Suffering comes with the territory of being a Christian. That’s how we ended yesterday. In today’s NTFV gospel (New Touchy-Feely Version), suffering is not high on the topics of finding your best life now. But hey, don’t get upset with me, your beef is with the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit.
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.” (Philippians 1:29-30)
The Greek word for “granted” is charizomai and it means “to give grace; to forgive; cancel (a debt); to grant; to hand over into custody.”
Reading verse 29 carefully, Paul is telling us that because we are Christians we will suffer for Christ. And part of that suffering can include the things for which Paul suffered. Boy that’ll preach in many of today’s churches! Not so much.
But why must we, or more accurately, why are we given the privilege to suffer for Christ? A number of reasons.
First, it is our duty to believe in, to have faith in Christ. That is how we first became a Christian and that is how we maintain our Christian discipleship and growth in maturity.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Next, we will see beginning tomorrow that one of the reasons Paul writes his letter to the Philippian church is that their was the beginnings of disunity and division among this church and Paul is trying to correct this. To stay united as a body of believers, we must always, through faith, believe in and obey our Lord. The Apostle John gave the same counsel:
“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” (1 John 3:23)
Additionally, suffering for Christ is not an undiscovered concept in the Bible that only Old and New Testament scholars can discern, but it is one of the primary themes of God’s Word. Paul reminded that Roman church that suffering for Christ came with the privilege of being a member of God’s family:
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:16-18)
The American Church has suffered very little for Christ. We have a record of great material wealth, unlimited resources for discipleship, evangelism, and ministry and yet the church is making very little, if any, impact on our corrupted culture today.
Why is that? It’s because we are no longer willing to suffer for Christ’s sake, and not only are we unwilling, we don’t see the blessing in it. How can we not see it Bro Dave? It’s because the shepherds are not preaching it to their flocks.
Finally, we are in a spiritual battle and as I am reading in David Jeremiah’s new book, most Christians do not even know we are at war with an enemy. Most self-described Christians either believer or strongly believe that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” How is that possible?! Again, it’s the preachers’ fault and part of the part of the believer. They are most likely not reading their Bibles, or perhaps they’re actually reading from the NTFV.
I can’t count the number of times believers and unbelievers have told me they didn’t believe a particular Biblical principle as if that immediately makes it null and void. Look, you can believe that Satan is some spiritual boogey man all you want but you’ll make the Apostle Paul out to be a liar and the Bible irrelevant:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
So if we are not willing to sacrifice and suffer for Christ; if we will not believe in a literal Satan and Hell; if we fight and split churches wide open with conflict all across this land, is there a single issue that is causing all of this.
Great question; glad you asked.
The answer is yes and I can describe that issue in one word. Pride. And this issue is antithetical to a unified and healthy church.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers