Suffering in the Christian Life-

Who Suffers?

 

March 23-28, 2008

KLMX Ministerial Alliance

Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church, Des Moines, NM

 

Good morning again, KLMX listeners.  I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines NM and I’ll be with you for the rest of this week on the Ministerial Alliance program.  This week, we’re looking at suffering and the role of God in that suffering.  As I said yesterday, this is a difficult topic.  For one thing, suffering is not a pleasant topic.  We’re forced to look behind “God is good” and “God is love” and look at the bigger picture of who God is and why certain things happen to us.  For another thing, when we start examining the Bible and going a little deeper than a once a week Sunday school class we find some surprising things.  Yet, as we should see by the time we wrap this study up, all things in one way or another eventually accomplish God’s goal.   As I said yesterday and as I’ll say every day of this and any other study, there are 3 foundations upon which I stand.  They are:

 

1)     The Bible is inerrant, infallible, and 100% sufficient for our needs.  Sola Scriptura.

2)     God is truly Almighty.  He is sovereign over all things.

3)     All things work to the glory of God.  Soli Deo Gloria.

 

And finally, if you miss any of the messages this week, you can find them on our church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org.  If you Google for First Baptist Church KLMX you’ll find us that way.  With that said, let’s get started.  May God bless this message, may it glorify His holy name, and may this be accomplished through the precious name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

Today let’s look at the question- “who suffers?”  This is an important question because some teach that Christians can be free from suffering.  They point to the many people whom Christ healed during his earthly ministry.  There’s no question that Christ did indeed do that and He actually healed everyone who came to Him asking for healing.  His disciples did likewise for a period of time after Christ’s ascension.  But there’s more to the picture and I think that looking at the whole picture can not only help us in times of suffering- during times when God seems far away and silent- but it can also increase our understanding of the glory of God.  And that, of course, is one of the foundations I mentioned earlier- “All things work to the glory of God.”

 

Who suffers?  First, Christ suffered.   On the road to Emmaus, the risen Christ is talking with two disciples who do not yet recognize him and He tells them:

 

Luke 24:26-27  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"  (27)  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

 

If we take Jesus’ cue and start examining Moses and all the Prophets for ‘the things concerning Himself” we find quite a bit of information.  Here’s a passage from Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 53:3-9  He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  (4)  Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.  (5)  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.  (6)  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  (7)  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.  (8)  He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.  (9)  And they made His grave with the wicked But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 

 

This is a well-recognized prophecy of the Messiah and it tells us that that “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.”  He received stripes by which we are healed- these stripes are beatings.  “He was oppressed and afflicted.” 

 

Turning to the New Testament, we quickly see that in his earthly life Jesus “had no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58), that he was tired and thirsty (John 4:6), and that he was grieved for the people (Matthew 23:37).  But these are minor grievances compared to what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus contemplated the cup He was about to bear.

 

Luke 22:41-44  And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed,  (42)  saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."  (43)  Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.  (44)  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

 

After this, the Bible tells us:

 

Matthew 27:27-31  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him.  (28)  And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.  (29)  When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"  (30)  Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head.  (31)  And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.

 

As if the pain and suffering of the cross itself were not enough, Jesus then had to suffer the worst agony possible when the sins of the world were laid upon Him.  This meant that God the Father- who in his holiness will not tolerate sin- had to turn away from Jesus.  We read:

 

Matthew 27:46  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

 

This is the cup from which Jesus drank- not the physical suffering of the cross and not the physical suffering of death, but the spiritual suffering of having the sins of the world laid upon His pure and holy account.  This kind of suffering is totally incomprehensible to our sinful minds and souls.  Yet, Christ bore this cup for those whom the Father appoints to Him.

 

That’s a brief look at the sufferings of Christ.  How does this apply to us? 

 

Romans 8:16-17  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  (17)  and if children, then heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

 

Note carefully what Romans says- we are joint heirs with Christ “if indeed we suffer with Him.”  This is backed up in a few other passages:

 

Philippians 1:29-30  For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,  (30)  having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

 

John 16:33  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

 

2 Timothy 3:12  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

 

We started off talking about physical tribulations and sufferings, but we’ve made a shift to spiritual tribulations here.  And this, I think, is where the emphasis should be.  After all, our bodies die and return to the dust but our souls live on.  Christ suffered physically in the flesh, but His greatest trial was taking the polluting sins of the world upon His pure nature.  Too often we focus on the physical and the temporal rather than the spiritual and the eternal.  Christ tells us:

 

Luke 9:22-25  …"The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day."  (23)  Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  (24)  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  (25)  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

 

This and related passages put the emphasis squarely on the spiritual aspect of life.  Here’s another one:

John 12:25  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

 

Keep this passage firmly in mind! 

 

It is essential to realize that Christ’s taking our sins upon Himself accomplished our redemption.  Had He simply died on the cross w/out taking our sins, He would have accomplished nothing.  We would still be carrying our sins and our redemption would be incomplete and impossible.  Scripture is very clear on Christ’s role and the necessity of His suffering.

 

Galatians 3:13  Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"),

 

1 Peter 2:24  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousnessby whose stripes you were healed.

 

And back to the Isaiah passage we started off with:

 

Isaiah 53:3-5  He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  (4)  Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.  (5)  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 

 

From these passages, we should see that Christ’s suffering was done specifically with the goal of Him taking the payment for our sins.  And now I ask the question- have you personally cast your sins and burdens upon Christ and trusted in Him and Him alone for salvation?  If not, I urge you to do so today.  Please don’t look to your church attendance for salvation.  Don’t look to me or any other preacher.   Look to Christ and only Christ.  He is the only one able to take your sins and the only one who has paid the price for them, for you.  Trust in Him.

 

Let’s wrap this up by looking back at what we’ve seen today.  The question was “Who suffers?”  We saw very clearly that Christ suffered not only physically but spiritually as well and that He did this for us, in taking our sins upon Himself.  As Christians, we too will partake in sufferings.  Romans 8:16-17 showed us that.  That these sufferings will be primarily spiritual should be seen in the example of Christ.  And yet, what we so often focus on is the physical suffering- the arthritis, the MS, the cancer, the chronic back pain, the paralysis and so on.  This is understandable because we do live in a physical body, but this is not where our focus should be.  Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at physical suffering and see how it affects our spiritual walk.

 

I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines.  Our church website is www.fbcdesmoines.org and you can find the text to all the KLMX messages I’ve as well as other sermons.  We start worship at 9:30 and that’s the main service, not Bible study.  We have round-table Bible study after the service, usually followed by a meal.  Feel free to join us in worship.

 

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