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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
Title:Suffering and Glory
Text:1 Peter 5:10,11 (View)
Occasion:Public Profession of faith

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Songs: Hy. 2:1,2,3; Ps. 144:1,5; Ps. 34:1,3,4; Hy. 1A; Ps. 119:4,17

Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:8-9

Text: 1 Peter 5:10,11

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

I want to start with an admission this afternoon. For years I did not know why the form for the public profession of faith ended the way it did. It ends with the words of 1 Peter 5:10,11:

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

During my childhood, throughout my teenaged years and into young adulthood, I always wondered why the form ended with those words of scripture. It always struck me as somewhat odd. Whenever the form was read, usually once per year on a Sunday such as this, I wondered: Why does the form end with those words? After you have suffered a little while... When I was a child it made me wonder what making a public profession of faith was all about. I was curious about what they did to you after you made a profession of faith. After you have suffered a little while... I should have asked my minister. But I only thought of it during the worship service, and then promptly forgot about it afterward. In those days there was no radio program either that you could phone with your questions.

During the last class with this year's harvest of young people the question came up: Why does the form end with those words: After you have suffered a little while... It's seems rather gloomy does it not? Such a glorious day. Young people confidently responding to their baptisms, speaking about the hope that is in them. Such a festive day in which families celebrate the grace of God in their children's and sibling's lives. The confident "I do's" ring throughout the auditorium. And then the minister says: After you have suffered a little while... Why?

There is a good reason. Ever since the time of the early church there has been a very close connection between professing the Christian faith and suffering. Those who profess faith in Christ, who profess Him as their Saviour and Lord, who go on public record that they want to and will follow Him throughout this life-they will suffer.

Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were suffering because they were Christians. Because they professed him as Lord of their lives no matter the abuse they would suffer at the hands of wicked men and Satan. He wrote about how professing the Christian faith leads, inevitably, to suffering.

But it also leads to glory. God has called his suffering people who profess his Name to glory. And in the mean time, between the agony and the ecstasy, the suffering and the glory, he strengthens us.

I preach:


1. Future Glory; 2. Present Suffering; 3. Divine Strength

1. Beloved, the God of all grace has called you to his eternal glory in Christ.

God, the God of all grace. Grace is God's undeserved favour. The mercy of God with which he favours us who deserve the opposite. It is the mercy of God which he bestows upon those who have forfeited every right to the favour of God.

In the Garden of Eden man was the object of God's favour. When man (we included) sinned, we forfeited God's favour and earned for ourselves his wrath. But then God came and promised the Saviour. That is grace. Grace is the merciful and loving favour of God when we deserve nothing but wrath and punishment.

God is the source of all grace. God possesses all grace. And he is the giver of grace.

The prophets spoke about this grace in the OT times. This grace was given to us in Jesus Christ. It is so rich and varied. God gives it freely, to the humble. In v. 6 Peter quoted Prov. 3:34: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves before God, beloved. Turn away from all human pride. God will give you his free grace in Christ Jesus your Lord.

This God of all grace has called you to his eternal glory in Christ. He first called you when you were baptized. In the Name of God the minister called out your name. That was God calling you to himself. God saying: Come to me and stay with me. He made gracious promises to you.

As you grew up he continued calling you. Through your parents; through family worship; through Sunday preaching; through catechism instruction; through Christian education. The God of all grace calling you to eternal glory in Christ.

This call has always been and still is an earnest call. Not just an invitation that you can accept or reject but a divine summons. A royal command that you must obey and cannot ignore.

You are called to eternal glory in Christ. There is a lot of glory in this life. A lot of beautiful and impressive stuff. But there is no glory like the eternal glory in Christ. The glory to which we've been called; the eternal glory to which we may look forward, which we will enjoy in paradise, and in the new heaven and earth when God will renew creation and all things - that glory to which we have been called is ours in Christ. For the sake of Christ. Because of what Christ has done for us. Because of the grace of God in Christ.

We forfeited the favour of God. Lost every right to it. But then God in his grace sent us his Son to reconcile us to himself. To atone for us on the cross. And to exchange wrath and condemnation for glory. Glory in Christ. We've been called to that. Called in our baptisms. Called through the preaching of the gospel.

Today, 18 young people are publicly answering that call. They are going on public record here before many witnesses that they love the Lord Jesus Christ. That they accept him and all his benefits. That they want nothing more than to have their lives end in eternal glory with their Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Even despite the present sufferings.

There is a lot of suffering in this life. Professing the Christian faith is a beautiful and wonderful thing to do, of course. But it does imply suffering.

Suffering caused by the devil. Peter spoke about this in the preceding verses:

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

The devil hates it when children are baptized. He hates it even more when those children mature in the Christian faith and make a public profession of faith. He wants to devour you. He is like a lion. Throughout the world he causes Christians to suffer. He also wants us Christians to suffer.

But we need not fear, beloved. For there is another Lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Our Lord Jesus Christ who died as a Lamb but arose as a Lion and smashed the head of the prowling lion who is really nothing but a snake. And yet we may not underestimate the devil's present power and ability to make Christians suffer.

The world causes us to suffer. Throughout this letter Peter wrote to encourage the Christians who were suffering at the hands of unbelievers in the world. He wrote this letter to the churches in Asia Minor in the early to mid-60s, during the reign of Emperor Nero. Sporadic persecutions broke out during this time. The Christians were outcasts and displaced persons in the towns and cities where they lived. They suffered deprivation, joblessness, homelessness, because of their faith. They also became targets because of their dramatically changed lifestyles and a new quest for doing what was right and good.

1 Pet 4:3,4-They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation- doing what pagans choose to do, living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry-and they heap abuse on you.

But we ought not to worry about suffering at the hands of the world for doing good. As Peter wrote in ch. 2:19ff-it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.... if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called....

Then he goes on to say that when we suffer for doing good, we suffer as Christ suffered. 2:21-Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. When Christ suffered, he entrusted himself to God who judges justly. And so should we.

Sometimes-and this may be the saddest of all-we suffer at the hands of people in our own community. You young people profess Christ. And you want to live integrated lives. You want to do what is right and good. You have no interest in living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. You may find that, at times, you feel the scorn, the derision, the disdain of other young people of our churches who have little problem living like pagans, plunging themselves into debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Let us not think that the antithesis does not cut right through the church. Do not be embarrassed by the scorn and disdain. By the (what do we call it nowadays?) negative peer pressure. Just fancy words for worldliness, for sin. As Peter wrote in 4:5, "They will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."

In the face of suffering of every sort we can be greatly encouraged by the good news that the suffering will only last a little while. After you have suffered a little while... Compare in your mind for a moment the little while of suffering to the eternal glory in Christ. Glory follows suffering. In the life of Christ; in the lives of Christians. In 1:11 Peter spoke about the sufferings of Christ and the glories that followed. Christ suffered on the cross but now he is in the heavenly glories. We too, after we have suffered a little while, will enter the heavenly glories to which the God of all grace has called us in Christ.

And in the mean time, as we suffer in this present life and await future glory, the God of all grace empowers us with his divine strength.

3. Divine strength.

God will, by his power, restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. All the power belongs to him alone forever and ever. And by his power he restores and fortifies us.

Peter uses four words to describe how God strengthens us in the face of suffering as we await and move towards future glory. These promises of what God does and will do. God, through his Holy Spirit, directly and personally ministers to his people.

a. First he restores us. The idea is of a ship that is repaired after it has been battered by a battle or a storm. Or, the word is used to refer to mending nets. Nets that are torn and not very effective anymore. The fisherman mends them, restores them. And so makes them useful again.

b. Then, He will make you strong. God continues working in you. He makes you strong in your faith. More firm, unchanging and unyielding in your faith.

c. Third, he makes you firm He enables you to deal with the stresses and crises of life. Able to engage and undergo all sorts of experiences and circumstances. This word also has the idea of enabling you for active service.

d. Finally, he makes you steadfast. The word refers to a foundation. He places you on a firm foundation. The firm foundation which has Christ himself as the Cornerstone.

If we then pull together the four words describing what God does for us, then we learn that he restores us when we are broken and worn down by the suffering of life; he makes us strong in our faith; he makes us able to apply ourselves to active service; and through this all he establishes us firmly on a firm unmovable foundation.

Hold on to this, my young brothers and sisters. Yes, being a Christian means there will be suffering. But the God of all grace has called you to his eternal glory in Christ. And in the mean time, God will strengthen you with his divine might.

To Him alone be the power for ever and ever. AMEN

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

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