Friday, August 6, 2010

A Biblical Understanding of Suffering - Part 5 of 5

Suffering for the sake of Christ.  We briefly touched on this last week as well.  Matthew 5:11-12 - “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Walking with Christ, following Jesus, means that you will be at some time or another, persecuted for your stance.  Satan hates that Christians, true Christians, live for God.  He hates every righteous step and sign of growth in us.  Like he did with Job, Satan is always trying to get God to revoke your salvation.  Guilt of sin is the one rope that Satan has with which God allows Him to pull us to hell.  When Christ saves you, the cord is severed.  Satan has no more grasp on you and so he will unleash with all his might on you to tempt you.  He was not afraid to tempt Christ Himself.  Who are we to escape a similar trial?

Our suffering, no matter how great, cannot compare to the suffering of our Savior on the cross.  Turn with me if you would to Revelation 5:1-14 - Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,  12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”  13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”  14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Verse 6 there says… ‘as if slain’.  Implying that the wounds are still visible yet He stands there alive.  The death brought by the wounds of our iniquities has no hold on Him any longer because He has risen!  He stands, He is worthy to take up the Book of Life!

The greatest suffering ever in the entire universe was the death of Jesus Christ.  And it is that suffering that is the center piece of the Grace of God.  It will be the theme of our unending praises in Heaven.  It will be the wonder of us for all eternity.  The cross was God’s plan before the foundation of the world and everything else is the mean’s He has used to demonstrate His Grace.

Jesus was slain… it’s the peak of God’s Grace.  John Piper says it like this, “The ultimate reason that suffering exists was so that Jesus could suffer and die for sinners.”  Jesus’ death on the cross was the highest demonstration of the Grace of God.  It brought Him the maximum amount of Glory.  He saves us through Christ and since He does it that way then it must have been the best and only way because if it weren’t He would have chosen some other way.  Let that sink in for a moment.

The word slain, more accurately rendered, is slaughter.  It’s not what you do to kill a human, it’s what you do to kill a lamb.  It’s a violent word.  The suffering of Christ was the worst suffering ever.  And in Him we can expect suffering as well, but Jesus said, “Rejoice” in suffering for His sake, for your reward in Heaven is Great.

The Cross of Christ is the central theme of the entire world and the entire universe.  The purpose of the Cross was that Christ would die to redeem a people.  Whose names have been written and sealed in the Lamb’s Book of Life long before the world began.  He accomplished that and now in all sufferings of any kind for any reason, Christians have hope because of Jesus Christ!

A question that typically arises out of this is, ‘Well, how do we know the difference between the types of suffering?’  Answer, there is no secret formula to it.  Each case of suffering, regardless of the type, should drive us to the Word of God and to prayer and God will strengthen us in that act of obedience.  He will renew our hope in Him.  If He do desires, He will make it clear to you why you are suffering… if not, you’ll understand it in eternity.  He saw no reason to explain to Job.  He didn’t see a reason to explain to Paul why the thorn was there, He merely said, ‘My grace is sufficient.’. 

If you are not in Christ.  If you’ve never repented (that is turned) from your sin and placed your trust in the sufficient saving power of Jesus Christ.  I plead with you.  Cry out to the Lord today to save you and do not stop until you feel Him assuring you that He has done just that.

Cry out to the only One who can wash your sins away and justify you before a Holy and Righteous God!

As always, if you are in need of me, I’ll be down front.  But I cannot save you any more than a prayer can.  But God can save you.  Cry out to Him.  He will save you.

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