Tuesday, July 10, 2012

God allows sufferings

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

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

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.

(On a personal note...with me being a preacher and on T.V. and radio, I will get more "public" persecution/rejection, etc. than the average saints. So since Paul's ministry/witness/testimony for Christ was greater than everyone else, so too was his sufferings!)

Although it is clear from scripture that Paul would suffer for Christ sake, not all of it was because of it. In Acts 9:16, the Lord made it clear that our Apostle would suffer greatly for Him: "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 comes in 3 ways:

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 til the kingdom is set up on earth!

Not applying sound Pauline grace into the details of life.

Paul says to "Walk in the Spirit"...Galatians 5...and that to walk in the flesh is 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 do, like 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(s) to us thru our apostle 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 of some unwise decisions! Lack of applying Pauline doctrine also affects both lost and saved just like the affects of living in a fallen world.

Being a faithful Pauline grace believer
Now lastly, the third way that suffering comes...the only one that will affect faithful Pauline grace believers, is found in…

 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 sufferings that made up most of Paul's!

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;

Philemon 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 of in Christ!

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