Our Faithful Creator

“Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” —I Peter 4:19

IN GIVING this advice Peter probably remembered the words of Jesus on the cross, “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Stephen used a similar expression in his dying hour. (Acts 7:59) Peter, however, suggests that this committing be done often, whenever experiences of suffering come. He also uses the word soul instead of spirit, or breath of life. Jesus and Stephen committed the spirit, that mysterious power to live, to God. Their future life must come from God, since they couldn’t raise themselves from the dead. The soul, however, is our entire being, and we are to use this up gradually in the service of God. Jesus “poured out his soul unto death.”—Isa. 53:12

At consecration we give our all to God, or more accurately, we promise to do it. Actually, we cannot give tomorrow, or any future time, for we have only today. We promise solemnly to do his will, but we can do it only moment by moment. Each day we must pay our vow by doing God’s will as each experience comes up. Committing, as used in our text, seems to refer to putting a particular matter into God’s hands, especially one involving suffering. Even when there is no suffering it is our privilege and duty to commit our way unto him. (Ps. 37:5) This is one way of acknowledging that we want His will to be done in the particular matter under consideration. This is carrying out our vow of consecration, and keeps the relationship with our Heavenly Father active and up to the minute.

Peter advises that when we suffer according to the will of God, we should commit our souls to him. Suffering is an occasion of special trial, a time of special need of God’s help. Yet experience shows that at the particular time it is easy to forget this important fact. Our minds are disorganized to a certain extent, making it difficult to realize that God is supervising this particular experience. A mental struggle is usually required at such times to apply the exceeding great and precious promises to ourselves. Peter’s advice, therefore, is of particular value, and if followed, will give us divine help when we need it most. In any particular time of suffering we should commit ourselves to God. Instead of murmuring and rebelling, we will say as Jesus did, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” It will also mean asking for help to endure, and for strength to overcome. This may require a repeated struggle in the mind, but it is a part of the good fight of faith, and will surely bring us the true peace that comes to a mind stayed on God.

Our Father does not expect too much at once. In Hebrews 12:11 we read, “No chastening [discipline] for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.” God knows our frame, “He remembers we are dust.” (Ps. 103:13,14) When a particularly severe experience comes, we should not be discouraged if we go to pieces for the time being. The important thing is to ask God for help as soon as possible. Then we should try to get our bearings by viewing things from God’s standpoint. We are called to do this very thing, to suffer with Christ. It is a necessary part of our experience. In an unusually severe trial this procedure will have to be repeated over and over. Eventually we will get the proper perspective. With it will come “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”—Heb. 12:11

Our text uses the word “Creator” instead of God, or our Father. This is because every true Christian is in the process of creation. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation.” (II Cor. 5:17, Diaglott) “We are his [God’s] workmanship.” (Eph. 2:10) God’s work is done upon the mind and character. A Christian is transformed by the renewing of his mind. “God … hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.”—II Cor. 4:6,7

This knowledge from God does its work on the mind. If a Christian continues faithful unto death he will receive a divine body fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body. (Phil. 3:21) Suffering is an important and most necessary part of this creative process. Of Jesus, the Head of the new creation, we read: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb. 5:8,9) He could not be perfect or complete as a new creature until he had proven loyal to God under conditions of suffering. Even though a Son of God, a perfect human being, he had to endure suffering before being completed as a Son on the divine plane of being.

His followers, who were originally children of wrath, must suffer with him if they would be glorified together with him. This suffering is an indispensable part of the creative process. Even love, the sum of all graces, is proven genuine by obedience: “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (I John 5:3; John 14:21) The test becomes severe when doing God’s will involves suffering. At such times we should commit ourselves to our faithful Creator. This is done by accepting the experience, saying in our hearts, Not my will, but Thine be done. Our part is to submit our wills in this way. God’s part is to direct the issue.

“God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13) He is, in this way, a faithful Creator. In a particularly severe trial we should ask him for help and strength. Asking him for this help proves that we are sympathetic with God’s will for us. We want to please him, even though the flesh is weak. We accept the experience, and are learning obedience. With such an attitude of mind, our faithful Creator will give us the help needed. Committing ourselves to him at such times definitely strengthens the new creature.

The word suffer in our text is defined by Dr. Strong “to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful).” This is a broad definition, since we experience sensations and impressions continually. Peter limits the meaning by saying, suffer according to the will of God. This means that the experience has come to us by his providence, and that we are taking or enduring it in a way that pleases him. Other texts explain what sufferings are in harmony with God’s will. Suffering for wrongdoing is not counted as suffering with Christ. (I Pet. 4:15) “What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?” (I Pet. 2:20) Such experiences are not suffering with Christ. There is no glory attached to them.

Glory comes only when we voluntarily suffer for doing right in the same way that Jesus did. This is to the glory of God. It is doing more than what will be required of perfect beings on the human plane in the Millennial Age. Christians in the flesh are imperfect, and need correction and discipline. Taking the buffeting for our faults patiently is helpful if we try to correct our faults. Proverbs 3:11 and Hebrews 12:7,8 show that we must have these buffetings. Let us endure these necessary corrections, but, at the same time, be active in letting our light shine and in living a life of righteous action. Whatever opposition this brings will be to the glory of God, and thankworthy.—I Peter 2:19

When Jesus was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed his cause to him that judgeth righteously. (I Peter 2:23, margin) This is our example. (vs. 21) It is not right that anyone should suffer for well-doing. God does not require this of perfect men nor of angels. Those being created for the divine plane, however, are required to endure suffering for righteousness because they learn obedience this way. This proves they have an exceptional degree of love for God. Thus they become like Jesus. As Jesus committed his cause to God, so do they. They commit themselves unto their faithful Creator.

The Scriptures also use the word suffer in the sense of permitting, or letting things be as they are. “Suffer it to be so.” (Matt. 3:15) When Jesus was reviled he could have taken matters into his own hands and retaliated. Instead, he chose to suffer it. When he was taken for crucifixion, he explained that he could call for twelve legions of angels. He could have prevented his capture. He did not do this, but suffered his enemies to take him because it was God’s will. Had he not submitted, how would the Scriptures have been fulfilled?—Matt. 26:54

We are told that the course of Jesus is to be an example to us. (I Pet. 2:21) When we are reviled, we are not to revile again. We are not to return evil for evil, but are to suffer such things and commit our cause to him that judgeth righteously. This course is contrary to fallen human nature, which continually urges that we should retaliate. We must expect a struggle between the old and new natures. We should oppose the old, and strengthen the new, by a determined effort to follow the example of Jesus in each such experience. It is helpful to remember that God will avenge all unrighteousness in his own time and way. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19) The responsibility for evening the score is not ours.

The principle of suffering, permitting things to be as they are, is very useful to the Christian. Few will have such an extreme experience as when Jesus suffered himself to be taken for crucifixion, but all Christians will experience some reviling because of their loyalty to God’s truth and the principles of righteousness. Such experiences will enable them to follow the example of Jesus, who suffered without returning evil for evil. Paul advises brethren to suffer wrong rather than go to law with brethren.—I Cor. 6:7

The Christian must also suffer conditions to be as they are in this present evil world. He is often tempted by the natural desire to reform the world and make it a better place in which to live. Such noble desires must be curbed by remembering that the Millennial Age is God’s time for converting and reforming the world of mankind. With few exceptions, he must suffer present conditions to be as they are. This course will be misunderstood by the great majority of professed Christians who do not know or cannot believe God’s plan for the restitution of all things during the Millennial Age. The true Christian may be reviled as he gives his reasons for the hope that is in him. He may merely be thought foolish. Whatever the result, he will suffer it to be so, committing himself to his faithful Creator.

Jesus, as a perfect human being, could have done much reform work at the first advent. Even imperfect people with strong wills have accomplished great things at various times. Had Jesus devoted himself to something of this sort, he could have made a great name for himself as a human being. But such a course would not permanently solve the problems of humanity. Jesus knew God’s long-range plan which required the sacrifice of his humanity. He believed in this plan, and was determined to go through with his part. He refused to be swerved from this singleness of purpose by any halfway measures. God’s plan was more difficult, in that it required sacrifice. True Christians, like Jesus, are living sacrifices. (Rom. 12:1) They, like him, will suffer present conditions to be as they are now, and will trust God’s promises for future glory.

Even in simple vexing trials, the Christian is helped by suffering things to be as they are. In this evil world there are so many things which annoy and irk us. It is natural to grumble and speak our minds, but this does not help the new creature. We can do very little in the way of changing things, but we can help ourselves by remembering that God will change conditions soon. We prove our faith in his plan by suffering things to be as they are. We fight our tendencies to grumble by applying such promises as, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) Paul advises us not to murmur as the Israelites did in the wilderness. (I Cor. 10:10) Developing and maintaining the attitude of suffering unpleasant things to be as they are will help us to endure more severe sufferings when they come to us. If we have the habit of murmuring at little things, it is more than likely that we will find it difficult to take greater trials patiently.

A Christian may have to take a position with a lower salary, or be put under an unreasonable foreman. He may have a landlord or a neighbor who is disagreeable or offensive. The proper course is to ask God for wisdom, and endeavor to weigh the matter from the standpoint of his eternal interests as a new creature. His present opportunities for serving the Lord and having fellowship with others of like precious faith may be greater than some place to which he might move in order to ease temporal difficulties. The Christian who suffers difficult situations for this reason will surely please God. He is committing his interests unto a faithful Creator. The process of “creation” will continue as he grows in knowledge and grace. By enduring disagreeable conditions he will allow patience to have her perfect work.

“This is thankworthy [well-pleasing, Diaglott], if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” (I Pet. 2:19) The consecrated Christian educates his conscience by studying God’s Word and watching his providences. He decides that God wishes him to do certain things, and not to do other things. If his endeavors to please God result in grief, he can take satisfaction in the above promise. God reads the heart, and knows the sincere intention and effort to please him.

In Romans, Paul shows that the consciences of some were more fully educated than others. “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike.” He himself was one who regarded every day alike. (Gal. 4:9-11) Every day was to be fully devoted to God’s service, even when he supplied his temporal needs by making tents. Paul went on to say, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Rom. 14:5) He then explained that the conscience of another must be respected. (Rom. 14:13) Each one is responsible to God, who alone can read the heart.

One who serves God sincerely will study his Word diligently to educate his conscience by discerning God’s will more clearly as time goes on. It is also helpful to question our motives occasionally. Why did I do this, or that? Can I truly say that I did it solely because I understood it to be God’s will? Such heart-searching will help to counteract the deceptive tendencies of our natural earthly desires and habits of thought.

One subtle tendency is to go to extremes. In the Early Church there was a conflict about faith and works. James 2:20-26 shows that both are necessary. Faith without works is dead. There is a tendency to specialize on one phase of Christian living and ignore the others. The Christian must take the disagreeable conditions of this present evil world patiently. But this alone will not make him a follower of Christ because some worldly people, for various reasons, do this too. The Christian must also be active, taking the initiative in using his talents and opportunities. He will be careful to follow God’s instructions in letting his light shine as a witness, and for the purpose of taking out a people for God’s name. He will suffer present conditions to be as they are until God’s kingdom changes them. He will do what he believes God would have him do, regardless of what the results are. It is well stated by the Apostle Paul in ii Corinthians 12:15: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” He would continue to be active in sacrificing for others regardless of what the recipients did. It is comparatively easy to do things that bring appreciation. When this is not forthcoming, It Is natural to stop giving; but the Christian does not follow his natural tendencies. He does all things as unto God, not unto men.

Those who follow Jesus are to be living sacrifices. (Rom. 12:1) They permit their all to be used up gradually in serving God. As they see opportunities to exercise their talents they take the initiative and do with their might what their hands find to do. This activity costs them much—their all. It uses up their time, their energy. It will sacrifice their human hopes for success in this life. They, like Jesus, will make themselves of no reputation. Their feelings will be hurt. Instead of resisting, they suffer these things to be so, knowing that this is God’s will for them. When their old nature, the flesh, tends to rebel, they ask God for help. He has promised to give grace to help in every time of need.—Heb. 4:16

We have but one sacrifice, our all; but it consists of many little sacrifices, some of which are too small to mention or even consider; yet all of these are necessary parts of the whole. To withhold in anything we see to be God’s will would be disobedience no matter how little it is. Things of small value can become important in that they exercise us in the great principles of faithfulness and obedience. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10) Carelessness in little things is a danger signal. On the other hand, it is possible to be deceived into thinking that because we are sacrificing some comparatively small things, we are fulfilling our entire obligation. This is a dangerous attitude. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (I Cor. 10:12) We cannot stand still. We must grow as long as we are on this side of the veil.

Our covenant of sacrifice requires that we continually ask ourselves: What more can I do? I will not be discouraged because I can do little, but will ask the Lord to help me to recognize new and larger opportunities which I might have overlooked. I am a steward of all my time, talents, energy, temporal things. Can I use them to greater profit for the Lord? This attitude will be a great help in fulfilling our consecration vow. It is pleasing to God because it was the attitude of Jesus, who said, “Not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) One who maintains this attitude will become more and more like Jesus. He will be transformed by the renewing of his mind. He will gradually bend his affections heavenward, away from the natural earthward tendencies, and will learn to think from God’s viewpoint.

In time of suffering, our thinking is more intensified than in quiet meditation or study. We are forced to come to grips with great problems, and make definite decisions on great principles such as loyalty and obedience. The path of duty becomes clear as we try to discern God’s will, even though the right course involves suffering. If we follow Peter’s advice and commit ourselves to our faithful Creator, we will receive the necessary strength to do God’s will. Our efforts to think the matter out from his viewpoint will accentuate the transforming process and develop us as new creatures. Let us continue faithful until our humanity is entirely used up as a living sacrifice.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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