Lesson 23 - I Peter 4: 12-19

Lesson 23 - I Peter 4: 12-19

Lesson for June 30, 2013

The Book of I Peter

Chapter 4:12-19

Verse 12

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.

The Greek word for surprised is “xenizo” meaning to think something is strange.   The negative that goes with this word means “to stop.”   The change of circumstances from something pleasant to something unpleasant will normally be a shock to the unbeliever; it is trauma in the soul.  But this should not be where believers are concerned; that is, believers who have Bible doctrine in their souls.  The present tense indicates that the Christians to whom Peter originally addressed this were already beginning to experience suffering and some were shocked by it.  A believer should never experience shock or amazement when suffering comes if they have Bible doctrine in the soul.  If a believer is in emotional revolt or reversionism then obviously they will be shocked.  It’s all about pre-preparation so you are not caught off guard when suffering comes your way and it most likely will at some point.

The Greek word for fiery is “purosis” meaning to set on fire or to burn up.  Peter uses this word to explain a maximum pressure situation.   It is a catastrophe which would shock and completely take by surprise an unbeliever, normally.  Which is among you indicates that the suffering has already begun to some degree.

Which comes upon you for testing is to try you is literally: “face to face with testing, coming to you for your benefit.”   Testing is the Greek word “peirasmos,” which has the connotation of testing to determine something.  When God allows testing to come into your life as an advancing believer it is for testing not discipline.  This, of course means you are keeping short accounts with regard to your personal sins and staying in fellowship with God a maximum amount of time.  This type of testing is beneficial to you if you pass the test by utilizing the Bible doctrine in your soul.  This is where God always turns suffering in to blessing.  (I Corinthians 10:13)

Strange thing is the Greek word “xenos” meaning something foreign or alien.   The believer in this case has assumed that there will be no suffering in the Christian life and that any suffering that comes is because of discipline. So the “strange thing” here indicates that suffering is not normal to our way of thinking and our way of life, and therefore adds pressure.  Happening is the Greek word “sumbaino,” which means to come together.  In other words, things in your life have come together at some point to cause you suffering and bring pressure into your life.  Verses 13 and following will show how to handle this pressure when it comes your way.

Verse 13

But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

The Greek word for degree is “koinoneo” and it means to have in common, to be a sharer or to be a partner.  Here it means we have suffering in common with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Certainly we will not suffer to the same degree that Christ suffered.  But we will have, as Christ did, undeserved suffering in life.

God wants to demonstrate that His provision of grace is so fantastic that you can share His happiness in time of suffering, in time of disaster or in the worst possible circumstances of life.  This is brought out now by a new command.  Keep on rejoicing so that you may rejoice, which is the opposite of being surprised when suffering comes your way.  Being able to rejoice in time of adversity is a sure sign that you have advanced in your spiritual life.  Christ’s glory is actually revealed in the life of a believer as he follows the pattern of divine viewpoint thinking resulting in a relaxed mental attitude toward undeserved suffering. (Philippians 4:4)  

At any point in your life when you have undeserved suffering, you can also have God’s happiness.  They go together; Bible doctrine brings them together in the soul.  The grace concept of sharing the happiness of God is found in John 14:26; 16:12-15; 1 John 2:27.  However, God’s perfect happiness is only potential.  It depends on whether or not you are functioning under the filling of the Holy Spirit and applying Bible doctrine. 

The Greek word for exultation is “agalliao,” which means to celebrate.   If you share God’s happiness in time of disaster and you apply Bible doctrine then it is a source of celebration.   Inner happiness based on Bible doctrine sustains the believer in any pressure or disaster in this life.

Verse 14

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

If (and you will be) is a first class condition recognizing the reality of undeserved suffering.   The Greek word for reviled is “oneidizo,” which means to be censored, to be reproached or to be insulted.  The name of Christ refers to His person.   The believer is persecuted and reviled because of his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Blessed is the Greek word “makarios,” which means happiness.   The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ in our sufferings by controlling us.  So the Spirit of glory is His function here; the Spirit of God is His person.  The phrase rests upon you means to rest from above, and to rest from above means to be refreshed.  When the believer is filled with the Spirit, Bible doctrine will function in his soul and he will be refreshed from above.  These are the inner resources for times of suffering.  

In verses 15 and 16 we have the two general categories of suffering.  In verse 15 a believer suffers for discipline; in verse 16 a believer suffers for blessing.  In the Christian life all suffering is designed for blessing.  When a believer gets out of fellowship and gets into discipline, obviously he is suffering for discipline.  But the moment that he utilizes I John 1:9 the cursing is turned to blessing.  The suffering may continue at the same intensity but the purpose of that suffering is now blessing.  The suffering is often diminished and the purpose of the diminished suffering is in itself a blessing.   And sometimes the suffering is removed and, of course, that is blessing too.  So, no matter how you slice it, once you get back into fellowship through Rebound then the purpose of the suffering changes.

Verse 15-16

By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler, but as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.

In this passage you have four sins specified.  These four sins develop four principles of suffering for discipline and Peter uses these as an example of suffering for discipline.

As a murderer is the Greek word is “phoneus,” which refers to homicide.  It does not refer to serving in the military service.  It does refer to criminal activity.  So don’t suffer as a criminal. As a thief is the Greek word “kleptes,” which is also a criminal category.  The murderer ignores the life of others but the thief ignores the property of others.  Note: Legislation in a government is designed to protect life, property and the rights of others.  So in these first two categories we have the potential of law-breaking (criminal) Christians.  The third area ignores the rights of others, so we are dealing with a Christian criminal again.  This is called “evildoers.” The Greek for evildoers is “kakopoios,” and it is a technical word for a criminal.  For example, this could be a person who is guilty of civil disobedience, such as participation in mobs which destroy both life and property.  So he ignores the rights of others.

Troublesome meddler is the Greek word “allotrioepiskopos,” which means to be an inspector or a watcher of someone else.  It came to be a word meaning one who meddles in the affairs of others.  It is described in Romans 14:4.  Every believer must live his own life as unto the Lord.  The enemy of the privacy of your priesthood is the meddler.  This is the person who, as a believer, meddles into the affairs of others and is guilty of the “long proboscis.”  Every believer has the right as a priest to his privacy and he has the right to live his own life as unto the Lord according to Colossians 2:16-17.  Generally speaking, the basis for a trouble meddler is mental attitude sins like pride, jealousy, implacability, vindictiveness, etc.  These sins always lead to becoming nosy.  So the principle that comes out of this: for that person who interferes in the lives of others, the person who sticks their nose in other people’s business is the person who eventually alienates themselves from others.   

Christian is one of four designations for a believer in the Church Age.  It was rare to find this word as a designation for believers in that first century.  The word means a follower of Christ.  It emphasizes a identification relationship.  It has to do with association and eternal security.   The second designation for a believer in the early Church was disciple and it means a person dedicated to learning doctrine.  A disciple is a person who accepts the discipline and the teaching of someone else.  The third word is saint. You are in union with Christ; you share who and what Christ is.  Everything that Christ is you share by virtue of the fact that you are in union with Him. This is really one of the better designations.  It is the designation of sanctification.  Then there was a fourth designation for Christians in the early Church which was believer.

There is no need to be ashamed when you suffer if your suffering is undeserved.   If on the other hand you allow emotion to rule you in carnality then you will be ashamed.  God does not intend for you to be emotional about suffering, He intends for you to apply Bible doctrine.  If you apply doctrine then you glorify God.

Verse 17

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?

Judgment is a reference to self-judgment or evaluation of your Christian life.  Judgment within the body of Christ should result in rebound if necessary.  The basis for rebound is the judgment of Christ on the Cross.  In other words, our sins went to court at the Cross, they were condemned at the Cross, they were judged at the Cross.  So all we have to do is confess or cite our sins (rebound) and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  The house of God is the Church on earth composed of individual believers who must individually judge themselves and return to fellowship with God by citing or naming their sins.

Rebound is a judicial sentence passed upon one’s self according to 1 Corinthians 11:31.  The basis for this self-judgment is the fact that we are judging our own sins which have already been judged on the Cross. The confession or the naming is simply recognition of what was accomplished at the Cross, and therefore we are cleansed from all unrighteousness at that particular point.

According to the Word of God cursing can only be turned to blessing by means of the Rebound Technique.  In other words, when you rebound and come back into fellowship you are under a certain amount of discipline — self-induced or divine.  Several things can happen: the suffering can continue at its present rate, the suffering can diminish, or the suffering can be removed.  If the suffering continues the purpose of that suffering is blessing.  If the suffering is diminished the purpose of that suffering is blessing.  If the suffering is removed you have blessing, so no matter which you are blessed.  So if there is blessing for us when we respond to God’s grace provision of rebound, what is the outcome for those who reject God’s grace at the Cross?  Rebound belongs to those who have accepted God’s grace at the Cross, and so it is accepting more grace from God.  What is the end of them that obey not the Gospel of God?  Well, they have completely rejected grace and therefore the alternative for them is suffering forever.

Verse 18-19

And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?  Therefore let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

When a person believes in Jesus Christ he enters into union with Christ.  The moment we enter into union with Christ His righteousness becomes our righteousness. (II Corinthians 5:21)  So we have imputed to us immediately the righteousness of God.  And, as a result, there follows immediate justification or vindication.  Why are we vindicated?  Because we now have God’s righteousness and God vindicates us without compromising His righteousness.  Therefore, believers are often described in terms of the righteous.  It is difficult for man to understand grace.  It is foreign to his nature; it is foreign to his thought pattern; it is contrary to what he has been taught all his life.  We have been taught that we must earn everything we get in this life.  This, of course, is not true of our salvation.  It was a free gift from God.  The persons without God are those who reject God from their own free will and have no excuse when they stand before God at the Great White Throne.  Suffering according to the will of God is undeserved suffering.  We handle undeserved suffering by entrusting our souls to God and doing what is right which means applying Bible doctrine.