Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Appointed to suffering

How exactly does Christ suffer today?

Romans 8:17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 

We find insight into this question in such verses that reference grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and frustrating the grace of God (Galatians 2:21). These are emotions that Christ Himself suffers today in seeing people oppose or reject the grace of His revealed gospel and all that is contained within it.

If we are to evaluate the issue of suffering in Romans 8:17 it would behoove us to first consider what was said to Ananias concerning Paul in Acts chapter 9. Notice that before the Lord imparted one iota of the mystery to our apostle, He FIRST declared that Paul was appointed to suffer for that message:

Acts 9:13-16
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

Not only was Paul appointed to suffer for the doctrine that was soon to be revealed to him, but he would do so suffering for Christ's name sake via his ministration of that doctrine. In other words, Paul was appointed to be conjoined in the very same suffering that Christ presently experiences and feels as people hear the revealed mystery of His Word and reject/oppose it. Since the gospel of the mystery is more than basic justification truths, this means that Christ also suffers even when rightly dividing saints reject or oppose the deeper sanctification aspects of His gospel.

This theme of suffering for Christ's name sake in proclamation of His mystery is precisely what Paul is expressing in Romans 8:36, Philippians 1:29-30, and Colossians 1:21-26:

Romans 8:36
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

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.

Colossians 1:21-26
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  

...Thankfully most of us will never experience the extreme lengths of persecution that Paul endured as a minister of his appointed gospel. Nonetheless, ALL of us will experience some measure of suffering, anguish, and rejection in our proclamation of the rightly divided truth.

Excerpt from pages 35&36 of “Wrongly Deriding Joint-heirs with Christ”   

Hopefully this helps!

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