Here Comes The Judge

Bible Book: 1 Peter  4 : 15-19
Subject: Suffering; Judgment; Christian Growth

1 Peter 4:15-19

Vance Havner said, "There is a comfortable attitude about Jesus Christ in our churches today, and it is our greatest peril. After all, we are not judged so much by how many sins we have committed but by how much light we have rejected. In this day, when law and order seems on the way out and criminals get only a slap on the wrist, it is well to remember that "the wages of sin remain the same and what men sow they still reap."

In this text, Peter warns the believers that no one should give occasion for suffering as an evildoer. When a believer suffers, he should not be ashamed but should praise God that he is a Christian. God's judgment begins with the family of God and then reaches out severely to those who disobey the gospel of God. Peter exhorts the believers to commit themselves to their faithful God and to serve Him by doing good deeds.

Peter makes it clear that before God pours out His wrath upon this evil world, a "fiery trial" will come to God's church, to unite and purify it, that it might be a strong witness to the lost. There is nothing for us to fear, if we are suffering in the will of God.

Peter encourages the readers not to see their suffering for Christ's sake as a misfortune or as something to be ashamed of, but as a privilege for which to be grateful to God.

I. The Reasons For Suffering v.15-16

A. The Truth 15

The fact that we are Christians is not a guarantee that we escape the normal consequences of our misdeeds. Peter is saying, "Let's be sure we are suffering because we are Christians and not because we are criminals." This is a reminder that should we suffer for criminal deeds, we would no longer be a testimony for Christ. By the way, a testimony is not what you have, as much as what you are.

Peter is showing the difference between suffering deservedly for wrongdoing and suffering innocently for the name of Christ.

"As a busybody" - meddler - interfering in the lives of others; disrupts the peace and harmony in the local church and community. A self-appointed overseer in another man's affairs is a busybody.

B. The Testimony 16

"As a Christian" - word occurs 3 times in the N.T. First occurrence in the 5th decade. In Acts 11:26, the Bible leads us to believe that the name did not originate with the believers, but with the unconverted population of Antioch. About 15 years later, Herod Agrippa II asked Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian." Acts 26:28.

When Peter wrote this letter, the Cult of Caesar was the state religion of the Roman Empire, in which the emperor was worshipped as a god. It meant, and cost, something to be a Christian in those days. The members of the Imperial Cult looked down upon and persecuted the members of the body of Christ. Peter definitely remembered that awful night when he cowered before the might of Rome and denied his Lord.

"let him not be ashamed" Romans 10:11, "For the scripture saith, 'whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.'"

When a believer meets scorn, ridicule, and contempt because of his faith, shame often prevents him from witnessing for Christ. An older gentleman at the Atlanta Airport told me that some people think he shouldn't push his belief on others. He said, "You have to listen to the Lord."

"Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend On whom my hopes of heaven depends! No; when I blush, be this my shame, That I no more revere His name." Joseph Griggs

"let him glorify God" - the opposite of shame is praise. The world may think suffering for conscientious adherence to Christianity is disgraceful, but actually it is an honor in God's sight.

II. The Refinement From Suffering v.17-18

The refining fire of judgment is leaving no one untouched, but Christians are being purified and strengthened by it, sins are being eliminated and trust in God and holiness of life are growing.

Here we find a contrast.

A. A Fiery Trial 17a

"Judgment at the House of God."

John Brown writes that God's disciplinary judgment falls upon His people "as a proof of their membership in His family, and a pledge of their escape from the end of those whom the last judgment shall find disobedient to the Gospel." The judgment here is the persecution which these saints were undergoing, a disciplinary judgment designed to purify their lives.

The silversmith with his pot of silver; the refiner's fire.

B. A Flaming Fire 17b

If His judgment brings the believers earthly suffering, what must be the punishment of the unsaved? The salvation which God has provided for mankind cost God a great deal, for it involved the death of His Son. The destiny of the unbeliever who rejects that which cost God so much can never really be visualized or expressed.

V.18. It Does Not Imply Uncertainty Of The Outcome, But The Difficulty Of The Road That Leads To It

III. The Results Of Suffering v.19

A. A Principle 19a

"commit" - entrust; a banking term;to give to someone for safekeeping. Luke 23:46, "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, and having said this, he gave up the spirit."

Instead of wondering if you can endure, you should commit yourself to God Who is able to give victory in any situation. Christians do not suffer accidentally or because of the irresistible forces of blind fate; rather, they suffer according to God's will.

Romans 12:2 says God's will is good, perfect, and acceptable.

1. It Purifies Us
2. It Is Drawing Us Closer To God
3. It Is Making Us More Like Him In Our Lives
B. A Person And Promise 19b

"a faithful Creator" - the reliability of God; as Creator, He is the architect of all things, accomplishing His great design.

God has not only created man, but through His faithfulness, He also sustains him from moment to moment.