Suffering for God

1 Peter 4:1-2Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

Jesus suffered a lot during His ministry, especially near the end. The reason that He suffered was because He stood up for what was righteous and godly, and would not be persuaded by the world or its views.

We need to understand that we are not only to stand up for what is godly and righteous in the first place but expect that because we do we will encounter resistance and persecution.

Imagine that the world and its views are a moving river, and Christians are a rock that stands out above the water, not moved by it. The water constantly rushing past causes damage, erosion and the force of the water can even break off pieces of the rock and then what happens? The rock travels down stream with the current.

We need to be strong, no matter how much the world wants us to follow their current, or how much we get pushed or encounter resistance. We need to stay standing strong.

for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin

Peter was not saying that if you are encountering persecution then you have conquered sin. It’s saying that if you come to the point where you are standing up for what is right enough that the world lashes out at you, then it is likely that you are living a life that is uncompromising in your position to the world.

Also a person who suffers greatly for Christ is likely to have such an impact on their life that they come to the point of hating sin. Persecution tends to give one the desire to serve God even more!

1 Peter 4:3-5For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.
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.
They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

We spent too much time living like the rest of the world, we don’t need it anymore. Now our main focus needs to be on serving Christ, not any desire of this world. The people in this world are doing things purposely against God; we need to stay far from it. We all used to do the same stuff, trapped in the same sins, but Jesus Christ freed us. We were once lost in this dark world but thank the Lord that he turned on the light for us and showed us the way.

After all of that, why would we want to go back into the darkness? The world will think that we are weird because we do not do what they do. They will make fun of you and make it seem like you are just wasting your time, it’s no big deal if you go to a club with some friends, it’s no harm to just joke around about sex and use crude language. But it is a big deal and God will deal with each and every person one day.

When you are tempted, or someone is making it seem like you are just being silly because of your belief, they may get you to think that it’s no big deal, but it is!!! Don’t give in. Stand up for righteousness, and you will be rewarded in a lot better way than getting a buzz from drinking or from temporary physical pleasures from pornography or adultery.

1 Peter 4:6For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

After Jesus died on the cross, but before the resurrection, Jesus went to Hades to preach to the people that were there. There are two compartments in Hades, one was the place of torture, the other is called Abraham’s bosom. Jesus preached to both compartments, one he preached judgment (Peter mentions it earlier in his letter) the other He preaches the gospel. Even though they (and us now) were judged by men for what they did, because they lived to follow God they were rewarded by God!

Verses 7-11 go slightly off subject before it gets back on track, so I’m going to move on to verse 12 right now. Be sure you go back and read it when we are done though!

1 peter 4:12-13Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
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.

We all know that it’s nothing strange when we are tested or tempted. We go through trials all the time and we need to be prepared for it. Instead of complaining or worrying about it, we need to be glad that we are going down the same road that our Lord did. No matter how hard of a time we have with situations, we do rejoice once we see the glory of God coming through in a situation. No matter how tough we have it, as long as God is receiving Glory then we can rejoice!

1 Peter 4:14If 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.

We are glorified when we suffer for Christ. Peter even gives a blessing to those who suffer for Him! God’s blessings are so great, aren’t they? By suffering for God, we show that we have the Spirit of God in us.

1 Peter 4:15-16But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

What good is it to suffer for doing wrong? If you are being punished because you murdered someone then you are just like anybody else from the world. But we stand out from the world, we are not like everyone else, we suffer not because we do something wrong, but because we are dedicated to following Christ!

1 Peter 4:17-18For 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?
Now “if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Just because someone goes to church doesn’t make them a Christian. Here we have a warning that there will be judgment among the church. Those who live righteous lives, but don’t follow Christ or abide in Him, those who never put their faith IN Jesus, they will be judged. How much more will the ungodly and those not in churches be judged?

When you think of those being judged, remember that they are spending eternity in Hell! An eternity separated from God. What are you doing to minimize the amount of people that die without God? Are you living comfortably, or living a busy life only to gain wealth for yourself? Or are you doing things to make an impact on the kingdom of God?

1 Peter 4:19Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

Commit yourself fully to the Lord, no matter what those around you think! You will not regret it. I have never heard a Christian say that they are glad they waited so long before they came to Christ. It’s like putting away money for savings, you can never start too early and when you do start, you wish you would have started years before.

We have such a faithful Creator, commit yourself fully to serving Him. No matter how much the world stands in the way or tries to distract you. This will not only help you, but bring Glory to God almighty!

The People of the Tribulation

The People of the Tribulation
By Matt

The time of Tribulation that is to befall the earth for seven years following the Rapture will change our world drastically. This will include the world’s demographics– the groups of people in the world. Currently, peoples are grouped according to government, station in life, and other factors. Spiritually, people are grouped into believers and nonbelievers. But these classifications will spread out in the Tribulation. Let’s dive into God’s Word and find out just what specific people, as well as type of people, will face the Tribulation.

Important Figures
Jesus Christ
Prior to the Tribulation, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will shout from heaven to rapture His Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” When he was instructed to write Revelation, the apostle John saw a vision of the risen Lord. He records, in Revelation 1:12-20:

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”

At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus will return in glory with the armies of heaven and will establish His kingdom for 1,000 years on earth. This will be a reign of righteousness and peace. John describes the return of Christ this way: “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

The Antichrist
Called the “man of sin” and “son of perdition” in the Bible (2 Thessalonians 2:3), this man will arise to power following the Rapture and will ascend to the throne of earthly rulership over the world. At one point in the Tribulation, the Antichrist will appear to die and appear to be resurrected (Revelation 13:3). This will result in the entire world following after him and worshiping him. The Bible indicates in the next verse that the world will worship Satan (the dragon) as well as the Antichrist himself. However, at the end of the Tribulation, judgment will come upon the Antichrist. When our Lord appears in glory, He will cast the beast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).

The False Prophet
The False Prophet will exercise all the authority of the beast (Revelation 13:12) and will lead the world in worshiping the beast. He will perform great signs, deceive the world, and order the creation of an image of the beast to be worshiped (Revelation 13:12-14). He will also institute the mark of the beast, which will be ordered to be given to everyone on their forehead or right hand. Nobody will be able to buy or sell without the mark. (Revelation 13:16-17).

The Two Witnesses
These two will appear in Jerusalem in the Tribulation and will have authority go prophesy 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth (Revelation 11:3). They will preach the Gospel message and will be supernaturally protected during their ministry. Revelation 11:5-6 elaborates:

And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

When their ministry is finished, the Two Witnesses will be killed by the beast and will lie in the street for three and a half days. The world will rejoice over their deaths, and celebrate the end of the torment that these Witnesses brought. After three-and-a-half days, the Witnesses will be resurrected and ascend to heaven in a cloud (Revelation 11:7-12).

Groups of People
The 144,000
These will be 144,000 chosen people from Israel, composed of 12,000 each from the twelve tribes: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. They will be sealed by God on their foreheads and supernaturally protected (Revelation 7:3-8).

The Tribulation Saints
John writes this about the Tribulation saints in Revelation 7:9-10:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

These are those left behind in the Rapture who will receive the Lord Jesus Christ during the Tribulation. Like the Church, they will be those individuals who recognize that Christ died on the cross for their sins and will accept His offer of grace and mercy. They will oppose the Antichrist and his government, and many of them will be martyred. However, martyrdom will be a release from such a period of terror; Revelation 7:17 says that God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

The implementation of the mark of the beast will present challenges for believers, since they will refuse it. Those who openly refuse to worship the beast will be executed by the government (Revelation 13:15). Without the mark, believers will not be permitted to buy or sell on the world market. This could make survival more difficult, since the ability to obtain food, medicine, and supplies will be hindered. Some have speculated that believers may form some sort of black market to survive.

Worshipers of the Beast
A second group of people who will live in the Tribulation. These people are those who do not receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They will be deceived by the Antichrist and will eventually take the mark of the beast when it is implemented. This mark, which may be in the form of a tatoo, a brand, or other visible mark, will be required of people to buy or sell in the world market. Those who take the mark of the beast will worship his image, and will be cast into the lake of fire in the end.