The Universal Nature of Suffering: You Never Suffer Alone

Today’s selected reading is found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the strangers which were scattered throughout the earth. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament epistle. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:1-2).

 

            “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly recjoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love: in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:3-12).

 

            “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. Because it is written, Be ye holy: for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:13-25).

 

            When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will notice that it is very similar in context to that which was written by James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the opening verses of the epistle written by James you will find that it was written unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad. Scripture does not specifically say where the twelve tribes were scattered, however, you can be certain based on the New Testament book of Acts that these were saints and brethren which might have first and foremost been scattered as a direct result of the persecution which broke out as a result of the death of Stephen. In the eighth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that after the death of Stephen a man by the name of Saul of Tarsus consented unto his death. Not only this but what we also find here in this passage of Scripture is that Saul wreaked havoc upon the church of Jesus Christ hailing men and women out of their homes and casting them into prison. Even in the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find Saul continuing to breathe out murderous threats against the church and even obtaining letters from the high priests that would enable him to journey as far as Damascus and bring men and women bound and committing them into prison. In the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book we find additional language concerning the scattering of the saints as a direct result of the persecution of the church w hich broke out in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

 

            I am absolutely convinced that if we want to truly understand the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Peter we must needs recognize and understand the language that was found in the New Testament book of Acts. What’s more is that I firmly believe that not only do we need to understand it in terms of the persecution which broke out against the church and resulted in their being scattered abroad but also the day of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit granting utterance unto those present to speak with the tongues of other nations. The more you read and consider the first epistle written by the apostle Peter the more you will not only see shades and glimpses of Pentecost but the more you will also see shadows and glimpses of the persecution of the saints of the living God. In fact if you continue reading in the first chapter of this epistle you will even find the apostle Peter speaking unto them concerning the manifold temptations which they faced—and not only the manifold temptations they faced but also the tremendous amount of suffering and affliction they would experience. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within this epistle we also find the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto them concerning the trial of their faith which was more precious than of gold which perishes. This is something we must needs recognize and understand if we want to understand the words and language found in this epistle for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth surrounding persecution and the person and presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

            If you turn and direct your attention to the New Testament book of Acts you will find that two of the most prevalent and dominant themes contained within the book were the persecution of the saints during those days and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Of course if you begin reading with and from the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find one of the results and products of the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was cloven tongues of fire resting upon each of those who were present in the upper room. It was a direct result of the arrival and presence of the Holy Spirit the tongues of the nations would be manifested in the midst of the upper room. Scripture is very clear that as a direct result of the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the divers tongues of fire which rested upon each of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ they were able to speak with tongues of other nations. This is something that must be carefully considered—particularly and especially when reading the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto his audience. The opening verses of this first epistle written by the apostle Peter brings you face to face with the reality that his audience were those strangers which were scattered—and not only strangers which were scattered but also those strangers which were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. Oh please pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to specific places and geographical locations where the saints of the living God were indeed scattered throughout the earth.

 

            While we read the epistle written by James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus and discover it was written unto the twelve tribes of Israel which were scattered abroad we are not given any indication where they were scattered. It is in the New Testament book of Acts we first and foremost find the saints and brethren being scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria as a direct result of the persecution which broke out against the church. It is in the eleventh chapter where we learn of additional places and locations where the saints and brethren were indeed scattered. Not only this but when you come to chapters such as seventeen and eighteen you will find Jews being present in Thessalonica and Corinth, thus suggesting and signifying the tremendous reality of the Jews being scattered abroad throughout those days. In all reality I would dare say that not only were unbelieving Jews scattered throughout the region during those days but also those believing Jews which were disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were also scattered abroad in the midst of the earth. We must needs recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality that during the days of the apostles there were indeed those who were scattered throughout the regions of the earth. There is a great need to recognize that there were those who were unbelieving who were scattered throughout the regions of the earth who were proselytes of Judaism while there were others who were scattered abroad throughout the region who were indeed believing saints of the living and eternal God.

 

            It is with all of this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention—first and foremost to the words and language found in the eighth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. That which we find within these two chapters brings us face to face with the scattering of the saints of the living God as a direct result of the persecution which would break out against them in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—even after the day of Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit. There is not a doubt in my mind that if we want to truly understand the words, the language and the context that is found in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter we must needs recognize and understand the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the scattering of the saints of the living God as a direct result of persecution which broke out against them in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. What’s more is I am convinced there were others among the Jews who were scattered throughout the regions of the earth as a direct result of the words and warning of the Lord Jesus. It is in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke we find the Lord Jesus speaking of and warning His disciples and followers concerning the coming devastation, destruction and desolation that would wreak havoc against and upon the city of Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that those who were scattered abroad throughout the regions of the earth during those days were not only scattered as a result of persecution but also as a direct result of preparation for the coming destruction and devastation that would break out against and upon the city of Jerusalem in the coming days—devastation that would come about in the year 70 A.D. when Rome would invade the land, destroy the city of Jerusalem and even destroy the Temple of the living God with fire.

 

            Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the eighth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament book of Acts for within these two chapters you will encounter the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—those who were part of the early church—who were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria. What’s more is that you will learn that these dear saints were not only scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria but would be scattered throughout other regions of the earth. What’s more is that if you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find that all but the apostles were scattered abroad throughout Judaea, Samaria and the regions round about the city of Jerusalem which suggests that at least more than five thousand saints of the living God were scattered abroad throughout the regions of the earth during those days. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that it wasn’t merely the one-hundred and twenty who were scattered abroad throughout the regions of the earth when persecution broke out against the church but it would be thousands of believing Jews who would be scattered abroad throughout the earth. At the time this first epistle of the apostle Peter would be written it would be written ten years before the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and of the Temple which would indeed indicate that a vast portion of his audience could very well have been those who were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and were scattered abroad as a direct result of the persecution which broke out against the city. Oh having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

 

            “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto he ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:19-26).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found in these two chapters for within them we are brought face to face with the awesome truth surrounding the persecution which broke out against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a direct result of the persecution which broke out against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ you will find the saints being scattered abroad—first and foremost throughout Judaea and Samaria. It is in the eleventh chapter of this book we find that the saints were also scattered as far as Phenice, and Cyprus and even Antioch and preached the word of the Lord Jesus Christ. How absolutely incredible it is to read these words for they help serve as a context and backdrop for the words which the apostle Peter wrote in this first epistle. It is when reading the words which the apostle Peter wrote in this first epistle we encounter—not only a scattered people but also a suffering people. There is something about the words which are found in the opening chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter that not only brings us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding a scattered people but also a suffering people. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and wonderful reality of those saints which were scattered abroad throughout specific regions of the earth. In fact those to whom the apostle Peter wrote would be those who were in the very areas the apostle Paul himself had journeyed unto and not only preached the word of the Lord Jesus Christ but also helped to establish churches among them.

 

            Within the opening chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Peter we are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality concerning the saints of the living God which were not only scattered abroad throughout the earth but also those who were suffering. What makes this all the more interesting when you take the time to think about and consider it is that I would dare say there might have been those who were scattered abroad throughout the regions of the earth as a direct result of the persecution which broke out in the midst of the city of Jerusalem after the death of the Stephen. Not only this but the words and language found within this epistle seem to suggest that although many who were present in the midst of these regions who were scattered as a result of the persecution which broke out in the midst of Jerusalem they would and could not escape suffering, affliction, persecution, trials, troubles, tribulations and the like. This is actually something which we must needs recognize and understand for I am sure that there were those who were scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria, as well as Phenice, Cyprus and Antioch sought to escape the persecution which broke out in Jerusalem and might very well have thought that they would experience relative rest and peace in the midst of those regions they were living.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words and language found in this epistle and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that suffering is a prevalent theme within this particular epistle. It is in the first, fourth and fifth chapters of this epistle you will find suffering, the trial of faith, affliction and the like being mentioned by the apostle Peter when writing unto these saints of the living God which were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Asia and even parts of Asia. If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when reading the words found in this first epistle it’s that there were indeed saints of the living God who fled Jerusalem and journeyed into and throughout Judaea and Samaria because of the persecution which broke out against the church. With this being said there is not a doubt in my mind there were those present in the midst of these areas and regions who might very well have thought that by fleeing into Judaea and Samaria they would somehow be able to escape the persecution, the affliction, the suffering and the trials and troubles which were manifested in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Even when you read the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the unbelieving Jews of Thessalonica inciting chaos and confusion round about Paul, Silas and Timothy as a direct result of their preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. So severe and sore was their opposition and resistance against them that the disciples and brethren sent Paul and Silas unto Berea as a means of escaping that affliction, suffering and persecution.

 

            If there is one thing the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts reveals and points out to us it’s that we can experience suffering, persecution, affliction, trials and troubles in one place, and we can flee into another place—or as in the case of Paul and Silas be sent forth into another place—and we can think that we will somehow experience rest and reprieve from the suffering and affliction we faced. That which the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts demonstrates and reveals is that although Paul and Silas were sent forth from Thessalonica to escape the suffering and affliction that was manifested there it would indeed follow them. The more you read the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts the more you will be brought face to face with the truly awesome and powerful truth that the same persecution and affliction which was present in the midst of the city of Thessalonica would not only follow them unto Berea but would also be manifested in the midst thereof. Oh this is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter. In all reality I would dare say this first epistle written by the apostle Peter was indeed written unto Gentile believers who were experiencing suffering, affliction, trials and troubles within their lives but was also written unto those saints and brethren who were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem at the time of the death of Stephen and Saul’s wreaking havoc against and upon the church of the living God.

 

            Perhaps one of the most astounding and remarkable truths that is found in the New Testament book of Acts—and not only that which is found in the New Testament book of Acts but also in this first epistle written by the apostle Peter—is that there were those who fled the city of Jerusalem as a direct result of the persecution which broke out against the church. Oh it was indeed true that being scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria they would continue preaching the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus, however, I would dare say there were those who would be present in Judaea, in Samaria, in Antioch, in Cyprus and other places and regions who fled one persecution and yet found themselves experiencing trials and troubles, affliction and suffering in another place. Pause for a moment and consider just how incredible the words are within this first epistle written by the apostle Peter for these words seem to suggest that there were those who perhaps fled one place as a direct result of persecution which broke out against the church in that place and came unto another place seeking peace, rest and solace from the persecution, suffering and affliction they previously experienced. Much to their dismay and surprise they find and discover that in the place(s) whereunto they came there would continue to be trials and troubles, suffering and affliction, and perhaps even persecution.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when reading the words found in the New Testament book of Acts and the first epistle written by the apostle Peter it’s that suffering, affliction, trials and troubles, persecution and the like are not limited nor are they relegated to a singular geographical location. We would like to think that suffering, affliction, persecution and the like are confined to one particular location or region within the earth and yet if there is one thing the New Testament book of Acts demonstrates it’s that the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ and even persecution itself are not bound by any singular geographical location. Despite our best intentions to limit such realities to a certain region and location and despite our misguided belief that persecution and suffering is and can be relegated to one singular place or region within the earth we are incredible naïve to think and even consider for a moment this is true. One of the greatest truths found within the New Testament book of Acts is that the body of Christ does not know nor is it bound to and by any geographical location and region. When the persecution broke out against the church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem it demonstrated and showed how the body of Christ could indeed expand and exist beyond the city of Jerusalem and would and could not be bound by geographical locations and regions. The body of Christ would be just as much present in the midst of Jerusalem as it would be in Galilee, in Judaea, in Samaria, in Antioch, in Ephesus, in Corinth, in Rome and in various other parts of the earth.

 

            Oh the more I read and consider the words and language found within the New Testament book of Acts in light of the words of the apostle Peter in this first epistle the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that neither persecution, nor the presence and person of the Holy Spirit nor even the body of Christ itself is confined to one specific geographical region. One of the greatest truths that is found in the New Testament book of Acts is that of persecution beginning in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and yet being manifested in various other regions and geographical locations during those days. The apostle Paul and those who would travel with him would be no strangers to persecution, to suffering and affliction for in many of the places they would preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ they would experience persecution and affliction among them in their midst. This is indeed something we must needs understand and acknowledge for it calls and draws our attention to the undeniable and oftentimes hard to acknowledge truth that persecution, affliction, suffering and the like are not confined to a certain region of the earth. Oh even during our own day we would like to think that persecution of Christians is limited and relegated to the Middle East, to certain parts of Africa and even to certain parts of Asia and yet I am absolutely convinced that such a belief and mindset is entirely naïve and false.

 

            As I read the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Peter unto those who were scattered abroad I am brought face to face with the tremendous reality that suffering and affliction, trials and troubles, persecution and opposition are not limited to a certain geographical region or location. Persecution would indeed break out against the church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and those who were present in the midst thereof would indeed be scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria, however, we must needs recognize and understand that the saints of the living God would flee from the persecution which was present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and would. Indeed face affliction, trials, troubles, and troubles in those places whithersoever they traveled and journeyed. In fact it is when you come to the fifth chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him speaking of resisting their adversary the devil who as a raging lion prowls around seeking whom he may devour. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about and consider the words the apostle wrote is that he would follow this up by declaring that their brethren throughout the world were experiencing the same suffering and afflictions they themselves were. When the apostle Peter admonished them to resist the devil knowing that he would flee from them he also did so in the context of afflictions of their brethren being accomplished among their brethren throughout the world.

 

            I cannot help but think about and consider the words which are found in this particular epistle and be brought face to face with the reality that suffering, affliction and persecution are not confined nor are they relegated to certain locations and regions. It is indeed true that for several centuries we in the western hemisphere have enjoyed certain freedoms and liberties when it comes to worship of the living God and walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when considering how we live within this nation that we have indeed enjoyed certain liberties and freedoms in the midst of this land—freedoms surrounding religion which allowed us to worship freely without having to worry about persecution, suffering and affliction. This is something that countless men and women within our nation have enjoyed as this has indeed been a nation of privilege, rights and freedoms. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for to do so would be to miss out on one of the greatest deceptions facing many within our western churches—namely, the belief and understanding that persecution is confined to other parts of the world and can never and will never be manifested within our own nation. There are those among us within many of our churches who think and believe that persecution, affliction and suffering is limited and confined to other parts of the earth and can never and will never touch us here within this nation. This is—in my opinion—one of the greatest lies, deceptions and falsehood of the enemy and adversary for Jesus clearly declared that in the last days the saints and followers of His person and name would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. Not only this but the Lord Jesus also declared that many would be offended in the last days because of the persecution and affliction which would break out against and upon them.

 

            The more I read and consider the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding suffering, affliction and persecution. It is indeed true that those to whom the apostle Peter was writing were indeed scattered abroad throughout various regions of the earth during those days and I am absolutely convinced there were those present in the midst of these regions who perhaps thought that persecution would and could not be manifested among them in those places where they were. Oh I am absolutely convinced there would be those who would think and even dare believe that those places they were living and dwelling were somehow immune and exempt from suffering, from afflictions, from trials, from troubles and from persecution. The truth of the matter, however, is that many of the saints and brethren in these places would discover that persecution knows no limits nor any boundaries within the earth. Just as the body of Christ can exist beyond borders and boundaries so also can persecution, affliction and suffering exist without and beyond borders and boundaries This is something we would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand for there are those among us who seem to think that suffering, affliction and persecution are limited and relegated to certain places within the earth. The truth of the matter, however, is that persecution, affliction and suffering are universal throughout the earth and have never and will never be confined to a specific region, place and location.

 

            The words and language presented in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter are absolutely and incredibly astounding when you take the time to consider them for not only do they reveal saints which were scattered and suffering but they also reveal the powerful and undeniable truth that suffering, persecution and affliction are universal throughout the world. This is something we as saints and brethren in the Western hemisphere would indeed be wise to recognize and understand—particularly and especially when you consider the fact that persecution, affliction and suffering might very well be around the corner within our nation, within our culture and society. You would have to be incredibly naïve to think and consider—even for a moment—that persecution and suffering cannot and will never touch the shores of our nation. Oh it is true that we have enjoyed certain liberties and freedoms within our nation which have allowed us to worship freely without fear and concern of persecution, opposition, imprisonment, torture and even death, however, with this being said we must needs recognize that just as in the days of the early church so also it is true in our days that suffering is universal regardless of race, gender, political affiliation, denominational affiliation, social class and the like. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to recognize and understand the suffering and affliction and persecution can indeed be manifested within our culture and our society and despite our best efforts and even our misguided beliefs there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop and prevent it. Try and try as we might to keep persecution, affliction and suffering from the shores of our nation the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and will never be the case.

            When I read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto those who were scattered I can’t help but consider the fact that these were those who were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through the sanctification of the Spirit and unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Those to whom this epistle was written were such who were experiencing suffering, affliction and persecution in the midst of those locations and regions they were—despite the fact they were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and sanctified through and by the Holy Spirit and cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus. The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the persecution of the church as well as the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. There is not a doubt in my mind that within this first and opening chapter—not only do we see shadows and glimpses of the persecution of the saints of God and the church of the Lord Jesus Christ but we also see glimpses of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Oh there is something truly remarkable and astounding about the words which are found in this epistle for within it we not only encounter and come face to face with those who were scattered abroad and suffering but we also encounter and come face to face with those who were born of the Holy Spirit of the living and eternal God and of the eternal and only begotten Son. The words which are found in the opening verses of this epistle bring us face to face with the day of Pentecost and how on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit brought and manifested the tongues of the nations as He granted utterance to those in the upper room to speak with the tongues of those nations.

 

            It is having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the first verse. That which we find in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts reveals the day of Pentecost and how on the day of Pentecost about one-hundred and twenty were gathered together in an upper room being of one mind and one accord. It would be there in the midst of that upper room that a sound as of a rushing mighty wind was not only heard within the room but was also manifested unto and among them. Not only this but there were cloven tongues of fire which were manifested among them as well which enabled them to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. With this in mind please consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the first verse of the second chapter:

 

            “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own l anguage. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia and Phmphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13).

 

            The words and language we find in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts are incredibly powerful when you take the time to think about and consider them for within this chapter we find the arrival of the Holy Spirit—and not only the arrival of the Spirit but the manifestation of the tongues of the nations. There is something truly remarkable and astonishing when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the bringing of the tongues of the nations with His arrival and presence. Oh one of the greatest truths that is found in this passage of scripture is that of the Holy Spirit bringing with Him the tongues of the nations and enabling men and women to speak with the tongues of those nations. During the days of Nimrod and the tower of Babel the LORD came down and confounded and confused their tongues and languages and scattered them abroad throughout the earth and yet on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit would show up in the midst of those who were in one accord and would bring the tongues of the nations. Not only this but on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit would enable ordinary and common men and women to speak with tongues they had never been taught nor had ever learned. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the first epistle written by the apostle Peter. It is in the first chapter of this first epistle we are brought face to face with a people who were scattered abroad throughout the earth—those who were indeed disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of that generation.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words presented in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the awesome truth that within it we not only see Pentecost but we also see persecution. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the persecution of the saints of the living God as well as Pentecost which saw and witnessed—not only the arrival of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit but also being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking with other tongues. As you read the words which are found in this epistle you will find the apostle Peter writing unto saints which were indeed scattered abroad throughout the earth but emphatically blessing the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is something we must recognize for at the very outset of this epistle the apostle Peter seeks to invite those who were scattered to recognize and understand that they were born of the Father unto a living and lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In essence that which the apostle Peter was seeking to do was to demonstrate the strong and powerful reality that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed at the very heart and center of the hope they had as the saints of the living God. Not only this but you will also find the apostle Peter writing and speaking unto them concerning an inheritance which was incorruptible, and undefiled and which does not fade away and is reserved in heaven for them. Oh how truly awesome and powerful it is to read the words which are found in this passage of scripture and consider the reality of a hope according to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus as well as an inheritance which was incorruptible, undefiled and which does not fade away.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this epistle the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the saints of God who although they were scattered abroad and suffering they not only had a lively hope but an inheritance which was reserved for them in heaven. This is something the apostle Peter sought to encourage these dear saints of the living God with when writing unto them for he wanted to demonstrate unto them the very heart and center of their faith as those who were walking with and following the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that if you continue reading the words the apostle Peter wrote in this epistle you will find him writing of their being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Thus within this epistle we encounter a lively hope, an inheritance reserved in heaven and being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Despite and regardless of what they were facing at that present time and/or would face in the coming days they were such who were kept by the power of the living God through faith unto salvation. Oh we dare not and must not miss the important truth regarding being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation for the ultimate and end result of our faith is indeed salvation—and not only salvation but the salvation of our souls. There is something truly remarkable and powerful about the words which the apostle Peter wrote unto these dear saints for within this epistle he sought to demonstrate unto them the hope and the hope they had as the saints of God. What’s more is the apostle Peter also sought to demonstrate unto them how they were indeed kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation which was ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

            As you continue reading the words presented in this epistle you will encounter the context in which the apostle Peter wrote of their being kept by the power of God through faith. It is indeed true their inheritance is reserved in heaven and cannot be touched, tainted or defiled by the hands of men, and it was also true that when the apostle Peter spoke of their being kept by the power of God through faith he was speaking in direct context of the afflictions, the suffering, the trials, the troubles and the tribulations they faced as the saints of the living God. It is when you begin reading with and from the sixth verse of this chapter you find the apostle Peter—much like James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus did—speaking of rejoicing or counting it all joy when they fell into divers temptations. It was James who admonished those to whom he was writing that they ought to count it all joy when they fell into divers temptations and it was the apostle Peter who admonished his readers and audience to greatly rejoice though now for a season they were in heaviness through manifold temptations. Please do not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible these words truly are when you take the time to think about them for they call and draw us into the place where we recognize and understand that although we might be in heaviness through manifold temptations we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The apostle Peter recognized that he was indeed writing unto those who were scattered abroad throughout the regions of the earth—and not only scattered abroad but also scattered and suffering as a direct result of manifold temptations, trials, and troubles.

            The more you read the words which are found within this epistle the more you will be brought face to face with saints of the living God which were not only scattered but who were also suffering and struggling. There is not a doubt in my mind that many of those whom the apostle Peter wrote to were indeed suffering and struggling in the midst of their lives and the words found in this epistle were meant to and intended on providing them with a tremendous amount of hope and encouragement. The apostle Peter began this epistle by speaking of them as being those who were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through the sanctification of the Spirit and unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. What’s more is the apostle Peter also declared unto them concerning both grace and peace being multiplied unto them in the midst of their present situation and circumstances. This would be followed by the apostle Peter blessing God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to and by His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is something we must needs pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful reality that at the very heart of our hope, at the very heart of our inheritance and at the very heart of our faith is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that it’s because the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead we are indeed able to have and experience hope in this life—hope in the midst of our suffering, in the midst of our affliction and in the midst of our persecution.

 

            As you continue reading the words written in this epistle you will find the apostle Peter speaking unto them as being in heaviness through manifold temptations and then speaking unto them concerning the trial of their faith. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading this letter for as I have mentioned and written before—faith which cannot be tested cannot be trusted. There would be those who would like to think and even expect their faith cannot and will not be tested or tried in this life and yet the words which the apostle Peter writes unto these dear saints indicates that their faith would indeed be tested. What makes this language all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider how the apostle Peter would experience his own experience with the testing of his faith. You will recall that immediately after the apostle Peter declared in the company of Jesus and the other disciples that he would go to prison and/or even die with the Lord Jesus he would be told that Satan had asked to have him for he desired him that he might sift him as wheat. This is actually quite astounding when you take the time to think about it for what you find the Lord Jesus declaring unto the apostle Peter is not that He prayed that his faith would not be tested or shaken but that his faith would not fail. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality of our faith not being exempt or immune from being tested but rather prayed for that it might not fail and that it might be strengthened. That which the Lord Jesus revealed unto Simon also called Peter was that Satan desired to have him and asked to sift him as wheat and rather than keeping him from whatever the adversary had in mind for him He prayed that his faith would not fail.

 

            When writing unto the saints which were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Asia and parts of Europe the apostle Peter not only spoke of them being in heaviness through manifold temptations but also of the trial of their faith. This is indeed something we must needs recognize and understand for the Lord Jesus never promised that our faith would be tested and He never promised that our faith would not stand trial in the court of heaven. We read the words which are found in this epistle and we come face to face with the reality that our faith can and will indeed be tested and tried—and not only tested and tried but tried with fire—that we might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. That which the apostle Peter sought to convey unto these scattered, suffering and struggling saints was that their faith was of great worth and value in the sight of the living God and that it was more precious than gold which perishes. That which the Lord Jesus desired to do was to test and try their faith that both their faith and the saints themselves would come forth as pure gold. Not only this but the apostle Peter goes on to speak of the saints of God having not seen Jesus Christ and yet loving Him—and not only loving Him though they had not seen Him but believing although they had not seen Him. This is something we must needs recognize for when reading the first epistle written by the apostle John he asked his readers how they could declare they loved God whom they have not seen if they cannot and do not love their brother whom they do see. That which the apostle Peter reveals and speaks of in this epistle is the tremendous need to not only believe on the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God but also love Him—this despite and regardless of the fact that we cannot see Him. Oh there is something truly powerful about a faith that is able to believe, trust and love regardless of not being able to see that for which it seeks to apprehend and lay hold of.

 

            As I bring this writing to a close it is absolutely imperative we recognize that when writing unto these dear saints the apostle Peter would speak of them loving and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ—despite the fact they could not and had not seen Him. Those to whom the apostle Peter was writing had perhaps not walked with and followed Him as he had done for three and a half years and yet at that time they were all in the same place. Although the apostle Peter walked with and followed the Lord Jesus for three and a half years he was now believing in and loving someone who could not see with his natural eyes. Despite the fact he had indeed seen and beheld Him with his own eyes for three and a half years He would now love and believe in Him who was no longer present in the midst of the earth. The apostle Peter would emphatically declare and speak unto his readers and audience concerning their being able to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory because of the Lord Jesus Christ whom they were able to love and believe. What’s more is the apostle Peter goes on to speak of the end of their faith which was the salvation of their souls—a salvation which would come in the last day at the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we would recognize and understand this for when we speak of Jesus as being the author and finisher of our faith we must needs understand that He is indeed the finisher and perfecter of our faith and that the end of that faith is the salvation of our souls—a work which was begun in us which will be completed and performed unto the time of the Lord’s coming in the glory He had with the Father who was in heaven. It is in light of this we are to be those who gird up the loins of our mind as we are sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

 

If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading this first epistle written by the apostle Peter it’s that everything he wrote was in direct relation to the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. The trial of their faith, their manifold temptations, the inheritance they have reserved in heaven, the hope they have and so much more is all in direct connection to the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this but when we read the words which are found in this epistle we find the end of their faith being intrinsically linked and connected to the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and acknowledge that we must needs live our lives in anticipation and expectation of the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes in all His glory and power which He had with the Father before time began. Everything we find in this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with our faith which is of more value than gold which perishes and that faith being perfected and completed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We as the saints of God were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb that is without spot and blemish. In light of the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs be those who are sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus and ought not to fashion ourselves according to the former lusts in our ignorance. Not only this but we must needs be holy in all manner of conversation knowing that the living God is no respecter of persons and judges every man according to their own works. Oh that we would be those who purify our souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned loved for the brethren and that we love one another with a pure heart fervently.

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