The Crucibles That Come

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1 Peter 4, Romans 1, Jeremiah 9
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 2

The Crucibles That Come

(1 Peter 4, Romans 1, Jeremiah 9)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Some people are more frequently surprised than others. Cautious people consider the future and only get surprised occasionally. Careless people are constantly being surprised because they do not think ahead. Everyone gets surprised at some point. Our study this week is about being surprised by calamities. Is there a way to prepare for being surprised? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Surprise
    1. Read 1 Peter 4:12. What do you think Peter wants us to do to avoid being surprised by a “fiery trial?” (He is warning us. If you are warned, you are less likely to be surprised.)
      1. Peter tells us that fiery trials are not “something strange.” We studied Psalms 23 last week which told us (Ps. 23:6) that “goodness and mercy shall follow [us] all the days of [our lives].” Why wouldn’t we be surprised at fiery trials?
    2. Read 1 Peter 4:13-14. Do these verses provide an answer to the question of surprise? (Verse 14 tells us that if “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” on us, insults are to be expected.)
      1. Is there any benefit to going through a trial? (Verse 13 assures us that if we share the suffering of Jesus, we will rejoice when He comes in power.)
    3. Peter starts this chapter out with an answer to the question of why we should not be surprised at suffering. Read 1 Peter 4:1-2. Why should we not be surprised? (Jesus suffered and we should adopt His point of view on suffering. The commentaries I looked at do not agree with me, but I think these verses also tell us that when we move away from “human passions” we can expect more suffering.)
    4. Read 1 Peter 4:3-4. What reason do we find here for being “maligned?” (When we leave our old friends who live a debauched life, they will say bad things about us.)
  2. No Surprise
    1. Read 1 Peter 4:15. What else causes suffering? (Doing evil. Meddling in the business of others. Killing and stealing.)
      1. Is this how you normally look at suffering, that it follows from disobedience? (I often write that the Ten Commandments were given to make our lives better. They, Psalms 23:2, lead us to “green pastures” and “still waters.”)
    2. Read 1 Peter 4:16-18. How will our suffering compare to those who suffer for doing evil? (The suggestion here is that everyone suffers, but the evil suffer more due to their evildoing.)
      1. When you face a fiery trial, what is the first thing you should do? (Contemplate why you are suffering. Is it because you did something wrong, or because you were faithful to God?)
    3. Read Matthew 10:14-15. If you were suffering at work because you tried to convert co-workers, would you conclude that you were suffering for doing good? (This text in Matthew is instructional. It tells us that in our evangelistic efforts we should not keep badgering people. Share the gospel and if they will not accept it, “shake the dust from your feet” and move on.)
    4. Read 1 Peter 5:1-3. Is this a universal principle, that even when we think we are suffering for following Jesus, we need to look closely to be sure we are not the cause of our suffering? (This text tells us that even the shepherd of the flock can make mistakes in leadership.)
  3. Our Enemy
    1. Read 1 Peter 5:8. Who is the author of our suffering? (Satan.)
      1. Have you heard people blame God for the suffering in this world?
      2. Would you say that Satan is the universal cause of suffering? (We suffer because Satan is attacking us, or we have done the wrong thing (also attributable to Satan), or someone else has done the wrong thing (again, attributable to Satan.)
    2. Read 1 Peter 5:9. How would you recommend that we resist Satan? This tells us to remain firm in our faith, but how would you apply your faith to resist Satan?
    3. Read 1 Peter 5:10. Is this the key to a “firm faith” resistance of Satan? (“Faith” must mean faith in God. Our faith in God tells us that our suffering is only temporary. God will make it all right in heaven, if not before.)
    4. Read 1 Peter 5:11. What point is being made in this verse? (God is in charge. He has the dominion.)
    5. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Who is responsible for Paul’s “thorn?” (He says Satan is responsible.)
      1. Why didn’t God take this thorn away since He is in charge? (Paul says that it helped him resist conceit and that the power of God “is made perfect in weakness.”)
        1. What does this teach us about the relationship between Satan and God when it comes to suffering? (Satan is responsible, not God. But, God is in authority and He sometimes allows suffering for reasons that He understands.)
  4. God’s Wrath
    1. Read Romans 1:18. Wait a minute! We just discussed that suffering comes from Satan, not from God. Do Peter and Paul (author of Romans) disagree?
      1. What kind of people are feeling the wrath of God? (Those who suppress the truth.)
    2. Read Romans 1:21-25. How is God’s wrath released? (These verses tell us that the sinner rejects God’s truth, his thinking becomes clouded, and God gives sinners up to “the lusts of their hearts.”)
      1. Is this like God striking someone with a disease? (Not at all. This is the person striking himself - and God permits it. God lets the person do what he pleases.)
    3. Read Romans 1:23 and Romans 1:26-27. Notice the ordering of the problem. Humans first reject the authority of God and substitute the authority of something humans created. After they reject God’s authority, they then reject His ordering for sex. They trade “natural relations” for homosexual relations. Have you seen this progression in the lives of people you know?
      1. Today some argue that Paul is writing about adult men having sex with boys, not about homosexual relationships of either gender. How does that illustrate the ordering of the problem we just discussed? (The authority of God goes back to Eden, where God created marriage as a life-long relationship between a man and woman who “become one flesh.” See Genesis chapter 2. Once you reject the authority of God, you are free to make arguments that conflict with the plain text of Romans.)
    4. Read Jeremiah 9:23-24. How important is understanding God? (This says that we should “understand and know” God.)
      1. What should we understand about God? (That He “practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.”)
        1. What does it mean for God to practice “justice?”
    5. Read Jeremiah 9:25-26. Do you understand this to mean something more than God merely letting humans suffer the consequences of their own decisions? (It says that God “will punish” those who merely make an outward claim of following Him. That sounds like affirmative action on God’s part.)
    6. Read Jeremiah 9:5-7. This text speaks of refining God’s people. What kind of people are being described as needing refining? (It is very difficult to tell that they are God’s people. They “weary themselves committing iniquity,” they heap “oppression upon oppression.” These are bad people. These are not people who are trying to follow God and need a little “refining.”)
    7. Friend, this study shows that we all are subject to calamities. Satan is the author of tragedy, and we bring calamity on ourselves by choosing to follow Satan’s path. But, even those who follow Jesus can experience suffering. God promises that our suffering will be temporary, and that in the end He will make it right. Will you choose today to limit your suffering, and follow Jesus?
  5. Next week: The Birdcage.