Sufferings allow for future glory
In the western church some wrongly teach that prosperity is the Christian’s “divine right”
and that suffering is because of our “lack of faith”, and/or satanic opposition (Granted, if the governments of the world followed Biblical social and economic principles there would be more prosperity for their citizenry such as what the U.S. is temporarily currently enjoying). But to expect what Christians experience in the US as the norm for God’s temporal blessings is to exclude most Christians of the world today from ever receiving those potential blessings. Most believers in the world today ( just as those who lived when the New Testament was being written under Caesar Nero’s wicked rule), know only persecution because of hostile governments and countries with antagonistic religions as found in Asia, South and Central America and Middle Eastern countries. Consequently, because of the conditions Christians face in those hostile countries, there are more martyrs for Christ in this last century than in all previous centuries combined. However, those Christians will experience more glory than any believer in America who lives out their comfortable life chasing the American dream. Because only when we step out of our comfort zones will we experience suffering for Christ, but then can expect Christ’s promised future reward for it. See Heb 11:35 the second half, and Rom 8:18. As the song says, “This world is not our home, were just a passin’ through.” (Picture credit Donell Trostrud)
Rom 8:18-27 Use this link for the NIV or use your favorite version. Highlight vs 18, 19, 22, 23, 25,
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who promises to rescue you one day from the frustration in the world caused by sin. My plan all along was to call a people who could be present with me. And even though Adam’s choice which brought death and decay to this world, take comfort in the fact that one day I will liberate this earth from its bondage and the affects of sin together with you when I return. Because I promise this, you can have my hope in you, and this hope will not disappoint. In the mean time, you have to wait patiently for that day. You can do that because my hope is the certainty that I am able to do what I promise. Having this kind of hope can lead you to live through the hardships of this fallen world with joy that you will receive glory on the other end. Just don’t give up hoping and trusting in my promise.
I AM the God who gives you my Spirit. In this difficult world, and as you are waiting to be rescued, I have given you my Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing your redemption to comfort you and to guide you into my truth. He will empower you and comfort you. He will give you my fruit for your lives and intercede for you according to my will. If this life was meant to be easy, then you would not need my Spirit to help you, but since it is fallen and under the curse, you will need him to infuse into you my divine life. His job is to convict you of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. I placed him in you on the day you first believed and there he will stay until I call him home at which time you will not need him to help you anymore, because you will also be in my presence forever more.
Present suffering not worth comparing with future glory
You have heard it said that “you cannot be the winner without the fight” and “You cannot receive the victors crown without the race”. As in an old western Hollywood film, you can’t appreciate the cavalry’s bugle call of immanent rescue unless you are surrounded by blood thirsty Indians. There is no future glory without the trials of faith in this life. This could be why James says to “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” because these trials are what will bring about the glory later when you endure them by faith. Preachers who tell you that the Christian life in this age is one of victory from hardships as your divine right are robbing you of future glory to be revealed in the next life. Without trials by fire your faith cannot be purified of the dross which our various cultures bring into Christianity. Nobody likes hardships but the book of Hebrews says that they “Produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by them.” To say trials are not our norm is to say that we don’t need to mature. Without maturing we cannot be like Christ, and without being like Christ, God cannot glorify himself through us and reward us accordingly for our faith.
In the mean time we must suffer and endure hardships to build our characters into Christ-likeness Rom 8:28, 29. We must be brought to the end of our sinful self by failures (Rom 7) so that we can lean on the mercy of God in saving us and then we can experience the Spirit’s life changing power of Rom 8. Paul has much to say about our sufferings. Phil 3:10 “…Knowing the fellowship of his suffering”. Paul’s testimony was to “Fill up in his body that which was still lacking with regard to the sufferings of Christ”. “If we suffer with him, we will be glorified with him”. “For the joy set before him, (the Christ) endured the cross”. “Endure hardships as good soldiers”. “All who would be godly must suffer persecution.” James says “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials”. We are to glory in our sufferings not always try to avoid them. Nobody wants them, but fortunately it is God who chooses who gets to go through which particular trial for any number of reasons for their ultimate glory and reward as they respond by faith.
Remember Rom 4: 18-21 “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
Jesus is coming back to rescue his children and reward their faith. Our saving faith is taking God at his revealed word regardless of the intellectual, philosophical, humanistic, or scientific impossibilities of what he promised.
One day Creation will be liberated
We live in a fallen world. Only Christ will be able to fix it. The world was subjected to death and decay by God as part of the curse on Adam. Thorns and thistles are our norm. Satan will use pain and suffering to tempt us to shake our fists against God (like Satan told God what he thought Job would do in Job 1:11). And work is supposed to be hard and not avoided like so many try to do to make an easy buck. But one day the curse will be lifted when Christ returns to have his turn at ruling the world and at which time His sons and daughters (his bride –the church) will be revealed with him to reign alongside him. Then all suffering will be over. When we experience our ultimate redemption, this world also will then be released from that which it was subjected by God in the Garden – its “frustration”, its “bondage of decay” and its present “pains and groaning”. When we see this creation without decay and the earth without sin under the righteous rule of Christ; it will be glorious to behold. We get so complacent to our present condition that we think that what we see around us is all that there is or ever will be. But not so; he has so much more in store. Don’t let yourself be robbed of the joy and hope which is yours in Christ by the “Uniformitarian” dogma of the evolutionists. This world was supernaturally subjected to the curse by God, and was supernaturally altered by the global flood of Noah’s day. Even though we live on Earth in its present form as beautiful as it is, it is not as God originally created it, or what it will be like when he supernaturally fixes it. And one day far in the future he will supernaturally destroy this earth and make a new one. He has so much more in store for us yet to come, but we have to wait, encouraging our faith with unflinching hope that he will do as he promised. After all, his track record is pretty good so far. He fulfilled the Old Testament promises by his first appearing, showing us that he is faithful; so for us in this day and age, his faithfulness to us remains to be seen to fulfill the rest of his promises one day and that takes faith on our parts in spite of our current condition of suffering. But like Abraham in Ch 4 we believe in the God who is capable of doing the impossible.
Definitely more to come,