Thursday, June 16, 2011

Suffering...then and now

I was wondering if you would be willing to answer something for me?  I have been reading through some scriptures and have noticed that the suffering Paul endured was due to preaching the mystery.  Was all of his sufferings due to getting the message out about the mystery?  Or did he go through sufferings not related directly to the teaching/preaching/ministering of the mystery?

I am the only one saved in my family.  There are sufferings which I endure from it such as limited communication, interests being few if any, etc.  Are these types of suffering comparable to what Paul endured?  Or are they different?  I'm seeing them as different because Paul was actually out and about preaching/teaching/ministering the mystery.  I, on the other hand, am bound (unequally yoked) by marriage.  The sufferings Paul endured and what is present in my situation, are they to be compared one to another?  Or are they different?

Thank you for writing and sharing about your sufferings as you grow in God's Grace message, and the rejection you are experiencing because of it. There are many saints in your situation, and from all accounts it can be a living hell!

God has designed marriage to be the highest halls of human happiness—that being, with the two becoming one flesh and sharing intimately in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. When that is not the case (especially if one spouse is a grace believer and the other one is not), it can be hell, spiritually speaking, no matter how good the physical/companionship is.

Even so, my prayer to God is that His wonderful grace comforts you as you grow in it!

Now then, on to your questions:

1.      Was all of Paul's sufferings due to preaching the Mystery?  No!

2.      Are the sufferings you endure within your family, etc. comparable to what Paul endured?   Yes!

3.      Why do they seem different? Because Paul's job was to go out preaching a brand new message during a time where Satan could supernaturally attack him, etc. God magnified Paul's office which brought increased scrutiny and persecution. Believe me, if any of us grace believer's today got really, really bold and pressed the issue of Grace in Satan's world like our Apostle did, we too would get increased pressure like Paul.

Although it is clear from scripture that Paul would suffer for Christ sake, not all of it was because of it. The Lord made it clear that our Apostle would suffer greatly for Him:

Acts 9:16
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

Paul later tells us that those sufferings were to keep him humble.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So we see that the bulk of Paul's sufferings were for Christ's sake—specifically, because of his unique/special apostleship.  But Paul says that sufferings come in three ways:

Suffering due to living in a fallen creation

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Notice that Paul says that not only the outside world suffers because of the curse brought on by Adam's sin, but also us believers who are in Christ! Paul includes himself. He, Timothy, and other faithful men of God got sick and died just like you and I do/will because sickness/death are part of the curse on creation over all mankind and will be until the kingdom is set up on earth!

Suffering due to not applying sound doctrine
The second way suffering comes is not applying sound Pauline grace into the details of life.

Paul says to walk in the Spirit... ...and that to walk in the flesh is death.

Galatians 5:16-17
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would

Romans 7:5
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

So whether it is the flesh of carnal lasciviousness or the flesh of religious legalism, it will lead to trouble!

Galatians 6:6-7
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

God's spiritual law of sowing and reaping is in effect and whatever you sow, you will reap the same and more later!

When you sow to the Spirit (Pauline grace), you reap that blessed/abundant life God gives us; but, if you sow to the flesh (anything else) you reap corruption/destruction/death/chaos!

Paul made decisions in his life that were not the wisest to insisting to go back to Jerusalem in the book of Acts when God told him to go far hence to the gentile lands to preach. And because of his willfulness to go back there, he suffered for it

Acts 20:22-23
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

So we see that those particular afflictions would not have happened to Paul if he would have went far hence to the gentiles like the Lord commanded him. But he had freewill and it all still worked for God's glory, just like all the dumb things that we do today.

(Most of the relationships that we are/were involved in from the past were ungodly/unequally yoked ones, and we have/do/will suffer as a result of them—that suffering is the "fruit" of our unwise/un-Pauline decisions!).

But don't fret, God can take even our bad decisions and work them for our good if we choose to start listening to His Word thru Paul!

Romans 5:3; 8:28
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

2 Corinthians 4:17
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

But Paul, like we do, still suffered unnecessarily because we were not wise in some decisions! Lack of applying Pauline doctrine also affects both lost and saved just like the affects of living in a fallen world.

Suffering due to living ‘faithfully’
Now then, this type of suffering will affect only those faithful to Pauline grace doctrine.

2 Timothy 3:10-12
But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

This is the suffering that made most of Paul's sufferings!

Although he suffered sicknesses, etc., like all men, and although he made unwise decisions at times like all men, most of his suffering was for being a faithful ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the suffering we all should partake of...

2 Timothy 1:8
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Philippians 1:29-30
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

This is suffering that we ought to seek as believers. We then partake in the same reward that Paul will partake in Christ!

1 Corinthians 9:18; 3:13-14, 10
What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

Know that all the rejection, all the lack of communication, all the lack of interest, etc. that you get from your family are all just part of the program. All faithful believers will have to endure it for our Lord's sake. 

Therefore, specifically answering your question, that is how the sufferings Paul endured are comparable to our present situation.  They are similar to what Paul suffered, howbeit on a much lesser scale!

But always remember what the Lord told Paul in 2 Cor 12 when he suffered...

2 Corinthinas 12: 8-10
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

So although we all suffer in all three ways, we can't really do much about the fallen creation part, and we can limit the unwise decision part...but as we stand faithful to God's message of grace, the emotional/spiritual (and maybe even physical) hurt will be there.

But like Paul said,  "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." [2 Corinthians 1:5]

May these words of our Lord bring you much comfort—we are praying for you.

Hopefully this helps...Maranatha!

Do you have a question for Pastor Ron?


  1. I heard a lot of teaching about suffering in the past when I sat under denominationalism, but they never came close to the sound explanation that this answer provides. This makes sense because the word has been rightly divided. What a difference!

  2. Needed this reminder of why current sufferings happen.