Suffering for the Gospel

from FIDE-O:

The Apostle Paul told Pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:8-10, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”

Pattern of the Typical Christian Life:

  1. Wow, trusting God is great.
  2. Whoa, this is difficult.
  3. Why, this is impossible.
  4. Well, I’m just trusting God.
  5. Wow, trusting God is great.

Many Christians are in-between phases 2 and 3. They are trying to do the best they can… but it’s in the flesh. Thus, they do not have a consistent testimony of the power of God because they are not properly living by faith. They are suffering, and they are ashamed of Christianity because they are defeated.

In 2 Timothy 1:8-10 Paul gives biblical reasons why you do not need to be ashamed of the Christian life:

Suffering for the Gospel is Honorable

Living for God will cause those who are rebelling against God to resent you. Suffering is thus an inevitable cost of godly living. But such a cost is not a sacrifice but a blessing. Paul said in Philippians 2:17, “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.”

We should not relish suffering or be looking for trouble. But when suffering comes our way due to our walk with God, we should be thankful to be counted worthy to suffer as Christ did.

This life of ours is God’s idea, His plan, His fault… so don’t be ashamed. He’s not.

2 Timothy 1:8 reminds us of Revelation 13:8, namely that God sovereignly rules our life. At Creation God did not make animals before making air. Did not make fish before making water. Before there was a serpent and a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, there was a Lamb slain on a Cross in the eternal plan of God. And before you were born to suffer you were designed to reign with Christ as an heir and joint-heir of His kingdom. God has a Purpose then a Provision then Providence to make His provisions fulfill His purposes.

By nature, none of us enjoys suffering, but suffering may well be part of a faithful Christian life. We suffer not because we have sinned, but rather because we have done right and serve God. Thus when we suffer we are sharing Christ’s sufferings (Phil 3:10) and suffer on behalf of the whole church (Col 1:24).

Since God is in charge when we complain and gripe it reveals our lack of faith in God. Further we reveal our sinful pride, because we apparently think that we could do a better job.

Remember, our Lord sovereignly initiates, sustains, and completes salvation. He has forgiven us, justified us, and delivered us from sin and Satan, from death and hell. In every sense and in every tense—past, present, and future—God is our Savior.

This is what is so remarkable about Paul’s strategy to encourage Pastor Timothy. Namely, in order to excite Timothy to boldness, to keep him constant in the faith, Paul reminds him of the great doctrine that the grace of God reigns in the salvation of men. Paul doesn’t tell Timothy just hang in there it will get better… And if this church doesn’t work out we will just send out your resume… And for your wife we will pamper her at a women’s retreat… And for retirement we will pad your annuity investments.
NO…
Paul encouraged Timothy to stand fast and be faithful. Paul preaches to him the Gospel, the doctrines of grace. Nothing is more encouraging than great doctrinal preaching. Better still, this doctrine not only gives the man something to hold but it holds the man.

In Philippians 3:13-14 you find these words. “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Is then your calling a high calling, has it lifted up your heart, and set it upon heavenly things? Has it lifted up your hopes, to hope no longer for things that are on earth, but for things that are above? Has it lifted up your tastes, so that they are no longer grovelling, but you choose the things that are of God? Has it lifted up the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend your life with God in prayer, in praise, and in thanksgiving.
Recollect, if you are truly called it is a high calling, a calling from on high, and a calling that lifts up your heart, and raises it to the high things of God, eternity, heaven, and holiness. Man, unless thou art a stranger here, and heaven is thy home, thou hast not been called with a heavenly calling, for those who have been so called, declare that they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they themselves are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth.

Think about it…

Does it please God that you suffer for the Gospel sake?
Did it please God to bruise Christ?
Is it God’s will that you suffer?
The answer is yes, yes, yes.

Holiness will cause your flesh to suffer and moan and hurt.
Holiness will cause you to be an outcast in this world.
But understand, Jesus’ suffering made our salvation possible, and all those who suffer for the gospel sake will actually spread salvation to others.

Many people suffered that you might hear the gospel.

  • Christ
  • the Apostles
  • the church forefathers
  • countless courageous preachers like Timothy
  • and men and women like Lois and Eunice who taught the next generations.

Prepare to suffer. You will suffer. Because we will live for Christ, come what may.

Don’t be ashamed of our sufferings, or the cross, the sufferings of Christ.

And may through our sufferings the glory of God break out of our broken lives.

And may many come to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering.

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