Good morning po sa ating lahat. We now return to our sermon series on 1 Peter after having our Christmas season series and the New Year. And it will benefit us to be reminded of the context/background of Peter’s audience.
It was a time when the believers started to experience early persecution. Hindi pa ito yung time na may official policy yung government to persecute Christians; hindi pa widespread sa buong Roman Empire yung mga persecution. But some of them are already experiencing contempt, ridicule, social discrimination, and even abuse from the unbelieving Gentile society surrounding them. At nagkakaroon na ng threat of greater persecution from the government.
That’s the context of Peter’s audience.
So the Apostle Peter writes them a letter that reminds them of their identity in Christ and encourages them in the face of trials.
If you would recall, may mga theme and instructions na paulit-ulit na binabanggit
ni Peter throughout his letter:
- Simula pa sa Chapter 1:1, Peter reminds believers: “You are ELECT EXILES.” This world is not your home; you are pilgrims; you ultimately don’t belong here. In fact, in Chapter 2 (v. 9-10), Peter declares that in Jesus Christ, you are now GOD’S PEOPLE, HIS HOLY NATION. You don’t belong to this world; you belong to God and his kingdom. And related to that…
- Simula pa sa Chapter 1 (v. 6), Peter also reminds believers, that as exiles in this world, you will FACE TRIALS AND SUFFERINGS. And he gives proper perspective toward trials, and he gives instructions that even if you have to suffer because of your faith—still respond to it properly and live as WITNESSES TO CHRIST.
- Moreover, simula pa sa Chapter 1 (v. 13), Peter also exhorts believers that you are CALLED TO LIVE IN HOLINESS. Because of the grace of God, because of what Christ accomplished, because you are God’s redeemed—live holy lives. Even if it is hard to suffer, do not be conformed to the world and worldly passions. ‘Wag na kayo bumalik sa kamunduhan.
Instead, do what is good, love one another, and glorify God even in the sight of unbelievers.
Hindi na po natin maiisa-isa lahat nung themes and instructions ni Peter throughout the four chapters na nadaanan natin. But like I mentioned before, ma-o-observe natin na bagama’t paulit-ulit si Peter, may dinadagdag siya na iba o bagong aspeto ng katotohanan or panibagong motive/reason para dun sa mga instructions na binibigay niya sa believers.
And that is the same thing we observe in our text this morning.
Dito po sa 1 Peter 4:12-19, Peter returns to the theme of suffering. And we also need to be reminded of these things in our day.
- How should we REACT when trials and persecutions come?
- What should be our ATTITUDE when we suffer for our faith, especially when we compare ourselves to other people?
- What should we DO when we suffer? What is our ULTIMATE ACTION/RESPONSE?
These are the things that Peter addresses in this passage. At tingnan po natin yun. Peter first teaches us…
1. The Christian’s Reaction to Suffering
TEXT: Verse 12
- “Surprised” — Upset and astonished because of something “new” and “strange”
Lalo na para sa mga Gentile converts, it would be something “new” and “strange”. Prior to being Christians, the world and society loves them; everything goes well with their friends and family. But now as Christians, they are ridiculed, they are persecuted.
But what does Peter instruct here?
1. Do not be surprised. It is not something strange
“Do not think that it is something foreign to Christians. Do not think, ‘This is not what it is supposed to be.’ ‘Wag mong isipin, ‘Kristiyano ako, anak ako ng Diyos. Hindi dapat ako nag-su-suffer.’”
Well, is suffering really something we should expect?
- Of course, the immediate context here is about persecution, about suffering as a Christian. But let’s consider even pain and suffering in general. Kung tutuusin, we can think, “Pain, suffering, and death is something strange. It is not what God’s creation is supposed to be. For God created everything good.”
Nevertheless, because of sin, because of the Fall—pain, suffering, and even death came in. Yun po ang nakakalungkot na consequence ng kasalanan.
And therefore, suffering in general is now common to all. Because of our fallen state, it is no longer strange. It is something we all expect in this life.
- Now how about suffering as Christians? Is it something we should expect? Yes. In fact, we must be ready and expect to suffer one form or another precisely because we are Christians. Bakit po?
- Kasi kasama po yun sa pakikipag-isa natin kay Cristo. When the Spirit unites us with Christ through faith, we don’t only share the saving benefits of Christ. In the death of Christ, we receive forgiveness of sin. In the resurrection of Christ, we receive death to sin and newness of life.
- But being united to Christ also means we share his sufferings (verse 13). Because God’s plan is to make us like Christ, we shall suffer like him. Kasama sa pagiging Kristiyano ay yung pagsunod natin sa yapak ni Cristo. Hindi po ibig sabihin dapat ipapako din tayo lahat sa krus. But it means we will receive the same treatment he received from the world.
- Ano po sabi ni Cristo sa John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you… 20… If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
- Paul also said to Timothy, in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Implication: You see, brothers and sisters, one possible reason we don’t suffer any persecution at all is that we’re not living a godly life. Isang posibleng dahilan kung bakit hindi tayo nakakaranas ng kahit katiting na pag-uusig kasi hindi clear that we are not of this world, that we are different from the world.
CLARIFY: I say, “possible,” kasi hindi naman porket ikaw persecuted tapos yung katabi mo hindi—eh hindi na agad siya Kristiyano. And we don’t go to the extreme na hahangarin natin yung persecution just to prove na Kristiyano tayo.
But in many cases, everything goes well between us and the world when we’re not living according to our profession as Christians. Examples:
- Possible na walang conflict sa family or friends mo na unbelievers, kasi hindi rin naman nila alam na Christian ka pala. Hindi nila alam na hindi ka na Roman Catholic or Iglesia ni Cristo or Agnostic tulad nila. Hindi nila alam, iba ka na pala sa kanila. ‘Pag nasa church, Christian ka. Pero kapag kasama mo na yung Friends or officemates mo, you’re nothing different.
- Possible na walang hinaharap ang churches na persecution or any struggle with the society, kasi hindi naman tayo masyadong involved sa society. Possible… because we’re not declaring to people their sin, the gospel, and the coming final judgment. Or because we just keep adapting to the culture, at yumuyuko na lang tayo lagi sa lahat ng policies and demands ng government even if it’s against our biblical convictions.
We better examine ourselves in this. Because the more we live as true followers of Christ, babangga at babangga tayo sa mga views and demands ng mundo; magkakaroon at magkakaroon ng strain (one degree or another) sa ating mga relationships with others.
- Halimbawa na lang kapag pasko o New Year, yung mga friends mo, kapitbahay mo, o family mo, wala nang ginawa kundi puro lang kainan, inuman, etc. Pero ikaw na Kristiyano, you also spend time meditating on Christ. You read the Bible, you pray, you sing hymns to God. Dun ka masaya… Tapos ma-o-off sa’yo yung iba, “Corny mo. KJ mo.”
- Lord’s Day, tapos holiday. Yung ibang mga churches, sarado, holiday din. Yung relatives and friends mo, walang ibang gustong gawin kundi matulog lang at gumala. Pero ikaw na Kristiyano, you still go to church, you still worship God with your family… Tapos isisipin ng iba, “Why go to church? Bakit di ka na lang magpahinga?”
You see, one way or another, we will always be the objects of mockery and persecution whenever we follow Christ. It is not strange; it is something we expect as believers.
So as Peter is saying, “Don’t be surprised.” Instead, how should we react?
2. Rejoice! It is a blessing!
v. 13 — “Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s suffering…”
- 14 — “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed…”
How come it’s a blessing?
- The blessing is not the suffering itself. The blessing is what God works in us and provides us through the suffering and persecution. We’ll say more about this later in our second point…
- Pero dun pa lang sa Verse 12, Peter says the trials are “to test you.” (Repeating his points in 1 Peter 1:6-7). Through trials, God tests, confirms, and establishes your faith. And in Verse 14, he says, “You are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you…”
It is evidence, it gives assurance. When you suffer for Christ, it proves that Christ dwells in you.
So once again, Peter is teaching us how we should react when we suffer as Christians. Don’t be surprised. Don’t be confused. Don’t be upset. It is just part of being a follower of Christ.
In fact, rejoice in the fact that that proves you are a Christian. And that leads us to our second point. Peter also teaches us…
2. The Christian’s Attitude under Suffering
Ano dapat yung “attitude” natin kapag dumating yung paghihirap at paguusig? What should be our “state of mind”? Ano dapat nating isipin?
In verse 15, Peter makes a clarification, “Make sure you don’t suffer as a murderer or a thief… and so on.” Na-discuss na natin ‘to sa Chapter 2:20. Bagama’t nagkakasala pa rin tayong mga Kristiyano, make sure we don’t suffer due to flagrant sins.
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, [if one is persecuted], let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (verse 16)
Context: Most likely, some of the early Christians feel ashamed when persecuted. At nagkakaroon tuloy ng pressure na bumalik na lang sa dating buhay. Kahit pagkatapos ng time ng Apostles, during the early church, may mga cases na yung Christians natatakot sila at nahihiya sila na i-defend yung kanilang faith lalo na kapag may judge/officer at maraming tao sa paligid.
Nakakahiya naman talaga isipin na sa pagkadami-dami ng mga tao, ikaw yung naiiba. Perhaps, mapapaisip ka, “Tama ba talaga ‘tong ginagawa ko?” Yung iba masaya, yung iba masarap buhay—tapos ikaw nahihirapan.
Even in general suffering, there’s always a temptation to pity ourselves and envy others. Bakit ako, Kristiyano, naghihirap—yung hindi Kristiyano, hindi? Kahit Asaph in Psalm 73, yun din ang naisip. Bakit yung wicked, prosperous pa nga?
But Peter gives us a reason why we shouldn’t think that way. And that is God’s judgment over believers and unbelievers.
In Verse 17: “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?”
- “Judgment” — Not referring to condemnation or punishment, but simply refers to an “act of someone in judicial authority.” It refers to God’s act as Judge.
And here, Peter is saying, “Don’t be ashamed. Because in all of this suffering, God is just sifting through humanity. Sinasala lang Niya yung mga tao. And he begins with his people (the household of God).”
Kahit sa Matthew 25:31-46 (no time to read it), Christ says that in the final judgment, God will separate the sheep from the goat (the believers from the unbelievers). He will first place the sheep on the right, then the goat on the left. He will first talk to the sheep, then the goat on the left.
So God is working now among all human beings. And he begins with us, the believers. He is more focused on the elect. He is purifying us. By what? By trials. Pinapadaan tayo ng Diyos sa mga paghihirap at paguusig sa buhay na ‘to ultimately para maipakita kung sino ba yung “sheep” at sino ba yung “goats.”
That’s how he confirms his saving work in us.
Even throughout the history, kapag may persecutions, may mga nananatiling Kristiyano, may mga bumabalik sa kamunduhan. Dun lumalabas kung sino talaga ang pinagkilusan ng Banal na Espiritu, kung sino talaga yung binigyan ng Diyos ng tunay na pananampalataya. Dun lumalabas kung sino yung “possessors of faith” at kung sino yung “mere professors of faith.”
At the same time, dun din naman lumalabas yung mga kahinaan ng mga Kristiyano. May mga cases naman na tumakbo sila during persecution, pero bumalik din naman. Still, it showed their weakness and immaturity of faith.
So ginagamit ng Diyos yung persecutions and, in fact, even general sufferings and trials to purify and mature us believers. Example na lang, it is one thing to understand the doctrine of providence. But it is another thing to recognize and embrace the providence of God kapag nawalan tayo ng trabaho, nawalan tayo ng mahal sa buhay, or kahit nawalan tayo ng kuryente, Internet, tubig o ano mang convenience sa buhay.
Dun mas pinapakita ni Lord yung heart natin, at dun niya tayo mas tinuturuan. You see, trials and sufferings of his people are a training camp for holiness. They purify us more and more after the image of Jesus Christ.
So as Peter says, “God brings judgment first to his people.”
Then, notice his argument, “If judgment begins with us, how about those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
And he quotes from Proverbs 11:31. May mga ilang changes sa words compared sa original text, pero same pa rin yung principle: “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
The point is this: “Inuuna lang ng Diyos na mapurify yung believers in this life… peron meron pang final judgment. Kung tayo nga mismo na mga anak ng Diyos ay hindi exempted sa hirap sa mundong ito, eh mas lalong hindi makakatakas yung wicked mula sa poot ng Diyos sa huli!
And before we see the connection of that argument sa overall encouragement ni Peter sa mga persecuted Christians—let’s be reminded even briefly of the truth here: that God will be the final judge.
- Last week, pinag-usapan natin ‘to in Psalm 1. And now we read it again here in 1 Peter, that the day will come when God will make the final judgment. And no sinner can ever escape the wrath of God.
- Ito po yung kailangang marinig ng lahat ng tao ngayon. In every generation, maraming nag-iisip na okay lang gumawa ng kasalanan, basta matatakpan mo naman. Basta mai-ta-tago mo naman sa mata ng iba, okay lang. Lalo na sa panahon natin ngayon, na less na yung moral convictions ng mga tao.
- Example: I know a guy na kasal at may pamilya. Pero pumupunta sa bahay ng ibang babae. Papasok sa compound, madalas naka-helmet para hindi siya
makilala. May idea din naman yung asawa niya at yung iba sa ginagawa niya. Pero para sa kanilang lahat, okay lang yun. But they cannot hide from God who will judge them.
- At yun din po ang patuloy na reminder sa’tin. As Christ said, “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” Unless you obey the gospel of God, unless you take heed of the call to repent of your sins and believe in the only and perfect Savior Jesus Christ—you will receive nothing less than the everlasting wrath of God. But to all who believe, you have eternal life.
- That is a plain yet serious call from God. And we better not take for granted his mercy in hearing his calling even today.
Now, what is the connection to Peter’s encouragement to the persecuted Christians?
D.A. Carson comments, “Peter provides a different motive [to persevere under trials]: they are never to feel envious of the oppressors and persecutors, for those who reject the gospel will suffer much more than anything Christians have had to face in this life.”
When trials and persecutions come, we will be tempted to think, “Kawawa naman ako. Nakakahiya naman ako.” Tapos yung mga unbelievers, parang okay lang.
But Peter reminds us, don’t be ashamed. Because even if God lets you suffer as a Christian, it’s not for your condemnation and destruction. Destruction belongs to the unbelievers, to those who mock us, who persecute us. While suffering as Christians is ultimately for our sanctification, for our salvation.
- EXAMPLE: One of the martyrs in Early Church history is a widow named Felicitas with her seven sons. At nung pine-persuade na siya nung
officer-in-charge na i-abandon yung kanyang faith, sabi niya nagsasayang lang siya ng oras trying to convince her. For she says, “while I live, I shall defeat you; and if you kill me, in my death I shall defeat you all the more.”
Kahit ma-persecute ang mga Christians, sino ang panalo sa huli—the children of God! Paul himself said, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Kahit patayin pa tayo ng mga persecutors natin, all the more that we shall gain Christ and see him in glory.
That should be our mindset so we can persevere to the end even under suffering and persecution.
Now, instead of being surprised or ashamed, what should we do in the face of suffering? Peter encourages us to entrust everything to God.
And this leads us to our third and final point…
3. The Christian’s Resolve under Suffering
v. 19 — “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
CLARIFY: Ilang beses na rin po natin na-clarify before: It doesn’t mean na kapag nakaranas tayo ng injustice and persecution from others dahil sa ating faith, eh passive na lang tayo. There are times, even in history, that the church must appeal to other authorities—particularly the government.
But even if God doesn’t grant us justice through the government, we still do good. Hindi tayo magre-retaliate; hindi tayo maghihiganti. Suportahan man tayo sa society o usigin tayo sa society, we still live as “salt and light of the world.” And we just entrust everything to God.
Paano at bakit natin ipagkakatiwala lahat sa Diyos?
Because he’s a “faithful Creator.” As Creator, it means God owns and rules everything. He is sovereign. He has absolute power and authority. Nothing happens outside his will…
But he’s not just a powerful Creator. He’s a faithful one. Hindi lang siya basta may-ari ng lahat ng bagay. Siya rin ang patuloy na nangangalaga sa lahat sa pamamagitan ng probidensya. When we say providence, it is his “wise and good exercise of sovereignty.” He doesn’t just create and rule; he preserves and directs everything to fulfill his good purposes.
And this comforts us Christians because in Jesus Christ, God is not only our Creator. He is also our faithful Father who sustains and governs everything for our good and for his glory.
Ang ganda po ng pagkaka-summarize nito satin sa Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 9, Q. 26. It answers:
“That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,
is my God and Father
for the sake of Christ his Son.
I trust God so much that I do not doubt he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul, and will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends upon me in this vale of tears.
He is able to do this because he is almighty God;
he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.”
That’s why we can trust him. Persecution man yan o kahit general suffering, God is the one who rules and will provide everything we need to endure and persevere until the end. We stand and endure by the strength and grace of God.
So Peter reminds us: When you face suffering and persecution, instead of being surprised and ashamed—keep going while trusting God.
Now in the end, brothers and sisters, what does this whole passage teach us?
- BE READY. Because trials and persecutions are not “strange” for us Christians—it will come anytime. So be always ready.
- In church history, may mga times na matindi yung persecution. Tapos magkakaroon ng relative peace for many years and decades. And within those years of peace and even prosperity, nagiging lax at comfortable yung church. Kaya kapag dumating ulit yung persecution, maraming
nasu-surprised. Many fall away.
- At mga magulang ko’t kapatid, I believe our generation is somehow living in a time of comfort and peace. Hindi pa naman tayo mina-manipulate ng government. Wala pa namang nag-te-threaten satin na ibang religious groups. Ang dami nating privileges compared sa ibang countries na matindi ang persecution.
But we cannot put our guards down. We cannot be too comfortable and relaxed. We must be ready.
Because even in history, these freedoms and privileges don’t last forever. I also believe that we may face opposition anytime in our generation.
- Kahit nung panahon na lang ng COVID lockdowns worldwide, it shows how people and even the government think less of the value of churches. Mas mahalaga pa yung mga malls at galaan, mas mahalaga pa yung sumama ka sa mga political rallies—kaysa pumunta ka sa church.
- Yung SOGIE Bill, na nagpo-promote ng LGBTQIA+, umuusad na. Soon, baka bawal na yan ituro na “man” and “woman” lang ang ginawa ng Diyos. Soon, baka bawal na ituro at banggitin ang Bible.
- And we have these other platforms surrounding us—TV, Facebook, Netflix—that promotes worldly culture more than the eternal things of God!
With all these things happening in our society, times will always come when we have to stand against the views and practices of this world. Times will come when we will raise our convictions and proclaim God’s Word against culture… Hindi lang basta sa Facebook, but especially towards actual people and in actual situations.
And it will be a time when the world will directly attack us and persecute us. So expect it. Let us keep growing in following Christ and be ready to suffer for him.
And when that time comes, beloved, let us remind and encourage one another of our faithful Creator and Father—who keeps us and sustains us in all our sufferings in this life. At hindi po tayo hahayaan ni Cristo na tumayo para sa Kanya by ourselves. We will endure it and still persevere because by his Spirit, Christ is the one who “makes us wholeheartedly willing and ready and able from now on to live for him and for his glory.” Amen.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.