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Equipping the Church to Suffer

Equipping the Church to Suffer

How does a pastor equip the church for suffering in a culture that has not yet experienced significant suffering? I do not mean to downplay significant trials in our lives dismissing them as trivial. However, in my view, as Americans, while we are beginning to experience a small degree of suffering, we have not experienced the same degree of suffering as that of our brothers and sisters in most of Church history or even at present throughout the world. Not yet.

So, the question for us to consider is, “How can believers equip ourselves for future suffering?” Make no mistake, suffering is coming for those who are resolved to identify with Christ. Our secular culture hates the so-called intolerance of Christians and is growing in hostility towards us and all that we stand for. I believe, suffering, to a greater degree, is coming. The question is, are we ready for it? 1 Peter 4:1 says,

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking”

The phrase “arm yourselves” is a military term which can be translated “equip yourselves.” What are we to arm ourselves with? Believers should arm ourselves with a certain “way of thinking” that we will suffer as Christ suffered. In other words, we should not be alarmed by our secular country’s growing hostility towards Christians. Suffering is the norm for those who follow Jesus not the exception. We are to remind our brains that Jesus suffered. Let me write that again. Jesus suffered. Just read it again and again if necessary. Jesus suffered. What makes us think we will be any different? In 2 Tim. 3:12 Paul flat out says

“all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”

Many people are perfectly willing to accept God’s forgiveness in Christ. Many more are perfectly willing to accept the inheritance that comes with Christ. Many more still, are willing to embrace the future blessing of life in with Christ. But too few are willing to suffer with Christ. Suffering is not optional for Christ’s followers. We will suffer. Association with Christ will not lead to societal acceptance. We cannot have both. We will all eventually be Colorado cake bakers in one way or another. I will leave you with Peter’s words to consider from 1 Peter 4:12 which says,

“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”

 

 

Posted by Matt Williams
in Bible

A Legacy of Faithful Wives

“A Legacy of Faithful Wives”

            I am currently preaching through 1 Peter and have come across one of the more challenging commands in Peter’s household codes. 1 Peter 3:1 says, “Likewise wives be subject to your own husbands.” This is especially challenging because of recent new stories regarding women’s roles in the church in our Southern Baptist Convention. I think it is safe to say that preaching on the topic of submissive wives is not a popular topic for church growth in our culture right now. While I understand this, I also understand that God’s Word must be faithfully preached.

            As I prepare my thoughts to preach yet another sermon on this topic, I can’t help but wonder how the next generation of Christian women will respond to the current cultural challenges. How will my daughter interact with her husband one day? If the next generation of marriages faithfully picture Christ and His Church it will be because the Church begins to take seriously the concept of leaving a legacy of faithful wives.

            Peter teaches the importance of leaving such a legacy to his current audience by looking back to a faithful matriarch. He says in 1 Peter 3:5-6, “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” Just like we are Abraham’s children by faith (Gal. 3:7), our daughters can be Sarah’s children if we teach them to adopt her gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in God’s sight (1 Pet. 3:4). Delilah is the antithesis of Sarah. You will recall in the book of Judges that she uses her external beauty and relentless words to manipulate Sampson into disclosing the secret of his strength.

Our country is still experiencing heavy attacks from Satan in our marriages. If the gospel is going to shine forth to the next generation, we must get serious about teaching the next generation what the Scriptures say about our God ordained, complementarian roles between husbands and wives. Paul gives us the same challenge of legacy building with the next generation of women when he instructs older women to “train the young women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:4-5).

            Wives, what legacy are you leaving to the next generation of younger, soon to be wives? I pray that it is a biblical one so that the gospel may be fully displayed in healthy marriages. May God bless this country through His Church once again.

Posted by Matt Williams

What's the Purpose of Trials?

What’s the Purpose of Trials?

 Have you ever experienced a trial that left such an impression on you, so as to change you into a different person?  Then you understand completely what Peter is saying in 1 Peter 1:6-9. Some trials cut so deeply that the scare left behind does not begin to tell of the experience you had. The trial was so personal and hurt so badly that it sunk into the depths of your soul and remains with you to this day. Have you ever experienced such a trial? It was so personal and so deep that the only thing to conclude was that an almighty all-knowing God could have designed such a trial. Who else knows you so well as to have you walk through what you have walked through? So, what is the function of such a personal trial? Peter shows us 4 things that trials produce.   

  1. Trials produces genuine faith “The tested genuineness of your faith” (vs. 6)

 Trials are the dividing line which proves a believer’s faith. Jesus says it this way.

 Mk. 4:16-17 “And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”

 A person may wrongly think that trials are unnecessary to achieve the end goal of a genuine faith but Scripture teaches otherwise. When a believer experiences such a personal trial from God and keeps their faith through it, they are surer of God’s sustaining power than ever. Trials function as a dividing line in the life of a believer. The trial leaves such an impression on their faith that there is no turning back from pursuing God’s plan. True believers persevere under trial. James says it this way.

 James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Your trial is doing something! It’s not for no nothing! 

  1. Trials produce stronger faith “Though it is tested by fire” (vs. 7)

Peter uses the analogy of Gold being purged in fire for two reasons. 1) To explain the process of refinement in the believer, and 2) to compare the value of Gold to the value of your faith. The process of refining Gold to remove the dross is like the process of trials that remove unnecessary impurities. In other words, fire is a good thing in these verses not a bad thing. An untested faith is a faith with remaining impurities. Faith, like Gold, must be tested with fire to purge out the dross of worldly pursuits and replaces them with faith, which is more valuable than gold. The result is a stronger faith.

The second reason Peter uses Gold is to compare pure Gold to faith. Faith is more valuable than Gold! God gives his children the most valuable thing they could ever have. He is the best father who gives the best to his children. Trials remove the blinders that keep us from seeing our faith as the most precious thing we possess. Without trials our hearts would pursue lesser joys which are not as valuable, keeping us from a mature faith in God. So, don’t run from the fire! Embrace the Fire!

  1. Trials Produce Inexpressible Joy (vs. 8)

This is why trials produce Joy! The trial allows us to see clearly. God is giving us the most valuable thing we could ever possess. Though you have not seen him, you love him, and rejoice. You cannot physically see God but you experience God through the trials he sends and become assured that he is working on your faith. 

  1. Trials Produce Complete Salvation “The outcome of your faith” (9)

 The end result of a pure faith, tested in the fire, is mature, complete or finished faith. You would surely exchange your eternal salvation for temporary trials, wouldn’t you? Of course, you would! Rejoice, your salvation is coming soon. James says it this way.

 James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him”

 

 

Posted by Matt Williams

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