(19 verses, 2:40 to read)
What I am about to READ:
Peter lists the blessings of suffering. He encourages us to suffer, if it is according to God’s will. He also warns us about the coming judgment and what will happen to the unbelievers who persecute us.
MARK & LEARN
1-2: Peter reminds us that Jesus suffered for us. Jesus willingly suffered for our sins. We too should be willing to suffer for our faith. Our suffering does not rid us of sin, only Christ’s suffering did that. Yet, it is better to suffering than give into sinful lusts.
3-4: As the Gentiles (pagans, godless, heathens) are, so you once WERE. By nature, we’re no different than they. But NOW we’ve changed, and they (like us before we came to faith) cannot understand why this change came about. When unbelievers see us abstaining from gross negligent sin, we trouble their consciences and threaten to take away their godless pleasures.
5-6: Those who live as godless Gentiles will be judged by God.
7-11: Peter gives instructions on how to live as a child of God.
12: Nobody said the Christian life would be easy. We shouldn’t be surprised when we’re called to suffer.
13-14: When we suffer because we are confessing Jesus Christ as our Savior, teaching what He taught, and taking a stand against the world in His name, it’s a witness that we will be received into His glory when He comes again.
15-16: It is a blessing to suffer in Christ’s name. Rejoice that you bear the name of Christ. For when we bear that name, we have Christ and God with us.
17: “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God.” This is meant to impress upon believers all the more the importance of being part of God’s family. We must all stand before God’s judgment seat. What will happen to those who reject the forgiveness they have in Christ and are outside his household?
18: “If the righteous is scarcely saved”—This certainly does not mean that Christ’s forgiveness is incomplete. Rather it refers to all the Lord must do to keep us in the faith—sufferings and chastisements are his ongoing work of keeping us on the path to eternal life. It refers to our ongoing battle against our sinful nature. If this is so, what will happen to those who go on merrily in their sins?
It’s one thing to suffer because we’re baptized Christians. It’s quite another to suffer through the consequences of our sins. And it’s yet another thing to believe we must be suffering, even when we aren’t called to suffer – as if suffering somehow gives a Christian more assurance that are saved. If we’re not suffering, praise God! Peter speaks about suffering according to God’s will. We should leave the time, place, and circumstances of suffering in God’s hands. If we’re suffering, though, we should place ourselves into God’s hands and not give way to fear, that is, we should continue to do the good that leads to our suffering in the first place.
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Pastor Kevin Zellers, Jr.