So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
In our last study we were instructed that if we are to teach the Word of God it had better be directly from the oracles [scriptures] of God and not from the traditions of men.
Furthermore, if we are going to follow Christ then we will certainly suffer persecutions, and trials, and tribulations, which in reality are tests of our faith.
Peter explains that we should expect to be tried.
1 Peter 4:12
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
They pray and study and plow the field and plant seeds and then all of a sudden... Wham, bam, their little world is shattered by some unforeseen event and they come "unglued", or they find themselves in the midst of a major fiery trial.
And what is the first thing they do?
They say to themselves, "Wait a minute, am I not one of God's elect?
How can this be happening to me?"
And so they immediately develop JS, which is the "Job Syndrome", which is a state of mind where an inflicted saint walks around mumbling "Woe is me"!
But Peter, who witnessed the sufferings of Jesus Christ, is saying don't think it is an unusual thing to be tried or even tossed into a fiery furnace.
Remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
Life was good for them.
Things were going great that morning when they got up and went to work in metropolitan Babylon.
All of sudden... Wham, bam, they were tossed into a literal fiery furnace.
And their handling of their fiery trial has got to be one of the all time greatest displays of faith of God's servants ever recorded, and there was not the slightest hint of a "woe is me" in their discourse with Nebuchanezzar, the king of Babylon, who was about to give them each a bad hair day.
Here is what they said right after Nebo the Great told them of their sizzling fate:
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
Do you know who are dealing with here?
We're God's kids!
And He's certainly able to deliver us out of your puny oven!"
Now notice that while they were right in the midst of their trial, standing in the fire, that Nebuchadnezzar and his counselors NOTICED THAT CHRIST WAS WITH THEM!
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
And they walked about in the midst of the fire, singing hymns to God and blessing the Lord. Azariah [Abednego] stood still and uttered this prayer; in the midst of the fire he opened his mouth and said,
"Blessed are you, Lord God of our forefathers, and worthy of praise!"
So what do we learn from this example?
Exactly what Peter has told us in this book!
Those around us will notice that Christ is with us when we are joyous and happy singing while suffering persecutions and trials and the world around us is aflame with fire.
They will say "How is it that you can be so positive?"
Tell them that although you are taking a test [being tried] you have been given the Book with all the answers in it, and so there is no way you can fail and not come through it!
Do you think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be rewarded for passing their fiery test of faith?
Oh, how precious it is to our Father, and how encouraging it is to us in these last days.
Remember what Peter said back in chapter 1?
1 Peter 1:7
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:
And so will you!
So if you've developed JS, just stop saying "Woe is me" and start saying "Thank you Jesus". Peter says it in the very next verse.
Rejoice in your sufferings!
1 Pet. 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Here's what happened to me... and then I looked that sucker right in the eye and took the two-edged sword and slit that ole dragon's throat right through his lying Adam's Apple and said, 'Thank you Jesus'!"
You see, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had on "coats that were not affected by the fire", which is symbolic of what the apostle Paul would later call the "armor of God", which of course is the Holy Spirit.
And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Can you pay for it by pledging $30 per month to some ministry, or by regularly attending church services or mass?
There is only one way to get the shield of faith.
Study the Word of God!
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
1 Pet. 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
And people will see that the spirit of God rests upon you... even though they will speak evil of you and of God.
You are doing the will of God.
And you know something?
Nebuchadnezzar, yes the one who threw Shadrach and company into the fiery furnace, was eventually converted!
And don't think for one minute that seeing the "behavior", the displays of faith, of Daniel and his friends didn't help bring about that conversion.
1 Pet. 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
Just so we are clear on who the "house of God" is: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1 Tim. 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Then you are one of those "living stones" which make up the temple of God, of which Christ is the Chief Cornerstone, and so you are part of the "house of God"!
So Peter says that means you're first in line for judgment!
And what about those who "obey not" the gospel of God?
Remember back in chapter 2, verses 7 & 8, who the "disobedient" are?
They are those who stumble at the Word of God and follow the traditions of men instead of the oracles of God.
So what shall be their end?
They will go to the end of the line, which means they will go through the Millennium and be judged last at the great white throne judgment.
1 Pet.4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
It can get a little hot!
In fact, Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace stoked 7 times hotter than normal, so be aware that it can get "7 times hotter" for Christians than for others.
So Peter now says that if the righteous scarcely [meaning with difficulty] be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
At the end of the line!
1 Pet. 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Are you committed to Him in well doing [doing well]?
He is faithful in all His promises to us!
And He has rewards waiting for us that we cannot even begin to imagine with our flesh brains.
It is no accident that Peter started this book with a reminder of those rewards so that when we got to the tough stuff, the realization that we are going to suffer persecutions, etc., that we can see past our current afflictions all the way to the victory at His coming!
1 Peter 1:4
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.
If you do, it is by your choice!
Take the advice from the Big Fisherman and stop it now!
Thank you Lord!
To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits;
to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.
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