The doctrine of glorifying God, Part 9, John 15:8

Class Outline:

Title: The doctrine of glorifying God, Part 9, John 15:8.


i. Bearing under undeserved suffering by application of doctrine brings glory to God, 1PE 4:16.


Application of doctrine necessitates functioning in grace rather than human viewpoint, human merit, function of the flesh, or any martyrdom complex when it comes to suffering.


1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;


1 Peter 4:13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.


1 Peter 4:14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.


1 Peter 4:15By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;


1 Peter 4:16but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed [get emotional about it], but in that name let him glorify God.


The term Christian was not originated by believers but this name was given to them by unbelievers in Antioch and it was definitely a name of derision in the beginning. The name stuck and it was used of them all over the Roman Empire. They were persecuted and experienced a certain element of danger under this name. When persecution backfired and actually made them strong they became proud of this name as a title of honor and that’s why it survived as a label for members of the Church.


In the early Church it really meant something. To claim to be a Christian meant that you were open to arrest and persecution. Today it’s thrown around as a euphemism.  


When Peter is writing the name he is therefore speaking of persecution by those who know nothing of Christ and persecuted what they didn’t understand and were therefore threatened by.


The early Church, in every congregation, was taught by Paul and the others the words of the Lord the night before He died:


John 15:19

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.


 “the world” - ko,smoj[kosmos] = the world system devised by Satan to enslave the human race in immoral and moral degeneracy as well as occupation with self and hatred of grace.


John 15:20

"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.


One of the reasons that the Christians were persecuted was their ability to bear up under suffering. They were persecuted and then they applied doctrine to their persecution and due to that they were persecuted even more.


It is important to note here that there are many people and organizations that are persecuted and have been persecuted throughout history in a way that was deserved.


Often, false teachers and believers of false doctrine will suffer deservedly and claim they are being persecuted like Christ was, undeservedly. Anyone can claim undeserved persecution, but John 15:20 and other passages are clear that undeserved suffering that follows the pattern of the sufferings of Christ during His ministry coincide with faithfulness to His word and His policy of grace. Suffering because of false doctrine is always punitive.


The cosmic system has been designed by Satan to enslave the human race to legalism and occupation with self. With grace and truth as your compass you can decipher the falsehood every time.


We will study the doctrine of the cosmic system when we get to John 15 verse 19.


1 Peter 4:14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.


1 Peter 4:15By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;


1 Peter 4:16but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed [get emotional about it], but in that name let him glorify God.


Concerning this persecution for being labeled a “Christian” I want to read an excerpt from F. F. Bruce’s The Spreading Flame.


For the greater part of those two hundred years Christianity had to make headway against imperial opposition which from time to time took the form of savage persecution.

What were the reasons for this opposition? First of all, from the sixties of the first century onward, Christianity was clearly recognized as a distinct religion from Judaism, and it conse­quently ranked as an illicit cult in the eyes of the law. Nor was it the sort of religion that could easily win official permission for its observance. The official recognition accorded to the Jewish reli­gion made it possible for Jews to practice their own distinctive rites and to enjoy exemption from a variety of civil and military duties involving some contact with idolatry; but then Judaism was the religion of a distinct subject-nation of the Empire. Christianity was not the religion of any particular nation, nor could it invoke long-established custom; it appeared to be a vulgar innovation whose religious aspect was probably a mere façade concealing something worse. Above all we must remem­ber the general unpopularity of the Christians: “a class of men loathed for their vices,” says Tacitus [a senator and historian]; “a novel and baneful superstition,” Suetonius [another historian of the same period] calls their religion.

They were obviously atheists, since they worshipped no visible god; they were un­sociable and haters of the human race, because they abstained so largely from the ordinary forms of social intercourse. The interest which the imperial police began to take in their meetings from 64 onward made them gather in secret; this in turn was interpreted in the worst sense. They would not meet in secret, it was argued, unless they had something shameful to hide. Stories began to circulate about the ritual cannibalism and ceremonial incest which were believed to go on at their meetings. Such a crowd of wretches were plainly worthy of extermination, and any repres­sive measures that were taken against them by authority could be sure of popular approval.

    The first action taken against the Christians by the imperial power was that which followed the Great Fire of Rome in A.D. 64. Although it was admitted that on this occasion the Christians were mere scapegoats to divert popular suspicion from Nero himself, yet the fact that the Christians of Rome, rather than any other group, were selected as scapegoats indicates that Nero knew he could safely exploit the general ill will with which these people were regarded by their pagan neighbors.

    Nero’s action served in a general way as a precedent for later rulers who saw fit to institute severe measures against the Chris­tians. A situation arose in which Christians considered that they were being persecuted for the bare fact of being Christians, “suffering for the name,” as the First Epistle of Peter put it. It does not appear, however, that there was at this time a provision of Roman Law explicitly declaring Christianity to be a crime. The evidence is inadequate for a certain conclusion on this point. In any case, as the Christian profession was held to be essentially bound up with practices which were themselves illegal, a Chris­tian was in constant danger of suffering for his profession when­ever police powers were put into operation against him. He would say he was suffering “for the name”; the imperial authori­ties would say that he was suffering for crimes invariably associated with the name; but the difference was of technical rather than practical import.


In his book Annals, written in 116 AD, Tacitus writes concerning the burning of Rome:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”


1 Peter 4:17For it is time for judgment to begin with [“apo” = from the source of] the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?


 “judgment” - kri,ma[krima] = judgment, evaluation, or trial. This refers to the trials that befall the true Church as well as the believer’s judgment of himself in rebound when he fails the trial. The solution is always grace.


 “with” - avpo,[apo] = from the source of the church. God is not the author of this suffering, but He allows it so that we may see the strength that results from faith in doctrine.


Fallen creatures attacked the source of life from the beginning when Cain offered the wrong sacrifice and killed his brother. Things have never been different with those who remain independent from God. When God is revealed through His believers they are attacked in like fashion. The fallen creature who continues to reject his Creator will eventually hate any revelation of Him. However this has no bearing on God’s perfect self-esteem and perfect happiness.


1 Cor 1:25

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


The results of undeserved suffering is for you and not for God. God is glorified with or without us. He is not so weak as to need recognition from men. He alone is worthy. However, in suffering for blessing, when you see the power of doctrine and the Spirit of God at work in you, you come to a conclusion about the providence of God.


Without undeserved suffering we would never see the resultant power and victory over the greatest of trials when faced with the simplest of doctrines.


We will always conquer our trials by means of grace, but what about the unbeliever, or those who do not obey the gospel of God so as to believe? Verse 17 says that they cannot claim grace on their behalf because they have rejected its source, which is Christ.




1 Peter 4:18And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved [grace is difficult to comprehend], what will become of the godless man and the sinner [never enjoy grace]?


1 Peter 4:19Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God [undeserved suffering and not deserved] entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.


Grace in undeserved suffering is the believer’s ability stick to the doctrine and the plan of God for his life and leave all the solutions as well as the outcomes to a faithful Creator - the Vinedresser; the Decree-er.


And under that grace that the believer has applied for years in infancy, adolescence, and spiritual adulthood, he will desire the opportunity to experience the sufferings of Christ.