How the Gospel Transforms Our Fears (Part 2)

November 9, 2016

Jeff Forrey

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Jeff Forrey

BCC Staff: This is the second part of a three-part series on using 1 Peter to address the fears and worries of people as they contemplate what they hear on the daily news. In Part 1, the first principle for dealing with fear and worry was: We have a “living hope” because of Jesus’ resurrection. Today’s post continues with two more principles, along with suggested applications for “Kelly” and “Said.”


Truth #2: We have a heavenly inheritance that can never be diminished

We can anticipate “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power” (1 Pet. 1:4­–5). Wayne Grudem contrasts this inheritance from heaven with the inheritances from fathers in the Old Testament: “That earthly land was not ‘kept’ for them, but was taken away from them in exile, and later by Roman occupation. Even while they possessed the land, it produced rewards that decayed, rewards whose glory faded away. The beauty of the land’s holiness before God was repeatedly defiled by sin.”1 But our inheritance—our guaranteed future with the Lord but without the suffering, trials, or fears—is safe and secure.

Applying this truth in Kelly’s life

Some preachers might try to motivate their congregations with claims such as, “This election can determine the future of our country! Think about what’s at stake.” But someone like Kelly might receive such a message without a proper focus on the inheritance we have in heaven, kept for us by the power of God. It is true that we should take seriously our responsibility to vote. It is true that candidates’ financial philosophies can have far-reaching effects. But worries about these matters must be met with the truth about our protected inheritance in Christ. No political or fiscal ideology will alter the security of that provision for our future. Therefore, even if the politicians Kelly least trusts are elected into office here on earth, their decisions will not have any bearing on what God has already promised us and has locked in His heavenly vault for us to receive later.

Truth #3: There is beauty to be revealed in a tested faith

“These [trials] have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1:7). The faith that comes from the new birth is not empty or futile or superstitious. Like physical development that occurs after a baby is born, Christians experience faith development after their new birth. Faith development—which Peter describes with the image of gold being refined by fire—is a process of demonstrating with ever-increasing clarity how phenomenal God’s mercy is in our lives. Peter tells us that at the end of this refining process, there will be a grand celebration resulting “in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1:7).

Applying this truth in Said’s life

The fact that none of us is exempt from experiencing difficult trials could easily derail the faith of believers. Said faces this in his life. He and his wife are naturalized American citizens who have raised their two children USA in a Christian home. However, the rest of his family and his in-laws live in Iraq. News reports of violence against Christians in that region have consumed him recently, especially since he has not heard from his family since the reports began. Communication with his family has never been easy or frequent, so he is unsure if his current inability to contact them is due to their hectic lives or to the violence in Iraq. He has called his pastor to start a prayer chain. Pastor James is very concerned about what is happening in the Middle East, but he also struggles with how he might help Said get released from the trap of his worries.

There are two tactics that Pastor James might use to minister to Said and his family. (1) He would be wise to reaffirm with Said the reality of his family’s commitment to the Lord. They are in His hands, and He will not let them go. He might discuss with Said some previous instances of God’s provisions and protections from Said’s experience or his family’s experience. This is important because it can help Said regain a broader perspective than his worries have allowed. In fact, Said does not know exactly what his family in Iraq is currently facing. His “what if” thinking has created tunnel vision, and he is losing sight of God’s role in what’s happening in Iraq.

(2) What if Said persists in asking, “Why is this happening?” Pastor James cannot give specific insights into God’s plan for Said’s family, but he can use passages like 1 Peter, Matthew 5:10, and 2 Timothy 3:10–12 to remind Said that his family might be given the opportunity to glorify God in a difficult, but glorious, manner. Part of the Christian mind-set must be a recognition that God’s blessings cannot be narrowly equated with an easy life here on earth. Much of the world’s population is resistant to God, and that resistance will spill over into the lives of His children, just as it did His Son. Yet, from the perspective of Jesus, Paul, and Peter, the blessing in persecution is the fact that we are facing what our Savior faced—and we can demonstrate His mercy to those who desperately need it.

Satan will use the certain suffering of life in a fallen world to distract us from this blessing; this is why Peter describes him as “[prowling] around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). God, however, will use suffering to attract us to His provisions for our future in Christ. Said can be urged, with this in mind, to “be alert and of sober mind.” He need not fall for Satan’s ploy. Instead, Said can refocus his thoughts on praying to a God who has clearly claimed Said’s family as His own.

Join the Conversation

What other passages might you use to counsel Kelly or Said? How would you use them?

Endnote

  1. Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 58, cited in Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005), 86.

Note: The full-length article first appeared on: http://www.careleader.org/4-truths-help-people-frightened-news (June 23, 2016).