"Let us live out of the world as to its spirit, maxim, manners, but live in it as the sphere of our action and usefulness; May we be alive to every call of duty, accepting without question Thy determination of our circumstances and our service.” __Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
I Peter 4:7-19
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
For those of you that have or are in full-time "Christian service" (we know we are all full-time Christians serving Christ) and have been or are attending seminary, ministering on the mission field or in a para-church or other ministry, know firsthand the verses in 1 Peter 12-19. I do not know one fellow seminarian from our days there that did not suffer exceedingly difficult times, one way or the other, in various ways or trials, during their "go ye" days or now as a result of their "going." When we left for seminary, life was pretty good. We sold our house, packed our belongings and traveled 3,000 miles to attend. From the day of our arrival, they began -- death in the desert, blown car engines, earthquake, house with no appliances, flooded rooms of backed up pipes, late arrival of our mover with huge "so-called wait times" and worst of all, looking for "spiritual" brethren and finding brothers and sisters more concerned about "health, wealth and prosperous" gospel ministries, man-centered teaching and what they could get, rather than how they could serve God's church in love and obedience. It was a "spiritual shock" to us for in looking for spiritual "giants" we found unspiritual ants! It did not get better, in fact, worse. Undisciplined believers, unspiritual teachers, and worst of all, a "puffed up" attitude rather than a humble answer to God's call. The relief came when God, in His most providential and glorious way, opened our eyes to the Reformed faith, and we, without hesitation, left and never looked back. God gave us the boldness to leave, not knowing what we would do but trusting His holy providence in guiding us for His purpose. We were truly blessed in that He never allowed us to be taken in by that gospel and although many pains and sufferings came as a result of our eventual leaving and the boldness to speak and to refuse to sign their "Arminian" document, God was leading, directing our paths for His glory and our good.
This is truly the victory and the beauty of these verses. These are not some "strange things" that happen to us. It is the fiery trial to "try us" and conform us to Christ. The evil one shoots his darts, arrows and deeds that are purposed for our hurt but they cannot touch us because we are upheld by God's providential hand. Peter has said, "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God [this is important -- all things are appointed by His sovereign will]commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator." If all things went well, we, in our natural and sinful estate, would not bend the knee to Christ and cry "Abba Father" or "Help, Lord." We would puff ourselves up and say with the unbelievers, "I can do it myself" and steal the glory from our God for what things He is doing in our lives. No, best we be tested and tried, in the refiner's fire and that our hearts and minds, bodies and life, become "asbestosized" and purified. We know that we as chefs often say that our fingers are "asbestos fingers" because we touch so many hot things that we become a bit "calloused" or "toughened up" in our fingers so that we do not feel the heat as much as we would. This is what these fiery trials do -- they toughened us up, make us bold and able to grow, mature and take the "heat" of persecution and trial. We need to grow in these things and the more sufferings, the more maturity and obedience, as we see so clearly in Scripture. We are to be humbled and to know as Calvin has said,
"it is not in vain that a happy end is promised to us;" "we hence know that we are not afflicted by chance, but through the infallible providence of God; and lastly that prophecies are like mirrors to set forth to us in tribulations the image of celestial glory."
When "terrible" things happened to God's people, they are always for our good and His glory. What could be more trying and difficult than the Son of God going to the cross and suffering an eternity in hell for our sins? Nothing and nothing in this life that God brings will ever separate us from Him and will, most assuredly, be for our good. We do not understand it but we believe it by faith. The walk of faith is difficult and trying on every side. We are cast down but not forsaken, always bearing in our bodies the cross of Lord Jesus but we are blessed and "the Spirit of glory and God rests upon us."
We have read much by our theologians so I will just share a few words about our "end" from a practical viewpoint. I don't know about you but I so look forward to Christ's coming. Not as a means of escape from trials and sufferings but because I love Him so and desire to see Him face-to-face, to behold His glory, to praise, worship and adore Him forever. In Him, I live and move and have my being and my "desire is for Him" and I desire Him above all else, to be with Him and I shall be in His appointed time. For now, it is more needful for me to be here, doing His work, accomplishing the purposes He has ordained in my life. I do not know what all of these will be but this I know: what He has proscribed for me is known to me by my own conviction and leading of His Holy Spirit. It is the same for you. We do not know tomorrow or what it will bring but we are to be "busy" in the Lord, doing His work, sharing His gospel, reflecting His glory and doing those vocations and work He has given us to do until He calls us home or comes in glory. We are "short-timer's" for sure as life is but a breath, a vapour, but we are looking into eternity and forever and that makes the work here, the life here, even more important because we are fulfilling His calling to us in His providential placing of us in this life. So then my friends, I close with this quote again: "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator." [I Peter 4:19] - Because of Christ, TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen
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