For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 2Co 5:14-15
Did you notice the small print there? It says that Jesus died that we, too, might die. Afterwards we will be able to live a different, completely selfless life. But before we live that life there is a death to undergo.
Salvation is not easy, nor is it comfortable. It is tough – on the body, I mean. No one in their right minds can tell you that suffering or death is easy or desirable. But much is meant to die in us before we can claim to be spiritual. In order for us to stand in the grace we stand in today Someone (Jesus) had to die. Many more joined Him in His suffering and death so that His life could continue flowing to others. The Apostle Paul says of his life: “(I) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col 1:24). Did you notice something else there? Paul had to suffer in the flesh so the Church could benefit in the spirit.
The biggest lie in history is being perpetrated in the Church today. People are being taught that they should not accept trouble or problems. They are taught that suffering is of the Devil and that they should fight it.
It is true that suffering could be from old man Satan himself, but remember that Satan did not trouble Job without God’s permission. At the end of the day, if we are walking in the right spirit, we realize that in all things it is God, not Satan, who is at work. After he had suffered for a brief period of time, Job was immensely rewarded. Many people think that Job’s reward was the material blessings that God blessed him with; but no, the real blessing that Job received as a result of his suffering was that He came to know God better. He said: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” Job 42:5-6.
We could say that Job grew spiritually through the sufferings that he endured.
The gospel that we hear today preached to the majority of born-again believers is simply misleading. I can listen to any of our local Christian radio stations and I keep hearing the same stuff rotated about in different garb: God loves you and He does not want to see you suffer.
So – how are we going to learn patience if we are not tried in the area of patience? Can we, for example, learn how to defeat anger by attending anger-management seminars? Is it not that we need the Lord Himself to shake us in that area? Remember the Bible says that God used Pharaoh – a ‘type’ of Satan – to trouble the children of Israel for 400 years! (Romans 9:17)
If we want to live the charismatic lifestyle – the emotional/intellectual gospel preached by a large percentage of prominent preachers today – we will live it; but that is not true Christianity.
In Christianity the only way to become spiritual sons and daughters of God is through suffering. That is a Biblical fact. In this blog I keep providing evidence after evidence about our call to suffer. I would be surprised if someone came up to me and told me they were Christians and they have no sufferings in their lives!
Recently, the Devil attacked my family. It was a deadly and vicious attack. Nowadays we live in such an ‘free’ and Godless society that there are things that will simply come as a shock to us. When the attack occurred, I was tempted to react to save my family; but my wife reminded me that although the attack was physical, its roots were spiritual. She said we should pray to God, which we did and He gave us the victory in the spirit. The next day, my family sat together and wondered at the grace God had given us. We prayed that God would deliver us from such attacks; but at the same time we were assured that if God were to allow any such thing to happen again, we felt we would have the grace to face it.
How do you expect God to ‘shake’ us and have us grow if not through suffering? That is the central question that born-again believers ought to be asking themselves.
I have kids and I seriously desire for them to grow up, to mature. If I raise them up on a soft diet they will never become mature. They need some ‘shaking’. That is not good news for anyone to hear, myself included. But there is no other way.
Suffering is the only way for us to become more like Jesus, the only way for us to know God more. We cannot avoid it.
The Apostle Peter, speaking of the glory that would be revealed to us (meaning the gloriously victorious life we ought to be experiencing today) says: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1Pe 1:13.
There are Christians who deride the kind of teaching I am advancing here; they will say, ‘Oh, you are threatening the people of God’; that I am bringing them under law. I am ready to be accused of anything someone feels I am guilty of, but we cannot fight Biblical truth. That truth will set us free, if we are willing to pay the price.
God’s love is tough.