Suffering For Godliness
“And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them:and the Lord gave them rest round about.” (2 Chronicles 15)
When meditating about the words of Christ as it relates to suffering, forbearing and forgiving, lest we be excluded from His Kingdom… (Matthew 5,6&7 with Revelation 1,2, & 3 etc…) we can’t help to think of the many Christians whose consciences have been blinded to the words of Jesus Christ in the necessity of their suffering in forbearance and forgiveness.
As only one example, but telltale of underlying spirit, that of buying into the Old Covenant concepts thinking them applicable to Christians today, that of “holy wars” and blindly agreeing to marching off to war in similar spirit of the OC. We say blindly, because it is understood that these Christians, because of the leaven of many hundreds of years, as well as that more recent, of false teachings, are incognizant of Jesus’ words to the contrary.
As are the many so-called “Christian” politicians who compete to show their deep concern for the welfare of the Veterans of War. And with grand speeches they glorify warriors and war, and about how more ought to be done for the Veterans who have given service and sometimes limb or even life for their country. This is in NO way to demean their courage or service, but stopping to consider the Words of Christ throughout the NC, it’s apparent to the candid person through such glorifying speeches for military service, they overtly deny Jesus Christ the Savior and His Commandments.
Additionally, and maybe even more an affront could be that in all this glorying of a service rendered to Caesar, contrary to the Words of the Prince of Peace, never have we heard a word from those “Christian” mouths mentioning those good soldiers of Christ who have willingly, selflessly served, sometimes their entire lives, in a heathen land, full of hostiles, and under constant threat of life. Always holding forth the Truth with suffering and forbearance in the words’ of Jesus Christ, peace and sacrifice even in the face of threat and unto the martyring of their lives and family. What praise do our Christian politicians have for them? What honor does America afford them? Are they undeserving or even more deserving? For not only do they sacrifice, but are they not ordained by the Father in the furtherance of living peacefully, as our intercessors, and as salt and light in this unsavory world, with Sacrificial Message and living in the Lord. (1Timothy 2:1-4) These are those who “wrestle not with flesh and blood…” but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, who resist the true enemy of all mankind, with much sufferings, all the while being lovingly obedient to Jesus Christ. They do so tirelessly, without earthly reward but with a far seeing eye to the Judgment Seat of Christ. How blind we have become in our great apostasy, if only we could see, as the Apostles and early Church, that the only way to defeat the enemy is through the sanctified lives in called priests and power of prayer (Ephesians 6:10-18), who have sanctified the Lord in their hearts.
“But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord.” It is instructive to note in the OC type, the punishment for doing otherwise, as these words of the Lord are recorded, “Because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel, thou shalt not go thither into the land.”
Jesus Christ must be sanctified as Lord in our hearts lest in our attempts to portray Him, we betray Him. As we portray Him as He is not , we thereby exclude ourselves from the PROMISED LAND, that is to say His Millennial Kingdom.
To sanctify Jesus Christ in our heart is to fear Him and to trust Him above all….. and do HIS COMMANDMENTS, which is the only way to be His faithful witnesses, that in spite of the many temptations to do otherwise, this is our lifelong goal. His Word is our NC Law and His Spirit/our spirit is our grace for forbearing strength. (Ephesians 4:16,17) “For hereunto were ye called: for Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
Whatever Christ’s Words are, they are worth living for, or suffering for, or dying for. Living our lives as Christ has directed includes the possibility of dying for our persecutors, and living or dying has the distinct possibility of saving their eternal souls. “When the centurion saw that he so gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God”
“That, wherein ye are spoken against, they may be put to shame” (that is conviction by TRUE WITNESS ) “who revile your good manner of life in Christ: for it is better, if the will of God should so will” (it is our challenge to sanctify Christ’s Words in our hearts, and it is God who decides whether there shall be persecution or not) “that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil doing”.
The words of Peter were written in the times of great persecution of Christians…by both the Jews and Nero…and more on the horizon. There will be Christians who will awake to the Kingdom Call in these LAST days and obey in the spirit/Spirit in the face of mighty opposition, in order to be true witnesses of Jesus and inherit His promises.
NOTE: NOT ONE CHRISTIAN WILL ESCAPE SUFFERING….. (pain is the cry for help) There are 2 reasons all Christians will suffer. One: Because of God’s Chastisements on their wayward hearts…. “FOR WHOM THE LORD, LOVETH HE CHASTENETH, AND SCOURGETH EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVETH.” (Hebrews 12) A suffering which is a sure indication of disapproval. So then let us value, if this be our suffering, in the words of someone enlightened- “Take care that you do not waste your sorrow: that you do not let the precious gifts of disappointment, loss, loneliness, or similar afflictions that come into your daily life mar you instead of mending you. See that they send you nearer to God and not that they drive you farther from Him. There is no failure of life so terrible as to have the pain without the lesson, the sorrow without the softening.”
And the second reason for suffering: Quite the opposite of the other suffering, is because of our Godliness…. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Timothy 3:12) ….which is a sure indication of future glory.
In the big picture of His regenerated OC AND NC Church, we see the reality of this His Word being played out, in the Jewish contingent, the suffering under the heavy hand of chastisement for 2000 yrs… “let the curse of His blood be on us and on our children…” The Jews’ curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation.
While on the other hand, blessing for the persecuted NC faithful who sanctify Christ Jesus in their hearts as the last authority on how to conduct their lives. (Note: Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when Christians refuse Christ’s Words, which rob God of his glory, and thereby exclude themselves from His glory.)
It could be said, as it relates to Christians, that the one who sins the least will suffer the most, and be most like HIM. And the reason we are so darkened to obey Him and suffer so little FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE then is, because we have so well blended, fallen back into, and with those who would otherwise persecute us. The more we obey Him, the more we shall resemble Him, then the more we stand out in contrast in the appearance of the world, the more likely we will suffer like Him.
Only in Him may we discover safety. And that is subject to His will. Someone said something like this….“duty is mine (that is to say being obedient to His Word whenever we perceive it… ) my safeguarding His.”
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: (This speaks to an attitude of the soul, to want to dominate others in any way is an attribute of the flesh, that the Christian is called to refuse and will surely suffer one way or another for) but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: (Every willingly yielded attitude of the soul in following Jesus’ commands lowers one’s self in the ideas of dominance in the world, but willingly forbearing in it actually lifts one’s self up onto a forming throne in the Kingdom of Christ. (Revelation 3:21) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Listen to Paul’s encouraging words: “I RECKON THAT THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS PRESENT TIME ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE COMPARED WITH THE GLORY THAT SHALL BE REVEALED IN US” (Rom. 8:18). Paul uses the word “I reckon,” that is to say he calculates, not “I hope” or “I imagine,” but maybe more than any other person in Scripture, he is fit to use that word, as we read starting in 2 Corinthians 11:23 “…labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watching’s often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Paul calculated, Paul determined and then ordered his life accordingly, that these sufferings of temporal life are nothing, hardly anything at all when compared to the promise of never-ending glory in those who are sanctifying Jesus Christ, by obedience to His Words of suffering, in their hearts. “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”
Paul says in 2Tim 2:12 that suffering is a condition to reigning with Christ…. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us”. (This is to say the threat is as sure as the promise, if we deny suffering by Christ-like living, He will deny us a place beside Him in reigning. He will not say one thing and do another, He must be true to His Word He cannot deny Himself.)
And in Romans 8:17 he says: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, (to here no condition attached but simple justifying faith) and Joint heirs with Christ, (now hear the condition to being glorified with Him) if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified with him.” Here is not a reference to mere human suffering nor the sufferings of chastisement in judgment to disobedient Christians, but the sufferings of a godly life in compliance with the highest Authority, Christ’s commands. As Spurgeon says: But are such sufferings as those of Christ, who was sinless: sufferings for the truths He taught, for the principles He laid down, for the rituals He commanded, for the warnings He uttered.
And while comparing the OC glory that was fading away with the NC glory in 2Corinthians 3&4 Paul says “for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
AND to what unseen things is the Christian today to look unto?…. Revelation 17:14 & 19:14 & 20:6…& 2:26 “These (the beast and nations of the world) shall make war with the Lamb, and the lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen and faithful.”……. “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”….. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
“…he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him (only) will I give AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS” (Revelation 2: 26)
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