Refiner’s Fire – 1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV, Tom Bradwell, Assistant Pastor

1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV

12 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. 

He opens up with a term of  intimacy. “Beloved”- referring here to God’s people. The same word used by God the Father in reference to the Son “My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” Matthew 17 (ESV)

Do not be surprised– same phrase as found in 4:4 referring to unbelievers response to our pursuit of holiness. – “To think strange”

1Peter 4:4 (ESV) In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

Fiery trial– “pyrosis” Where we get the English word pyre or pyromaniac. 

Literally means “Burning”- Refiners fire, testing, purging, purifying 

Peter says “it comes upon you to test you”

1 Corinthians 3:13 (ESV) Each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

God uses the fiery trials of life to purify our faith and forge in us a dependent and Christ focused heart.

1 Peter 4:13 (ESV) But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 

We find joy in our sufferings, because we share in Christ’s sufferings. Greek- “have a share”. We are shareholders in the suffering and glory of Jesus.

“Of course, there is a sense in which Christ’s sacrifice and suffering for sins is completed once and for all (1 Peter 3:18). But there is also a sense in which you and I are sharers in Christ’s own sufferings as we suffer for the faith. If we suffer with humility and gentleness towards our enemies, there is the additional opportunity that our suffering might be redemptive, that is, help bring about their salvation as they see Christ in us. What an honor to stand alongside Christ in suffering.”

1 Peter 4:14 (ESV) If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 

It is clear that the suffering Peter is referring to is persecution. There is a special closeness to God, a special impartation of His presence to those who are persecuted for Jesus. Could mean “brightness”

Acts 7: 54 (ESV) When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

“Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?”  Jesus in Acts 9 (ESV).

1 Peter 4:1 (ESV)But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 

Peter says that there is a type of suffering that is not the will of God. When we suffer various consequences for willful sin or disobedience on this side of eternity, we cannot claim to be sharing in the suffering of Christ.

Galatians 6:7 (ESV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

If I were to rob a bank and be sentenced to jail time, I am not suffering for Jesus. I am reaping what I’ve sown and should repent and right my wrong.

1 Peter 4:16 (ESV)Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 

This is righteous suffering. Suffering for the sake of Jesus.

Suffers as a Christian. “Christianos” One who is associated with Christ, a Christ-partisan. The idea of partisanship is often reduced to political. A strong supporter of a party. Here Peter calls us to suffer as Christ partisans. Our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus above all other allegiances.

1 Peter 4:17 (ESV) 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? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

“God does, in fact, judge His children on this side of eternity. That’s a hard idea for some of us, but it is what Peter is saying here. The writer of Hebrews also makes clear that our God is a Father who disciplines His children (Hebrews 12:3–17). We must understand this carefully, however. This is a not judgment for the purpose of punishing our sins, or making us worthy of heaven. Peter has made clear in this letter that Jesus was our substitute on the cross (1 Peter 3:18). He was punished for all of our sins. That judgment is complete.”

“The judgment Peter refers to here is for the purpose of purifying our faith (1 Peter 1:6–7). It is meant to draw us to trust God more deeply, to abandon our hope of finding satisfaction in anything apart from Him. It’s our faith, our trust in Him, which our Father values in us. He values it so much that He is willing to allow us to experience great suffering to help us grow fully dependent on Him.”

“Peter further makes a sobering point regarding God’s judgment. God is willing to allow His dearly loved children to suffer under His judgment, in order to purify and rescue them. Consider then, that those who fully reject faith in Christ, declining the gospel, will experience far, far worse.”

In conclusion, believers who suffer persecution according to the will of God are called to: 

1. Entrust their souls to a faithful Creator 

2. Do good.