At the beginning of this class Dr. Dean showed a video on Mormom missionaries.
The book Dr. Dean references in this class is called The State of the American Mind: 16 Leading Critics on the New Anti-Intellectualism.
Dr. Dean also mentioned Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker.
The Joy of the Lord
1 Peter 1:6–7
1 Peter Lesson #028
September 24, 2015
“Father, we are so very grateful that we can come together to worship You. We are very grateful that we have the opportunity to study Your Word, to be reminded of Your great majesty and holiness as described in the Scripture and to realize that You have made it possible on the basis of grace through faith to have a relationship with You. To be saved, to be justified, redeemed, regenerate because You paid the price in full through Jesus Christ, Your Son.
Father, we are so grateful for that. Thank You that we have cleansing, complete forgiveness of sin at salvation and that on-going cleansing by simply admitting to You the sin in our lives. Father, we pray that You will help us to understand more about facing adversity and handling the challenges and difficulties of life as we continue our study in 1 Peter. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We’ve got a couple of other things we’re going to do before we get into 1st Peter. Last week I got an e-mail from one of the long-distance members of the congregation who frequently communicates with me. The questions of this individual, as she was communicating with a cousin, were about aspects of Mormonism.
She was getting the usual statement that you get when you are talking to a Mormon about the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you read their doctrinal statements and their explanations, what you discover is that they use all of the biblical terminology. You have to parse it. You have to look at in terms of what else they say about Jesus in order to understand. When they say they believe Jesus is the Son of God, they don’t mean what you and I mean or what the Bible means by the Son of God.
That is the same way if you are talking on different topics now, speaking of the pope. If you are talking to someone who is Roman Catholic…
I think I have told you before that when I was working on my Masters in Philosophy down here at the University of St. Thomas, there were some brilliant Jesuit priests and other priests there. There were two of us who were graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary, pastors in Houston, free grace dispensationalists and we would sit down and spend hours with them.
We would make these statements that we would all agree with. Then we would start asking them what they meant by faith, what they meant by justification, and you would have to spend hours talking and defining terms and getting extremely precise and detailed.
I get some feedback at times from people who say, “You know, you just get so detailed.” Well, you ought to hear some of the questions I get asked from people in the congregation. I have to be pretty well studied just to answer some of the questions from the congregation. You just can’t make general statements because people will then ask you for more specifics. I try to head some of those things off at the pass.
Anyway, in light of what I said on Sunday morning in Matthew, the issue with Jesus is, on the one hand in Islam Jesus is more than a prophet. And the issue with Jesus is more than the Son of God which they will agree to.
Someone sent me this video today and it is a super five-minute or less explanation of the essence of Mormon theology. If you don’t understand where those guys are coming from when they knock on your door, you are going to get befuddled when they start saying they agree with you on this, this, and this. I thought I would just start class by playing it. (Go to the video on YouTube.)
Let’s turn to 1st Peter which is talking about how to handle trials and testing. One of the doctrines that I try to emphasize and have emphasized for decades is that the Bible teaches that the Word of God and the Spirit of God and the grace of God and the work of Christ on the Cross are sufficient for anything and everything that we face in life. Everyone says amen to that. Grace is sufficient. Amen. Well you better not take Prozac. Wait a minute. Don’t be touching my meds. That’s what we mean when we say the Word of God is sufficient, that when we have emotional problems that’s ultimately grounded in our sin nature. Sin nature is in the flesh.
People have problems with depression. They have problems with emotional ups and downs and all kind of other things. Anger. Lust. Sexual lust. Perverted sexual lust. All kinds of things that are chemically related but they are not chemically based. One person commented to me that depression isn’t the result of a Prozac deficiency. Think about it. What these drugs do is they mask a lot of symptoms.
When we get off into two areas which I mentioned a few weeks ago I want to be sure people understand this. I have had a couple of questions that have come in. We talk about schizophrenia. We talk about bipolar. No one can point to a physiological cause for either one of those at this point. That is an important reality.
If you have tonsillitis, you can point to a cause for that. If you have cancer, you can point to a physiological cause for that. If you have schizophrenia or if you are bipolar, you can’t point to that. They are not saying it is not there. I am not saying it is not there. There is a lot of complexity to both of those.
Over the last thirty years, the explanations change, just like our understanding of the mechanics of the brain change every five or ten years. I have heard pastors drill down on making analogies of how the brain functions. Maybe thirty years ago they said, “This is how the brain functions. Let’s make an analogy and use that to teach doctrine.”
Five years later that analogy about how the brain functions is out of date, is no longer considered accurate, and you’ve built a doctrine, not on Scripture, but on the view of science during that five-year period. You have a real problem there.
What I pointed out when I quoted from the book, The State of the American Mind and I quoted from the chapter dealing with “The Anatomy of an Epidemic”… The author of that chapter also wrote a book Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker which came out in 2012. He has written an updated book where he is critiquing the philosophy that under girds modern psychiatric practice.
Psychology is more philosophical than it is physiological. When you combine a medical degree with psychology that is called psychiatry. Both are ultimately girded in philosophical presuppositions. The presupposition that governs psychiatry is evolution. That is that there is no immaterial soul, that all human behavior can be explained on the basis of chemical reactions.
That assumption and that assumption alone is enough that it should cause us to be very skeptical of any kind of medical prescriptions that are given. I am not saying that it is wrong. Every case is different.
We have folks in this congregation who have family members who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I am not saying to take them off medications because you immediately take people off of medications after they have been on them for a long time and have changed that brain chemistry you are going to create some real problems.
What I am saying is you need to become much more educated. You need to read these articles, these books which are heavily documented. Read the articles that are mentioned there. Educate yourself. Maybe you need to educate your doctor with some of this material and have conversations with your doctor about what is going on and what the medication is all about.
This is not something that should be entered into just because your doctor says, “I have the right medication. This will fix the problem.” In some cases the fix is just drug the person so they don’t do any damage to themselves or others.
As a pastor, based on the Word of God, as I told one person one time who said, “Well, these people need to be functioning.” As a pastor my job is not to have such a low goal as to make you functional. My job is to make you able to excel in your Christian life and the way to do that is to trust the Lord, trust the sufficiency of His grace, and trust the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit.
Now when it comes to a couple of these other areas, I am not telling you what you should or should not do. I am not addressing that fundamentally from the Scripture, but I am saying that from a biblical worldview we all need to be very careful.
We shouldn’t just assume that someone in the medical profession automatically knows what is going on. In fact, if you read the article in State of the American Mind, he cites a number of instances showing where doctors, well-known psychiatrists, just aren’t up to date. I don’t know how any one person could keep up with all the data that is available today. It would just be impossible.
A lot of these pros and cons are controversial. What I am saying is that you need to be educated and make an educated decision. Each case is different and you need to be able to make your own decision. You are responsible for your own decision to take care of members of your family and you need to make those in an educated way.
Fundamentally as believers, we need to face that most problems we face in life, even emotional problems and even problems where we have overwhelming problems with lust, whether its sexual lust or food lust or whatever it might be, it all boils down to the fact it originates out of our sin nature. We know what the solution to that part of the problem is.
The Bible promises us that we can have real significant joy in the Christian life. Yet we don’t see a whole lot of Christians with it.
I want to make a point here. I have a former seminary professor who I’m not sure what he is doing now. The last I heard he was the president of CAM International, which was originally Central American Mission, which was founded by a guy by the name of C.I. Scofield. Some of you recognize that name from the Scofield Reference Bible.
This professor’s name was Ron Blue. Ron Blue was vaccinated with an electrical shock. This guy just bounces off all the walls. He is extremely high energy and he is probably the happiest guy I have ever seen. That is his personality. I had him speak at a church I pastored.
Someone came up to me afterwards who was not favorable to my ministry. He said, “Oh, wasn’t he wonderful? He really had the joy of the Lord.” He didn’t have the joy of the Lord. That was his personality. You know unbelievers like that. They are manic. They are just happy all the time and they are just excited. They are very positive, but that is just their personality. That is not what the Bible talks about when it talks about the joy of the Lord.
The Bible talks about a state of tranquility, contentment, and joy that is stable and is not affected by circumstances or people or events. That is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit and is provided and increases as we grow in our spiritual walk. This first section of 1 Peter really emphasizes that as I pointed out last week in our introduction to this section.
We are looking at the three phases of our salvation. Phase one is justification, which means to be saved from the penalty of sin. It takes place in an instant of time when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In that instant we are regenerated. We receive simultaneously the perfect righteousness of Christ and we are declared to be just. We become a new baby but that new baby needs to grow.
That process of growth from spiritual birth until the time we die physically is the spiritual life. That is also referred to as progressive or experiential sanctification where we are saved from the sin nature.
Then in phase three we are absent from the body, face-to-face with the Lord. We are saved from the presence of sin and we’re now face-to-face with the Lord. This book is talking about that period between the Cross and the grave. It is focusing on how to be delivered or saved in the midst of trials and testing, persecution, hardship, and adversity in this life. So the word “saved” primarily focuses on this period, being saved from the power of sin, delivered from testing and trials.
Here’s the text, 1 Peter 1: 6–9, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” That last verse is the deliverance of your life, all the way through here. Peter is talking about being delivered in the midst of fiery trials.
There’s a parallel passage to this in James and it is understood the same way there. It is the deliverance of your life, experiencing the abundant life, the rich, full, abundant life that Christ has for us.
I use this chart to point out the key words. Notice that we have rejoice in 1:6, rejoice in 1:8, and joy in 1:8. Three times joy is referenced. That is the focal point of this section, the real joy that we can have even though for a little while as 1:6 says, we may be grieved through various trials.
Life may be difficult. Our entire life may be difficult. We may be in poverty. We may be persecuted. We may be thrown in prison. We may be abused and in a negative situation from our friends and family because of our stand for Jesus Christ. But that is just a little while in comparison with eternity and even in the midst of those negative circumstances we can have joy.
Now if we go negative and we focus on the circumstances and let our sin nature dictate those sad, depressed, anxious, sinful emotions, then there are biological and physiological consequences to that which will generate certain chemicals being produced physiologically. That, in turn, can cause greater problems and can have a very negative impact on our brain and our brain chemistry because we are letting the sin nature dominate.
Over an extended period of time, that can become very difficult to reverse. But if we are still alive, God still has a plan for our life. The grace of God is still sufficient. It may be harder, but the grace of God is still sufficient to resolve those problems. That is the hope that Scripture gives us, that no matter what we are going through, the solution is always the Word of God and the grace of God.
Now in this slide I’ve circled various words. Rejoice, various trials in verse 6. Genuineness, faith, and tested in verse 7. Then down in verse 8, rejoice and joy. Then in verse 9, the end of your faith. The reason I have done that is that all of those words show up in James 1:2–3, showing that both James and Peter are saying the same thing.
As I pointed out last time, James is probably the first New Testament epistle written. Peter is not the last but it is later. He is very much aware of most of Paul’s writing. He writes this epistle sometime probably in the early 60s, maybe three or four years before he is martyred and Paul is martyred.
He is very familiar with Paul’s writing so even though he is writing to Jews [we’ll understand that connection later on], he is giving us doctrinal truth for the spiritual life for every believer even though his target initial audience is Jewish.
If his target audience is Jewish, how well does that apply to us as Gentiles? Let me give you another analogy. I addressed that last time.
If Paul is writing to a target audience in Philippi, how much does that apply to Americans? Just because there is a cultural, historical difference, it does not mean the spiritual truths are different. Okay?
So he’s targeting Jews in a particular historical situation and he is going to take illustrations that relate to them but they are not exclusively Jewish, to the exclusion of Gentiles. They are true for every Church Age believer.
As I pointed out last time, the theme of this section, verses 6–9, is rejoicing in the midst of the present fiery trial because of our knowledge of the Word and our love for Christ, which enables us to look to a future deliverance in this life as well as the glories to come.
It is not just saying that we are going to be delivered when we get to Heaven in phase three. There is a holdout for real deliverance, even if you are still in prison, even if you are in horrible circumstances, it does not mean you cannot have the joy, the real joy of the Holy Spirit, characterizing your life.
Turn over to James, chapter 1. James is important because James is the first New Testament book [written]. The theme of James is how to persevere. In other words, how to hang in there, how to be steadfast in the midst of the trials, when you don’t feel like going on, when you feel overwhelmed, when you feel discouraged, and when you feel depressed.
One of the things I do is I try to work out. It is harder every year as you get older to keep a good workout program or even to eat right or to keep your weight down. Most of you know something about that.
It is just a matter of keeping with it. I have some mornings when I wake up and I say, “I’m just going to sleep late this morning.” I look at that workout drill and I think, “Hmm, I am not doing even a modified, even a scaled-down hands up pushup today, which is just dumbbell presses. I am not doing that. I am just staying in bed today. It is 90 degrees for a low almost. I am not going to get out and run a half of a mile this morning.”
But the next day you get up and you just go do it. You stick with it. It’s like going to Bible class. Sometimes you’re tired. You come home and say, “I can’t sit there. It is too cold in that church. I am just going to freeze to death.” Or “it’s too hot in the church.” I hear both. Some people say it needs to be a little cooler. Other people say, “I need a sweater in here.” Some people wrap up in a blanket. You cannot please everyone. We try to hit a mean in there somewhere.
Some people say, “I just can’t make it there tonight.” Great. Live stream. Get some sleep. Come back the next night. But you don’t give up. We struggle with what we face.
We all face things. I am always amazed when I get to know people how many of them struggle with some issue you would never know anything about. That is because we live in a fallen world. We live in a corrupt world.
We are not Democrats; we cannot perfect the world and we know it. That is the essence of liberalism because they don’t really believe the world is inherently corrupt. They think that it is perfectible. The presupposition of all liberal philosophy and theology is that man is perfectible and society is perfectible.
We don’t believe that. We believe we live in a corrupt world. Nevertheless, God gives us the grace to handle it and to live in it so we are going to face adversity.
So James says in James 1:2, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” He starts off with “my brethren” which tells you that he is talking to believers. He uses that phrase “my brethren and my beloved brethren” all the way through. That is a term for other believers. James is not trying to figure out the difference between believers and unbelievers, but how believers can persevere and have the joy of the Lord in their life.
The last time I taught James extensively was in 1998. I believe that James starts off with this command and the rest of the epistle is to help us understand how to do this. How to reach that state in our spiritual growth where we can experience suffering and adversity and difficulty and be joyful in the midst of it.
That verb HEGEOMAI is to count or to reckon or to consider something. It is an aorist imperative meaning that it is a priority command. He is emphasizing this as something they need to do now. It means to think or to reason or to consider or to regard. It is a thinking word. It is not to feel joy, but to think in terms of joy.
Get your head straight. Focus on the Word of God. Focus on the fact that Jesus Christ went through probably ten thousands more times pain or suffering than you can ever imagine, much less experience, and He did it why? Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”
Key words: joy and endurance. Right in the middle it’s talking about the most intense suffering any human being ever experienced. So we are to have that mindset. It is a mental attitude issue.
“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” That verb, to fall into, has the idea of something unexpected happens. You’re on your way home from Bible class, you’ve had a long day, and all of a sudden you realize you had a blowout. You’re not in a great part of town and you have to call AAA and wait for them. That is falling into a test.
What is a test? I had some people think this once that a test is something that is significant. We have all had tests that were significant and we have had tests that weren’t significant.
In terms of school tests, we’ve had tests that were just easy. We could take them blindfolded. We’ve had other tests that we really had to cram for and study for but this is talking about the fact that any time we are in a position in life and we have to choose between applying the Word or doing it our own way, that is the test.
It is like Adam and Eve in the Garden: Eat the fruit or don’t eat the fruit? Obey or disobey? That is always the test. Sometimes the issues are grander and more serious. Sometimes the issues are trivial. But it is always obey or disobey. That is the bottom line.
So “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” We want to look at the role of joy in the Christian life.
I have about five or six points here on joy. Joy must be understood as a supernatural gift. It is the fruit of the Spirit, we know. It is a supernatural joy. It is not natural happiness or sort of a natural state of euphoria. It is supernaturally produced. It is a gift that Jesus gave to Church Age believers.
In John 15:11 Jesus is speaking to His disciples. In the first ten verses He is talking about abiding in fellowship, walking with Him, abiding with Him. Then He says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Once again we have translators who quit translating a word the way they have been translating it in the previous ten verses so now you miss the point. He says, “That My joy may abide in you.”
This is the same word MENO that He started using back in verse 2 when He said “abide in Me. I am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in Me and you will bear much fruit.” It has to do with walking by the Spirit, walking in fellowship, and if we abide in Him…
Now abiding in Him is not getting in fellowship one minute and out of fellowship the next minute. That is like walking in and out the front door of your house and never sitting down inside the house and enjoying a meal, and visiting with your husband or your wife or your kids, watching TV, participating in whatever your enthusiasms are inside the house.
A lot of Christians are so busy they are just going in the front door and then they are out the front door, then they are back in the front door, and then they are out. They are not abiding in Christ. So if you abide in Christ, then we experience this joy He gives us. He says, “That My joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Now He can’t say it any stronger than that. So that you can have this rich experience of the joy that I am giving you.
That means this joy is a product of walking by the Spirit. This is one of the ways that we know that walking by the Spirit and abiding in Christ are the same thing. They both produce joy. So if you have one thing that is produced by abiding and it is also produced by walking that tells you that walking by the Spirit and abiding in Christ are roughly the same thing if they are the cause of having joy.
Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace by believing [instrumental there, not in believing]…” That is part of the exercise of the faith-rest drill. “That you may abound in hope…” Joy and peace are related to hope “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” So the Holy Spirit is the agent of that joy.
Galatians 5:22 which follows the Galatians 5:16 command to walk by the Spirit says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is first love, then secondly joy, and third peace.” That is the product of the Holy Spirit when we are walking by Him.
You run into a lot of Christians who say, “I just don’t experience that.” Well, I am not sure that you have people who are having a relationship with the Lord. A lot of people have a relationship with doctrine. They study the Bible. They go to Bible class, but studying the Bible and knowing the Bible is not the end in itself. It is the means to an end.
That is how we come to know the Father. That is how we come to know the Son. That is how we come to have a relationship with the Triune God is by having that fellowship, enjoying that fellowship with Him.
The result of that walk by the Spirit is the fruit of the Spirit. He produces this in our life as we mature. Even baby believers experience all of these to a small degree if they are beginning to walk and beginning to grow. As we grow and as we mature we experience them to a greater and greater degree.
The third thing we need to recognize is that this joy is not mutually exclusive of experiencing sorrow or grief. That is a very important statement because we have a lot of Christians who think, “I just am always struggling with the blues. I just have this low-level sort of depression.” That may be your sin nature. That may be related to any number of factors but that is not mutually exclusive of the joy of the Lord.
Being sad, grieving over the loss of a loved one, is not mutually exclusive to joy. Being discouraged and depressed to some degree over the fact you have lost your job and you haven’t seen a paycheck in over a year and you are not sure how you are going to pay your next bills and your health is deteriorating is not mutually exclusive to the joy of the Lord. We have this idea that if I have the joy of the Lord that I am not going to experience those things.
In John 16:20 Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament…” He’s talking to the disciples. He is talking about what is around the corner with His death on the Cross. “You will weep and lament but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful [LUPEO]…”
That is the same word used in 1 Peter except it is the noun in 1 Peter. “You will be sorrowful [LUPEO] but your sorrow [LUPE] will be turned into joy.” He is not saying that you won’t experience sorrow, sadness, or grief.
John 16:22, “Therefore you now have sorrow [LUPE] but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” Now there he is talking about the fact that He is giving us joy so we can have a permanent state of that joy.
That joy is based on thinking the Word of God. James 1:2, “Count it all joy.” And 1 Peter 1:6, he says, “In this [vv. 3–5 content] you greatly rejoice!!” But notice what he goes on to say in verse 6, “Even though for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” So there he recognizes in 1:6 that we rejoice at the same time we’re grieving because of various trials.
Point 5, this joy is often expressed in and through intense adversity, suffering, and grief. 2 Corinthians 8:2 says, “That in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.” He is talking about how the Macedonians generously gave even in the midst of their poverty, their adversity, and suffering.
When we get into looking at the word LUPE we are going to see that same word describes the mental attitude, the state of the Lord’s emotions the night before He went to the Cross. He grieved deeply and was distressed, but He didn’t let those emotions influence His decision.
He didn’t say, “I feel terrible. I just can’t do this. I just can’t face the Cross. I am going to have to do something else.” He said, “Father, if it be Your will, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.” So He doesn’t let the negative emotions dictate His actions. He doesn’t let them cause Him to make wrong decisions.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. We implement it through thinking and focusing on doctrine. “Count it all joy.”
The next word we see here is that word joy. I want to make a point here on understanding joy. This is the word CHARA, the standard word that is used for joy and refers to happiness. What we will see is that isn’t the same word that is used in 1 Peter.
One of the things that I try to point out is that words matter. The Holy Spirit chooses the words that are there. If we believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture then that means that the words that the Holy Spirit chooses are significant. He may use one word for joy in one place and He may use another word in another place. Sometimes that might be just a stylistic variation but we better pay attention if that is the last option we choose. Probably the Holy Spirit chose that for a reason.
It is really interesting when we look at this. In James he uses the word joy. I think this is a broad word and a narrower synonym is the word that is used in 1 Peter 1:6, AGALLIAO.
Whereas CHARA can express a range of joy, AGALLIAO represents a more exuberant, exulting rejoicing. It is more active. It is more dynamic, a little more manic, perhaps. We will see that in just a minute.
“In this you greatly rejoice.” That is what he is saying. It is not just that you have joy. Instead, you greatly rejoice. You are celebrating. That is the idea. I want you to think about this in terms of the passages which I am going to bring out.
How is this word AGALLIAO used in terms of Scripture? I want you to observe a couple of things as we look at a couple of verses. AGALLIAO is only used eleven times in the New Testament. So this isn’t a very popular word. It’s use is distinctive.
I didn’t look up how many times joy [CHARA] is used, but it’s used numerous times, many, many more times than AGALLIAO. In 1 Peter 1:6 it uses the word AGALLIAO and this is a more intensified idea. It adds this emotional exaltation to the idea of just a stable mental attitude of joy.
Let me show you a couple of passages where both words are used in the same context and that brings out the distinction. Matthew 5:10. Guess what the context is. So here we have AGALLIAO and the context is suffering, of persecution. It’s a context of rejection. It is the context of people resenting you because you are a Christian.
Jesus is teaching the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” You are doing the right thing and people despise you for it. “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you.”
So you are slandered. You are called bad names. People just rant about you on Facebook and say what a horrible person you are because you oppose homosexual marriage and we just need to get rid of all these vile, nasty, judgmental Christians and then we can all be happy. Well that is what’s going on and it is getting worse.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against falsely for My sake.” “Rejoice…” The rejoice command there is CHARA. That is count is all joy. It says, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad” [AGALLIAO] so that is the word.
It goes beyond joy. It’s not only joy but celebrate. Be excited. Be enthusiastic about it “because great is your reward in heaven.” The reason you rejoice is not because you love the rejection. You’re not a sadist. You are not a masochist. He is not saying “just beat me up and hate me and I will be happy. Just revile me and that will make me feel good.”
No, you rejoice because you know that if you are walking by the Spirit, this accrues to divine good and there will be great reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ. That’s what Jesus says, “For great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Now we have this word AGALLIAO in 1 Peter 1:8. We have it again in 1 Peter 1:8, saying, “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice [AGALLIAO] with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” So you celebrate with joy [CHARA]. Both words are used there. Inexpressible and full of joy.
Then when we get to 1 Peter 4:13, Peter says, “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings.” Now connect the dots to those who are joint-heirs of Christ if we suffer with Him. We are talking about rewards and an extra layer of inheritance at the Judgment Seat of Christ. “Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad [CHAIRO, the verb from CHARA] with exceeding joy [AGALLIAO].
What’s interesting here is that you have a connection here with glory. Glory is mentioned in 1 Peter 1:8. You have glory mentioned along with joy and glorifying the Lord and then we get to the end of the Tribulation period.
The end of the Tribulation period sees the Second Coming of Christ. He comes on a white horse with the saints [that’s you and me with Him], He’s coming to destroy the Antichrist, the devil, and the False Prophet and to defeat the kings of the earth at the Campaign of Armageddon. What we’re told when that happens is that John says in Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad [CHAIRO] and rejoice.”
Notice we have those two words and a distinction made. Rejoice is a step up. “And give Him glory for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” We are talking about the fact that rejoice is activating the joy that is in our soul, I think, and acting upon it in a way that we are going to learn to rejoice even over the suffering.
I have read you stories before about martyrs in England who refused to recant their Protestant faith and were persecuted and were executed and burned at the stake. I always remember the example of Thomas Cranmer who had been the Archbishop under Henry VIII. Then when Bloody Mary, Mary Tudor, became Queen he was tortured.
Finally they said that wouldn’t kill him if he recanted. He couldn’t stand the torture. He recanted his faith and they said, “We are going to burn you at the stake anyway.” When they tied him up and they lit the fires at Smithville, he held out the hand that had signed his recantation into the fire so that the hand that had betrayed the Lord would be burned off. While his arm burned, he sang hymns to the glory of God. That is the grace of God, the Holy Spirit giving joy to a person’s soul in the midst of incredible adversity and persecution.
Peter says, “In this [understanding who you are in Christ, your regeneration all the way to your reward at the judgment Seat of Christ] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while…” He’s not just talking about the fact that you may go through a bad year or two or five or ten, but it may be your life. It may be short-lived or it may be long-lived.
When we are face-to-face we are going to forget it, every tear and pain will be wiped away and we will not remember these things anymore. “But now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.”
Now this is where we see how grief can sometimes walk hand-in-hand with the joy of the Lord. 1 Peter 1:6 uses this word LUPEO. LUPE is the noun. LUPEO is the verb. It is usually translated sorrow or grief or sadness.
It is translated sorrowful in Matthew 26:37. The scene is in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus took sleepy Peter and John and James with Him. These are the same guys he took with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration where they fell asleep, as Luke says.
These guys were some drowsy guys. Maybe they just stayed up too late the night before talking about the Word of God but they would fall asleep when they got a chance like some people in Bible class. “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful [LUPEO] and [greatly or] deeply distressed.”
This is the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. He is under such emotional distress that He sweated blood through His pores. This isn’t just some light, “Aw, I’m kind of concerned about tomorrow. It is going to be a little tough.”
This is serious emotional distress. Having the emotional distress isn’t the sin. It’s giving into it or acting upon it that is the sin. Did Jesus ever lose His joy? Never once. So He has maximum joy, maximum happiness because of His relationship with God the Father in His humanity, but at the same time He is sweating blood. That is great comfort.
This is the same word that Paul uses in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 when he talks about the fact that when we experience the death of a loved one, a child, a friend, a spouse, or a parent, we’re going to grieve. That is normal because we are corrupt.
We live in a fallen world. God didn’t design us to go through grief. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, they would have never grieved. Grief is a symptom of the fallen nature of man having to deal with something God never intended, but it’s dealing with the penalty of sin.
Paul says that we sorrow but not like those who have no hope. So it’s not an overwhelming, crushing sorrow, especially if someone has been married thirty, forty, fifty, or sixty years and that person has always been next to them and they have enjoyed life in the Lord together. One day they’re in that bed all by themselves and that relationship will never return. That is sad.
That is having to go through a whole new test. A test of loneliness. That is a whole new test for their spiritual life. And all of us, well, not all of us, will face that at some point in our lives. We may outlive our spouse and we’re the one that will have to face that test of loneliness. It’s not easy. The only way you can survive is the grace of God. And you can have joy even in the midst of sorrow.
So Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved.” You will feel grief at times when you go through intensive tests, various trials.
That word for “various trials” is interesting. It is the same word that we have in James 1:2. James says to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
The Greek phrase from 1 Peter 1:6 is POIKILOIS PEIRASMOIS. The root is POIKILOIS which is where we get our word “polka dot”, from POIKILOIS. It means variegated, something that is variegated So we are going to run into these various shapes and sizes of trials. It is the same phrase that we have in James 1:2. We are going to run into all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors of tests.
Those tests are designed by God for you. I might pass that test very easily. I am not going to go through that test. My test is going to be different. You may look at my test and think, “Why doesn’t he get it?” Well, that is because it is tailored to the weakness in my sin nature just like your test is tailored to the weakness in your sin nature because God is trying to teach us to rely upon Him so that like Paul we can say, “Your grace is sufficient for me and I boast in my weaknesses because then your strength is magnified and glorified.” Let’s close in prayer.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to reflect upon Your grace and Your provision for us. The fact is that, as Job says, “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly up.” We are going to face heartache, hardship, sometimes it’s passive rejection, sometimes it is active hostility. Sometimes it is just a look, sometimes it is a little bit of sarcasm but we are going to face opposition because we are Christians.
The Scripture says clearly that those who desire to be godly will be persecuted. We will suffer because of Christ. By encountering that suffering and applying Your Word, we will be rewarded and we will become joint-heirs with Christ as we apply the Word next to those challenges.
The promise is that we have hope. We have joy. We can rejoice even though tests are upon us and we grieve. We recognize it is just for a little while. We just have to do it a little bit longer and we will survive. You will strengthen us and Your grace will be magnified in our lives and You’ll be glorified.
Father we pray that You would strengthen our wills, help us to face the challenges of life on the basis of Your Word and Your Spirit. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”