Suffering Is The Only Way

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.

Heavenly vs Earthly Glory

Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Cor. 15:51

It is difficult for me to not cry whenever I read the story of Joseph in the Bible. The scene where Joseph is taken out of prison and into Pharaoh’s presence, and the events that follow, is particularly tough on me, and many are the times I have found myself crying so violently on reading it, that my body would shake and rattle like it was about to break apart. I take precautions when I am reading this explosive account because one time I bawled so loudly the neighbors came to see what was wrong.

I always wondered why I should grieve so intensely whenever I read Joseph’s account. There was a voice in my head telling me that because I was raised in a poor family, therefore I could identify with poor Joseph, and that was why I cried. In other words, this was a psychological reaction and I was empathizing with my physical situation. This line of thinking seemed plausible to me, and with time I even found myself reproaching myself whenever I was tempted to cry reading that story.

And then one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see what it was about this part of Joseph’s story that was so powerful. That was the day that I came to realize what made me cry so hard. The revelation hit me like a freight train, as they say, and that day I knew without a doubt that God had spoken to my heart. On that day, I came to understand the deep spiritual significance of Joseph’s instant promotion at the court of Pharaoh.

I also came to know that God called us to a spiritual purpose and that when He moves or touches our hearts it is always for a spiritual purpose. We should never interpret it otherwise.

What I understood from the story of Joseph was so contrary to the cheap ‘promotion’ gospels that we hear peddled in Church today. You know, today you will hear adverts on Christian radio and TV about the ‘uplifting’ work of Jesus: Jesus wants to promote you at your place of work, in your finances, in your studies, in your health; He wants to give you a wife, etc., etc.

It is hard for many believers to accept the truth of the Gospel because they have been taught that we get saved in order to live like ‘King’s kids’ here on earth; even though the Bible itself clearly negates that notion. Today there is another gospel, another Jesus and another spirit being preached and believers are paying heed to these things (2 Cor. 11:4).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with whether you are rich or poor; whether you sleep with a full tummy or an empty one.

To be fair, there is nothing wrong with material things, for God is our Father and He wants to do us good even in this world. But that is not the blessing we are called to look to. The Apostle Paul said: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Cor. 15:19

God showed me that the true value of this account of Joseph was in showing us how in the twinkling of an eye we will be taken out of our physical bodies and into the glory of the living God at the last Day. That account is about our initiation into the heavenly glory. It is a spiritual account. The Bible tells us how things will be at the end: For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Cor. 15:27-28

There was none above Joseph in all of Egypt except Pharaoh. Likewise, above Christ and His Body, the Church, there will be only One – God the Father.

The account of Joseph’s promotion has nothing to do with anything of this world. We await an incomparably far greater glory, one that far outweighs anything that our mortal minds could dare to think. It is a spiritual glory. We need to cry to God for this revelation. Such revelation will put us eons ahead of this present world, and enable us to see spiritual things that are “afar off” (2 Pet. 1:9). Consequently, we can rejoice in the present suffering we are undergoing in anticipation of that which only our spirits know about.