John 16:33 “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
In this modern age of easy believism we find a perverted gospel being preached the world over. This false doctrine is lulling the world into a deep sleep which shall one day prove to be it’s undoing and greatest nightmare. With one of the more popular and most widely accepted teachings being an all inclusive gospel which says that no one is going to hell. The teaching that is following on it’s heels is that of this health and wealth crowd. They are leading people to believe that if you are a Christian all will go well with you. They will tell you that if you are prayed up, living right, and acting right, you won’t get sick or have any kind of financial trouble. They will say that God will bless you physically, financially, materially and socially.
It would have been hard to convince old Bro. Paul of that in a cold, dark, damp prison, waiting to have his head cut off; Or Jeremiah in that filthy dungeon. Many who have lived for God and suffered great persecution for their testimony will one day stand and testify of the foolishness of this religious crowd preaching this heresy. The apostle Paul told us the same thing that Jesus told us. We will suffer. Mark it down, we are going to suffer if we truly belong to Jesus. Let’s look at this verse carefully, in light of what is around it.
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”
“These things have I spoken unto you that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”
Jesus warned them (his disciples) of the coming persecution, execution, and the scattering of their number. He told them that they would suffer. And we see it most plainly here in verse 33. And the apostle Paul tell us that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, SHALL suffer persecution. He warns of the perilous times in the last days in his second letter to Timothy and chapter 3 in such a way that there is no mistaking that we are going to suffer if we follow Christ. The simple question to be answered is…
DO GOD’S PEOPLE SUFFER?
Well, this now raises other questions. First of all we need to be ready to accept the fact of suffering. Then we can learn the answer to some very troubling questions concerning the things that happen to us in our Christian lives. Questions like…
1. How do God’s people suffer?
We suffer in many ways, just as anyone else in this world does. As members of the family of humanity we will all die one day if the Lord does not come back for us first. That universal curse of death which passed upon us all through our father Adam as a result of his sin will catch up with us one day and we will face our last enemy in this life, death. This crowd that teaches and preaches all of this health and wealth can say what they want too. Some of them will probably get very sick and die, then be buried in the same ground that I will. They may stay healthy for a time, as anyone can, but they will die one day. What is healthy about that? No matter how healthy you are, you will die one day. That tells me that we have more proof of what we believe than they do.
Saved or not we all are going to die. Saved or not, most of mankind has health problems, especially them that come with age. Saved or not, if we do not die young, we will grow old. We will suffer this deadly disease called sin till we leave here. But those of us who are saved are being treated for this disease and will one day be ultimately cured. All suffer health problems, heartaches, injury, poverty, fears.
I remember a man once rebuking me for being sick and missing a day of work. He said that it was the judgment of God that I was sick and if I was really right with God I would not get sick. I was informed that he did not get sick, and that God would not let him get sick because he was His. Within a couple of days, this saint was sick and bed-ridden for almost three weeks. Where was his faith? I guess it was in his medication.
We will suffer sickness, that is why God has blessed us with the wonder of modern medicine to help us through times of illness. We suffer financial loss and poverty at some times. We suffer at the hands of our fellow man, the devil, and as a result of sin, as well as the causes of age and the perils and dangers of everyday life.
2. Why do God’s people suffer?
If you are a born again, blood bought child of God then you must believe the word of God. You must believe Romans 8:28. Then you must believe that IF and WHEN we suffer there is a reason, and it is always for our good and God’s Glory. Nothing can come to a child of God that will ever take God by surprise. We can also be sure that whatever does come our way will always be for a reason.
Sometimes we suffer testing: Job is a good example of this. God will not tempt any man and we know that from the word of God. However, God may allow the devil to tempt you as a test. God already knows what you will do, He knows just what you are made of. What we need sometimes is to be shown just what we are made of so that we can know for ourselves. And sometimes the Lord is showing the devil. In the case of Job, God showed Satan that he could not get one that was His.
Sometimes it is training: Paul is a good illustration of this. He besought the Lord three times to remove a particular thorn from his flesh, and the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for thee…” Paul was sent a thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12 to learn humility and to stay humble. He suffered to learn and to maintain the proper mindset.
The hard truth about training is this. You train in preparation for the next test. Just as any other aspect of life, you must build up for the next step in most anything. One who is training with weights for strength is always preparing to move up, to increase the workout, to become stronger and increase the load. We suffer to train, to strengthen our faith, and once our faith becomes stronger, it is time to work on it some more. We are trained by suffering.
Sometimes it is tactics: Joseph, when he revealed himself to his brethren in the book of Genesis, told his brethren (concerning their beating him and selling him into slavery) that they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. God allowed this to come to Joseph and for a reason that Joseph did not know. It was many years later that Joseph was given understanding of his situation. God had it all under control and Joseph exercised faith and left it in God’s hands. But, God had a plan, He “meant it for good,” which means plainly that God allowed it all to take place. And He allowed it to take place for His own purposes and to do His own will.
Sometimes it is discipline: This is one teaching that is avoided and almost forgotten in our day: The reason being that preachers are afraid of the “J” word in our day. Sin must be judged. Sin shall be judged, and discipline shall be administered. Oh, there are some that will tell us that we will never sin again after we get saved; We will be sinless if we are Christians. This is totally untrue and unfounded hogwash. You can not live above sin. I remember my pastor saying that if you want to live above sin, rent a room above a pool hall. I remember a man named Peter who cursed and denied the Lord, yet he did not lose his salvation, he was chastised, and restored. Another man named Paul, disobeyed the Holy Spirits many warnings not to go to Jerusalem, and was chastised, he went to Jerusalem, and was a prisoner for the rest of his life. Oh, praise God, old sinners like us can rest on the finished work of Calvary because we can not do any works of our own to get us in. That is why Jesus came to die for us. He came to fulfill the law because we can not.
King David was a man after God’s own heart; The only man that scripture says this about. King David committed some horrible sins, adultery and murder, to name the two that we are all most familiar with; and he was judged and restored, however, judgment had to be administered. Sin had to be disciplined in the life of David. God took the child that was born to David and Bathsheba, and David had to bury four sons by the judgment of his own mouth.
There are times in our daily lives that we suffer because we have done something that we know that God did not want us to do. By the same token, there are those things that we have not done that God wants us to do. There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission, and we are all guilty, and suffer discipline. The trouble in our day is that our pride is so great that we would rather lie about our suffering and deny our guilt. No one is ever chastised of God anymore, but everyone is tested. “Oh, I am being tested again.” I am perfect and sinless and this is another test to bring that out for the world to see. WICKED PRIDE!!! How anyone can so boldly claim to be sinless is beyond me. Well, there is enough sin in them that they will die one day. The word tells us that death is by sin. If we could live above it we would live forever.
Whatever reason we find ourselves suffering, it is always ultimately for one specific purpose.
To draw us closer to Him.
What is the purpose?
To be conformed to the image of His Son.