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 (1 Peter 4:12–13, NKJV).
What are Christians to do when trials come? They will come in various ways, especially when we live godly (James 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:6; 2 Tim. 3:12). Peter teaches Christians how to overcome the distress of trials with the joy of Christ. (1) Do not think your trials are unique to you (1 Pet. 4:12). Trials can be fiery. Your adversary wants to isolate you, but others have faced and overcome trials, and so can you (Heb. 11:36-40). (2) Rejoice to partake of Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 4:13-14). Jesus suffered trials, and He comes to the aid of all who put their faith in Him (Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16). Rejoice in Christ and follow His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). (3) Do not be ashamed of being a Christian (1 Pet. 4:15-18). Remain faithful through the difficulties you face for wearing His name (Mark 8:38). Accept suffering for those things that glorify God, and you will be judged faithful for your obedience to Christ. (4) Commit your life to God (1 Pet. 4:19). Deposit your soul for safekeeping to God. Accept the momentary grief trials bring and keep doing good (1 Pet. 2:19-23). Your trial is a moment to purify your faith and look toward your heavenly reward (1 Pet. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). Faith in Christ overcomes this world’s trials (1 Pet. 5:4). Trust that God will not leave you (Heb. 13:5-6). He will right every wrong and reward your faith with eternal life.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:12–13, NKJV).
This passage teaches significant points of truth for our benefit. It warns Christians of the possibility and danger of falling away from the living God while comforting us with assurances of God’s faithfulness when tempted to sin (Heb. 3:12-13). Please see the contrast between trusting in oneself when tempted and trusting in God. Pride’s arrogance puts people on the precipice of spiritual disaster (v. 12). We must stand fast in the Lord and not think we are sufficient in ourselves to stand the onslaught of temptations (Eph. 6:10; Gal. 6:3; 2 Cor. 3:5). Jesus cautioned that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41). But like Peter’s bold boast that he would not deny Jesus, we trust in ourselves when we fail to look for and use the paths of escape from temptation’s snares (Matt. 26:33-35). Peter could have resisted the temptations to deny Jesus, but he failed to use the ways of escape before him (Matt. 26:58, 69). God is faithful. He gives us ways to escape (bear up against) temptation. We cannot rightfully blame God when we yield to temptation and sin. We, not Him, are unfaithful when we yield to temptation and sin against our God (James 1:12-16).
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1, NKJV).
Sinners are “buried with Christ in baptism into death” when they are baptized into Christ and His death (Rom. 6:3-4). Thus “buried with Him in baptism,” they are “raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). Now saved in Christ, they are raised to walk in “newness of life,” having been “made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:13). Because we have been “raised with Christ,” the apostle teaches Christians how to live our new life with Christ in Colossians 3. (1) Seek things above (Col. 3:1). Our goals are spiritual and eternal, not fleshly and temporal (2 Cor. 4:16-18). (2) Set your mind on things above, not on the earth (Col. 3:2). Our commitment is now to lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-20). “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). (3) Sustain a faithful life with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Walk with God in the light by practicing His truth and be blessed by His fellowship (1 John 1:5-9). (4) Live in the hope of the eternal reward Christ will bring (Col. 3:4). To be received into His presence and to be like Him will be your crowning joy of righteousness (1 John 3:2-3; 2 Tim. 4:8). Living in Christ requires us to put sin to death (Col. 3:5-11), to put on a new heart (Col. 3:12-15), to let Christ’s word dwell in us with praise and grace (Col. 3:16), and to do everything in His name (by His authority) with thanksgiving (Col. 3:17). Our salvation in Christ changes everything about how we live (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:20-24).
1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1–2, NKJV).
Christians are repeatedly warned in the Scriptures to beware of falling away from God, His grace, and the faith (Heb. 3:12-13; Gal. 5:4; 1 Tim. 4:1; James 5:19-20). Embedded in this warning in 2 Corinthians 6:1 is a call to urgency by recognizing “the accepted time” and “day of salvation” and diligently receiving and standing in God’s grace (2 Cor. 6:2). Consider the days appointed by God that urge us to respond to God’s grace in faith and be saved in Christ. (1) The day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). This day is the gospel age. Salvation is available to all who believe (John 1:12; Mark 16:15-16; Rom. 10:8-13; Acts 2:36-38). God appointed this time to believe and obey the gospel for salvation and eternal life (Gal. 4:4). (2) The day of death (Heb. 9:27). Death is the great equalizer (Eccl. 2:14; 9:2-3; 12:6-7). Jesus releases the children of God from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). Death is a great incentive to be a Christian and live by faith, not fear. (3) The day of judgment (Acts 17:31; Heb. 9:27). God calls us to repent because He will “judge the world in righteousness” by His Jesus Christ. God has confirmed a day of judgment is coming by raising Jesus from the dead. Therefore, God commands us to repent (Acts 17:30). We do not know when we will die or when the day of judgment will happen. But we know “now is the day of salvation.” Believe and obey Jesus to be prepared for the day of your death and judgment (2 Cor. 5:10).
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels (Luke 9:23–26, NKJV).
Commitment. Jesus had it and was committed to doing the Father’s will to the point of death (“lifted up” John 8:28-29). Early Christians had it, losing their lives rather than denying the Lord (Acts 7:59-60; 26:10). Christians who faced impending suffering were exhorted by Christ to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). This directive helps us understand what it means to “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Even life itself must not be more precious to us than Jesus and doing His will. There is no benefit in gaining the whole world and forfeiting souls. Commitment to Christ eliminates being ashamed of Him and His words. We express faith that overcomes the world by our commitment to Christ (1 John 5:4). Commitment to Christ takes precedence over everyone and everything in the life of a disciple. May it be so with us today and each day that follows.
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4–5, NKJV)
Faith is the victory that defeats the world of evil. A good brother reminded me that the righteous die victoriously (Sword Tips #2226), as assured in Revelation 2-3. Let us briefly note those assurances to “him who overcomes.” 1) Access to the tree of life (Rev. 2:7). Eternal life, forever sustained by God’s provisions. 2) Protection from the second death (Rev. 2:11). The faithful have no part in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8). 3) Identification as God’s chosen (Rev. 2:17). This one is known and kept by God forever (Rev. 14:1; 22:4). 4) Share in the glory of Messiah’s victory over every evil enemy (Rev. 2:26-28). The faithful one will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4). 5) Confessed before the Father (Rev. 3:5). The pure life that unashamedly lived for Christ is written forever in the Book of Life (Mk. 8:38; Rev. 20:12). 6) Secure citizenship with God in His eternal kingdom (Rev. 3:12). Forever dwelling with God, serving Him in full fellowship is the reward of those who hold fast (Rev. 3:11; 21:2, 22). 7) Reign with Christ over sin and death (Rev. 3:21). To forever share in His great victory over every enemy of God will be the indescribable reward of the righteous (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 22:5). These are our hopes and expectations in Christ. He will keep His word to us. Let us keep our word to Him and be faithful even to the point of death (Rev. 2:10).
Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number one-fourth of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his! (Numbers 23:10, NKJV)
When all is said and done, and they lay our cold, dead body in the grave, will it be said that we died the death of the righteous? Death comes “to the righteous and the wicked,” it is true, but their deaths are different in eternally significant ways. 1) The righteous die in faith. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). Only when we walk by faith will we die in faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Being faithful to the Lord in life affects how we die (Lk. 12:19-21; 16:19-25). 2) The righteous leave a legacy of good deeds. A display of her charitable kindness attended Dorcas’s death (Acts 9:36-39). “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden” (1 Tim. 5:24-25). 3) The righteous die after a life of spiritual service despite adversity. “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Come what may in life, our paramount goal is to die in the Lord. 4) The righteous die with God’s blessing. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psa. 116:15). Death is an appointment we will all keep (Heb. 9:27). We choose whether ours will be the death of the righteous by the choices we make in life.
By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11, NKJV)
We observe a vital element of faith in this reminder of Sarah’s conception of Isaac. Faith judges God to be faithful and true to His word. God promised her husband, Abraham that of his seed, all the nations would be blessed. That promise would not come through Ishmael, the handmaid Hagar’s son, but Sarah herself (Gen. 17:15-21). Although now ninety years old (and Abraham was ninety-nine), Sarah judged God to be faithful. Sarah’s conception is a beautiful account of the power of faith in God to do what He said He would (Rom. 4:17-22). In like manner, we judge God to be faithful to His word. Such a judgment is the seed of faith that germinates into trustful obedience. Faith is not a blind leap into the dark. It is a confident step of following His word because He is faithful. We walk by faith because we know whom we have believed. We are sure He will keep what we have committed to Him until the day of eternity (2 Cor. 5:7; 2 Tim. 1:12; 1 Pet. 4:19). The strength of faith comes from trusting the integrity of God to do what He says (Titus 1:2). God will keep His word. Now, let us have faith to keep His (Jas. 1:21-25).
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14, NKJV)
If remembering helps us fortify our resolve in the present, forgetting helps us forge our path to the future. Forgetting is often about not letting past achievements and failures to get in the way of our aspirations and objectives as we move toward our heavenly goal. Paul chose to “forget” his previous advancements in Judaism and the confidence in the flesh they could prompt (Phil. 3:3-8). (These advancements led him to persecute Christians.) By counting them as “rubbish,” he was determined to “gain Christ” (v. 8). Paul also chose to “forget” his progress as a Christian (Phil. 3:9-11). He refused to become apathetic and neglectful in his faith; He had not yet attained “to the resurrection from the dead” (v. 11). His service to Christ was not complete (perfected, v. 12). He would keep moving forward toward the eternal prize while blessed with the “righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9, 12; Gal. 2:20). Like Paul, let us not put our confidence in the flesh and be deterred from “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (v. 14). May we live for heaven while we live on earth.
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NKJV)
Paul was about to charge Timothy before God and Christ to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1). He needed to know that difficult, stressful times were ahead (2 Tim. 4:5). He would have to recognize those who were dangerous and “turn away” from them (v. 5). So do we. These perils present us with decision points when we must choose to be faithful to Jesus and accept suffering for the sake of righteousness instead of yielding to the protection of compromise with error and evil. We should observe that Christians who maintain their faith in the Lord, their love for His truth, and their devotion to Christ above all are not the culprits. They are not responsible for the times of peril. Those who love themselves, money, and sinful pleasures apply and pressure Christians to deny their faith. They are proud and boastful, disrespectful to authority, unthankful, unholy, lacking the love and self-control to be kind and forgiving toward others. They are brutal and arrogant. Some even appear to be pious as they defame and blasphemy (v. 5). They are not. We live in difficult times, too. Abhor evil and love good even when peril comes (Rom. 12:9). Take heart and overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). We are more than conquerors in Christ (Rom. 8:37).