by Mike Ratliff
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17 ESV)
I was reading my dear brother Ken Silva’s fine article, Doug Pagitt Excited About Interfaith Powwows At Solomon’s Porch, today and noticed in the very first paragraph a reference to 1 Peter 4:17 and judgment. Here is part of that quote, “…and I’ve warned you that there is a tsunami of apostasy—pushed along by 1 Peter 4:17 judgments—headed toward the church visible.” A number of you have approached me wanting me to address this or that well known leader in the visible church who is apostatizing even going so far as to call some of them out and make them stop what they are doing, if that were possible. My brethren, I do not like what is going on any more than you do, but I agree with Ken, what we are witnessing is something that is being allowed within the Sovereignty of God for His purpose. The visible church is going down the tubes, but what about the real church, the remnant? What about it? Didn’t our Lord say, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail over His Church?” (Matthew 16:18) Of course, that Church is the real Church, that one built upon the Rock of Faith that is the gift from God, not the works of men. This visible church consists of what we see with our eyes and a lot of it is that which is not eternal. It is only the product of men and their labors. What is being torn apart by apostasy is that church. What about the genuine Church, the one built without hands, the one on the rock that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against? What about it? Will all this apostasy touch it? That is what we will look at in this post.
Everywhere we look in our time, God’s Truth is under attack. It seems that “everyone” is calling for interfaith compromise and with no emphasis on absolute truth. For, after all, how could Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, et cetera all come together as one unless everyone gave up their core values as absolute? I can guarantee you though that our Lord’s statement in Matthew 16:18 was absolutely true and the reason is that genuine Christians are so not because of their will power or what they have done, but because of what God has done. They are new creations and real Christians will not compromise. Therefore, genuine Christians will be persecuted and will not give in, even to the point of death.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV)
Here is 1 Peter 4:12 from the ESV: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
Here is v12 from the NA27 text: Ἀγαπητοί, μὴ ξενίζεσθε τῇ ἐν ὑμῖν πυρώσει πρὸς πειρασμὸν ὑμῖν γινομένῃ ὡς ξένου ὑμῖν συμβαίνοντος
The words “fiery trial” translates one Greek word, πυρώσει, the dative, singular form of the noun πύρωσις or purōsis, which was “a burning conflagration,” which is used analogously here to refer to a fiery test of trying circumstances. The point Peter is making is that Christians should not be astonished when they suffer or when the Church undergoes severe trial. God is using these things to purify the Church. Therefore, we should unreservedly give ourselves to God in the midst of our sufferings, entrusting ourselves to Him totally while doing good instead of retaliating in kind.
On the other hand, notice the form these fiery trials take in v17. Here is v17 from the ESV: For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Here is v17 from the NA27 text: ὅτι [ὁ] καιρὸς τοῦ ἄρξασθαι τὸ κρίμα ἀπὸ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ θεοῦ· εἰ δὲ πρῶτον ἀφ᾽ ἡμῶν, τί τὸ τέλος τῶν ἀπειθούντων τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ εὐαγγελίῳ;
The word “judgment” translates the Greek word κρίμα or krima, which refers to the act of “judgment” or it consequences. Its usage in 1 Peter 4:17 refers to the final eternal judgment of God that will come on all creatures starting with God’s people and resulting in the damnation of those who have rejected the faith, oppose God, and his people. However, notice very carefully the context of what Peter is telling us. This judgment is coming upon the household of God. It is a purifying judgment meant to cleanse. Yes, God’s people will suffer in the midst of it, but what will be the outcome? Those who are genuine will come through the fire and be saved, entering in to God’s rest, but the disingenuous will find destruction for they do not obey the gospel.
Now, let us look at the current state of affairs in the visible church in our time. What is going on? Former solid appearing Christian leaders are apostatizing and partnering with known apostates and heretics. It looks like the majority of the visible church has been consumed by the Purpose Driven machine and it is compromised big time with a false gospel and is going hard after the world and interfaith relationships, et cetera. My old denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention is being slowly eaten alive by compromise. I could write page after page using names and organizations that you know that are compromising.
However, my brethren, that is not the point. Peter had it right. This is nothing new. 1 Peter 4:17 was written in the 1st Century and this is still going on. The Church is being continually purged and cleansed by these fiery tests and trials of faith as those who should be caring for the flock and feeding the sheep compromise and fall head over heels into apostasy. What are we to do? We follow Peter’s instructions. We remain faithful. We suffer according to God’s will as we entrust our souls to our faithful Creator while doing good.
In my case, I will continue to obey my Lord in feeding those sheep He sends to me and giving you His Truth from His Word as He commands.
Soli Deo Gloria!