I PETER 4
WHEN FACING PERSECUTION,TALK TO GOD
HE IS ALWAYS VERY NEAR, IF YOU HAVE FAITH
When Paul said that he was the Apostle to the Gentiles and that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews, he referred primarily to the fact that Jesus gave Peter the privilege and the inspired authority to preach the sermon on Pentecost, which was to a primarily Jewish audience, and, using the keys to the Kingdom, he opened the door of the Kingdom to them. However, in that sermon, Peter said the promise was not only to them, but to all men who would respond to God’s call. In this book, Peter is writing to the Gentile Christians from the church in Rome, who had scattered to the far reaches of Asia Minor to escape the persecution of the Roman Emperor. Peter was, at that time, a leader and preacher for the church in Rome.
I tell you this to make clear both what Paul said and the true position that Peter had at this time to the church in Rome. Also, I want to set aside any questions about Peter being the author of this book. Some insist that he could not have written it because the Greek is so perfect, and a Galilean fisherman could not have produced such perfect Greek. However, Peter says that Silas was helping him write the letter. Silas was a scholar who worked with both Peter and Paul. It is not difficult to understand that Silas was really the editor of the book, and made the Greek perfect, but the heart and contents of the book are Peter’s.
In this letter, Peter is both warning and consoling those Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. His consolation is that, no matter how bad things are for them, a certain and eternal reward awaits them at the end of this temporary life. This wonderful promise is still true for every Christian, but it is built upon solid and continuing faith in God. In this world, we are constantly assailed by people and things which are designed to shake our faith. Our defense against this world of doubt is to continue in constant communication with the Father. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing”. Prayer is not a ritual exercise, to be acted out at certain specified times. It is an acknowledgement that God is always present, and will be my constant companion if I talk to Him often, acknowledge His presence, and His willingness to reward those “who diligently seek Him”. At any time, under any circumstance of your day, you should be talking to Him. Never stop being aware of His presence.
The second thing Peter is saying to these people is that they must not give in, or give up, to the pressures and persecution of the present world. The message to us is the same. We are not being threatened with death, as these people were, but we are persecuted because we are different, as Christians, from the beliefs and standards of our world. The world demands, for example, that we have sexual standards that every Bible student knows are contrary to the will of God. The rules of competition in the market place demand that you participate in often dishonest practices and things which do harm to those who are your competitors. Hate, enmity, pride and many other anti-Christian attitudes and activities are demanded of you in order to survive in the world which belongs to Satan, not to God and His children. These are the present persecutions the true Christian must bear, if he is to remain true to His Lord. Few of us can survive completely in such an environment, and that is why Paul was so thankful for the forgiveness offered by God in the sacrifice of His Son. Many times a day, I need the avenue of prayer to say, “Father, forgive”.
This essay was designed to show us that reading the Bible is not an exercise in becoming acquainted with the history of Bible times and the activities of God’s messengers. It is theliving Word of God, and was written for our admonition and guidance in our life today. It is not a scholarly book, written to be analyzed, so the language of that day is clear. It is a message from the Lord to the lowliest of us, to guide us in our everyday life, to keep us aware that the King is not far away on a throne in the distant heavens. He is at our side, and ready to respond to every need and every threat to our faith. Also, that no matter how difficult life may be, it is temporary. But the promised life is eternal.