The Rewards of Christian Suffering

by Mike Ratliff

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; (1 Peter 4:17 NA27)

For it is time to begin the judgment at the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those disobeying the good news of God? (a personal translation of 1 Peter 4:17 from the NA27 Greek text)

If you have not done so, I suggest you read my post Excuse Me Dr. Piper paying closing attention to the comments. As my friend Ken Silva has said many times, what we are observing in what is going in with Dr. Piper’s relationships with those whose theology is questionable at best, is just another example of a 1 Peter 4:17 judgment on the Church. I usually take Friday evenings off. That is, I do not write or post. I relax and, believe me, I need it. This Friday evening I was working on my Mac and every few minutes had to moderate a comment still coming in on my post on Dr. Piper. If you read those comments I am sure you will, like me, notice the underlying hurt and anger and sometimes rage over these things. Some feel betrayed. 

In any case, I decided to leave it for a while at go over to a chat channel at AOMIN.ORG, which belongs to Dr. James White. I logged in and just observed what was going on. One fellow asked me who I was as he introduced himself. I told him my name and gave him the name of my blog. We chatted a bit then for some reason it came up and I revealed that my blogs are also posted on Christian Research Network and that I worked with Ken Silva. Well, I thought that being at a chat channel at AOMIN.ORG was a safe place to relax for awhile, but a couple of fellows decided to do a “IN YOUR FACE” confrontation about Ken hating Emergents and demanded to know my stance on that, et cetera. I told them that Ken and I were in full agreement about two things. We both love the truth and that truth is not according to opinion, but according to God’s Word. Then I said something about opinion being irrelevant. Then the more aggressive of the two said something I never got a chance to read because the moderator intercepted it and canned him by killing his connection. The disclaimer when you join says that their “Bots” detect profanity and do that so obviously that was what was going on. It got real calm all of sudden and I went back to discussing John 3:16 and Koine Greek with the first fellow.

Now my brethren, I most certainly am not equating that little bit of aggravation with a fiery trial. That is not to say I do not have them though because as we are about to read, all in Christ do.

Ἀγαπητοί, μὴ ξενίζεσθε τῇ ἐν ὑμῖν πυρώσει πρὸς πειρασμὸν ὑμῖν γινομένῃ ὡς ξένου ὑμῖν συμβαίνοντος, ἀλλὰ καθὸ κοινωνεῖτε τοῖς τοῦ Χριστοῦ παθήμασιν χαίρετε, ἵνα καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ χαρῆτε ἀγαλλιώμενοι. εἰ ὀνειδίζεσθε ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ, μακάριοι, ὅτι τὸ τῆς δόξης καὶ τὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πνεῦμα ἐφ᾽ ὑμᾶς ἀναπαύεται. μὴ γάρ τις ὑμῶν πασχέτω ὡς φονεὺς ἢ κλέπτης ἢ κακοποιὸς ἢ ὡς ἀλλοτριεπίσκοπος· εἰ δὲ ὡς Χριστιανός, μὴ αἰσχυνέσθω, δοξαζέτω δὲ τὸν θεὸν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ. 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; καὶ εἰ ὁ δίκαιος μόλις σῴζεται, ὁ ἀσεβὴς καὶ ἁμαρτωλὸς ποῦ φανεῖται; ὥστε καὶ οἱ πάσχοντες κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ πιστῷ κτίστῃ παρατιθέσθωσαν τὰς ψυχὰς αὐτῶν ἐν ἀγαθοποιΐᾳ. (1 Peter 4:12-19 NA27)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes among you as a test, as if a strange thing is happening to you, but in so far as you share in the suffering of Christ, rejoice, that in the glory of his revelation you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are reproached in the name of Christ, you are blessed ones because the Spirit of Glory and The Spirit of God rests upon you. Do not let any of you suffer as a murderer or thief or an evildoer or as a meddler, but if any suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time to begin the judgment at the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those disobeying the good news of God? And if the righteous man with difficulty is saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God let them commit their souls to a trustworthy creator while doing good. (a personal translation of 1 Peter 4:12-19 from the NA27 Greek text)

Peter wrote this as very real Christian persecution was taking place against the Church. This persecution was sponsored by the Roman government for the most part because Christians would not worship Caesar as their god. From this passage, we learn that when Christian persecution becomes a reality there are some imperatives that become necessary in order for us to become triumphant in and through it. In v12 he tell us to not be surprised when it happens. In other words, we must expect it. I think that is what is causing so much stress in the Church in our time with the rampant apostasy at every level. These judgments, allowed by God, to come upon His Church are meant to purge, purify, and cleanse His Church. Therefore, many former leaders who looked solid before, go apostate. Those who are not genuine believers follow them, but genuine believers, the Sheep, are confused, hurt, struggle, and are even attacked by these wolves in sheep’s clothing as being divisive, et cetera because they will not support the unbiblical things going on in their old church. Been there, done that.

I am just like most of you. I respond to these things with outrage, anger, and seek to set things right. However, in vv13, 14 we see that we should rejoice in it. Why? We are sharing in the sufferings of Christ. I do not think that this means we do not speak out and tell the truth. No, we must do that, but when the wolves respond with their attacks, et cetera, we cannot respond with rage, and all that goes with it. I know some of you reading this who have lost your churches to a PDC takeover and you are quite bitter about it. I was myself when it happened to me. However, even when those who took over that church treated me shamefully, my response still should have been wrapped in Christlikeness.

In vv15-18 we see must look at what has brought about our trial or suffering. Is it our fault or are we suffering because we are uncompromising Christians? If it is the former then we are suffering for deeds of the flesh and that is something else. However, if it is the latter then Peter tells us that we are in the trial as part of a 1 Peter 4:17 judgment on the Church. Our response should always be one of patience and godliness by praying for those who are in error and are simply instruments in the hands of our enemy as we submit to the flail of the Lord. Let us pray for wisdom and discernment through these things. Then in v19 we entrust ourselves to God. I made that statement in the comment section of Excuse Me Dr. Piper. Some were beginning to despair, but I stated:

 …let us never forget that our God is Sovereign. Yes we have a fifth column in place in the likes of FT, but our Lord had Judas Iscariot… We must simply obey by standing firm and for some of us that means calling out the apostates and heretics even when it makes us unpopular with men like F. He can say whatever he wants about me, but he also understands that he had better not say anything he can’t back up with facts. On the other hand, our job is to go hard after ANYONE who attacks the person and doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is our role. It should be the role of men like Piper and company, but …

In any case, the leadership of the apostate visible church are being revealed almost daily to us. It causes us grief, confusion, stress, anger, and rage. However, as we have seen, this is not how we should respond. Expose them? Yes! Get the Church to turn from them? Yes! Do not be surprised when masses of those who do not obey the good news of God still follow them? Sadly, yes. My brethren, we must not despair because of these things. We must be as wise as serpents, but as innocent and doves. Never forget that even as God swings His flail to purge His Church and purify it, He loves it, and, if you are in Christ, that means you too.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “The Rewards of Christian Suffering

  1. Thanks Mike for your testimony. It was convicting for me, I have at times responded, even if not outwardly, but with inward seething when attacked by untruth.Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Mike, I’m sorry you didn’t get to rest today. I am thankful however for your blog and it is one that I depend on to continue to learn and think and be encouraged. I only have a handful of blogs that I make sure I read…and this is one of them. Please keep on keeping on because one day, you will have perfect rest for all of eternity. I know you’re tired, but I also know you will finish this race!

    BTW, what was an emergent doing at AOM???? Seems that would be the last place he would want to hang out unless of course it was just to pick at those non emergents who frequent the discussions.

  3. Doing the Lord’s work is a privilege Dawn Marie. I was really surprised by the aggressive attack at the chat channel. However, their moderators are very strict so it got handled before it got ugly. I found that same group of people commenting there that hang out at Pyromaniacs to comment. You know, those who want to be the first to say something cool and stand out, et cetera. That is why I rarely comment at Pyro. The main difference is that at the AOMIN chat channel there are a lot more Greek scholarly types so I am sorta drawn to that.

  4. Mike,

    As I was thinking of a conversation I had with a Roman Catholic, this thought stuck in my mind: Truth offends man;l half-truth offends God. Let us stand with God on His Word and take whatever the world throws at us. I am under investigation at my place of work because I have “Romans 8:1″ under my name on my email signature block. It does not violate any policy, but someone “is offended” by it. People take offense when the Truth reveals their sin to them and they would rather cover it up than confess it and repent. Grow not weary, my brother.

  5. Mike,

    I value what you do here and at CRN. Unfortunately for those around me I’m definitely a lightning rod.

    For the record, I don’t hate Emergents. If I did, I sure wouldn’t enter their spiritual cesspool and try and rescue them from it.

  6. Manfred, yes, political correctness is and the tool meant to make each of us deny who we are in Christ because to tell the truth offends which within political correctness if the worst sin possible. I can’t tell you that you will prevail in that, but I do know that if you stand firm in the Lord, God will be glorified and you will have treasure in Heaven…

  7. Ken, I just went back over to AOMIN.ORG and was accosted again by their server operator who goes by the name of RAZORKISS. He warned everyone in the chat channel as I was talking with DR. White about his Mac, to be forewarned that a Watchblogger was in the Channel. I asked him if he meant me and he got very aggressive with me and said I blogged with Ken Silva didn’t I? Then he got all upset because he and Dr. White are good friends with Don Whitney and believed that Bob Dewaay was feeding you a lot of bad information about him. Then they cut me off and I was gone.

    However, before all of that I did get to ask Dr. White about his thoughts on C.J. Mahaney and the SG stuff. He told me that he was only giving me his opinion and that was that. He said he considered their Ecclisiology to be whacked and the whole organization to be rotten from the inside out. However, Dr. White has his own group of people around him that seem to shield him from people like me so it is tough to get to talk to him like that.

  8. Mike, I see from the comments here, and on your last post…that the Lord’s Truthtellers are NOT liked even in reformed churches!!
    But I am comforted by this post…the Lord knows those who are His own, and they too must be tried,…even if it is in this manner: being hit by those that claim to be brothers…
    or being gagged by those who would be ‘Elders’…
    Elijah thought he was alone…but we will in time come to know the others the Lord has reserved for Himself…
    Thank you for standing on the frontlines…
    Continuing to pray, for you and all His watchmen!

  9. I hope you have a restful day today, Mike. I sure do appreciate all you do, you know that. Your article sure made a lot of sense to me. Even though we get discouarged and disgusted at the compromising…by the next morning God gives us the strength and fortitude to continue on in the mess, doesn’t He. I have come to learn when He shows me something that is not truth but is claiming to be…as difficult and as confusing as that can be for me in investigating it and seeing all the deception and angles and twists and turns and lies, God carries me in the middle of it and protects me at the same time.

    I am glad you got a chance to as Dr. White about CJ’s method of doing church. I know from having read the accounts, that those who are out of the churches sure do pronounce them as cult like and the freedom in Jesus Christ they now experience has been so joyous to read about. It is as if they have realized for the first time that Jesus has risen and HAS forgiven them and they don’t need to work so hard to identify the thousands of ways a day they sin and remedy that by works. Almost sounds like a different gospel, doesn’t it.

    I am glad Dr. White agrees that it is a rotten theology….this ugly, gaping, shepherding wound of a religion that CJ has placed a reformed band-aid on.

  10. WOW, sure sounds NOTHING like wanting to come to the Light so our deeds can be exposed!

    Manfred I appreciate your stand…If you would have had Proverbs 25:24 under your name, you would have had a basis for winning all MEN to the Lord through creative marketing, which today offends nobody apparently. LOL

    Ken, I can’t get Mike to move to Penna. perhaps you would consider coming here, since nobody here wants to undershepherd God’s way. :) I’d much prefer a lightning rod to all the plastic diving rods we have around here. LOL

    Mike, “the hole in the wall gang” could stand each others filth, because together, they were more profitable. But just let one honest Texas Ranger show up, and the lead flies!

    Keep up the God work fellows! Some day you will graduate to the position of being “Damned with faint praise.”

    It will be worth it all when we see Jesus…

  11. Diane, yes, Dr. White was able to give me that info, but it was hard considering that one of his own admins kept trying to intervene and disconnect me. I am considering contacting him and asking if all fellow apologists are treated this shabbily, but then, if you look at the context of this post, I think not. :-)

  12. Mike,

    It’s one thing to claim Bob DeWaay’s feeding me bad information re. Donald Whitney, it’s quite another to prove it.

    The point we make re. Whitney is: Where in Scripture are these “spiritual disciplines,” which he essentially turns into a quid pro quo means of grace, e.g. journaling.

  13. Ken, exactly, but I never got a chance to ask about that. Their server operator would not let me talk with Dr. White. If I was in the same room with him the punk would have been toast. :-) I got the impression that he had taken classes under Whitney. Dr. White said that Whitney was a fine, fellow brother in the Lord and he loved talking with him, which the server operator echoed. So, the whole blow-up with them was over Whitney. I don’t mind being identified with you Ken, not at all. However, what is so different from what we do from what they do in the expose’s of Ergun Caner and radical Arminianism and KJV Onlyists, etc? We are labeled Watchbloggers, but they do the very same thing.

  14. Mike, you said…and forgive me for butting in here…

    “However, what is so different from what we do from what they do in the expose’s of Ergun Caner and radical Arminianism and KJV Onlyists, etc? We are labeled Watchbloggers, but they do the very same thing.”

    That’s what I don’t understand??? I did a search last night to find out exactly what that term meant and it seems that the folks screaming the loudest do the exact same things they were screaming against. I even came across one post that went so far as to say something like women especially need to be able to prove what they are saying…that was just kind of odd to me because I thought men needed to prove what they were saying also. It also seemed that the folks who used that term all had eachother’s links on their blogs and websites, so it almost looked like a “click” thing to me. The cool guys in the click can decide who is a watchblogger and who is not? When is it considered “apologetics”, when is it considered “warning” and when it is considered “watchblogging” and who decides? Or is it all relative? Very confusing subject to me.

  15. Exactly Dawn Marie. That is my point as well. I went there expecting them to recognize that I do what they do, but I’m not in their clique so I’m just a Watchblogger and, therefore, not worth their time. At least that was my impression.

  16. 1 John 4 explains them to a tee! Dawn Marie. It will clear most of the confusion in all this. Also see my last comment under the I’m a Piper he’s a Piper wouldn’t you like to be a Piper too, or whatever Mike called it. :)

  17. Pingback: Prayer Fasting and Forgiveness « Possessing the Treasure

  18. Hi Mike,

    You said, “Therefore, many former leaders who looked solid before, go apostate. Those who are not genuine believers follow them, but genuine believers, the Sheep, are confused, hurt, struggle, and are even attacked by these wolves in sheep’s clothing as being divisive, et cetera because they will not support the unbiblical things going on in their old church.”

    Oh, how you said it, friend. Confused and struggling. Yup. I am currently having a very difficult time processing the ill treatment I have received at the hands of those who I have considered brothers and sisters in Christ. When the unsaved attack, for the most part I accept it and understand why. But the believers who have attacked have left me befuddled. As you said, “Is it our fault or are we suffering because we are uncompromising Christians?” Because the attacks have often come from believers who have been saved a great many years more than I, I struggle with this too, wondering if it is my fault or not. I want to be sure it’s not the former. All I have is the Bible, and I have to compare my beliefs and theirs to Scripture. But it sure is hard because I feel like I’m nutty, because why do these “older” believers not see the false teachings?

  19. Carolyn, yes, I have been right where you are. What we must come to terms with is that so many who are “long term” Christians have either become cold or they are false. Newer believers are still actively seeking the things of God. They burn for Him and His truth, while these you are talking about seem to be caught up in their traditions more than anything else. How are we to take that? How are we to understand that? They are certainly hardened to the truth. They cannot see it even when it is right before them, but we can. Amazing! I marvel at it as you do. What is dismaying is when they strike out viciously at us for telling them the truth. I think that is revealing of what is really inside and that is disturbing. We must pray for God to open eyes and draw these people into the light, but if they don’t respond does this mean they are not His? Perhaps that is the case.

  20. Mike,

    Sigh, thanks for your feedback. Yes, they strike viciously at us for telling the truth… like Paul said to the Galatians, am I now your enemy for telling you the truth?

    Honestly, I haven’t come to terms w/ it all. I’m still so confused, and I confess, sometimes angry, which I know isn’t right, but it’s there. I feel so weak and so utterly discouraged. And I know I’m a big sinner, and I’m not immune to growing cold, or going astray, or being hardened. Only God’s grace will preserve me from all three.

  21. Hang in there Carolyn by standing firm as you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Christ. Any other focus and you will find yourself in despair. I know because I fight the same battle…

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