“Rejoice in sufferings” – Summary of Sermon on June 30, 2019

This is a summary of the sermon preached on June 30, 2019.

  • Date: Sunday June 30, 2019
  • Venue: A Sunday service at Tokyo Multicultural Church
  • Title: "Rejoice in sufferings"
  • Scriptures: Acts 5:17-42

    17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
    21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
    When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
    25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
    27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
    29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
    33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law,who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
    40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
    41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

    THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.1



Have you ever wondered why our lives are not so easy?

Sometimes, it may feel like we are born to suffer. Problems just keep coming at us. But why? Why do we have so many problems in our lives? Why is not life so easy?

In Japan, it seems to me that the idea of causality (cause and effect) is prevailing, which is the idea that we experience something good/bad now because we have done something good/bad in the past.

And sometimes

we Christians also apply this cause-and-effect to our relationship with God.

So even though we know/believe that our sins have been forgiven because of the work of Christ, we might still wonder from time to time like

“I suffer now because I’ve done something very bad in God’s eyes. And God is still angry at me, and has not yet forgiven that particular sin. I guess I have not repented enough, or I’ve not believed in Jesus enough...”

Once you start to think this way, you’d start to lose your confidence or assurance of salvation; you become not so sure if you’ve been saved or not, wondering

“Am I really saved? Does God really love me and forgive my sins?”

If you’ve ever wondered like this, I think today’s text is for you. Today, in particular, I’d like us to see how forgiving God is and also the reason why we suffer as a Christian.

God forgives

As you read through chapters two through five in the book of Acts, you may have noticed that there is a common theme or message, which Peter tries to convey to his audience (see 2:36, 38; 3:13-15, 19; 4:10, 12; 5:29-31). The common theme is

Jewish people killed Jesus on a cross, yet God will still forgive their sins if they repent and believe in Jesus, the Messiah.

In fact, from chapters two through five, Peter keeps talking about the fact that Jewish people killed Jesus, who is the Lord (2:36), the Messiah (2:36), Christ (2:38), the Holy and Righteous One (3:14), the author of life (3:15), Prince and Savior (5:31).

Yet, at the same time, Peter also tells them that there is a way out from their sins of killing the Messiah, that is, for them to repent and believe in all what God has done through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Thus, we see that

God the Father is more than willing to forgive those who killed God the Son.

I don’t think any sins would be more serious than killing God the Son. Therefore,

for God, no sins are too big or too serious to forgive. He will forgive any sins of ours if we repent and believe in Jesus.

So if you’ve ever wondered that your sins might be too big or too serious for God to forgive, be assured that

God will forgive all of your sins if you repent and believe in Christ (cf. 1 John 1:9).

God loves

Now, I’d like us to stop to think a bit more about the fact that God the Father is more than willing to forgive those who killed God the Son, Himself.

How would it be possible for a father to forgive those who killed his son? Or say, for whatever the reason,

how could you or would you be willing to forgive those who killed your loved one like your spouse, child, mom, dad, and so forth?

But our Father in heaven is willing to forgive anybody, even those who killed His only Son, Jesus.



God loves us all, and His love is extended to anybody, even those who killed God the Son.

This is how much God loves each every one of us here.

True, we may have to suffer or struggle from time to time. Our lives are not easy at all. When we go through such difficult times, we may ask ourselves that

“Does God really love me? Why do I have to go through such a difficult situation? God must have abandoned me or given up on me because I’ve done something wrong…”

When you feel that way, remember that

God always loves you; His love never changes.

The reason why you suffer even though you believe in Christ is not because God has given up on you, or not because your sins have not been forgiven.

You suffer as a Christian because you are not of the world, and because the world hates you.

God protects

John 17:14-16 reads,

14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This is a prayer by Jesus for His disciples at the Last Supper. Here Jesus is saying that the world hates His disciples because they are not of the world any more than He is of the world.

Here in John 17:14-16, notice that Jesus is not asking God to take His disciples out of the world so that they could live stress-free or persecution-free. But rather, Jesus asks God to protect them from the evil one (v. 15).

“The evil one” here refers to Satan, who is the prince of all the evil spirits (Matt. 12:24) and even called “the prince of this world” in John 14:30.

This means that

we Christians suffer not only because the world hates us, but also because Satan and his evil spirits attack us in various ways.

But the good news is that Satan has already been defeated by Jesus at the cross (1 John 3:8; cf. Heb. 2:14).

Moreover, Satan’s defeat will be finalized when Jesus comes back for the second time (Rev. 20:10). He is doomed to defeat.

Thus, although Satan still has some power and influence over humans in this world, there is no way for him to win against God and His people.

So long as we trust in God, we have nothing to be worried about, and we can rest under His protection.

This is the reason why the apostles were able to rejoice in sufferings.

In today’s text, after the trial, the apostles were flogged before release (v. 40). Yet, after getting flogged, they rejoiced (v. 41).

For the apostles, suffering for the Name of Jesus was a kind of confirmation that they were not of the world, but of God just like Jesus.

They also knew in advance by the warning of Jesus at the Last Supper that they’d suffer for Christ because the world hated them.

Furtheremore, they knew that under such persecution God would not forsake them or leave them, but rather He would protect them from the evil one.

So they were able to rejoice under God’s protection in the midst of sufferings, and to continue to proclaim the good news that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 42).


God the Father forgives any sins of ours if and only if we repent and believe in Christ. No sins are too big or too serious for God to forgive.

He is a forgiving God, and He forgives us because He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us.

So we can be assured that

all of our sins—sins in the past, present, and future—have been forgiven if we repent and believe in Christ.

Also, we suffer as a Christian not because our sins have not been forgiven or because God has given up on us. But we suffer because we are not of the world but of God and because the world hates us.

So when you suffer for your faith in Christ, remember that you are not alone;

  • God the Father always protects you from the evil one;
  • God the Son, Jesus is always with you; and
  • God the Holy Spirit always helps you through the sufferings,

so that you might be able to rejoice in sufferings for the Name of Christ.

But here comes a caution.

It is true that God has forgiven all of your sins in the past, present, and future if you repent and believe in Christ, and that your suffer as a Christian because you are not of the world.

But still,

when you sin, you may suffer because of that particular sin.

Even after we become Christians, we cannot be perfect, and we still sin. And when we sin, we are to confess it to God, and ask Him for forgiveness in repentance (1 John 8-9; cf. John 13:10).

So it is very important to

examine your words and deeds first, then if necessary, confess your sins to God in repentance and try to get reconciled with the person(s) whom you have offended.

Even after examining yourself, there may be a case where you cannot find any fault or wrongdoing on your side, yet you suffer just because you are a Christian.

If so, know that it is not because your sins have not been forgiven or because God has given up on you, but because the world hates you. And rejoice in sufferings of Christ.

Peter says in 1 Peter 4:13-14,

13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

May the Spirit of glory and of God rest on you who suffer for Christ.

Bibliography and Notes

  • Peterson, David. The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Nottingham, UK; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Apollos; Eerdmans, 2009.
  • Witherington, Ben. The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids; Cambridge: Eerdmans, 1998.
  1. Unless otherwise noted, all the Scripture verses will be quoted from NIV.