Shepherds Conference 2024 General Session 5

March 7, 9:30 a.m. 
Speaker: Phil Johnson
Topic: Triumph Through Persecution
Passage: 1 Peter 4:12–19


Message Summary: 

Truth will defeat every lie and every false ideology. Righteousness will prevail. Christ will be enthroned as Lord of all, and God will be endlessly glorified. Christ who is the truth and the life will be absolutely victorious in the end. 

If you are in Christ, you are already a participant in His triumph. If you see things from heaven's perspective, remembering the hope of the resurrection, you can always rejoice in that triumph—even through persecution.

Peter writes his first epistle to the Jewish exiles who have been scattered. He’s writing to people suffering extreme displacement and persecution. This is why suffering dominates not only this passage but the entire letter.

Summarizing Peter’s main points throughout the epistle:

  1. Suffering is the common experience of those who are truly saved
  2. The pathway to glory is strewn with suffering. But for believers, all of our suffering will give way to eternal glory. 
  3. Our suffering is just for a little while in comparison with eternity. 

Suffering and glory are Peter’s twin themes, and they are common themes throughout the New Testament. Suffering is a necessary prelude to glory. Christ suffered for us, and if we are to share in His glory, we must also have a share in His suffering.

Peter’s counsel to the suffering saints he addresses is intensely practical. It’s full of encouragement to be joyful, to be patient, to be submissive, and to trust the Lord. 

What Should These Suffering Saints Do?

1. Be Ready

We tend to think that persecution is some kind of anomaly in the Christian life. It’s not. It’s what Christians have always experienced. 

As long as we live in this world as strangers and aliens, we’re citizens of heaven and slaves of Christ, and none of that fits neatly into the hierarchy of earth’s pecking order…

We live in a country where we don’t feel the imminent threat of persecution, and we so often forget about those across the world who are suffering and dying for the faith. Persecution is inevitable if we seek to live godly lives in an ungodly culture—be ready.

2. Be Glad

One of the great birthrights every Christian inherits is the ability to rejoice always. Sharing in Christ's suffering brings blessing (1 Pet 4:14). And the knowledge of what our future holds should be enough to make every Christian glad.

3. Be Steadfast

Peter wants them to answer the world’s contempt by putting their sanctification on display. It’s a divinely bestowed blessing to suffer as a Christian for Christ's sake. This is true triumph. Be steadfast, immovable knowing that your work is not in vain, knowing that your suffering is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58). 

4. Be HumblePersecution is a tool by which God proves, purifies, and strengthens the church. Be humble, sober-minded, and zealous for the salvation of the lost. Follow the example of Christ, who faced persecution with humility.

5. Be Faithful

You serve a faithful God, so be faithful in doing good. 


Persecution, if it is well-received, is a powerful, practical affirmation and an unanswerable testimony to the world that our faith is real, that the gospel is true, and that heaven will ultimately triumph over all the evils of this world. May God give us grace no longer to live in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.