Wednesday, July 25, 2012

PARTAKING OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS


I have recently been brought to tears over issues in the professing church and over the unwillingness to listen on the part of many who claim to be Christians. But fortunately, this grief has inspired me to write this article. We are definitely living in a time in which it is getting increasingly difficult to share the truth...it is a time which Paul spoke of in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, when "they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires".
Those who lovingly try to correct others are often passed off as negative or divisive, to their own sorrow and frustration. Many such people have often stated that they are heartbroken over this, as I also have been. Some are also mocked and ridiculed for sharing the truth. Some who stand for the truth are bitterly scorned as fundamentalists, as if it is wrong to go by the fundamentals of the Bible (yet everyone understands that it is reasonable to go by the fundamentals of math: 2+2=4). I hope that this article will encourage such suffering Christians to remember that they are partaking of Christ's sufferings, and they are therefore joint heirs with Christ (See Romans 8:16-18). And for those who are not partaking of His sufferings, I hope this article will reveal the contrast between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

The Unpopularity of Bible Based Christianity
If the world hated Jesus, we can be sure that it will also hate those whom His Spirit indwells. This is why He said "if the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master'. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me" (John 15:18-21).
This is also why Paul wrote "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Paul was not implying that we should try to get people to persecute us if we want to live godly, but he was explaining the same facts that Jesus explained: If we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, the world will view us with the same contempt that they view Jesus with. Today, I see many within professing Christianity who show this very contempt toward those who lovingly try to bring correction.
While those who defend the truth are often passed off as negative and divisive, and sometimes even mocked and ridiculed, there are many popular religious leaders in our day who are receiving much praise and admiration. But is this praise and admiration truly a sign that they are anointed by God? Let's consider what Jesus has to say about the matter:
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets." (Luke 6:22-26)
As I have shown here, the world loves it's own, and the world's approval of us is a sign that we are of the world. But the world's contempt for us is a sign that we are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, whom the world also rejects. This is why Jesus spoke to His true followers saying, "He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me." (Luke 10:16)
When I think of religious leaders that have been praised and admired by the world, one of them that comes to mind is Pope John Paul II. This man who clamed to be the "Vicar of Christ" has received much praise and admiration (See Death of a Pope by Dave Hunt for more info), yet Christ was "despised and rejected by men" (Isaiah 53:3), just as His true followers also are. I hope you are seeing the clear contrast here.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Rejecting the truth may bring popularity and temporary worldly comfort, but it will profit us nothing if we gain the whole world and lose our own soul (See Matthew 16:25-26). When Jesus said "blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4), He certainly wasn't talking about those who pity themselves, simply because their pride has been hurt (as many professing Christians in the West are being encouraged to do), but he was talking about those who mourn with a godly sorrow (read my article titled More On Beauty For Ashes for more info). I believe that the comfort which Jesus revealed inMatthew 5:4 is for the Christians of our day who are lovingly trying to reach people with the truth, while many people (including many who claim to be Christians) refuse to listen or put up with sound doctrine. These Christians, who have lovingly tried to share the truth, resulting in rejection, are the ones who truly have reason to mourn.
Such mourning Christians are not pitying themselves (as those who show contempt for them may do), but they mourn because they know that those who resist the truth are, in accordance with their hardness and their impenitent heart, treasuring up for themselves wrath (See Romans 2:5). Although God's wrath is righteous, He is "not willing that any should parish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God loves us, and He therefore does not want us to suffer His wrath....but He is also a God of justice, and He therefore cannot go back on His word. If He did, then how could we believe anything else He said? According to John 12:48, it is God's very word which will judge those who have rejected it when all is said and done. This means that everyone who rejects it has had a fair chance, and the fact the God does not go back on His word will forever be to His glory!
As I have shown here, the truth is not popular. The truth has never been popular because it offends our pride. In fact, sometimes it will be rejected no matter how clearly it is presented (See Acts 6:10-11 as an example). Christ Himself is called "a stone of stumbling and rock of offense" (1 Peter 2:8) to those who reject Him, but he is a blessing to those who are not offended because of Him (See Matthew 11:6).
As I have shown, the Christian life is not a life without suffering. But those who are viewed with contempt because of their love for the truth can rejoice. They can rejoice in the fact that they are partaking in Christ's sufferings....they can rejoice that the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon them (See 1 Peter 4:12-16). Although true Christians may grieve over the world's stubborn rejection of the truth, we can rejoice that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). This is the comfort of those who truly mourn with a godly sorrow, and not the sorrow of the world.

A Different "Christianity?"
Since the truth is not popular, I think that those who are following a popular "Christianity" should sincerely examine whether they have ever understood the Christianity of the Bible. Please think seriously about this: Can you honesty say that you have ever partaken of the Christ sufferings which I have described in this article? Can you even say that you have a testimony of how God's grace has ever made a change in you? Every true Christian will have such a testimony. Do you? Can you "give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15)? Has anyone even asked you for one? If not, it may be because you are hoping in the same things that the rest of the world is hoping in.
Since we are to seek God with all our heart in order to find Him (See Jeremiah 29:13), this leaves no room for other competitors of our affection. Those other competitors of our affection are the problem: We may have sought God, but not with our whole heart....we may have only sought a "god" who will cater to our natural carnal desires and our felt "needs", but not the God of the Bible who wants to change our natural desires for our own good. We may have sought God, but not "diligently" (See Hebrews 11:6).
So let our whole hearts passion be to "know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Philippians 3:10). For those of you who are truly partaking of Christ's sufferings, please remember Paul's words of comfort in Galatians 6:9: "Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart".



The Christian (one of my poems)Avoiding Correction? (one of my articles)
Unwittingly Proving The Bible to be True (one of my articles)
Fundamentalism & Postmodernism (one of my articles)
The "Jesus" The World Loves, by T.A. McMahon (article)
The Value of Suffering, by T.A. McMahon (article)
The Value of Suffering (CD and booklet)
Are Christians Supposed To Suffer? Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon (Radio Broadcast - MP3)
If The World Hates Jesus...Will It Love You? Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon (Radio Broadcast - MP3)
For What Cause Does The World Hate Jesus? Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon (Radio Broadcast - MP3)
If You Love Jesus, Will the World Love You? Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon (Radio Broadcast - MP3)
Do Christians Have to Suffer? Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon (Radio Broadcast - MP3)
Persecution, by Warren Smith (You Tube Video)
That I May Know You, by Don Francisco (Song)
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