Sacred suffering (1 Peter 4:1-2)

The Lord has allowed us to foster an atmosphere for people who are hungering for the gospel.

In the first 3 chapters of 1 Peter, people have been going through tremendous spiritual persecution. Yet Jesus Christ is very much in control of the affairs of humanity. We’ve talked about the marriage relationship. We’ve talked about harmony and unity among God’s people.

Do we really believe God is in control of both the good and the bad? Is He really in charge of the affairs of man? God will use trouble and hardship and suffering to deepen our walk with Christ.

Near the end of chapter 3, Peter begins to exalt the gospel. We do not serve a dead Jew in a Palestinian tomb, but a risen Savior. Those of us who believe will suffer spiritual persecution. Suffering is sacred and it draws us closer to the holy God.

Jesus suffered in the flesh for the sins of man.

Make sure that your mind is made up. Make sure that you are going to follow Jesus and no one else. Be sure you arm yourself with the knowledge that hardship is going to enter your life.

Unfortunately, the church in America has become a commercialized institution that church members expect to serve them. (There’s too much America and not enough church.)

1. The gospel calls us to suffering. The disciples died broke and hungry and in terrible ways. We too often have the mindset that once we declare ourselves Christ-followers, life will be easy and affluent. The foxes have holes and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man didn’t even have a place to lay his head.

The gospel does not call us to riches and lavishness. It calls us to lives of simplicity. In order to be entrusted with much, we first have to demonstrate that we can manage a little.

No man has a monopoly on God. If God wants to use me to heal someone, then He’ll get the glory

7 problems with the prosperity gospel (which is really not the gospel at all):

  1. It perverts the purpose of the true gospel — the “health & wealth” gospel. (If you have Jesus, then you are already rich.)
  2. It teaches self-indulgence when the Bible clearly teaches abandonment. (Let a man take up his cross daily. Let him deny himself and follow Christ.)
  3. It puts shame and guilt on those who are poor and sick. (We’re free in Christ. There is no shame in sickness or poverty.)
  4. It doesn’t work in every context around the world. (But the gospel does work in every context all over the world.)
  5. It makes Jesus less of a Savior, and more of a genie in a bottle.
  6. It contradicts the teaching of Scripture on contentment and not seeking riches. (With contentment there is great gain. Regardless of our earthly circumstances, Jesus will always be enough.)
  7. It provides lost people with exactly what they want with no call to repentance. (Jesus did not die so we could become rich. When you give lost people what they want, it is not the true gospel. The gospel unnerves people and calls them to repentance.)

We don’t serve God so He can give us more. We serve Jesus because he died for our sins. The gospel doesn’t make us sinless, but it does cause us to sin less.

2. Suffering produces holiness. The early church was married to prison, poverty and persecution. Today’s church is married to prosperity, personality and popularity. The early believers were losing their families and their livelihood. They were being persecuted by a Roman emporer who hated God.

Our greatest depth often comes out of our greatest darkness. God cannot use a person greatly until that person has been hurt deeply.

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