************ Sermon on 1 Peter 1:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 18, 2021
1 Peter 1:1-7
1 Peter 1:6
"From Suffering to Glory"
I was asked the usual question on a bike ride this week: "What you preaching on Sunday?" "From suffering to glory," I said. "You mean there is hope for me a Cincinnati Bengals fan?" "Yes," I said, "if you become a Green Bay Packers fan." In case you don't know, the Bengals have not won a playoff game in 31 years and have never won the Super Bowl.
"From suffering to glory." That kind of describes Ruth a couple of weeks ago. I talked her into cycling with me up Highway 245 all the way to Mountain House -- over 3000 feet of climbing. Lots of suffering on her part during the climb. Lots of glory on her part coming down the mountain.
"From suffering to glory." That describes the plight of Christians in India. I met with a representative of Mission India this past week. He reminded me that India has anti-conversion and anti-evangelism laws. It is against the law to convert away from the Hindu faith. It is against the law to evangelize. It is against the law to tell people about hell because you are scaring/forcing people to convert. In a new twist, it is now against the law to tell people about heaven too -- you are forcing desperate people to convert by telling them about a wondrous future. All of this stopped for a while because of COVID but now it is starting up again and Christians are being cruelly persecuted for their faith. But the Christians of India persevere in suffering knowing the glory that awaits them.
"From suffering to glory" also describes Peter's audience.
A I read through a most interesting book as I was studying for this sermon. The title: "Rome is Burning." The subtitle: "Nero and the Fire That Ended a Dynasty."
In 64 A.D. the great city of Rome burned. Streets were narrow. The poor were densely packed together in wooden buildings. Once the fire started, it easily and quickly jumped across the narrow streets and from place to place. People ran through the streets fleeing for their lives. The fire lasted for nine days and consumed almost three quarters of the city. Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless. During the chaos of the fire, there were reports of heavy looting. Furthermore, the fire destroyed a lot of the religious places and temples so the people were left without their gods.
The Romans believed that their emperor, Nero, caused or ordered the fire. This probably was not true. But Nero did take advantage of the fire to rebuild Rome according to his vision for the city and to advance his political agenda. And, because Nero forced the wealthy to pay for the rebuilding, he lost their support. Rich and poor alike were mad. And, a lot of their hostility was directed at Nero. Nero soon realized he had to redirect the hostility. He had to find a scapegoat to blame for this and the group he chose was Christians. He spread the word they were the ones who started the fires.
As a result of this accusation, official persecution against Christians began. Christians were imprisoned, put on the rack, seared, broiled, burned, whipped, stoned, hanged, crucified, sliced with red hot knives, thrown on the horns of wild bulls. And so Christians began to perish. Tacitus, the Roman historian, reported that Nero rolled Christians in pitch and then set them on fire while they were still alive and used them as living torches to light his garden parties. He sewed them in the skins of wild animals and set his hunting dogs on them to tear them to pieces. They were also nailed to crosses.
That persecution which started in Rome began to spread throughout the Roman Empire. As it spread it touched Christians scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. In other words, it spread to Peter's audience. They may have been chosen by God but they were hated by the world as strangers and aliens (cf 1 Pet 1:1).
B When we glance through Peter's first letter we see every chapter says something about the suffering of Christians. We begin with chapter 1 and our text for this morning:
-Chapter 1:6 "... though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." Notice the words: suffer, grief, trials.
-Chapter 2:20 "... if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God." Notice the word: suffer.
-Chapter 3:13,16 "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? ... 16 ... so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." Notice the words: harm, slander, speak maliciously.
-Chapter 4:12,13,19 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ ... 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." Notice the words: painful trial, suffering, suffer.
-Chapter 5:8 " Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Enemy, prowls, roaring lion, devour.
-Chapter 5:10 "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while ..." Notice the word: suffered.
Do you hear it? Do you see it? Peter's audience is suffering. They are suffering as Christians. They are suffering for their faith. They are suffering for Jesus. Peter's focus is on Christian suffering.
C Some of you might be thinking, "What about Christ? What about Christ and His suffering?" Isn't that the focus of Peter's letter? It is true that throughout the letter Peter has much to say about the cross and suffering of Christ:
-Chapter 1:18,19 "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
-Chapter 2:21 "... Christ suffered for you ..."
-Chapter 2:24 "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."
-Chapter 3:18 "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit ..."
-Chapter 4:13 "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ ..."
-Chapter 5:1 "... I appeal as ... a witness of Christ's sufferings."
D So Peter has a lot to say about Christ and His suffering upon the cross. But the death of Christ upon the cross is not Peter's main point. Rather, Peter uses Christ's death to make a point about the Christian's suffering. Because he is inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter dares to do something only liberals dare to do. Because he is inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter says Christ's suffering is an example for us:
(1 Pet 2:21; NIV84) — 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.Of course, liberals stop right here. "Christ's suffering is an example," they say. "Have the same attitude as Jesus," they say. But they don't say Christ suffered to pay for our sins. Because this means they have to admit sin and judgment and hell fire. Because this means they have to admit Jesus is God and arose from the grave. They are far more comfortable saying Jesus is our example. Period. That's it. Nothing more. Peter is nothing like them. Peter fully proclaims the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Peter believes in the necessity of the cross for our salvation. Peter knows Jesus needed to satisfy God's anger. Peter knows He who was innocent suffered injustice at the hands of men. Peter knows He who was innocent suffered injustice at the hands of God when He bore the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race. He didn't deserve to be treated this way -- the suffering, the injustice. What suffering. What unbelievable suffering. Peter knows this and proclaims this.
(1 Pet 4:1; NIV84) — 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude ...
Yet, Peter's main focus in this letter is not on Christ's suffering but on Christian suffering: "though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." As mentioned, Peter's audience suffered cruel persecution. But they also suffered from the same things we suffer: pain, disease, death, dying, grief, financial hardship, loneliness, worry, dementia, Alzheimer's, disability, wayward family members, stroke, heart attack, cancer, and so on.
E Peter proclaims Christ's suffering as an example we should follow when we suffer. In what way is it an example? When Christ suffered He committed no sin, He didn't get angry at God, He didn't plot revenge against man, He didn't do anything wrong. There was no sinful anger in either His words or His thoughts. Instead, He entrusted Himself to the care of the righteous Judge (1 Pet 2:23). When you suffer, do what Jesus did. Don't sin in word or thought. Don't get sinfully angry. Don't plot revenge. Don't seek vengeance. Don't utter threats. Instead, like Jesus, entrust yourself to the care of God. That's the message of Peter to the church of his day. That's the message of Peter to you and me: be like Jesus as you suffer.
A "From suffering to glory." We've looked at the suffering part. Let's now turn to the glory part. We start with the glory of Christ. Notice how Peter puts this:
-Chapter 1:21 "God ... raised him from the dead and glorified him." Notice: He died, He was raised, He was glorified.
-Chapter 3:22 "Jesus Christ ... has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand -- with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."
"From suffering to glory." My favorite passage describing this transition is the hymn of Christ in Philippians 2:
(Phil 2:6–11; NIV84) — 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! [ALL OF THIS IS THE SUFFERING PART. AND NOW THE GLORY PART.]
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
"From suffering to glory." That was Christ's experience. Because He suffered He was glorified. Christ is the greatest illustration of this principle. No one suffered like He suffered. And, no one was glorified like He was glorified. The greatest suffering became the greatest glory.
B Peter's message to the suffering church is that what happened to Jesus will also happen to them; like Jesus, they will go from suffering to glory. Peter spells this out often in his first letter. Let's begin with our text:
-Chapter 1:6 "you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer..." "You are going through trials," says Peter," yet you rejoice." More than that, "you greatly rejoice."
-Chapter 1:7 "[Trials] 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."
-Chapter 2:19 & 20 uses the phrase "commendable to God." You find favor with God when you imitate Christ as you suffer.
-Chapter 3:9 "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." When someone does you evil and you respond like Christ, you "inherit a blessing."
-Chapter 3:12 adds that "the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer ..." Did you catch all that?
-Chapter 4:13 "rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
-Chapter 4:19 those who suffer according to God's will "commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."
-Chapter 5:10 "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
All of these verses simply say the same thing: suffering is the path to glory. It was that way with Christ. It is that way with Christian. Suffering is the path to victory, it proves your faith, makes you commendable to God, inherits a blessing, God watches you and listens to your prayers, deepens your commitment, and makes you strong and firm and steadfast. Do you want the glory? Do you want your faith to be perfected, confirmed, strengthened, established? What Christian can possibly say "No" to any of these blessings?
"From suffering to glory." That was our Lord's experience. And, we are called to imitate Him as we go from suffering to glory.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page