The Overcomer Trust

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By S B Fidler

1 Peter 4 v12-16

“Rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (v13) is the key to this section of 1 Peter, chapter 4.  It is the theme of the Christian overcoming sorrow by the Cross.  The beginning of this process is in verse 12, where the beloved of the Lord are encouraged not to be surprised about the fiery ordeal which is for the purpose of change.  There is no such word as “unfortunate” in the Christian’s vocabulary.  God has planned their lives, and trials are a part of God’s plan.  “Do not be surprised”, but rejoice in it.  Paul says, “glory in our sufferings” (Romans 5 v3) and James says, “consider it pure joy” (James 1 v2).  Here it is called “the fiery ordeal”, and that word fiery is from the same root as the word meaning “pure”.  Trials are a purifying process, and we need them.

Notice the words, “rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the suffering of Christ” (v13).  Fellowship means that you participate and share in something.  For example, a visitor to your home has fellowship with you at your table.  During the Lord’s Supper we call it communion, which means to sit down with the Lord Himself as the disciples did in the Upper Room, this is sharing in His sufferings.  Paul longed for this, “I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings” (Philippians 3 v 10).  Again he said, “I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His Body, which is the Church” (Colossians 1 v24).  This is not sharing in the atoning sufferings of Christ because that work is finished and nothing we can suffer will ever add to Christ’s work.  It is a very serious error to speak of the blood of any believer adding to the value of the Blood of Christ for the salvation of humanity.  But there is a sense in which we can “fill up” in the flesh what is lacking, because we are members of His Body.  He is the Head and is still suffering over the lost, and so therefore we all suffer.  Paul says, “in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds” (1 Corinthians 7 v4).  

It is our privilege to have fellowship with Christ in this way when we suffer because of our service to Him, “rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed” (v13).  Rejoice now, do not wait until the trial is over.  When the day breaks we shall look back and see the reason for the trial, to Him be the glory forever.  Yes, we shall praise God and give Him glory for these days we are going through, and perhaps worse days than these are still to come.  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4 v17).  We shall see Him, and from His presence we will look back and say, “we took the right path that led us to this Glory”.