:120 My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.

But just a few verses earlier he said:

Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.

I tremble for fear of you, so I run to you and hope in you. Revelation says it the same way:

Revelation 15:4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Those who fear you come to you and worship. Those who are afraid of you run to you for refuge and salvation. The passages we looked at earlier point to this also. The passage in Isaiah 33 asks:

Isaiah 33:14… “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

And the answer is given:

Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly…

Now we know that none are righteous and no man can tame the tongue. So this has to be the righteousness apart from the law that comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Romans 3:21-22) In verse 24 he says

Isaiah 33:24 … the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

The other passage we looked at in Nahum said:

Nahum 1:3 …the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. … 6 Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger?

But he goes on to say:

… 7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. 8 But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.

Who can stand? Who can endure? Those who take refuge in him. He is good, he is a stronghold to them. So if you fear God and run to him, if you trust in him and make him your hiding place, then you can endure the heat of his anger, you can stand before his indignation. If by faith you are clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, you can dwell with everlasting burnings, you can dwell with the consuming fire!

But who would want to dwell with the consuming fire? Start a campfire and find out. You can’t keep kids away from the fire. They want to put sticks into it and carry it around and jump over it and get as close as they can to it. Even full grown kids like to play with fire. We all are drawn to danger and thrill and excitement and adventure. We like to admire the power and capacity to consume and destroy. He goes on in Isaiah 33:17-18 to say:

Isaiah 33:17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; …18 Your heart will muse on the terror: “Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute? Where is he who counted the towers?”

So, although being brought to God is a terrifying thought because of our sins, we are irresistibly drawn to gaze on his beauty and to muse on his terror. The Psalmist says ‘one thing’. One thing I pursue. One thing I seek after. One thing I have asked the Lord for:

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

One thing – to dwell with God, to gaze on the beauty of God.

Psalm 42:1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

The desperate drive for God is compared to the drive to satisfy thirst in the desert. Our souls long to be satisfied in God.

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

Only God can satisfy our deepest longings, longings for truth, longings for justice, longings for relationship, longings for intimacy, longings for authenticity, longings for acceptance, longings for beauty, longings for life, longings for meaning and purpose. We crave intimacy with our creator.

Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

In Exodus 33, Moses was pleading with God that his presence would go with his people. He asked that they not move at all unless the presence of God would be with them. When God granted the request, Moses asked for one thing. One thing Moses wanted:

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

Earlier in the chapter, we saw that the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, but this created in Moses a hunger for more. Moses had a craving for more of God. God responded that no man can see his face and live. But he granted him as much as he could handle. Paul draws a contrast between Moses and our present privilege.

2Corithians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

This is the good news!

Isaiah 40:9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

This is the same good news that the angel proclaims in Revelation.

Revelation 14:6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

The content of the good news is ‘fear God and give him glory and worship him.’ ‘Behold your God!’ ‘dwell with the consuming fire’ This is our hope. But we must ask the question ‘how can we sinners be brought to an absolutely pure and holy God in such a way that we are hidden safely in him and not consumed by him?’ And this question brings us back to our verse in Peter:

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,

Christ, in order to bring us safely to God, suffered once, the righteous for the unrighteous. This is the great exchange. Christ took my place as a substitute. He being totally righteous and sinless, suffered in the stead of unrighteous sinners. I dishonored God and robbed him by not giving him the praise and glory that was his by right. Jesus took the punishment and wrath that was coming to me, and he replaced my sin with his perfect righteousness. Jesus paid my debt in full, then credited my account with his life of righteousness that was well pleasing to his Father. By his death and resurrection, Jesus brought me to God, not as a condemned criminal awaiting sentencing, but as one who has been hidden in Christ and made righteous in him, so that I can be accepted, and enjoy the ravishing beauty of embracing the one who is a consuming fire without being consumed.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 21, 2009 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 4:17-19; The Reason for Suffering

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090614_1peter4_17-19.mp3

06/14 1 Peter 4:17-19 The Reason for Suffering

4:12 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. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Intro: Peter is writing to encourage the saints in suffering. The ultimate purpose of humanity is to bring glory to God, as Peter stated at the end of verse 11:

1 Peter 4:11… in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

And suffering is a stage on which we can most eloquently magnify our great God and Savior. In verse 16 he tells us ‘if anyone suffers as a Christian… let him glorify God in that name’.

Peter has warned us against a wrong response to suffering: don’t be surprised. We are not to be surprised because Jesus prepared us for suffering by his teaching, and because we know what suffering is for – just like precious metals need the impurities to be burned away in the furnace, so our faith must be tested in the furnace of affliction to prove its infinite worth. Martin Luther put it this way:

“When faith begins, God does not neglect it; he lays the holy cross upon our back in order to strengthen us and make our faith mighty.” Luther, p.192

We are warned against a wrong response: suffering is not unusual – expect it. Then he gives us the desired response: suffering is fellowship with Christ – delight in it! The weightiness of intimacy with a God who is glorious beyond our comprehension far outbalances any temporary pain that we must endure.

In verses 17-19, Peter gives us reason for our sufferings, and he brings us comfort by drawing inferences from our situation, and finally he concludes with a summary directive for how we are to live in light of this truth. He says:

17 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

+The Reason for our Suffering

He starts with the word ‘For’: Peter is giving us reason for suffering. We might ask ‘what is going on in the world? Why are God’s people suffering and evildoers are going unpunished?’ Peter’s answer is that we suffer as Christians because it is time. Take courage and be faithful to endure, because even the timing of the trials is God’s own appointment and does not come from our enemies. We live in God’s appointed season for judgment. Judgment -(krima) is not necessarily condemnation (katakrima); this can be a judgment that results in good or bad evaluations. The results could be approval, or discipline, or condemnation.

Our God is described as a consuming fire:

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

And no one will be untouched by his consuming fire.

Isaiah 33:13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

When I read that, I assumed it was a rhetorical question, with the expected answer ‘no one!’. But then I read the next verse and found Isaiah’s inspired answer:

Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, 16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. 17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar. 18 Your heart will muse on the terror: “Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute? Where is he who counted the towers?”

‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings? He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly’; in a word, only he who is clothed in the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ! Our eyes will behold the king in his beauty! What a thought! And our heart will muse on the terror – where is he? Where is he? But for the grace of God, that is where I would also be.

Believers are strengthened and purified by God’s refining fire. Sins are being eliminated, holiness is being developed and trust in God increases.

It is time for judgment to begin from the household of God

Peter has told us that we as the church are:

1 Peter 2: 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ

And although this is a privileged position, it is also a vulnerable position. We see in scripture a pattern for God’s judgment to begin within his own house There are three passages that Peter probably has in mind: Jeremiah 25, Ezekiel 9 and Malachi 3

In Jeremiah 25 – (God tells disobedient Judah that he is bringing Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon against them to judge them for 70 years. Then he will punish the king of Babylon for their iniquities.)

15 Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16 They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” 17 So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it: (notice where he starts) 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day;

(then he goes on to list the other nations; Egypt, the Philistines; Arabia, and finally down the list to Babylon; he says:)

26… And after them the king of Babylon shall drink. 27 “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’ 28 “And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: You must drink! 29 For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the LORD of hosts.’

30 “You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: “‘The LORD will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the LORD.’

God will judge the nations, and he begins with his own people. In Ezekiel 9, God is pouring out his wrath on the rebellious people of Israel and he commands

Ezekiel 9:5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house.

God being infinitely holy cannot condone sin; even his own family stands under his judgment. He proves himself impartially just in correcting the sins of his own. In Malachi

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. 5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. 6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed….

God begins by purifying his house, then he moves to judge the evildoers. But there is a distinction; he goes on:

Malachi 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

Remember, the suffering of the Christian is not God’s vindictive wrath, but his fatherly discipline.

1 Corinthians11:32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews makes this abundantly clear:

Hebrews 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

He goes on to contrast the discipline of God with our physical parents:

Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

+Comfort and Caution from the Implications

17 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

This is an argument for fearful joy. It is fearful to think about the end of those that reject the good news of Jesus. It is fearful to think of the pain we experience in the refining fire and think of those for whom it is not redemptive but vindictive. And yet there is a sense of comfort and joy knowing that we will only endure the beginning of what will make an end of God’s enemies

He describes the ungodly as ‘those who do not obey the gospel of God’. Notice he does not say ‘those who do not believe’, but ‘those who do not obey’. The gospel is not only a set of facts to be believed. It is a God to be obeyed. We obey the gospel of God by coming to him on his terms and submitting to his authority. The good news is that there is one God, and there is one way for us to find favor with him – through the great exchange at the cross of our sin for the righteousness of Jesus Christ:

1Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,

The good news is God himself; that we will be brought into the consuming fire of his absolute holiness and our eyes will behold the king in his beauty! That our senses will be ravished by the one who is ultimately satisfying and we will bask in the radiance of his glory and gladly worship at his feet.

Peter draws from the wording of Proverbs when he says:

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

The righteous – no one is righteous on their own – he is speaking of those who are counted righteous in Jesus Christ, because their sins are washed away by his blood and they are given his perfect record of righteousness. These righteous, Peter says, are ‘scarcely saved’. They are saved, but it is with extreme difficulty. This does not imply that there is a question as to the outcome – whether those who trust in Christ will be saved or not; all who trust Christ will be saved, but it will not be without persevering through great difficulty. The great reformer John Calvin described it this way:

“But when he says, that a righteous man is scarcely saved, he refers to the difficulties of the present life, for our course in the world is like a dangerous sailing between many rocks, and exposed to many storms and tempests; and thus no one arrives at the port, except he who has escaped from thousand deaths. It is in the meantime certain that we are guided by God’s hand, and that we are in no danger of shipwreck as long as we have him as our pilot.” ~John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter

Saving sinners is probably the most difficult and personally costly thing God has ever done. To overcome justice with mercy at the cost of his own beloved Son was infinitely more than we will ever be able to appreciate. Forgiving sinful man left a question mark on God’s righteousness that could only be removed by the blood of an infinite and holy sacrifice. If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

Hebrews 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The author of Hebrews goes on to encourage his readers based on their joyful endurance of suffering

Hebrews 10:32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

+Concluding Directives

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

A main theme of the entire letter summarized here – Christians do not suffer accidentally or because of the irresistible forces of blind fate, but we suffer according to God’s will. The world is not out of control; God is working out his plan in our lives. Peter explicitly states this because suffering is not normally perceived as God’s will. Because this is true, because we know that suffering is purifying for us, it must affect the way we suffer. We are commanded to ‘entrust our souls‘ to God. To entrust is to hand over something of value to the care of another. Paul said to Timothy

2 Timothy 1:12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

Our future salvation is secure if we have placed it completely in the hand of him who is able to save, who made us and everything out of nothing, and has engaged his faithfulness in his promises to us! We have no ability in ourselves to preserve our souls. We place ourselves securely in his strong hands and relinquish control. Notice God’s name in this passage: ‘a faithful Creator’ God’s authority as universal judge rests on his role as creator of all people; the one who created the world is also sovereign over it. Not a ruthless sovereign, but a faithful Creator – God is faithful to his people and to his promises. He who created the universe out of nothing by his word surely knows how to care for those that he created. We can have confidence in his ability; and confidence in his faithfulness.

Our part is: ‘while doing good’ We trust God to care for our souls and we keep on doing what we know is right; living in such a way that ‘they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation’ 1 Peter 2:12; living to ‘proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light’ 1 Peter 2:9; serving ‘by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ’.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 14, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Peter 4:12-16; Delight in Suffering

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090607_1peter4_12-16.mp3

0607 1 Peter 4:12-16 Delight in Sufferings

4:12 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. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Intro: Peter is dealing with fiery trials in the life of the believer. He warns us of the thinking and attitude we are not to have toward our suffering, and then he tells us the attitude we are to have in the midst of our suffering, and he gives us weighty reasons for this kind of attitude. He has just finished giving us instructions in light of the imminent end; pray, love, practice hospitality, and user your gifts, and he burst into worship…

4:11… -in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Now he begins a new section:

4:12 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 starts by prohibiting the wrong response to suffering. But he starts this new section by reminding us who we are. As he said in 2:11, he now repeats here – we are beloved. This is a term of affection, a term of endearment. And I’m sure Peter felt warmly toward his readers, but he is reminding us of God’s love toward us. We are beloved! Peter began this letter pointing us to God’s work in our salvation. We are the privileged recipients of God’s great mercy. He caused us to be born again to a living hope, the promise of resurrection and an imperishable inheritance, which he is keeping for us, and he is guarding us for it. Trials prove our faith genuine so that we indeed obtain the outcome of salvation. Our salvation was the focal point of the Old Testament prophets, it is the goal of the New Testament proclaimers of the good news, and the Holy Spirit who empowers their message, and the Father who sent the Spirit. Even angels are fixated on the great mercy and grace that has been extended to us sinners.

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

We are not to let suffering take us by surprise. Back in 4:4, Peter used the same word to tell us that our old friends will be surprised when we no longer sin with them the way we used to. They are freaked out that we won’t do what we used to do. Now we are not to be freaked out by trials as if something freaky were happening. Why?

1. Jesus warned us suffering would come:

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Mark 13:9-13 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 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. 20 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. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

Suffering should not take us by surprise because Jesus warned us that it would come. In fact, he promised us that it would come.

2. We should not be shocked and bewildered when suffering comes because we know what trials are for. Peter tells us right in this verse: the fiery trial is coming upon you to test you. Back in chapter 1 he told us:

1:6-8 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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.

Trials are necessary to prove our faith genuine like the refining fire is necessary to purify precious metals. We should not be surprised by trials because we need the refining process so that our faith will shine. Peter has adopted this picture from the Old Testament:

Proverbs 27:21 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.

Psalms 66:10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.”’

Malachi 3:2-3 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

The goal of the refining process is to create purity by burning off all the impurities. It is when the heat is turned up that we realize the limits of our own strength and we are forced to cling to God’s grace. And it is in the midst of the fire that we realize the strength of his grace to comfort and keep us. We have God’s promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

That’s the negative – what we are not to do – we are not to think suffering is unnatural – because Jesus predicted our suffering, and we know that suffering produces a positive purifying effect.

Now let’s see what he does tell us to do:

13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Suffering is not unnatural; expect it. Now he tells us: suffering is fellowship with Christ; delight in it. This is a strange command. I can understand suffering is inevitable, so brace yourself, grit your teeth and get through it. I can even understand the motivation that future good will come out of the present suffering, so hang in there and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. But what Peter tells us is shocking. He tells us not just to tough it out now so that we can enjoy future blessing, but he tells us to delight in the suffering right now as you go through it. That is completely unnatural. Only someone who has been through the deep waters of suffering with Jesus can really understand this. Do you believe that Jesus can meet your needs? Yes. Do you have any needs? No, not really. But those who are profoundly suffering will say ‘yes, Jesus is meeting my needs. I am clinging to him. He is all that I have.’ And in the middle of suffering, there is communion with Christ. The word translated ‘share’ is the rich Greek word ‘koinonia’ – fellowship, intimacy, communion. When we suffer like Jesus suffered, we experience an intimacy with him that is sweet beyond degree. Listen how a woman who spent 10 months in Nazi concentration camps for hiding Jews puts it:

“Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.

“Sometimes I would slip the Bible from its little (sack) with hands that shook, so mysterious had it become to me. It was new; it had just been written. I marveled sometimes that the ink was dry…I had read a thousand times the story of Jesus’ arrest–how soldiers had slapped Him, laughed at Him, flogged Him. Now such happenings had faces and voices.” ~Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

‘Life (in the concentration camp) took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. (as the daily life grew every day more horrible), the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory’ This is a woman who knew suffering – suffering for doing what was right. And in that suffering, she found an intimacy with God that grew daily better and richer and deeper and more glorious. Here’s what she said later:

“Looking back across the years of my life, I can see the working of a divine pattern which is the way of God with His children. When I was in a prison camp in Holland during the war, I often prayed, ‘Lord, never let the enemy put me in a German concentration camp.’ God answered no to that prayer. Yet in the German camp, with all its horror, I found many prisoners who had never heard of Jesus Christ. “If God had not used my sister Betsie and me to bring them to Him, they would never have heard of Him. Many died, or were killed, but many died with the name of Jesus on their lips. They were well worth all our suffering.

‘many died with the name of Jesus on their lips. They were well worth all our suffering.’ The horror was real. The suffering was unimaginable. But ‘they were well worth all our suffering’. That is an eternal perspective.

13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Rejoice now in sufferings so that later when his glory is revealed you may be overjoyed. Peter goes on to explain how it is possible to rejoice inside of and because of suffering.

14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

This is what Jesus taught about suffering:

Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.;

Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

The apostolic verdict on those who suffer for the name of Christ is ‘you are blessed’ – you are fortunate, so rejoice. And this is why he can say that: ‘you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.’ When you suffer, God’s Spirit and God’s glory rests upon you. Peter is borrowing language here from Isaiah:

Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

The Spirit of the LORD was prophesied to rest upon Christ. When we suffer for the name of Christ, his Spirit also rests upon us.

It says ‘the Spirit of glory and of God’. The glory of God is an awesome thing in scripture. The word ‘glory’ (kabod) literally means weighty or heavy or dense – to have mass and substance – gravity. When Solomon completed the temple in Jerusalem, we are told that ‘the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD’ (1Ki.8:10-11) so that the priests could no longer enter the temple. But in Ezekiel 10-11, the glory of the LORD is seen withdrawing from the temple because of the sins of the people, and God sent them into captivity and allowed Jerusalem and the temple to be destroyed. But then, after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from their captivity, God said to Zerubbabel who rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem:

Haggai 2:5 …My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. … 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.”’

That was the promise, but the glory of the LORD never descended on that temple like he had on the first. At the end of the Old Testament, God promised:

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

For 400 years the Jews waited for the Lord to come to his temple. Then a young couple, Mary and Joseph brought their child to be dedicated at the temple, and Simeon recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of that prophecy. The presence of Jesus is the greater glory of the temple.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…

That is truly awesome! Jesus is the glory of God – the weightiness of God. And in your suffering, Peter says, the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you! If we understand who God is – his reputation, his fame, his weightiness, there is nothing that we could experience that compares to having his glory and his Spirit resting on us. Fellowship with Jesus is true joy in the middle of suffering.

But Peter must clarify:

15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

Some might say ‘I’m in prison suffering for Jesus’ – no, you’re in prison because you’re an evildoer and you belong there. You put yourself there by your own stupidity. There’s no merit in that. I’ve got lung cancer – I’m suffering for Jesus. No, two packs a day, you did that to yourself. Your nose got bloodied because it was poking around in somebody else’s business. That’s nobody’s fault but your own. That is not the kind of suffering that Peter is talking about. That is not fellowship in his sufferings. Jesus didn’t suffer for any of his own sins – he didn’t have any!

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

This is the third time in the whole bible that the name ‘Christian’ is used (Acts 11:26; 26:28). Every time, it is on the lips of unbelievers as slander toward those who are followers of Christ. There is no shame associated with suffering simply because you are a Christ-follower. You can be ashamed of yourself if you were stupid and are suffering for it. But if you are suffering because of your identification with Jesus, if you are suffering because in some small way you resemble Jesus, if you in your sufferings are faithful and joyful and meek like Jesus was, that brings glory to God. Peter ended the last section of his letter by saying:

4:11…-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If you suffer as a Christian, suffer in such a way that in your actions and in your attitudes and in your words God is honored. That in everything God may be glorified as you act in the name of Christ, as one who represents Jesus to others. That by your joy, even in the middle of suffering, those around you see your fellowship with God as all-satisfying and substantial, outweighing any pain.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 7, 2009 Posted by | 1 Peter, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment