How many times have we heard and made reference to “eternal judgment?” The Apostle Peter speaks to this subject when he notes that: “If a man suffers for being a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in his trials. For the time now is when judgment (for a convert) begins in the House of God, and if it begins with us (in God’s church), what will be the end (destiny) of those (in the church) who do not obey the Gospel of God? And if the righteous are barely saved, what will be the future of the (church) sinner? Therefore, let them who suffer according to the will of the Creator God commit their souls to Him by glorifying Him in their suffering (1 Pet. 4:16-19).
Notice some key Words (“fine print”) in this passage, words that most Bible readers skip over when confronted by Truths they do not want to read. For example, I recently saw a tee shirt on which was written an edited version of 2 Chronicles 7:14 where the words “turn from their evil ways” had been omitted. The same heresy takes place when preachers and politicians quote the passage while calling on God for help in bad times. Why? Because then they would have to admit that God commands them to stop sinning, which they contend is impossible. All Sinners Saved By Grace conveniently leave out such “fine print” when waxing religious. The other .0001% of professing Christendom include the Lord’s “fine print” when quoting or reading the passage. This is what separates church sheep from church goats.
In verse 16 Peter says that if one suffers BECAUSE he is a Christian he is to glorify God in his suffering. In verses 17 and 18 he notes that judgment begins for the convert when he becomes part of God’s Church. Judgment lasts as long as he lives. “Eternal” means from the beginning (conversion) to the end (death). Peter then compares the end result of a righteous person to the end result of an unrighteous person. In verse 19 Peter tells righteous saints to continue to do that which caused their suffering (walking in righteousness) and trust God to take care of their soul (body) during their trial/testing. Remember, testing is from God Who wants to weed out all weakness from His saints. Like a pencil that is useless until grinded down to a point, we are useless to God until He rips away all the dross from our lives, leaving a holy vessel whom He can use. His “grinding” consists of trials and testing. Those who refuse to be sharpened to a point are called Sinners Saved By Grace, also known as Catholics and Protestants.
Peter had earlier (3:12-14) addressed a critical issue relative to the suffering of church people. In this passage he notes that there are two reasons church people suffer. He wrote that God’s eyes were continuously on the righteous who “do good” (vs 11) and His ears are always open to their prayers. However, His face is against those (in the church) who do evil. He notes that there are those who will harm you for doing good. “But and if you suffer for being righteous, be happy … and be not troubled ….” Here Peter is speaking to righteous (obedient) church people who are persecuted “for righteousness sake.” This is one of the ways God tests (tries) His people to see if they will continue to stand up for Him while enduring harsh, sometimes deadly treatment. As Jesus warns us in Matthew 10:21-39, such treatment is to be expected. Carefully note verses 22 and 34-39–PERSECUTION FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE IS A SIGN THAT ONE BELONGS TO GOD. Where there is no persecution, there has been no conversion and one’s Christianity is bogus. As Jesus said, the whole world hates a true Christian. The saint’s negative treatment by the world, especially the worldly church, is a sure indication of one’s good standing with God. Persecution for righteousness (obedience) sake is the “cross” one must “take up” (vs 38) in order to qualify for salvation upon the return of Jesus Christ (Mat. 10:21-39). Note that all of the apostles wrote to the church about the church. Read Persecution, All That Glitters and Would God Do That? Key words–Persecution, Glitters and Would respectively.
Note in 1 Peter 1:1,2 that the apostle is addressing those in the church, each of which would be tested by God to some degree and in some way. Note also that some would be punished by Him for failing to pass His test. God tested Jesus to the nth degree, even requiring Him to give His life for His (God’s) sake. And He was not alone. Millions have died at the hands of the heathen (Roman Empire and Catholics) because they failed God’s test. After all, this life is nothing more than a time of testing during which we either qualify for Very Elect status or not. Those who qualify in this life will rise during the first resurrection, join Christ in the air and go with Him to Jerusalem where they will establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Read The Three Resurrections and The Kingdom of God. Key words–Resurrections and Kingdom. To read a series consult the Introduction page to this website and read under the heading: NOTICE.
A good example of righteous men being tested is found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. In his letters he often referred to his “afflictions.” The majority of church people want to define his “afflictions” as physical ailments. But read how Paul describes them in various passages. Rather than physical ailments he identifies his afflictions them as: necessities, distresses, stripes, imprisonments, tumults (riots), labors, watchings, fastings, reproaches, being made a laughing stock, being beaten with rods, being stoned seemingly to death, being shipwrecked, being in the sea, being in perils of robbers, perils of death, perils in cities and in the wilderness, in perils of false brethren, being weary, in pain, hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness. These constitute testings and trials initiated by God to see what Paul was spiritually made of. We should all be as spiritually mighty as that man. The true Christian can expect similar types of tests on the mental and emotional level in that, at present, physical assaults are illegal. Today, persecution comes in the form of words, attitudes, rejection, etc. from others. God also tests us in everyday things for the purpose of showing us our weaknesses and giving us the opportunity to overcome them. Therefore we are to: “Count it all joy when you are faced with various trials and tribulations.” The greater the trial, the greater the victory. Easy said-not easy done. But it must be done if we are to spend eternity with Christ in the kingdom.
I will not go into the cursing which God pours out on sinning man since I have written extensively over the past several years on that subject. To see God’s wrath in action one need only see one more needle jammed into one more arm, one more house floating down one more river, one more death toll from “acts of nature,” one more picture of people crossing America’s southern border, one more reminder of America’s most recent military defeat, etc.
This life is a trial period. Only by overcoming the temptation to give in to Satan during testing can we enter the kingdom (Rev. 3:21). L.J.