The book of I Peter is mainly speaking about persecution. The first-century Christians suffered great persecution for their faith in Christ. I believe that this book is positioned in a perfect place in the canon of Scriptures, right before the books of I, II, and III John, Jude, and Revelation, the last books of our Bible. I believe that as we get closer to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christians around the globe are going to experience persecution more and more.
Here are two thoughts. When we are suffering persecution, it is a test of our faith and a purifying of our person. I Peter 4:1-2 says: “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” Suffering has a way of purifying our lives, reminding us to put away the sin we are involved in and live for Christ instead. After all, He suffered great pain and affliction for us. Secondly, suffering has a parting effect. I Peter 4:3-4 tells us: “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:” When we start living for Christ, our unbelieving friends (and family) will no longer want to be around us. They will mock us and may persecute us in their own way. Persecution has a separating effect on our old life and from the crowd with which we previously ran. Suffering also has a persevering effect as we see in verses 7-11. We can see that suffering persecution has a positive effect on our lives. One of the grand marks of a true professor of Christ over an artificial professor is that persevering effect! We will persevere till the end.
Considering these facts, how then should we view our suffering for the Gospel of Christ? I Peter 4:12-16 says: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Our suffering for Christ will be worth it all when the time of His appearing comes! But, if we suffer because of our own evildoing, that is a different matter entirely! I Peter 4:17-19 says: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” I believe that there is a prophecy in the last two verses that judgment is going to begin in the house of God because He needs to purify His bride before He takes her home as His wife So, the persecution of the church in the last days is the beginning of the judgment that is coming to the whole world!
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