When Life Heats Up (1 Pet 4:12-19)

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When Life Heats Up

1 Peter 4:12-19–Part One, verses 12-14


Would you agree that many times we cause our own trouble?  Take the couple who had been debating the purchase of a new car for weeks.  He wanted a new truck, she wanted a little sports car so she could zip through traffic around town.  He probably would have settled on any beat-up old truck, but everything she seemed to like was way out of their price range.

“Look,” the man’s wife said, “I want something that goes from 0 to 200 in four seconds or less, and my birthday is coming up.  Why don’t you surprise me?”  So for her birthday he bought her a brand new bathroom scale that goes from 0 to 200 in four seconds or less!  Now he brought that on himself–he caused pain in his own life.  He lit the match and as a result brought the heat.  But there are other trials in our lives that are brought on by totally different circumstances.

Twelve years ago this last month something dramatic happened in India that most of you will remember.  Missionary Graham Staines had been ministering in Baripada, physically caring for lepers, but also putting on Bible camps.  In one village alone, 35 out of 200 families had come to Christ.  Because of this amazing fruit, those opposed to Christ became hostile, and on January 24th, 1999 Graham and his two sons, ten-year-old Phillip and six-year-old Timothy drove their station wagon to Manoharpur to attend Bible camp.  Accommodations were scarce, so they slept in their vehicle.  According to reports, during the night they were attacked by about sixty men, some armed with bows and arrows, others with sticks and rocks.  Graham and his sons lost their lives when the mob pinned them in their car, doused it with kerosene and set it on fire.

Amazingly Gladys, Graham’s wife and the mother of the two boys was grieved over the loss of her husband and two boys–but she also rejoiced in knowing they gave their lives for Christ and that they now rest in His glorious presence.  She wasn’t bitter over their murder–she was thankful no one else was hurt.  She didn’t question God–she expressed her confidence that the Lord would continue to meet her physical and spiritual needs.  She didn’t lose heart–she remained in India for five more years until the health of her father required her to leave.

How would you respond?  This is the question Peter has in the back of his mind as he returns to his theme of suffering for Christ.  How would you respond internally if you were Gladys, and how should we respond as a church family when our members are being killed for their faith?  Open your Bibles to 1 Peter 4:12 to 19 and take your outline as Peter seeks to equip his readers and all of us to stand firm.  Stand firm by living by our salvation, stand firm by living in submission, and stand firm by living godly under suffering.

But as Peter concludes his discussion on suffering in this final paragraph, in verses 12 to 19 you will hear his main concern is for your heart, your internal reaction—and he is very concerned how the Church reacts to suffering to the point of death.  What happens to your heart when you get hit really hard?  What happens to your spiritual life when circumstances get red hot?  What occurs internally when externally life heats up?  Do you walk away from the Lord, get bitter, battle believing Him, move away from ministry, stop trusting, stop rejoicing, stop praising and loving Him and loving others?  Do you become cynical, edgy, angry and drift away?  Do you stop serving, giving, loving, trusting others in any way?

As my own heart has been exposed, and as I have shepherded many who have been roasted in God’s oven, it has been my observation that the cooked Christian and the baked Church will still acknowledge Christ.  They still follow Him to some degree, they still worship, read and sometimes pray. But they stop their pursuit, their dreams for serving Him dry up, their passion disappears, their willingness to sacrifice wanes, their faithfulness in ministry disappears and they stop running the race to win.  Now it’s a stroll, not a run, an occasional walk for recreation, but no more an all-out, full-on dependent effort to glorify God and make a difference for Christ. Almost like, “I will never really trust you again.”

So Peter writes in verses 12 to 19 to turn the tide, to fire-up the believer and re-passion the Church, by turning our focus off ourselves and getting our eyes back on our faithful Creator.  Peter writes to over ten major churches in a large region, and some of them were facing some severe testing and hot trials.

Read in verse 12 to 19, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinners? 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

Each of you here may face persecution on the job, in school, in the neighborhood, from your family and even at times from a Christian or a church or an organization supposedly honoring Christ.  Each of us will encounter people who resist the truth and oppose the Gospel.  Because we live in dying bodies and live on a dying planet, we are going to experience illness, loss, hardship and health problems.  No matter how we live, there will be some around you who will find fault with you and criticize you–this is normal suffering.

At times, we are also going to suffer for the poor choices we make, for choosing to sin, for not obeying what we’re supposed to do and for disobeying what we are not supposed to do.  Peter addresses this kind of suffering in these verses, and many call this disobedient suffering–so there is normal and disobedient suffering.

Finally, there is another kind of suffering that some of Peter’s readers were experiencing and most of us here have only sipped, where other Christians around the world get a full drink.  This is when you are filled with the Spirit, dependently obeying God’s Word, but you are attacked for your faith, economically punished for your beliefs, jailed, tortured or killed because you love Christ most of all. This is called righteous suffering.

In these verses, Peter assumes you’ll all suffer normally as you live on this planet, but now challenges his readers not to suffer for living disobediently–suffer for living righteously.  And when you do, God’s goal is not for your suffering to make you bitter, but to make you better.  Suffering is not to make you regress in your faith, but to rejoice in your walk.

What is your current trial, your latest pressure, your biggest concern?  Are you growing more like Christ, are you rejoicing, are you becoming more holy?  This is what God has in mind.  But in order for this type of severe testing to do its work, you need to embrace what Peter teaches us here, and it starts with . . .

#1  Expecting life to heat up

Verse 12 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”  I love that first word, don’t you?  Beloved–this is the second time Peter has used this term (the first time was 2:11), and it is in the heart of every pastor and every true elder to consider their local church family as beloved–I do.  You are beloved to me–you really are.

Beloved because in the midst of all your anxieties and troubles in this life, you belong to a fellowship whose members are knit together by love.  This church can be a place where you find the love of Christ, the love of truth, the willingness to sacrifice and the love of affection and compassion for one another.  I not only have an amazing wife and children who love me, but I have brothers here who genuinely love me when I am up and when I am down, when I have done what is right and when I have missed the mark.

Peter calls these believers beloved because he loves them and has heartfelt sympathy for their suffering–but most of all, they’re beloved because they’re the recipients of God’s matchless love.  God’s love is what provides a sweet pillow for His children to rest their weary souls in the midst of trials and persecution.  And it is the fact that they are loved which Peter begins with here, because it is during times of severe trial that we are most tempted to doubt God’s love.  Do you doubt or trust His love?

Christian, start each day like Ray Stedman–wash your face, look at yourself in the mirror and say out loud, “Christ loves me,” and repeat it slowly ten times until you believe it.  Some of you are so focused on what you need to be as a Christian you have forgotten what Christ has done for you, which is the greatest motivation for being what Christ wants you to be.  Remember Romans 5:6, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”  That’s you–helpless, ungodly, dead.  Verse 12 says beloved–in the midst of your suffering, trial and current pressure, remember you are greatly loved by God.

And Peter adds–don’t be shocked when you get hit.  People in Anchorage are never surprised when it snows.  People in LA are never surprised when they experience traffic.  People in New York are never surprised when someone is rude.  And Christians in the Church should never be surprised when they suffer.  Verse 12 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised then at the fiery ordeal among you.”

I don’t believe these believers were surprised by the normal opposition to the Gospel and misunderstanding of Christians, but when things turned intense and their lives were threatened it caught them off guard.  They became troubled and confused.  They may have wondered how God could allow such violence and injustice done to them—“We’re God’s own special chosen children.”

God is telling us to expect that the Gospel of Christ will be offensive to many and will produce persecution–therefore, don’t be surprised, literally shocked or astonished.  God is actually forbidding a natural emotional response.  You can help it–you don’t have to react, blow up, whine or pout.

When suffering gets intense, don’t be shaken, rocked or defeated.  When you get knocked down, don’t lay there in bewilderment.  When you get cooked in God’s oven, don’t get mad, hurt, or bitter.  God commands you not to remain surprised about this.  The moment it happens it may be a surprise, but quickly embrace the fact God promised you’d be persecuted.  Second Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Some have estimated that 43 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the birth of the Church–26 million just in the last century, and 200 million believers in over 60 countries face persecution every day, 60% of those are children.  Christians are the most persecuted people in the world and persecution of believers is on the rise, and FBC you must be ready.  When it happens, do not remain shocked–don’t cry out for the good old days and don’t say this isn’t supposed to happen here, because Peter says at the end of verse 12, “as though some strange thing were happening to you.”

Intense suffering is not a strange thing.  Being jailed, tortured or dying for our faith is not alien to the Christian life.  Again, all of us will experience normal suffering, but Peter is saying, don’t think it strange, and don’t be astonished if you experience righteous suffering.  Unbelievers do not like it that Christ said there is only one way to be saved, and no one is going to heaven unless they turn to Christ.

People don’t like it that you don’t party with them anymore–unsaved friends don’t like having their sin exposed when you live so uniquely different (verse 4:4).  Non-Christians would prefer a proud religion where they do the work to be saved, and hate the humbling idea that God has to rescue them from their sins through Christ and the cross.  So at some point, non-believers are going to turn on believers–verse 12 says, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you.”

Fiery ordeal may be a description of believers being burned alive.  The word fiery ordeal describes the process of burning, like putting your hand in the fire and leaving it there.  Their persecution is figuratively burning some in their midst and causing the entire Church to feel the pain.  That is why Peter says the fiery ordeal among you, literally in your midst–not everyone is suffering, but everyone is affected.  Everyone in the entire Church is suffering, just like a family would when any one of its children were suffering.  Godly parents go through agony when their children suffer pain, and some of these churches were going through agony as their members were jailed, tortured and killed for their faith.

So why would God allow this?  They were Christ-followers/His bride.  Verse 12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing.”  This burning was not to destroy them–the pain was not to punish them, since Christ took all of that on the cross. The injustice was not to make them stop attending church or stop serving Christ or stop loving each other since verses 7 to 11 command the opposite.  No, the fiery trial was to test, to purify, to refine them.  God is describing the refiner’s fire–not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. “Which comes upon you” for your testing is describing continual suffering that is endured, not merely a one-time, unexpected crisis–which is what the refiners fire is, an ongoing process.

Gold was melted in the furnace and all the impurities floated to the top, which were then skimmed off.  The gold was reheated and repeatedly skimmed of impurities until the forger could actually see his face in the gold–over and over and over.  The suffering of Christians and the Church’s pain as it watches its members suffer is to refine us, so when people look at us, they see the face of Christ.  As one commentator said, only valuable metal is smelted in a furnace and melted to bring out its brilliance and lasting value.  And the endurance of the believers through the trial demonstrated the genuineness of their faith and continued to make Christ seen more clearly in their heart and more clearly in their midst as a Church.

Remember what Peter said earlier, in 1 Peter 1:6 to 7, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Now this testing not only refines us, but it also proves us.  Suffering not only makes us more like Christ, but it also exposes whether we actually know Christ.  Jesus made this clear in Matthew 13 with the parable of the soils–some seed fell on rocky ground and sprung up as a new plant, but then this new plant so full of promise suddenly died.  The Lord explained it was persecution that soon revealed the Gospel seed had actually not penetrated the hard soil of their heart, and their death, walking away, dying to faith only demonstrated they were merely a false professor–a make-believer.  So suffering is a test to see if you have genuine faith, and it stretches the muscles of the genuine believer and church to make them more like Christ.

And Peter tells us this testing is not weird, unusual or strange to let us know that suffering is to be expected in the Christian life, verse 12, “as though some strange thing were happening to you.”  That verb were happening to you can mean to fall by chance.  Telling you as a Christian and us as a church that unjust suffering for Christ is not an accident, but inevitable.  And the Greek words, “happened to you”, pictures the fiery trial as an undesired companion on their journey.

I have been on some incredible tours with groups I have grown to love.  And every once in a while, some weird stranger will make their way into our tour like an unwelcome guest who can almost ruin the trip and make everyone really uncomfortable.  Peter is saying, “Christian and Church, unjust suffering is a part of your tour as you head toward heaven.  He belongs–we need to expect the Christian life to heat up.  But along with expecting life to heat up, we can also be . . .

#2  Exulting when life heats up

Verses 13 and 14 say, “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”  Harsh suffering is not supposed to cause you bewilderment–actually persecution is to prompt rejoicing, for two major reasons found in verses 13 and 14,  Can you see them?

First  Suffering like Christ now means future reward

Verse 13 says, “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”  The very first word in verse 13 is a strong contrast—but.  Not surprise but rejoice–it is true, is it not?  Being surprised is usually our first response when bad happens, right?  I can’t believe this is happening!  If, however, we view life as a schoolroom and God as the instructor, it should come as no surprise when we encounter pop quizzes and periodic major examinations.

Tests are not strange when we’re involved in the pursuit of an educational degree.  Neither are they strange when we are pursuing a curriculum of Christlikeness.  Maturity in the Christian life is much like maturity in the classroom–it is measured by our ability to withstand the tests that come our way without having them shake our foundation or throw us into an emotional tailspin.

But Peter says our reaction should go beyond not being surprised in verse 12, “but” strong contrast verse 13, our reaction should actually include rejoicing.  James 1:2 says it this way, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.”  Why should we consider trials all joy?  We grow closer to Christ and like Christ because of trials.  And James adds, we also receive future reward from enduring trials.  James 1:12 says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Peter puts it this way in verse 13, “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ.”  “To the degree” is a generous way to translate “according to”, telling you that your reward in heaven will be proportionate to the suffering you have experienced on earth.  The more terrible the earthly trial, the greater the heavenly gain.  Like Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Revelation 2:10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

And in verse 13, Peter says these sufferings are the sufferings of Christ, not describing our suffering as a salvation or redeeming us, nor describing our suffering as in union with Christ’s suffering.  But Peter is talking about the privilege of enduring the same kind of sufferings Christ endured.  My hero rode a motorcycle, so I wanted to ride a motorcycle.  My model reads a lot of history, so I read a lot of history.  If Christ is the most important person in your life–then if He suffered a certain way, you will want to as well.

But take it a step further–are you not closer to those who’ve been hurt just like you?  You lose all your money in a business deal, are you not closer to those who went through a similar trial?  Adoption parents have an affection for other adoptive parents.  Those who’ve lost a child have a heart for those who’ve lost a child.  Because you have gone through what they have gone through, those who have been hurt in ministry like you’ve been hurt, you share a foxhole kind of bond–you’ve been through the same war.  And as we suffer like Christ did, we are brought closer into fellowship with Him–we embrace what He went through in a deeper way, and our love for Him grows, as well as our understanding.  But only as we suffer in the same way He suffered.

Christ suffered for righteousness, and to identify with Him we will have to suffer for doing what is right.  Christ suffered at the hands of wicked men, even though He was without sin–and He promised we would get to suffer in the same way that He did in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

So when we suffer like Christ suffered, Peter says in verse 13 to “keep on [what?] rejoicing”—exult when life heats up.  Christ taught this in Matthew 5:10 to 12, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

And you say, “That’s great Peter–but it is one thing to tell me to be happy when I am persecuted, it’s a totally different thing to actually do it, live it and practice it.”  And Peter would say, remember Acts 5:40 to 42, “After calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

And Peter reminds us this life is a drop of water compared to the ocean of eternity with Christ, and even though we may suffer in this drop, we will be blessed by an ocean of forever blessing.  Life reminds us that we pay a price today to enjoy the future–piano lessons, athletes, pastoral training, giving to the Lord now.  At the end of verse 13, “So that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”  Hear Peter’s emphasis–Peter says Jesus is coming again.  When He ministered on earth and offered Himself on the cross, you did not see Him for all He is.  When He comes again, He will be unveiled in all His glory.

Remember the apostle John that rested his head on Christ’s shoulder at the last supper is the same John who fell flat on his face in a dead faint when He saw Christ in all His glory.  But when we see Christ, we will rejoice with exultation.  The two words combined describe rapturous joy.  Christians may be persecuted in the present for their faith in Christ, but at His return they will be rejoicing with exulting, literally skipping and bubbling over with shouts of delight—uncontainable, unrestricted, bursting joy (like laughing till it hurts).  I find it interesting that for Peter, the ultimate glory of believers is not their entry into heaven at your death, but will be your own appearing with Christ in glory at His return.

So Peter says in verse 13, to the degree you suffer, you are rewarded.  Each of us will face Christ and be rewarded for those things done for His glory and by the power of His Spirit through us, as 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  And the short sorrow of suffering, trial and persecution of this life will be totally overwhelmed by eternal, uncontainable joy in heaven.  These testings prove us, refine us and earn us an eternal weight of glory and joy forever.  But God has not abandoned us in our hurt–exult in your suffering because . . .

Second  Suffering like Christ means supernatural blessing and help

God doesn’t merely say, “Rejoice, your reward in heaven is great, but buckle up while you get hit here!”  No, He promises to help us.  As life heats up through hot trials, take a look at verse 14, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”  Names may not mean much today, but the name of Christ represents all of who He is, and all of what He has done for us.

Peter put it this way in one of his sermons in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  I believe it is one of the reasons why only the name of Christ is used as a swear word.  You don’t hear anyone smashing their finger and yelling, “Oh Buddha belly, Allah Muhammad.”  It is the name of Christ, and all He represents as Lord and Savior that people hate.  It is Christ the enemy opposes, and as a result verse 14 says we may be reviled.

The word reviled pictures loading insults on you, abusing you, causing you disgrace or trying to make you feel ashamed–it’s to be mistreated.  Because believers in the first century were so frequently speaking of Christ, it often infuriated and exasperated unbelievers, especially as it reminded them of their pride and sin.  As a result, they verbally attacked Christians.  But all the verbal attacks and violence against you Christians cannot diminish your blessing–verse 14 says, “You are blessed.”

Peter says you are fortunate, joyous, and spiritually prosperous–instead of hanging our head in shame because we are reviled, jailed or killed, you actually are the most fortunate of people . . . not only because of the eternal reward of verse 13, but because of verse 14, the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  Peter is talking about the Holy Spirit of all glory and the Holy Spirit of God resting on you all the time, especially when life heats up.  Even in the midst of life heating up and unjust suffering, you are blessed because the third person of the trinity dwells in you.

Romans 8:9 says, “The Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”  First Corinthians 6:19 to 20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”  First Corinthians 12:13 adds, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Every genuine Christian has the Holy Spirit in them.

And now in verse 14, without getting all technical, Peter writes the Spirit “of glory” and the Spirit “of God”, describing two characteristics that rest on believers.  God’s glory is the summation of all His attributes–Peter is telling you that all that God is and all that God has are available to you.  That’s why you are blessed.

And the Spirit of God dwells in you, you have His power through dependent filling–and all His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, all His fruit is available to you.  That’s why you’re blessed–just be Ephesians 5:18, filled with His Spirit, which is filled with His Word, aware you can’t but God can, confessing all known sin, plus seeking to serve as gifted and share the Gospel.

And look how Peter wraps up verse 14—“the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”  Rests is continually giving refreshment, giving relief, providing intermission from toil.  It is the same word Jesus uses in Matthew 11:2, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Peter says refreshment comes on those believers who suffer for the sake of the Savior and the Gospel.  The Spirit gives them grace by imparting all of God’s person and all of God’s power.

Peter is explaining to us how martyrs could sing to God while being burned at the stake, or rejoice while being killed by lions, or celebrate and not complain while being locked away in prison.  Peter is telling us this kind of special help from the Spirit of God will be available to you when you need it, just like Stephen needed it before they killed him.  Remember Acts 6:15, “And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.”  And Acts 7:55, 59 to 60, “But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 59 They went on stoning Stephen. 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.”  Stephen was calm, Spirit-filled, demonstrating the character of God and the power of God, and the heart of God to forgive even the men in the very process of murdering him.

Peter says in verses 12 to 14 to expect life to heat up, and for you to exult when life heats up since it brings eternal reward and special divine blessing and help.  From verses 12 to 14, let me conclude by asking you three questions . . .

Are you responding to your trials with joy?

Whether facing death or a ton of diapers, on trial for your faith or facing a testy spouse, the possibility of being killed for your beliefs or trying to put up with unruly kids, dying for Jesus or just dying at your job–the Scripture tells us to rejoice in our trials, they cause us to grow and gain eternal reward.  Don’t take this lightly–our greatest witness is most often in the midst of trials, and our maturity is seen clearest by the way we respond when life goes bad and heats up.

Do you think you could trust Christ as you were called to die for your faith like Stephen or Graham Staines and his two boys?  You can know today how you might respond to dying for your faith by evaluating how you die for your faith daily today.  Those who are faithful in little will be faithful in much.  If living for God’s glory in the little things, like speech, service and sacrificial giving are a faithful part of your life now, then you will be prepared to sacrifice big things later.

Are you faithful in little?

Do you serve weekly, do you give sacrificially, do you seek to love others faithfully?  Only those who are faithful in little will be faithful in much.  Some of you need to repent–you’re not faithful in little, and when the big opportunity to put Christ on display comes you will miss it.

Are you willing to die for Christ?

You say, “Chris, I don’t think right now I would be willing to die for my faith.”  If that is your heart, then Jesus says you may not have saving faith–you may not be saved, because saving faith is a belief that is willing to go to the cross and die if called upon.  Jesus said in Luke 14:27, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”   And then in Mark 8:35, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

There is no such thing as a lukewarm Christian, or a carnal Christian, or a non-committed Christian.  In order to be a Christian, your heart had to say, “I am willing to die for Christ, I am willing to sell all my possessions for Christ, and I am willing to give up every and all relationships to follow Christ.”  And, you cannot work that up in your heart–God has to give you a new, born again heart.  God will give you the faith to believe Him, to repent of your sins and to follow Him.  God will do it—has He?  Some of you need to cry out to God to give you true salvation.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.