Suffer

asuffer

“Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering…” These lyrics appear in a popular, modern, worship song by Matt Redman. But what does it mean to suffer in today’s Christianity, as I’m sure many people sing along with this song but have no concept of real suffering.

I think most people equate suffering today, in the “church” as something that comes from numerous sources, none of which are biblical standards of suffering. I expect that even making this statement will be offensive to many because when we are suffering we want to believe we are suffering biblically, especially if we name the name of Christ.

What is it to suffer?

Experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant) – this is the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition. I could probably dig a little deeper, but this is what most people will consider to suffer.

When we feel bad, or when we feel like we didn’t get what we deserve, we feel as though we are suffering. Some might be suffering the loss of a loved one, or suffering the loss of a job. These are certainly unpleasant things that occur, and nobody likes them, but are they really suffering as the Bible would describe it?

Our family has recently been watching a series about heroes of the faith. These are people that endured prison, endured beatings, and many of them endured martyrdom. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned in Communist Romania for speaking out against Communism. He spent over eight years imprisoned and three years in solitary confinement with no lights or no windows. He was beaten and tortured, physically as well as psychologically and yet he maintained his sanity by preaching sermons during the night to himself. His survival and proclamation of the gospel is beyond what we can imagine today.

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:10-12

Paul is instructing young Timothy how to be a faithful minister of the Word. He is setting the example before him of his own life. He is telling him how it’s going to be…and Timothy must know how his future will most likely turn out. Only a true believer will set himself up for this, because it’s not going to be fun.

I’m challenged by this, and I hope you are as well, because I think we need to be. I think we must be…

We don’t currently experience this today, at least not in this country, mostly… But I believe we will, and I believe I must prepare my children. It’s why I think it’s important for them to see those that gave their lives for the faith. They suffered and died to proclaim His name.

Consider these great heroes of the faith, their names are unknown to us, but their example lives on, and it’s one for us to consider when we are afraid to open our mouths and hand someone a gospel tract.

…Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should be made perfect apart from us. – Hebrews 11:35-40

This doesn’t sound like my Christianity? I realize we are in a different time period, and the place we live right now, is unlikely that I’m going to be destitute and or sawn in half. But should I then say, this has no place in a conviction in my life? Absolutely not, this should shame me when I won’t open my mouth, or I look at my 401K statement and think, boy if I only had a little more, I’d be in pretty good shape.

No, how about giving until it actually effects my 401K? How about standing on a corner and proclaiming the name of Christ and actually praising God for the ridicule that will no doubt ensue? Would this be better or worse than being slain with the sword? That’s not a mutually exclusive proposition; I can do one without the other. I probably won’t be slain, but I will probably be made fun of, and that would be a slight way in which I could suffer for Christ sake, wouldn’t it?

Could I, or could you risk some embarrassment every now and again, to give someone a message of love? To tell them they need Jesus, because without Him they are on a crash course for Hell? Do we believe that? If we sort of don’t…then we won’t… If Hell is real, then its consequences are real, and we need to tell people, we need to warn them.

I’d like to consider this verse in a different way today.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled.” But ou do nt give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead. – James 2:14-17

This verse is clearly and plainly for believers, please don’t be confused, and here is how I want us to think differently about it. If we don’t live out our faith in a tangible and real way, proclaiming Christ to dead people, we are doing the same thing to them. We might even give them something warm and fill them with food; in fact lots of misguided ministries do just that. But…..do they give them the bread of life?

Do we tell them God is holy and man is sinful? Do we tell them Jesus is the answer to their sin problem? Do we tell them they must turn from their sin, and embrace a new life in Christ? This is the gospel, this is necessary, and they need to be born again, or they will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So, let’s go out and suffer, just a little bit this week. Just a little bit, so we can learn to suffer a little bit more and then someday, maybe we can really learn how to suffer.

 

Kevin

Rob Bell’s slippery slope

death

Recently my wife and I have come to the decision that faithfulness in marriage is no longer relevant.  We’ve decided that’s old fashioned Christianity.  Not that we want to partake in that ourselves, but we certainly don’t believe that those that are unfaithful in their marriage are in sin.  It’s just something that many people struggle with, so we’ve decided it’s no longer to be called sin in our vocabulary.

We are also debating whether to allow our children to lie.  We understand that there are times when it makes more sense to tell a little white lie.  Not big, fat and juicy lies that really destroy people, although if that happened on occasion it might be okay given the circumstances.  You know what I’m talking about right?

We read the Bible to our children and have a morning family devotional, we are currently going through Proverbs, but when I come to the part about a lie being an abomination to God, I just skip that one (Proverbs 6:17).  We believe much what the Bible has to say… we like the parts we like, especially about God’s love.  But we just can’t buy into all of it… (this is me being satirical)

Okay, that’s all I can stand to write.  Can you hear me screaming now?  Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

Rob Bell is the former pastor of a well known church in Michigan.  Bell has a big following and is the author of several best-selling books.  He made the news again by coming out with his support for “homosexual-marriage”.  I don’t care to spend a lot of time on Rob Bell and his false teachings.  I have concern and compassion for his eternal soul and those that embrace “his theology”.  And I mean it’s “his” theology it certainly is not of God.

My focus today is to discuss the authority of Scripture and those that decide they can pick and choose what they want to believe about the Bible.

The authority of Scripture is fundamental to an understanding of God.  If we choose to pick and choose, or disbelieve the Bible, we choose to disbelieve God.  Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology [1994] writes “Therefore to Disbelieve or Disobey Any Word of Scripture Is to Disbelieve or Disobey God” – Chapter 4 on the Authority of Scripture – Page 81.  This was a huge revelation to me when I was saved.  I liked parts of the Bible and I really thought some of the things Jesus said were pretty cool, but to believe it all?  That was crazy…

2 Peter 1:19-20 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

This verse tells us everything we need to know about the truth and the authority of Scripture.  Peter is telling us we need to believe the Bible.  All of it!  It’s really that simple.  And of course he’s not alone.

Paul also tells us 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I could spend weeks providing Scriptural evidence and proof of the authority of God’s Word but it’s not about me showing more scripture to prove Rob Bell is wrong.  We only need to show why he disbelieves God and why those that follow him will continue to support him.

Why?

They want to suppress the truth because they don’t like the truth (Romans 1:18).

Romans 1:21-22 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools.

No matter what the sin, those that hate what God’s Word plainly teaches, will distort, adjust, or just ignore.  They will show their foolishness and disbelief, no matter how slick and cool the packaging.  Those that teach and those that follow them are heaping judgment upon themselves.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Can you see the amazing truth Paul is showing us and how true this is today?

If you believe adultery is sin and if you believe lying is sin, then you must believe that homosexuality is sin (1 Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Timothy 1:10).  You can’t have it both ways.  You take all Scripture as truth or you take none of it as truth.

I hate who I was before Christ.  I hate when I sin.  But I can’t find a way to justify my sin and look for loop-holes in the law.  God’s Word is truth and I must cling to this truth as the only hope I have for salvation.

If I suppress the truth in unrighteousness, I’m not right with God.  As David said I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight… Psalm 51.

I pray God is merciful and will show Rob Bell his sin.  I pray God is merciful and He shows me my sin.  I pray God will do all according to His good pleasure and He will save those that can recognize their sin and fall on the finished work of Jesus Christ as the only One capable of saving them.  I pray they will repent and turn from their sin.  If they truly love Christ they will follow His commands (John 14:15).

John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth.  Your word is truth.

Kevin