Getting Ready for Sufferings (Part II)
1 Peter 3:15 – 18
We continue our topic on getting ready for sufferings. To suffer indeed is not an easy experience and by nature we all don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to feel pain, get hurt, or deprived of something we want or badly needed. However, it is God’s will that all will experience some sort of sufferings. Let’s see more of Peter’s point of view on how to prepare ourselves before suffering comes.
I. Sanctify the Lord in your hearts ( 1 Pet. 3:15)
A. To sanctify means to set apart. It cannot mean to make Him holy, for He is perfectly holy and nothing you can do to change that.
B. To sanctify here means for you to give Christ a unique, special, and the Supreme Being in your heart.
C. We think of Him as Saviour from sin and the wrath to come. He is a Fire Escape from Hell. But He is much more.
D. He should become everything to us.
E. He should be your Lord, Master, Saviour, the first and the foremost being in our lives. The Ruler of your life over your own personal desires.
F. Unless we sanctify the Lord in our hearts, we will be afraid of what men can do to us or we will be troubled or agitated by whatever they do to intimidate us.
Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. It means every power of body, soul, and spirit is chained and kept for God’s purpose only. It will cause an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all our interests in God. Are we prepared for God to do all in us that He separated us for? The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized its meaning from God’s standpoint. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. Jesus has prayed that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. The one and only characteristic of the Holy Spirit in a person is a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ and freedom from everything that is unlike Him. (Oswald Chambers).
II. Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: ( 1 Pet. 3:15b)
A. The word “answer” here is in Greek “apologia” from which we get our word “apologetics”
B. Apologetics is the careful, logical defence of the Christian faith against the attacks of its enemies showing its validity as the true saving Gospel of God, our Creator and Saviour.
C. Peter is telling the believer to be always prepared to give an apologetic for the faith especially when confronted by those who deny it and would destroy it if they could.
D. However, for me, the truth of Christianity does not primarily depend on academic defence, but on us and on our personal testimony.
E. People see you every day. They see how you live, talk, dress, work, etc. Every day they judge you in every aspect of your life they see, then they give their verdict about you.
F. By this they determine whether or not Christianity is true or phony, real or false.
G. People take greater interest in our life than in our theology or belief.
H. Even in the midst of suffering and persecution, we must show them the reason of the hope that is in us joyfully. The hope here is our salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.
I. In answering, we must show meekness and fear. That is, our attitude should be humble, not angry, arrogant, prideful, or boastful.
J. We must respect people while we are witnessing to them. They are important for they are soul whom Christ died.
Illustration: Sharing Christ as the Plane Was Crashing
You may remember the recent incident in which an Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked and crashed into the ocean off the Comoro Islands after running out of fuel. The dramatic moment of impact was caught on home video and broadcast around the world. Only later did we learn of something even more dramatic happening in the cabin as the plane headed for disaster.
A man named Andrew Meekens stood up and tried to calm the passengers, sharing his faith in Christ and presenting the gospel. Just moments before the plane hit the water, some twenty people responded to his invitation to receive Christ. A surviving flight attendant had to tell the story, because Andrew Meekens died in the crash. (Today in the Word, February, 1998, p. 33)
III. Having a good conscience (1 Pet. 3:16)
A. The conscience is the knowledge of good and evil which God has put in man (Pr. 20:27; Rom. 2:15).
B. The Greek word, suneidesis, means “a knowing with oneself.” “It denotes an abiding consciousness whose nature it is to bear witness to the subject regarding his own conduct in a moral sense (Tit. 1:15).
C. Literally, conscience means to know with. We are witnesses to ourselves
D. Our conscience will never condemn what we believe to be right
E. A good conscience is knowledge that we do right and are well pleasing to God. It is a mind free from liability to itself.
F. A life free of ongoing and unconfessed sin, lived under the command of the Lord, will produce a conscience “void of offence” (Acts 24:16).
G. A good conscience is the best way to set forth a testimony.
IV. It is better to suffer that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing (1 Pet. 3:17)
A. It is accepted that Christians will suffer in God’s plan. The only thing is whether we will accept that suffering as the will of God for us.
B. It is better to suffer for a just cause than to suffer for deserved discipline. It is not the will of God that we suffer for wrongdoing.
C. All suffering is good for Christians but undeserved sufferings makes us partners in Christ’s suffering.
D. It is better to suffer in the will of God than out of it.
Illustration: Called to Suffer
Some believers are very surprised when they are called to suffer. They thought they would do some great thing for God, but all God permits them to do is to suffer. Just suppose you could speak with those who have gone to be with the Lord; everyone has a different story, yet everyone has a tale of suffering. One was persecuted by family and friends…another was inflicted with pain and disease, neglected by the world…another was bereaved of children…another had all these afflictions. But you will notice that though the water was deep, they all have reached the other side. Not one of them blames God for the road He led them; ‘Salvation’ is their only cry. Are there an of you, dear children,
murmuring at your lot? Do not sin against God. This is the way God leads all His redeemed ones. (Robert Murray McCheyne)
V. Remember the example of Christ. (1 Pet. 3:18).
A. Christ suffered for our sakes.
B. We are reminded that even Christ suffered unjustly because it was God’s will.
C. We have been called to follow the example of Christ. (1 Pet. 2:21).
Will you give Christ the first and foremost place in your heart? Will you live according to God’s Word so that by the way you live people will know what real Christianity is? Will you follow Christ’s example of suffering?