by Mike Ratliff
3 g Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! h According to his great mercy, i he has caused us to be born again to a living hope j through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to k an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and l unfading, m kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded n through faith for a salvation o ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by p various trials, 7 so that q the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes r though it is tested by s fire-may be found to result in t praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)
There was a large demand today where I work for some sort of way for people to watch the US Presidential Inauguration. Of course, I observe people during things like this so I noted how some of the people in my office were actually worshipping Barack Obama. They were viewing him as if he was some sort of savior. Emotions ran high. Several of those I work with stayed home today in order to watch the coverage on TV. I was amazed. I have not seen anything close to this since I was in the 3rd grade when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated or when Mikhail Gorbechev visited the United States back in the 1980’s. However, there were many of us who simply tried to ignore the whole thing. I observe my own reactions to these things as well… What was bothering me?
I have absolutely no problem with an Afro-American being President of the United States. That is not the issue. The issue for me is that this man is being worshipped and treated as if he is the messiah. Also, it is well known that there is coming a wave of liberalism from the US Government itself at a level that we have never imagined in this country. This “liberalism” will have teeth and will contain mandates, laws, executive orders, et cetera that will present to the Christian an obvious point of decision whether to obey them or obey God. They will be mutually exclusive. I wonder if most professing Christians in the US are ready for this. However, let us not forget that the New Testament Church was born in the period of the pagan Roman Empire that was opposed to it in nearly every area. Did our Lord and the Apostles become rebels in an attempt to overthrow the oppressive government? No! In fact, what we learn from scripture is that our relationship to all secular authorities must be according to our Lord’s own words, which He spoke to Pilate at His trial.
33 z So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, a “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, b “My kingdom c is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, d my servants would have been fighting, that e I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, f “You say that I am a king. g For this purpose I was born and for this purpose h I have come into the world-i to bear witness to the truth. j Everyone who is k of the truth l listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38 ESV)
We must take this to our own hearts my brethren. Yes, we should stand for morality and justice in our society, but we are to treat the government authorities God has placed over us within the framework of our citizenship as Christians being not of this world. No, our true citizenship is the Kingdom of God. However, that being said, we must also be prepared to experience a level of persecution that we have never seen in this country. Oh, in many countries of the world Christians within them have been experiencing barbaric persecution from other religions and the governments which support them. So, on what grounds would be consider ourselves to be somehow exempt from this?
12 Indeed, all who desire to v live a godly life in Christ Jesus w will be persecuted, 13 while x evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and y being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV)
Peter called Christian suffering fiery trials and stated that believers should not be surprised when they come upon them.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at z the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice a insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad b when his glory is revealed. 14 c If you are insulted d for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory  and of God rests upon you. 15 But e let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or f as a meddler. 16 Yet e if anyone suffers as a g Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God d in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment h to begin at the household of God; and i if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who j do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will l entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV)
Christians are called to persevere in suffering. God uses these fiery trials to purify the church. Therefore, Christians should pursue God even more during them, giving themselves to Him in their sufferings. Peter tells us that suffering is the norm for the Christian and that within each trial we should rejoice as a disciple of Christ. This joy is the beginning of the joy to come at our Lord’s return. When evil people insult us because we are Christians then we are actually blessed even more because during these fiery trials the “Spirit of glory” rests us in a more powerful way than when we are not.
Another purpose of this suffering is to bring honor to Christ. The term “Christian” was actually a derisive term coined by the enemies of Christianity. It simply means one who is a follower of Christ. The early Church eventually learned to love this name and adopted it, giving glory to their Lord as they suffered horrendously at the hands of those intent upon wiping out Christianity.
What does it mean that “it is time for judgment to begin a the household of God?” This in reference to the Jewish Temple in Ezekiel 9:1-6 and Malachi 3:1-4, however, since the Cross, the temple is God’s people. The judgment refers to God purifying them through the cleansing fires of suffering. What is Peter referring to in v18 about the righteous being scarcely saved? This is referring to the difficulties that genuine believers suffer. Peter is telling us that the Christian life is not one of ease nor is it free of difficulty. His point here is that if the saved need such purifying then how severe will be the judgment of the ungodly, the unsaved, at the Last Judgment?
The call for the Christian then is to suffer according to God’s will as they entrust their souls to the Lord while continuing to do good. This means that we are to do good even to those who persecute us. I know that this is not normal behavior for anyone, but it is what the Spirit-filled Christian does.
3 But p sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness q must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be r no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, s which are out of place, but instead t let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that u everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (v that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 w Let no one x deceive you with empty words, for because of these things y the wrath of God comes upon z the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore a do not become partners with them; 8 for b at one time you were c darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. d Walk as children of light 9 (for e the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and f try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 g Take no part in the h unfruitful i works of darkness, but instead j expose them. 12 For k it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when l anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
15 p Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 p making the best use of the time, because q the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what r the will of the Lord is. 18 And s do not get drunk with wine, for that is t debauchery, but u be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in v psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 w giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father x in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 y submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:3-21 ESV)
Soli Deo Gloria!