Suffering for Christ

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Peter 1:6, 2 Timothy 3:12
Date: 05/06/2017 
Lesson: 6
"How can we always be ready to face opposition for our faith, in whatever form that opposition comes? What is the key to being prepared?"
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Good morning, friends, welcome to Sabbath school study hour, coming to you from the Granite Bay adventist church near Sacramento, California. I'd like to warmly welcome our online members and, also, those watching on the various television networks and also the members and the visitors right here at the Granite Bay church - always a joy on Sabbath morning to be able to gather together to study the Bible. Now this quarter, we have been studying the first and second books of Peter. Our lesson quarterly is entitled feed my sheep and, for those who are watching, if you don't have a copy of the quarterly, I encourage you to contact one of the local Seventh-day Adventist Churches and you'll be able to get a copy of the quarterly there. Or, go to the amazing facts website, just amazingfacts.

org and you can download the quarterly and the lesson and study with us. Today, we're on lesson #6 entitled suffering for Christ and we have a free offer that goes along with our study today, a book entitled when the brook dried up. And this is free for those who are viewing in North America. All you'll need to do is just give us a call on our resource phone number. That number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #171.

That number again is -788-3966 and ask for the book when the brook dried up. And we'll be happy to send this to anybody in North America. If you're outside of North America, just go to the amazing facts website - just and you can download a copy of the book and read it right there for free. Well, before we get to our study this morning, as we normally do, we'd like to begin by lifting our voices in song, so I'd like to invite our song leaders to come and lead us in our praise this morning. We are so glad you are joining us to worship together and to sing together as we do every week.

So I invite you, those that are at home, to pull out your hymnals - those that are here - we're going to sing how sweet are the tidings that greet the pilgrims ear - and if there was never a time that we wanted to hear good news, it is now, on this planet earth, as we are wrapping it up. And I am so grateful for God's Word and the tidings that we find in there - hymn #442 - how sweet are the tidings - we'll sing the first, the second, and the last verses. I am so grateful, this morning, that we have that hope that soon he is coming and that we can, right now, make the decision to be there with him and receive eternal, everlasting life. I am so grateful for that and I hope you are too. At this time, Pastor Ross will lead us in opening prayer.

Dear Father in Heaven, what a privilege to be able to open up Your Word and study together. And, as you look at counsel given to us through the apostle Peter many years ago, we understand that these are relevant truths for us for the time in which we are living. So we pray, once again, for the Holy Spirit to come and give guidance to our hearts and minds - lead us into a clearer understanding of Bible truth today, for we ask this in Jesus' name, amen. Amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Good morning. Good morning. How is everybody? Great. It is good to be home. You don't know I left again since I saw you last week (laughter) and came back again.

And I want to welcome our class that is studying Sabbath school with us. By the way, I know that they mentioned this book already, but I'll mention it again - it really is a good book. The subtitle goes with our lesson today, it's why do Christians suffer? And our lesson today is #6 in our study guide of Peter, talking about the subject of suffering. And so, we're going to be dealing with stuff - who wants to talk about suffering? Shall we have a vote? It's probably a good idea to talk about it, because how many suffer? All. We all do.

So it's - it's important to understand. The lesson, though, is really titled the suffering for Christ - and we have a memory verse and the memory verse is 1 Peter 2:21 - here it's in the new king James version, if you'd read that with me. Are you ready? "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:" now, you go back to the very beginning and you'll find suffering comes immediately after sin comes. Not always, but most of the time we enter the world with suffering. And, not always, but many times, people leave the world in suffering.

I know that when Karen gave birth I said, 'do you want to do natural?' And she said, 'no'. She said, 'give me an epidural'. Amen. It's wonderful that they have things, now, that when people enter the world - yeah, it was natural - they were natural drugs. (Laughter) and then, you know - I suppose - people wonder, you know, you read those first verses in the Bible - in Genesis 3:15, one of the first prophecies after the fall - after sin entered the world - God said, 'I'll put enmity between you and the woman;'- speaking to the serpent - 'between your seed and her seed;' - now this is talking about - there would be a war, basically - enmity - there would be opposition - there'd be a struggle.

It says, 'you will bruise' - "he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." His heel being the seed of the serpent - or Jesus. And so, you've got two bruises right there in the very first prophecy. Now most of you know when a bruise develops, what caused the bruise is usually some painful experience. And so, you see pain right there. And in the next verse - and it says there in Genesis 3:16, "to the woman he said: 'I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;" - now the word 'conception' there is sometimes conception - when it talks about bathsheba conceiving, that was, you know, nine months before the child came.

And, it is true that in conception many women get sick and - but then he goes on and says, "in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." So, right there in the very beginning pain and bringing forth. Now what does a woman represent? A church. A church. Does the church bring forth children without pain? Or is there a struggle involved in children being brought forth? When the children of Israel were born as a nation, that's an allegory of salvation. Was there a struggle? Yes.

There was a tremendous struggle. There were plagues and they didn't want to let them go and they chased after them to kill them. And so, you find persecution and struggle right there in the beginning when they were trying to come forth as a nation. It makes you wonder though, when God says to eve, 'in pain you'll bring forth'. What would it have been like, if there had been no sin, for a woman to have a baby? Would she elbow adam in the morning and say, 'you'll never believe what happened last night?' (Laughter) I mean, I guess, you know, in the animal kingdom it looks like some of the animals - not all, but some of the animals - looked like it just - you know, babies kind of - there's no crying - it doesn't look like it's terribly painful, but - I guess it was to be pain free in the beginning.

And they've got drugs now - when you leave life, many times people are suffering and sometimes they've got things that will make that more bearable. In many cases, the pain drugs that they give you, when a person's in their final illness, is a coup de gras. It actually does more damage. I know with my mom, she had cancer and they just gave her so much morphine, we're pretty sure it was the morphine that did her in. But there's pain in life.

There's suffering. And what's the penalty for sin? Death. That's true, but is there more to it than that? Will the wicked who are lost die for their sin? Yes. Right? Yeah. Do they only die or is there suffering and death? So that suffering is in proportion to - every man suffers according to what he deserves.

Jesus said, 'he who had done many things worthy of stripes will be beaten with many stripes. He that has done few things - few stripes.' Stripes were, when they whipped you, it left a stripe on your back. And so there's varying degrees of suffering, varying degrees of reward, varying degrees of punishment. And some people, though, they come into the world. They haven't done anything wrong and they suffer.

This is all the consequence of sin. And so, you see this right from the very beginning - that there is suffering - but where did it originally come from? Was suffering part of God's plan? No. When God finished making the world everything was 'good, good, very good'. God took man and put him in a paradise. So, now, in particular, we're going to be talking a little bit, about the suffering that comes as a result of Christianity.

Why do Christians suffer for being Christians? The devil hates Jesus and, if you take the name of Jesus and if you seek to live the life of Jesus, he'll hate you. And Christ said, 'pretty much' he said, 'look, if they hate me they're going to hate you.' And the suffering that Jesus endured, which is really the wrath of the devil, is because of our commitment to Christ. Now the words 'suffer' and 'suffering' appear sixteen times in 1 and 2 Peter, so I was just waiting for this study to come along, because when I read 1 and 2 Peter, if you're to ask somebody 'what is the central teaching of 1 and 2 Peter?' - It's like when you study the book of Daniel - what's the main teaching in the book of Daniel? It's the Kingdom of God will win in the end. Every chapter is talking about a battle between the Kingdoms of the world and the Kingdom of God. And you look at the different books and there's like a theme.

The theme in 1 and 2 Peter is he is writing to Christians who are encountering persecution and suffering and he's telling them how to bear it patiently. Sixteen times in 1 and 2 Peter you find 'suffer', 'suffering', or some derivative of that. That's more than any other book of the Bible. And so, this is really a theme here. And part of the reason is, by the time Peter wrote his books, some of the roman persecution against Christians had already begun.

Now, how did Peter die? It doesn't say - well, it does say in the Bible. It doesn't talk about his death as - you know, we've heard he was crucified upside down during the time of nero, but Jesus did tell Peter, 'when you're young you gird yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old another will gird you and you will stretch forth your hands' - indicating the kind of death he would die, which, ultimately, was crucifixion. But you can read in acts 18 - now someone's going to read for me in just a moment. If we go the way we usually do, hafdis, you'd be first, I think. That's 1 Peter 5:10, right? Oh you'll - we're going - you guys fooled me.

You're doing it left to right. But I want to read acts 18:2: and it says, "and he found a certain jew named aquila, born in pontus, who had recently come from italy with his wife priscilla" - and then here's what's a parenthetical statement - it says, "(because claudius had commanded all the jews to depart from rome);" - now here you see the beginning of this persecution that ended up going against the jews. They were causing some problems and there was some rebelling and, finally, there was a major rebellion around 68 ad that finally resulted in Jerusalem being destroyed in 70 ad, as Christ had foretold. Then, for many years after that, the jews were pretty much on the outs with the Romans. Many of them had been carried off and made slaves.

They were seen as troublemakers - and then Christians - because the Christian religion was so closely aligned with the Jewish religion - considered to be a monotheistic religion - worshiping the same God, they used to keep the same Sabbath, and they used to observe the same clean and unclean foods. Even though many Christians don't today, they did back then. They were seen as a branch of judaism and they were persecuted. And so, they were experiencing this and Peter is writing to the believers who are going through some of this persecution. You can read in 1 Peter 1:6, "in this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials" - now, does suffering last very long? Sometimes.

Seems like it. I remember when we were in india and - I know debbie remembers this day - when we were visiting with some of the doctors, we took some - this was on our second trip to india - we took some doctors with us and they had a medical clinic out there in one of the villages and this one lady came up and she was - she was intelligent enough, but she was deformed in some way and she was crying and she was asking us, through the translator, 'why does God let me suffer so?' I mean, she looked like she was fifty years old - may have been younger, just looked that old - and she had obviously suffered from great physical pain her whole life. It looked, to me, like she was born with some deformity. And, you know, it's hard to answer questions like that. 'Why is God making me suffer so?' She was just crying.

And then debbie started crying and some of the others were crying - and it just, sort of, represented the suffering in the world. But compared to eternity, how long does anyone really suffer? Doesn't Paul say that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the eternal glory that God has for those that love him. So, after you get through your first zillion years of paradise, and you look back on the seventy years of suffering, assuming that you just, you know, lived a life of terrible suffering, how much is it? Now that's easy to say, philosophically, it's hard when you're suffering for years. And I've got some friends that struggle with rheumatoid arthritis and there's like - the question is not 'are you hurting?' The question is 'how bad it is today?' And they're just always in some kind of pain and your hearts go out to them. And my brother was like that.

He struggled to breathe his whole life - he had cystic fibrosis and had a variety of problems and I used to just wonder - I always felt a little guilty because I was so healthy. He used to say, 'doug, God's not fair, you're healthy and stupid; I'm smart and sick.' (Laughter) and so I know, you can say, 'oh well, but it won't last long' - but that's really what the Bible teaches: 'weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.' And so, all the suffering is going to just look like a glimmer when you're in eternity looking back. So having that perspective - I remember bonnie saying, one time - she's in boston right now so I can talk about her - she said, 'you can handle almost anything if you know it's not going to last.' You can handle almost anything if you know it's not going to last. And so you just, kind of, grin and bear it. So Peter is saying, "though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials".

Alright, go ahead, read for us, please, 1 Peter 5. "But may the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." Very good. Now you notice again, Peter says you suffer 'for awhile', but what is that suffering doing? It says, 'perfect' - perfect - I'm sorry - "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle" - so what is happening? What is one of the reasons that God allows us to go through suffering? Spiritual - it's spiritual growth, yeah. Not only that, sometimes God allows us to suffer because it helps those who are watching. I remember - I think I've mentioned this before, I read a book years ago, written by marvin moore, called witnessing through trials and it just had a variety of stories of people who went through a number of trials in their life and they were wondering, 'why is God letting me do this?' Well, it wasn't just for their development, but others were watching them bear their sufferings patiently and it was preaching to those who watched them.

If we complain when we're suffering, I mean, you know, I'm a big baby. I just - I get a splinter and I want the whole world to know. And you get a flat tire and you think the world's coming to an end. I mean, suffering is not always physical suffering. There's trials we go through - some people - terrible stress.

Some people are going through financial struggles and suffering - there's all kinds of different suffering. We don't just mean physical pain. But if you bear it patiently, and people watch that - I've gone to see folks in the hospital that were sick and they were struggling and folks would come in and talk to them and they were always so positive, in spite of their suffering. People walked away and said, 'boy, they've got to be Christians. What does it mean to be a Christian? Just look at those people - they're so optimistic, in spite of their suffering.

So, being a Christian doesn't mean you're never going to suffer. I have big issue with these prosperity preachers that say if you've just got enough faith, you'll always have plenty of money - you'll always be healthy, wealthy, and wise. Doesn't - that's not what happened to the apostles. That's not what the Bible teaches. And - but we are to witness through our trials, amen? And then, in that section, it says there in Revelation 2, verse 10 - Jesus, speaking to the church, says, "do not fear any of those things" - and this is the church of smyrna, I believe - "do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.

" So does it - is the church free from suffering? Jesus is talking to a whole age of the church here. - "Indeed, the devil" - now that tells you something right there: he says you're about to suffer and then he says the devil. Who's behind it? The devil. Who is behind the suffering of job? The devil. Who is behind the suffering of Jesus? And it's in most cases - not in all cases, but in most cases the devil is trying to heap suffering on the church.

Do not fear any of those things you're about to suffer. Another important point. What does Jesus tell us about suffering? 'Don't fear.' You know, I do a prophecy program and you talk about the seven last plagues and the great tribulation - and, you've got to admit, there's some frightening words in there - "such as there never has been known nor will there ever be" - so just think of this trouble - it's the worst trouble - and after you think you've imagined it, you can't imagine it. That's actually a quote from Ellen white - and the Bible. So people think about the tribulation and I've talked to folks and they say, 'oh, Pastor Doug, where do we hide? What do we do? I'm so afraid.

' And our charismatic friends have just developed a whole new theology to escape that and they say, 'we'll just get raptured up before the tribulation. You don't need to worry about it.' Because they couldn't handle the fears so they developed a whole new theory. Yes, we will be here during the tribulation, if you're alive in the end of time, but do we need to fear it? What has Jesus said? 'Do not fear' - he says, 'I've overcome, you can overcome. The things you're about to suffer, indeed the devil will throw some of you into prison that you may be tested and you'll have tribulation ten days.' Now, he's talking specifically about a tribulation that happened during the time, I think it was of domition - from was it 303 to 313 - Pastor Ross, here? I'm pretty sure that's correct, yeah. And so they had ten years of terrible suffering during that time.

But, "be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." You know, what's the worst thing that the wicked can do to us? Jesus said, 'do not fear those who destroy the body and that's all they can do. Rather, fear him who can destroy soul and body.' So, if you're going to fear someone, fear God. And it's like wesley used to say, 'if you fear God, you won't fear anything else, but if you don't fear God, you'll fear everything.' So notice the words just in Revelation 2:10: 'suffer', 'prison', 'tested', 'death', 'tribulation' - and he's writing to the church. So, we do go through hard times; we ought to be praising God for the good times. What's going to bring revival to the church? Persecutions.

Do we need revival? Yes. I think that there's going to be trials that will come. And it's not going to - I don't think we're going to get persecuted right away because you get persecuted for Godly living and there's not a lot of Godly living right now, to just be honest with you. I think the trials are going to turn us to God and we'll have Godly living and then you may get persecuted for righteousness sake. But right now, if trouble comes, it's just going to be punishment for worldliness.

I'm just being honest with you. I don't know if you agree with me but, you know, I look at the church today and I look at the church in the time of the apostles and there's a big delta between the holiness and the lives they lived and what's happening in general Christianity today. And I think there's going to be trials that will come indiscriminately on the world that are going to turn people to God, then there'll be Godly living, then the persecution will come because of Godly living. But I don't think that the Godly living is a real threat to the devil. You start living Godly and it bothers him.

If you take the name of Christ and you live like everyone else, he says that's exactly where I want you. You've got enough religion to fool yourself, but not enough to be a threat to me. Did you catch that? The devil loves it when we take the name of Christ - we have a name that we live, but we're dead spiritually. But when we really start living holy, that's when he gets nervous. That's why you've got that - I'm getting ahead of myself here.

So Jesus said, and I quoted this to you in Matthew 10:28, 'do not fear those who kill the body but they can't do any more.' 1 Peter - supposed to be studying Peter and I'm reading all the other verses - 1 Peter 4:12, "beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings..." So what did Jesus say we should do? He said, 'if you are persecuted for righteousness sake' - that's Matthew 5, verse 10, "blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely" - so Christian suffering is not just someone putting, you know, bamboo shoots under our toenails, right? It says it's also just people talking about you and hurting you that way. They say all kinds of evil things against you falsely, for my sake. When this happens, whether it's physical or mental anguish, he says, "rejoice and be exceedingly glad" - now, you know what is different here? When you go through the beatitudes he says blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the poor in spirit, but when he gets to persecution he says, 'this is the greatest blessing - rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Now how many of you want to be able to rejoice exceedingly? You know where I'm going with this.

You don't want to answer. What is - 'what's the price, Pastor Doug?' If you want to rejoice exceedingly, he said, 'when you suffer for righteousness' - now, I don't think we ought to be kooky masochistics going around looking for suffering so we can rejoice with Jesus, just live Godly, it'll happen. He says, "rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Now someone's going to read, for me, Matthew :12 - who's that? You'll have that? Okay, I want to read - before you get there I want to read Matthew 10:24. And we're talking, now, about the sufferings an example of Christ - Matthew 10:24, "a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master." Jesus said, "it is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household?" So, again, some suffering is verbal - it's just being reproached and falsely accused.

Doesn't it hurt when you're accused of doing something terrible you didn't do? Yes. Because, you know, you work to have a Godly reputation and then people slander you. Alright, go ahead, read, for us, Matthew 17:12, please. "But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise The Son of man is also about to suffer at their hands.

" So Jesus was as clear as he could be that he would be suffering. Now, this was one of the big challenges the disciples had in the early days is they were so sure the Messiah was going to come and just rain like king David and overthrow the enemies and they were going to be a glorious kingdom, like it was in the days of Solomon and everything was going to be hunky dory - there's not a word in the Bible that says 'hunky dory' but you know what I mean by that. I want you to look at 1 Peter 3:13 and, as we go through - I'm going to read through verse 22 - we're talking about the sufferings an example of Christ - "and who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. 'And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.'" - And he's quoting from the Bible there - but he says there's a blessing if you suffer for righteousness sake - "but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" - now why did Peter include that in connection with suffering? Was Paul in prison and he had to give testimony for his faith several times? Did Jesus say that you'll be persecuted and you'll be brought to trial - don't worry about what you're going to say, the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say in that hour? That verse is not just for Christians that know how to give Bible studies - be ready always to give an answer. That's a good verse for Bible studies but you know what Peter's talking about when he writes that? Christians who are being tried for their faith that are giving a defense for their faith.

And so he says, you know, be ready to share - to defend what you believe. He says, 'you're going to be falsely accused - sanctify the Lord God in your heart - and verse 16, "having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed." You know, one reason that nero started the great persecution of rome - nero was kind of a passionate builder, among other things, and, in the time of nero, rome was a city of wooden tenements and there were large swaths of the city that he wanted to rebuild in marble and stone, so he had his soldiers set it on fire. Well that caused great outrage. There was great loss of life and they didn't have fire trucks back then and it just burnt through whole sections of the city and he said, 'the Christians did it.' Now they controlled the press back then - it's what you call 'fake news' - and so he said, 'the Christians did it. Furthermore, they live underground so they could have these secret ceremonies where they practice cannibalism' - because they took where the Christians said 'this is my body - this is my blood' - eating the bread and the grape juice - and they said, 'they're cannibals and we heard them - we overheard them talking about 'this is my body, eat it' - and they were terribly distorted.

And wouldn't that grieve you back then if you were a Christian? You're a peace-loving person - you'd never practice cannibalism - and all of a sudden it's in the headlines: 'watch out for the Christians, they're cannibals!' And 'they're arsonists!' And so they were being accused of these things even back then - terrible things - "...when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your" - they'll look at your - "good conduct in Christ may be ashamed." - They'll say, 'you know, in spite of what nero says, they sure seem like good people' - "for it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." - And then he goes into Jesus - "for Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the spirit," - and, yeah, we've studied that other section pretty thoroughly in a previous lesson, so we'll stop there. Christ suffered for sins. Was Jesus a witness through his suffering? You know, one of the things that made the Christian church just explode back in the early days of the great persecution? When the Christians were told 'you can live if you deny Christ; if you don't deny Christ, you're going to the coliseum. You'll either be sport for the gladiators or food for the lions or some form of entertainment that will kill you.' They were willing to die - and when they brought them to the coliseums and they were either burned or fed to the lions, they conducted themselves with this spirit-filled peace that the pagans knew that they did not have. They would see them praying - they'd say, 'you know, we've got life.

' Matter of fact, I remember seeing this engraving in these mines that they've got in northern africa. They used to send the Christians to work in these mines and they put on the walls, 'vida, vida, vida' and then some other latin word but, basically, it said, 'life, life, we have life'. And they'd work them in the mines until they died. But then, you look in the pagans' graves and they were very dejected and hopeless; their grave inscriptions would say, 'goodbye forever - entering the eternal night' and it was all, you know, very hopeless. Where the Christians had an endless hope, the pagans had a hopeless end - and they'd see the Christians dying with hope and they'd say, 'well, you know, what do they got that I don't have?' And so, in spite of the persecution - it's like the church father tertullian said, 'the seed' - I'm sorry - 'the blood of the martyrs is seed for the Gospel.

' The more they mowed them down it seemed to just spread, because they conducted themselves patiently, through their sufferings, with faith. Okay, and then it talks about - you read the one about Elijah, right? Yeah, was Elijah persecuted? And then he says that one would come in the Spirit and power of Elijah. Who was that? John the baptist. What did they do to him? Beheaded. He's in prison - he's persecuted - and then you look - look in Hebrews - it talks again about the suffering of Jesus - Hebrews chapter 2, verse 9 - and this is in your lesson, "but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

" - Bringing many sons to glory - "for it was fitting for him, for whom are all tings and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Christ, the captain of our salvation, was made perfect through sufferings. He suffered - is there anyone who will ever suffer more than Jesus? What was it that brought the greatest anguish on him? Was it the nails or the whipping or the mocking? All of that, I'm sure, hurt. And it was all there, but I think the thing that was the hardest on Jesus was the separation from the father that he experienced that broke his heart and - are Christians going to sometimes go through a time of Jacob's trouble where we feel separated from God and we feel alone? I think that every believer, at some time, goes through what Jesus and job went through, when you just feel like everything earthly has been cut off. I think there's a statement where Ellen white says that, at some point, we're going to sense that every earthly support has been cut off and all we have is to hang by faith on God. That's a rough paraphrase of that.

Anyway, let's go to the next section - fiery trial - now, we've read this verse before, but we're going to read it again and draw something else of out it. Again, 1 Peter 4:12 to 14, "beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified." Can you think of a time in the Bible when the disciples rejoiced about suffering? Where was that? You remember in acts when they had been brought before the sanhedrin and told not to preach in Jesus' Name anymore? And Peter said, 'we ought to obey God rather than men'. And they were going to arrest him - they didn't know what to do - and finally gameliel said, 'be careful what you do with these men because you might be found to be fighting against God.

So, as a compromise, they said, 'we'll just whip them and let them go'. And they whipped them and then afterward it says the disciples rejoiced. They came out of that whipping together rejoicing that they were worthy to suffer for Christ. Now, that was especially keen for them because they were first-hand witnesses of Jesus hanging on the cross for them. And because they had actually seen Jesus suffering like that for them, to suffer for Christ's name, they really did rejoice in that.

You ever seen a Christian rejoice for their sufferings? I remember when I was a baby Christian and I was reading the Bible and I remember reading where it said, 'in everything give thanks' - I always thought, 'how is that possible?' I mean, some things, how can you be thankful for? And not long after reading that I stood up one evening in the cave and the cave had a sloping roof and I didn't realize how far back I was and I bonked my head on the roof of the cave - and it's hard - it's a rock ceiling - and i, you know, the old nature - I have that whole vocabulary still - there's a whole file of words for occasions like that and I just got ready to blurt out all of these words and then I thought about pain - I thought about where God said, 'be thankful for everything'. I thought, 'how can you thank God at a time like this. I thought, 'alright, I've got to try this.' I said, 'Lord, I don't know why I just bonked my head. I don't know what good will ever come from this but I'm going to thank you anyway because you told me to thank you in all things'. And it started feeling better right away.

It was better than cursing. But even when you're suffering for righteousness sake and you don't know why - you don't know what good is going to - you know, sometimes you can see - 'I can see where good can come from this' - but even if you can't see where any good can come from it, that's where you trust God and you thank him. Well, we all go through fiery trials. There's a verse in the lesson, Malachi chapter 3, where he talks about that - Malachi 3:1, "behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight.

Behold, he is coming," - that's a prophecy, of course, about Christ coming. He came to the temple with his zeal and his whip, but it's also talking about Christ coming to the temple of God - his people - "says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like a launderer's soap." - Okay, talks about the messenger of the covenant coming to the temple. So what is the temple? Well, Jesus taught in the literal temple, but what else is a temple? Your body. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Who can endure the day of his coming? So what does he do when he comes? It says he works like a refiner. And how does a refiner refine? Does he use banana splits to refine us? Or does he use - yeah, fire - like you're melting down gold - "but who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; he will purify The Sons of levi," - you're a nation of Kings and priests - "and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." So this is not the coming that is going to destroy, this is a coming that is going to sanctify and that's when he comes into our lives. That's when he also came to his people and he brought revival. So, still talking about the fiery trials, job 23:10, job said, "but he know the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

" How would you test gold? You'd purge out the dross - again, it was by fire. There's a statement here from the book Acts of the Apostles, where Ellen white says, "so it will be with all who live Godly in Christ Jesus. Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ." How many? All. There's going to be all kinds of persecution and reproach. She's not even talking about physical, although it may be - "the character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle and the Spirit that underlies it is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord ever since the days of abel.

It's the hatred of satan for Christ that inspires this persecution." It'll manifest itself many different ways. And, in the same way that the Lord knows - what's that? It's the hatred of Christ for satan not satan for Christ. Oh, did I say it backwards? I think so. Yeah, it says the same persecution ever - that the Lord has - he's persecuted the chosen of the Lord since the days of abel - yeah, same thing that the devil has done against the Lord. That's what I meant to say.

John 15:20- now, someone's going to read for me, in just a moment, Matthew 24:9, okay? John 15:20, "remember the word that I said to you, 'a servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." - And if we live like Jesus we'll be persecuted - "if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name's sake, because they do not know him who sent me." Alright, go ahead, please, read for us Matthew 24:9. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake." Is that obscure or is that easy to understand? Jesus is talking about, in the days of the second coming, he says, 'he that endures to the end will be saved'. What are you enduring? How many of you have to endure a great day - a beautiful day with great food? You don't have to endure that, right? We usually have to endure trouble. He says they're going to deliver you up to tribulation.

He says, you know, family members will turn on each other, they'll kill you. Many of the disciples were killed. Did that keep them from preaching? It's amazing, in spite of Jesus saying you're going to be killed, should a believer be afraid of being killed? I remember hearing the story of John patton, missionary that went down to - they called it the [new] hebrides back then, I think it was - some of the south pacific islands where they practiced cannibalism and several missionaries before him had been killed and eaten by cannibals. Karen and I were just in new guinea with jared in the studio and wayne - they were still practicing cannibalism there sixty years ago in some areas - anyway, they told John patten, 'don't go! The savages will eat you!' And he said, 'look, if I die here I'll get eaten by worms. If they kill me there I'll get eaten by cannibals.

' - He said, 'I don't care whether I'm eaten by worms or eaten by cannibals.' He said, 'one way or another you're going to be eaten.' And so he went. He never did get eaten by cannibals, but he had a lot of close calls. So the disciples weren't afraid. They figured 'we're dying anyway.' You ever think of it that way? Whether you serve God and preach and live the life of a Christian or not, you're dying, so why not make the most of it and live for God? Anyway, I'm going to read - let me see - Revelation 12:17 - this summarizes what's happening in the last days, "and the dragon" - that's a symbolic name for who? Satan. The devil - "was enraged" - wroth - "with the woman," - he's furious.

Who's the woman? The church. The church. "And he went to make war with the rest of her offspring," - her seed - the descendents - the remnant - "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." So, if you would like to welcome the animosity of the devil, what do you need to do? Two things: the law and the prophets - keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. If you're living for Christ - if you're living out His Word, he's going to be angry - especially with those in the last days who are preaching the truth when there are so many counterfeits. And, you know, that's probably something that is good for us to think about for just a moment is there are so many counterfeits out there that the devil's happy; and when we start preaching the truth, he's threatened.

But, in the same way, do we need to think that the devil's going to be more successful than God? In the battle between good and evil, don't forget, greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Now, I don't want to scare you with this lesson on suffering. I want to just spread that last thought a little further. Most of us are blessed most of the time. You think of job and everybody - you know, you say, 'would you like to be job?' 'Oh no, man.

He suffered like - woo hoo' - I'd like to be job. Job was blessed for like 220 years and he suffered for three weeks. So that's not bad. I mean, he was fabulously wealthy and had a great family and he was doubly blessed in the last - yes, he did have - everyone thinks about the suffering - you ever heard the expression 'one gunshot is heard more than a thousand prayers'? And so, there's a lot of good in life. And one reason that the suffering stands out is because there's so many blessings - there's so many good things in life - and there's so many things the devil would like to do to us that he can't do to us because God's angels protect us.

So I don't want to leave - make you walk out of here thinking, 'oh, when is it going to hit me?' - This persecution. When the devil came to tempt Jesus there were those three great temptations and Jesus, I mean, he'd been fasting forty days and forty nights so he was suffering. But he resisted the temptations - you know what it says? 'The devil left him.' He left him for a season, but he left him. And so, if we are faithful, the Lord gives us reprieve. Judgment and the people of God - under this next section here.

If you look in 1 Peter 4:17, "for the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God? Now 'if the righteous one is scarcely saved,'" - or barely saved - "'where will the unGodly and the sinner appear?' Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to him in doing good, as to a faithful creator." Do good no matter what and - because of - even though you may go through trials. Now he says, 'judgment begins at the house of God'. What is Peter talking about? First of all, there is a pre-advent judgment, we all know. Have you read Ezekiel 9? You know, Ezekiel 9, it tells us that these angels are told to place a Mark on the foreheads of those who are praying and trusting God. This is a good Mark, not a bad Mark.

You've got, in Revelation, two kinds of people: one get a bad Mark, one get a good Mark. You've got the seal of God and the Mark of the beast. This is a good Mark, in 1 Peter 4:17 and he said, 'if' - no, I want to go to, rather, Ezekiel 9:5, "to the other he said in my hearing, 'go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the Mark; and begin at my sanctuary.'" Where does this judgment begin? The church. The house of God - begin at my sanctuary.

You remember the story where Jesus said, 'he who is without sin among you let him cast the first stone' with that woman caught in adultery - many believe was mary magdalene? Where did that take place? At the temple. In the sanctuary. And it says here, in Ezekiel 9, 'begin with the ancient men' - so they began with the elders - they began with the oldest. You remember in John chapter 8, when the woman was going to be stoned? It says they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the least. And so here you've got this judgment in the house of God that he talks about.

And so, there needs to be faithfulness among God's people because there's a judgment there. Let me move on here. Faith amid trials - someone's going to read for me job 2:7 - you'll have that, John? Okay. Hebrews 11:24, "by faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called The Son of pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin." So you've got affliction; you've got pleasure - what's lasting? The pleasure is lasting for God; it's passing in the world. The affliction in the world is temporary and Moses said, 'I can do the math on this.

I'd rather suffer affliction for awhile - for a season - with the people of God and have eternal pleasure in God's kingdom. Alright, go ahead, read for us, please - job 2:7. Job 2:7 - "so satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of this head." When we were in new guinea, we were talking with one of the missionaries that was there and the roads were awful and - just potholes everywhere and you just - you're just getting thrown around like you're being body slammed by a wrestler in the back of these cars. And he said one day he had to take this really long trip and he had boils - sometimes in the jungle you get these boils. And a boil is very painful - I won't ask if you've had one before, but I just couldn't imagine - I mean, here he's on the Lord's service and he's in the back of a land cruiser getting bounced from wall to wall with boils.

Just, you know, God's people sometimes go through trials and the devil tries to discourage them. Look at Hebrews 11:35, speaking, again, of the faithful, "women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." - See, again, they're looking beyond - they're even being tortured, but they don't deny the Lord because they want a better resurrection. - "Still others had trial of mocKings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment." And that verse goes on - it talks about the sufferings. Have you read about what Paul said? Corin - I'm sorry, 2 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul is talking to some of the elders in the church that are questioning his apostleship and he becomes a little indignant and he says, "are they ministers of Christ -" - and you don't think I am? - "I speak as a fool - I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.

From the jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the [wilderness]," - talk about country ministry, he - city ministry - he had perils both places. "In perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness - besides all the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches." You know, in the military, if you have served a long time, you often have stripes on your shoulder and you've got medals and each of those medals represents this battle, that battle, this campaign, that struggle - and you're basically wearing all of your struggles and - to be a soldier and be respected by the other soldiers, they want to know, 'what have you been through?' And, you know, what gives you credibility, sometimes, as a Christian, is not when you've just been blessed on every side, like these prosperity preachers - look, God's blessed me, see my rolex? That means you need to follow me.' Jesus said, 'here's my scars. If you want to follow me' - he showed them his scars and that was evidence of his love and his faithfulness. And, in life, we're going to have scars - our master had scars - but be of good courage.

He says, 'I've overcome the world.' Amen? Amen. Alright, we're out of time and we're out of lesson. I want to remind you we have a free offer. It's called when the brook dried up and it talks about 'why do Christians suffer?' Good for our lesson today - ask for offer #171 when you call and you can also see it online if you're overseas, you just go to God bless you, friends.

We look forward to studying more about Peter next week. Friends, we're out here in the pacific ocean not too far from the island of fiji, and we're getting ready to look at some wonders in the deep. The Bible says God made the heaven and the earth and the sea. And there are things under the sea that are beautiful that many people have never seen. Some folks might just skim along - snorkel on the surface, but if you want to see the real majesty of the ocean, you've got to go deeper.

(Lively music) because people don't have gills like fish, we have to do something extraordinary to be able to breathe below the surface. Because you have to breathe all the time, we need this special equipment. (Sound of breathing apparatus) in the same way, the Bible says a Christian needs to pray without ceasing. We need to always be breathing the atmosphere of heaven if we're going to live a Christian life in this world below. Wow, what a wonderful world.

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