Hope in the Midst of Suffering

1 Peter 1:3-9 Peter is writing from Rome to Christians in what is now Northern and Central Turkey. These Christians are being persecuted for their faith and are suffering, so Peter writes them to encourage them to remain faithful. In the same way, sometimes we suffer in difficulties seemingly for no reason. Although at times we may be disciplined by God or suffer because we’ve done something wrong, Peter admits we can go through trying circumstances that we not deserve. This sermon talks about how we should view these trials with the aim of encouraging our faith. 1 Peter 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you … Peter begins with an exclamation of praise to God! He has good news to share. He says that God has given us two things by His great mercy. These things are given to us by His great mercy, meaning that we haven’t done anything to earn them. On the other hand, we can have confidence in them because they come from God and not from us. A new birth into a living hope The same power of God that resurrected Jesus from the dead has also given us the power to live a new life. When you come to God, turn away from your old life, and instead give yourself to Him, then you will have a truly hope-filled life. God sent His most precious Son to die and pay the penalty for your sins—how much more will He give you all good things? You can have confidence in this because Jesus has been raised from the dead. Because of Jesus’ victory, all God’s promises belong to us. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No." For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He

anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. An inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade As children of God, we have rights and privileges. For example, we have authority over demons and sickness, we have incredible worth as individuals, we have the highest calling and purpose in our lives. But, the best thing we have as God’s children is kept for us in heaven. Some people may not think too seriously about heaven and hell because they cannot understand things beyond this world. But the Bible is very clear that there is an eternal fate waiting each person. Either people will accept Jesus and spend eternity in heaven with God, or they will reject Jesus and spend an eternity in hell apart from Him. In his writings, C.S. Lewis always describes heaven as being more real than life on earth. Maybe it would be helpful to think of the advertisements for Blu-ray videos—everything is more defined and crisp, the colors are more vibrant, the senses more engaged. In any case, we can be sure of one thing: For those who follow Jesus, this world is the worst they will ever experience—everything only gets better and better. For those who reject Jesus, this world is the best they will ever experience—and they only can anticipate increasing pain, disappointment, and hopelessness. 1 Peter 1:5 … kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. We are shielded by God’s power through faith Next, Peter encourages his readers that God guards them. No matter what troubles we face, nothing can keep us away from the love of God. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.” The key is faith. We must hold onto our faith even in the face of death. Nothing can keep us from the love of God and what He has in store for us, if only we hold on to Him. We must hold on to our faith in God like a bull rider holds on to the saddle. God has a salvation that is ready to be revealed. But we must understand that God wants all men to come to repentance and be saved—He is working in the world with patience because He loves the world. We need to have faith while we wait for His salvation to be revealed and work together with God so that everyone will come to repentance. 1 Peter 1:6

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. Rejoicing while suffering grief in all kinds of trials Because of all these things, we can rejoice, even though we have to suffer in all kinds of trials. Jesus said that we would have troubles in this world; He never promised us effortless success. Later on in his letter, Peter says that since Jesus suffered in His body, we should arm ourselves with the same attitude. When we do this, we can be sure that we are done with sin. Are you willing to endure suffering if it is necessary for a little while? Arm yourself with the attitude of Jesus, which was “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” But remember that the trials we suffer through are temporary—only a little while. And, they serve an important purpose. 1 Peter 1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Refined by fire After telling the Christians about all the good things God has in store for them, he says that even these painful trials are for their good. If you are a Christian and are going through troubles that you don’t deserve, be sure that these are coming for a good reason. We experience trials in our lives to purify our faith. Until you experience some difficulty that is testing your faith, you won’t know what other stuff is in there that shouldn’t be in there. Has your faith relied on your bank account? Has your faith relied on your own strength? You will never know until you face a situation where you have nothing else to rely on except God. These experiences purify our faith, just like fire purifies gold. When we come through that trial, we will come out with a stronger, more pure faith in God. Another benefit of trials is that is tests the genuineness of our faith. When I was a child, I liked to look for rocks with pyrite in them, also known as fool’s gold because it looks like gold but it’s not. True gold is very valuable, but you won’t know if it’s pure unless you melt it in the fire. When you do that, all the impurities will rise to the surface and you can remove them. Trials do the same thing in our lives. They show us whether our faith is genuine or not. Do you realize that these trials will result in praise, glory, and honor if you pass them? The Bible says that Jesus was obedient, even unto death, and that God exalted Him to the highest place as a result. Jesus set the pattern for us. We follow Him. When the early Christians were martyred for

being Christians, they welcomed the opportunity to prove their faith genuine and counted it an honor to suffer for Jesus. As he was being taken to Rome to die, Ignatius of Antioch wrote to Christians in that city, saying, “I am now becoming a disciple.” He saw martyrdom as part of his following Jesus, and knew that if Jesus suffered and was glorified, then that was a pattern for him to emulate. In Chapter 4:12-13, Peter tells the Christians, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” No trial is easy, but it can be purposeful. Whenever trials come your way, dear brothers and sisters, remember these are an opportunity to strengthen and purify our faith in God, and that they will result in glory and honor from Jesus Himself when He returns. 1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. The definition of faith is that it is certainty in what we do not see. The Bible says that whoever puts their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved. Jesus loved us first, that is why He came down to die as a payment for our sin. When we believe in Him, we receive the gift of forgiveness that Jesus bought for us. And that’s why we love Him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy. SHARE THE GOSPEL!