Sunday School Notes 4-12-2015

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12-19 (HCSB)

The Church: suffering and serving

Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.

Why does the church suffer?

  • The world hated Christ so much that it put Him to death. We follow Christ.
    • Just as Christ did, we share a message that tells the world that it is wrong.
    • We tell people that life is not about them and that they should worship God rather than self.
    • This type of teaching is a threat to the world’s view of prosperity and power.
      • What is the world’s view of prosperity?
      • How do many religions reflect this view?
        • Islam- Sharia Law, force people to submit, Islam seems little more than a power play.
        • Buddhism- self-control is glorified over everything else
        • Hinduism- glorification of higher castes
        • Atheism- self-awareness and the individual mind is glorified
        • Baha’i- Political domain is glorified
      • Biblical Christianity teaches self-denial over and over again.
        • This is why we don’t persecute other faiths and why we fight for free speech and freedom to worship.
        • This is why we don’t force people to be Christians (this is true even in the Old Testament).

Should we be ready to suffer?

  • Yes!
    • Even while we are suffering, we are to serve. There are no excuses. (v. 19)
      • Even when we are not making enough money, we should always be giving to the church.
      • Even when we are persecuted in our nation, we should be good citizens.
      • Even if we don’t have time, we genuinely pay attention to people and help them.
      • Even if we are put down at school or at work, we serve those around us.
    • Since Christ suffered for our sake, we should be ready to suffer for the World’s sake.

Questions for class discussion

  • Why do you think God calls us to a life of self-denial?
    • How is this different than the attitude of the world?
  • How much self-denial is too much?
  • What are some ways that we can deny ourselves at school? At home? At Church?
  • What are some desires we have that trick us and steal our joy rather than add to it? Do we always know what is best for us?
  • What is the difference between suffering in general and suffering for the sake of the Gospel?
  • Why might God allow His people to suffer?

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