We're In The Wringer

Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on July 9, 1978
     “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his
     eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a
     while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
     1st Peter 5:10
     WE HAVE BEEN PREACHING on the First Epistle of Peter, and he has been laying down some tracks for us to travel on. I call him “Mr. Pentecost” because he preached on the day of Pentecost. And he wrote this Epistle to those strangers who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who had listened to him on the day of Pentecost. After that conversion experience, they fell into a world full of tribulation. When Peter wrote to them, he didn’t have some of the formulas that are being peddled in today’s world. He didn’t offer them a “blessing pact” that would get them out of their problems. He didn’t offer them a formula of “how to make faith work for you” so you can become the mayor of the town instead of the outcast. He laid on them an understanding that would enable them to see their way through what was happening.
     The more you study God’s book, the more you come to know that God is saying the same thing over and over again. He just says it in different ways. I could take this whole Epistle of Peter and hang it on a few words in Isaiah: “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out,” and that is wide enough to cover anybody’s problem, “he that spread forth the earth, and . . . giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD . . . will hold thine hand” (Isaiah 42: 5-6). That is the promise, and “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).
     You would think that Someone who has stretched out the heavens and spread forth the Earth and given breath to the people on it, and spirit to them that walked therein, if He takes your hand, you ought to fly like a bird. Well, continue reading in Isaiah, and immediately after that promise, we read, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2). Now, if God is reaching down from His heavens to hold your hand, why can’t He just swing you over the water, instead of making you go through it? “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with you.” Not over them, not around them: through them. Next, it says, “When thou walkest through the fire . . .” He stretched out the heavens, spread forth the Earth, and we can even find one passage that says He blew His nose and the Red Sea parted (Exodus 15:8). Well, what do you think He can do to fire? But Isaiah doesn’t say that God will blow His nose and put out the fire, and then you can march across. It says, “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned . . . For I am the LORD thy God . . . and thy Savior . . . and I will be with you.”
     I could take that passage and hang all of Peter’s Epistle on it. Peter, writing to these chosen saints, tells them the same thing. He says, “You are chosen.” “For this mess?” No, not necessarily for this, but you are chosen in the midst of your problems, and you are chosen through “a setting apart of the Spirit,” for “obedience and sprinkling of the blood,” which is to give you “Grace,” unmerited favor, “and peace, be multiplied.” And we are to start “eulogizing God” in the midst of our problems.
     The essence of what Peter is saying in chapter 1 is that we have something to live up to. We are in persecution and we are in trouble, but we are different than the rest of the people around us. We have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,” a hope that is eternal. We are children of a heavenly Father, “obedient children,” is says in verse 14; yet we don’t act like it. We are “redeemed,” purchased, “not with corruptible things, as silver and gold,” so God should no longer have to prove to us that He cares for us.
     If God never does anything for me from now until the day I die, He gave His Son for me. Those who have grown up in the church, particularly in acculturated, second-generation Christianity, have had it almost crammed down our throats; the pressure is always on us to act like Christians. In that frame, it is too easy to forget the price that was paid. God gave His best for me and for you, and if no one had responded but me or you, He still would have done it. We have this responsibility: in the midst of our trouble, we are to act like children of a heavenly Father. Keep your head up and act like it! We have been redeemed. I am valuable; you are valuable. We have been bought with the price of His blood, and we are citizens. You who have traveled abroad know the feeling of being an alien in a foreign land. That is what we are, but we are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom; we are children of the King.
     Peter is not telling the saints that they will get out of their problems. Peter is not telling them that they will be delivered from all of the persecutions; he is telling them how to act in the middle of those persecutions. Act like children of a heavenly Father who loves us, who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, who are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom with something to live up to, with a hope that is eternal - and stop complaining!
     I think I am getting better as I preach on Peter. At first, by the time I got two or three verses into it, I was ready to crawl under the pulpit and start repenting, particularly when I got to, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice,” or exult, “though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold,” or multicolored, “temptations.” I am really proud of myself: I don’t think I complained once this week, probably for the first time this year. Because the tribulation, “the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
     We have preached out of Romans 5 that the word “tribulation” is from the Latin word tribulum, the rod used to beat wheat from chaff. Whack! it hits you, and whack! it hits you again. At first, I did not understand. I would preach these great truths on Sunday, and when the whack! would come on Monday, I would cry out, “Whoa! Why are You hitting me?”
     Peter was giving them understanding. There are people all over this City of the Angels who are hunting for somebody who will give them some formula that will let them fly above the trials on a magic carpet. God’s Word says that we are in this world, but not of the world (John 17:16). And we are in this world for a purpose: you and I are in training for eternity.
     We are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom, and down here we have an opportunity to bring forth “praise and honour and glory” to Jesus by how we bear up under our trials and persecutions, not by the fact that we can cheerfully say, “Hello, world!” One of these days, we will sing, “Goodbye, World, Goodbye!” But Christianity is not to testify to a world, “Goodbye, you poor peons down there. If you would make the commitment to Jesus, you could fly up here with me.” Or, “Come to God and you’ll get rich tomorrow; give Him an offering and you’ll make a million.” Or, “Walk up to the altar and say ‘yes’ to Jesus; make your ‘decision’ about Christ,” as though poor Jesus has been waiting for you to approve of Him, and He will get so excited over the fact that you finally accepted Him that He will stroke you and coddle you and fly you above the troubles. Jesus is looking for people whom He can take hold of and say, “as your Lord, I will squeeze out of you the bad, and squeeze into you the good. You are children of a heavenly Kingdom, and that hope is eternal and it is reserved forever, but in-between, I am going to put you through something.”
     Today we are mixing together a “scriptural hash,” because I want you to see the foundations of truth repeated. Hebrews 11 lays down a record of those “Of whom the world was not worthy.” Some were sawn asunder, some wandered in caves, clothed in skins and separated from their families. Some of them died in faith not having obtained the promises, because God had us in mind. It says, at the close of the chapter, “And these all, having obtained a good
     report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us . . .” God isn’t finished gathering His family. He expects to keep on writing this record of heroes of faith.
     Hebrews 12 opens, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses . . .” That has caused some preachers to visualize a great balcony with all the heroes of faith leaning over and looking at us. That is not what the Greek says. Literally, it says, “Whereas such a company of pacesetters has gone before us as
     this . . .” The picture here is one of a race. Have you ever seen how fast the cars go around the racetrack at the Indianapolis 500? What do you think would happen if you were to drive around daydreaming at only 20 miles an hour, when the pace has already been set? That is what Hebrews 12 is saying: “this is the pace before us,” and God is still writing the record in our lives.
     “Wherefore seeing such a company has gone ahead, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” The King James Version ruins it by saying “our faith.” The word our is not in the original Greek. The original says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith.” Jesus is called the “captain of our salvation” (Hebrews 2:10). The Greek word means first-goer. Where there is a first-goer, there is presupposed to be a second-goer. Jesus set the pace for us, and behind Him go the heroes of faith. So, “Looking unto Him the author and finisher of faith,” let us pursue this course.
     “Well, it’s getting tough on me, Lord. Every week it just gets rougher, like I’m running an obstacle course.” That is why the writer to the Hebrews goes on to say, “Let us run . . . Ye have not yet resisted unto blood.” “Well, I’ve been ‘worked over’ this week.” That just proves you are legitimate and not illegitimate. “Well, I saw 8,000 people who were dancing around at an evangelistic meeting, and I listened to three hours of a sermon telling me how great it would be if I would come to Jesus. But I came to Jesus and wallop!” Do you want trouble? Get saved! Do you want to know whether you are really being saved or not? Are you getting whacked? If the Lord doesn’t chasten you, you are illegitimate. The King James Version uses a cruder word (Hebrews 12:8).
     “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” The word translated “chasteneth” in the Greek is paideia (Hebrews 12:6). It was used in the world of athletics in that day; it means “training.” Have you ever watched spring training at a football camp? If you could see it in isolation, out of context, that coach looks like a sadist when you see what he puts those guys through. But God help those poor guys when they get the first hit in the first game if they have not been put through that training. When you train a boxer, you make him fight one round before he fights four, and you make him fight four before he fights fifteen. That is the sense of the word paideia in the Greek. The Lord is training us, and God’s Word will go on and say, “The Lord will not tempt you beyond what you are able to bear” (1st Corinthians 10:13).
     All of these writers are saying the same thing. We are in this life to be put through the wringer for a purpose that belongs to God. That is the message Peter is giving. But I want to take it to its conclusion, as I mix this scriptural hash. I think you have got the point; I know I have got the point: I don’t cry out quite as loudly. In fact, I get up every Monday now and roll my head around, wishing I had a head like an owl so I could look in every direction to see which way it is coming from, because I know here comes the whack! And then I can say, “Praise God, that one’s behind me,” like the story about the old Presbyterian who tripped on the stairs. He said, “Thank God, that one’s behind me now;” one step less that was predestined for him to fall over!
     Why are we getting all this whacking? Read 1st Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
     As Peter ends his letter to these people who may have sat around trying to figure out why everything was happening to them, he tells them, “God has a purpose for you.” Doesn’t this remind us of the lesson of the potter’s house? (Jeremiah 18) The potter makes the pot according to his will, and he forms it as it pleases him. And Isaiah, with the same analogy, says, “Does the clay talk back to the potter?” (Isaiah 45:9) “Hey, wait a minute, God, I don’t like the way You’re shaping me.” Splat! on the wheel as He shapes it, and it is going to come out the way He wants it.
     All of these men are saying the same thing. Peter is saying to those saints scattered throughout the land, “God has something in mind for you. You have an eternal hope; you are now children begotten of the Father. You are citizens of a heavenly King, you are bought with a price, so don’t think God is going to throw you away. You are valuable to Him, but in-between, He is working you over.”
     “But the God of all grace” is the hope I bring to us today, because we are trusting that God will give us a victory. We are no longer, to use the words addressed to Paul, “kicking against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). I think we are learning to accept that God is the Boss and that we have come to the kingdom for this hour (Esther 4:14). We have learned to accept that God’s purposes in us are to prevail, not our purposes over Him. God is not our servant; we have become His. And there are things we must bear, that He might show forth His glory in us.
     But now, we are asking God for a little bit of a breathing spell. We are asking God for a blessing. We are asking God for a double portion. And as I weave together the repetition in God’s book today to show that we have to go through these things, there is also the right to ask what we are asking for. Because even Mr. Pentecost, who laid this tough message on them, said, “But the God of all grace,” and grace is unmerited favor, “who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while . . .” Take note of that, and know who is writing, and put flesh and blood on this man.
     Here is Peter, having learned the truths of God, writing to saints scattered throughout Asia. In the back of Peter’s mind, all the time there must have been the memory of what a mess he had made. In the back of his mind is the memory of the time when Jesus said that “all ye shall be offended because of me,” and Peter said, “Oh, no - not me!” Peter was always an extremist. With his performance, sleeping on the Mount of Transfiguration and a few other dumb things he had done, you would think he would have said, “No, I won’t deny You, Lord, even if they beat me up.” But not Peter, the dumbhead. He says, “No, if they kill me, I won’t deny You!” (Matthew 26:21-35) He was always over the deep end.
     Jesus said, “Simon, satan desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not” (Luke 22:31-32). After Peter had failed, Jesus sought Peter out on the shores of Galilee, and Peter remembered the grace of God (John 21:15-19). In 1st Peter 1:6, he said, “You ought to rejoice, now . . . if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations,” multicolored temptations. Go to 1st Peter 4:10 and you will find what we have been provided with to match the manifold temptations. Peter tells us to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” For every color of temptation, there is a color of grace.
     But now, in 1st Peter 5:10, Peter says to those suffering saints that, while in the midst of this pressure, without any let-up, the direction is still the same: we are to keep pressing toward the mark. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered,” and thank God he doesn’t say all your life, he says, “after ye have suffered a while.” And today, I am saying, “God, I am learning, as You whack me, to exult,” but I am also saying, based on this, “Help! Give me this promise today: ‘But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory . . .” We know where the calling is. We know that a relaxing of the pressure cannot be eternal until eternity
     is our possession. We know that en route there, we must be in “manifold temptations,” that the trial of our faith might show forth His glory.
     As we have taught out of Psalm 84, don’t camp in your valley; don’t strike a tent and live there forever. Thank God we can also count on this footnote: “But,” in the midst of the storm, “the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory . . . after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect.” The King James Version translators chose that word perfect, but that just doesn’t say it. The Greek literally says, “After that ye have suffered a while, the God of all grace, who hath called us, will mend your net.” Our net is being pulled and tugged and is fighting the currents; it is torn in places and has ripped under the pressure, but in the midst of it, after a while, He will mend your net. Wow! That is good news for me, and good news for you! He will mend our net and He will “stablish” us. The literal meaning is “to give firmness.” He will give firmness and He will “strengthen.” Here, the literal meaning is “to give forcefulness.”
     What God is saying is that after we have suffered a while, “the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while,” will make you fit, will make you firm, will make you forceful with new energy, and will “settle you.” How? Have you ever been a rock climber or watched a mountain climber? The agony! But there is a point where you can settle, get your breath, and then move on. That is God’s promise to us: the cinching up of the rope, the settling of ground that is gained, the building of a new starting point.
     I have no interest in ever preaching a sermon just to be heard. I ask God to take His Word and drive it into our lives until, when we walk out of here, it can be applied. It has dawned on me with freshness that we have a right to ask God to give us this net-mending, this firmness, this strength to be established. Have you ever climbed a gravelly hill? You go up two steps and slide back one. Have you ever had that frustration? That is what I have been doing for too long, and I have told the Lord, “Whack all You want. Just mend my net today. Just give me some new firmness, some new force, and stablish me, and then, lay it on again! But, give me this victory.”
     Just as Peter was faithful, it is the pastor’s job to tell us that we have to take our whackings, and to tell us that we have been chosen of God to shine forth the glory and praise and honour to Him, by being able to lift our heads high and say, “No matter what happens, we are His children; and no matter what happens, He won’t let any more happen to us than we can bear, because His promise is that we ‘are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”
     It is the pastor’s job to say, as Peter said, “I can’t guarantee you that because you come to God, everything is going to get easy. I can guarantee that, if you are faithful, you will get some whackings, because whom the Lord loveth He traineth.” We still have a citizenship to uphold. They may think that we are nobodies down here, but we have the citizenship papers for the Kingdom that will last for eternity. We will rule and reign with Him, and we shall judge this world.
     I cannot avoid saying again that if He never does anything more for me - I may cry and wish He would do more - but if He never does anything more for me, He gave His best. It is my job to give us courage, but it is also my job to say, for me and for you, that we are asking God for help.
     “But the God of all grace,” unmerited favor, I don’t have to deserve it, “who hath called us unto his eternal glory,” He will finish the job with us. On the authority of God’s Word, I can say, “After we have suffered,” and we have suffered a while, “he will mend our net, He will firm us up, He will give us new strength and He will settle us on this foundation.”
     Then, we will get ready for a new mountain, like Caleb (Numbers 13:30). But this day, will you make 1st Peter 5:10 your promise? Glory to His name! Then we truly will be in a new world.
     From The Pulpit, Volume 5. Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa

News Notes - December, 2012
This message by Dr. Scott is not a Christmas message, but it’s a great message for every season.

History tells us that Jesus was not born on December 25. It became a holiday for the convenience of the people, as the heathens celebrated a holiday to their gods at that time. The devil has been in the church right from the beginning, putting his dirty fingers in everything.

Rodney told me that during the years when he was in prison he decided for himself that holidays would be just another day. That’s a good attitude to have for those of you who become depressed and lonely at this time of the year. It’s just another day!

The birth of Christ should be celebrated in our hearts every day of the year. Some day we will see for ourselves the glory and splendor that He left for us, and be amazed at such love.

This has been a year of many trials, but also victories. I had eye surgery in February, which failed due to scar tissue. It also caused the loss of my job. That was hard, but God meant it unto good.

All winter Rodney had been making plans to build Shirley a new house. That was a huge job, but thanks to a young man named L.J., Shirley moved into her new house on May 1st. In the meantime Rodney decided to have all his teeth pulled and get dentures. He had been having too many bad infections. He handled it much better that I would have done. I never heard a word of complaint from him, though I know it was painful and uncomfortable.

Then in June Brian had a stroke. He was home alone and laid helpless on the floor until Gail came home from work. It’s been a long journey for them both. First, the rehab clinic for several weeks and Brian did not come home until late July. In October Brian had surgery to repair his carotid artery, which is the main artery in the neck feeding the brain. Blockage in this artery is what caused his stroke. All went well. He is still learning to walk again, but there is improvement and his situation is looking better.

On November 26th Brian is having cataract surgery. As it turned out Jay is having surgery on the same day. He has two hernias.

The opportunity to work from home was offered to Gail, and as she realizes that Brian needs her here, this was a blessing from God. This will be a big change for her, but as the clay spins on the Potter’s wheel, so our lives go on under His great control.

I will be having yet another eye surgery at the end of December. It’s another attempt to bring the pressure down in my eye. We pray for good results this time. I’m in another clinical trial and this is a new procedure developed in Europe. We are trusting in God. “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7)


Prayer Requests for December, 2012
For Cody Campbell (Florence, Arizona) who has been dealing with a serious throat infection. He also has a hernia problem not being treated.
For Joseph Runge’s (Centralia, IL.) Mother, Mavis Runge. She recently suffered a stroke due to blockage in her carotid artery (same situation as Brian).
For Willie Grady’s Mother (Illinois) who recently had a leg amputated.
For Willie Clark (Lubbock, TX) who is being treated for cancer and should be released from the hospital soon.
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who just had another heart surgery.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who needs a liver transplant.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who has diabetes. His feet hurt.
For Michael Small’s step-mother Suzanne (Illinois) who is being treated for vision problems.
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for favor with the courts.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), for a lower custody level.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). He is awaiting another court ruling.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Dixon, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free.
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread

Was Jesus born on December 25, or in December at all? Although it’s not impossible, it seems unlikely. The Bible does not specify a date or month. One problem with December is that it would be unusual for shepherds to be “abiding in the field” at this cold time of year when fields were unproductive. The normal practice was to keep the flocks in the fields from Spring to Autumn. Also, winter would likely be an especially difficult time for pregnant Mary to travel the long distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem (70 miles).

A more probable time would be late September, the time of the annual Feast of Tabernacles, when such travel was commonly accepted. Thus, it is rather commonly believed (though not certain) that Jesus’ birth was around the last of September.

The word “Christmas” means “Christ mass,” a special celebration of the Lord’s supper - called mass in the Roman Catholic Church and a Communion supper in some Protestant churches.
-from “ChristianAnswers.Net”

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