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The Persecuted Church


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Why do believers suffer?

Comfort for God's people

Why is there suffering in the world and why do we as Christians suffer.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do Good things happen to bad people ?

If there is a God of love why does he allow suffering, especially to those he loves?

We live in a world from the consequences of sin that began by two people that were very much like us. Because of their disobedience the world is in a fallen state. Sin and suffering are not God's doing, but are allowed in his plan.

The entire universe is Gods and under his control, but not everything is according to his perfect will, this is why we were asked to pray that his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Nothing happens that God is not aware of, or ultimately is not in control of (he has set the boundaries.) Yet he allows evil to continue even though it is not his will. Some suffering is allowed by God as training or used as chastisement or it can be a judgment. God usually allows such suffering with a view toward restoration and formation of character. For unbelievers it is used to bring them to know him. For believers it is for our growth and to bring us closer to him.

We see Good and evil fall upon believers and unbelievers alike. But only a believer can make sense out of its purpose.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do Good things happen to bad people ?

To answer the first question why bad things happens to good people. The bible teaches there is none that are righteous (good), no not one. Apart from Christ none of us are righteous. None of us have an inherent righteousness. So no one is justified to complain about something bad happening to them. We can put it a different way, why does good things happen to anyone if no one is really good?

So if we do suffer what purpose do trials have in our lives?

We have been brought into Gods kingdom and are still pilgrims in this world. We in the world but not of it. While we are on earth we go through the valleys, we are not placed from Mountain Top to Mountain top. We can consider the Mountain tops as places that give us a glimpse heaven and the valleys as things of this world.

Paul who suffered more than any other apostle wrote Rom. 8:18-21: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”

Why do good things happen to bad people?

Solomon wrestled over this from a human perspective Eccl.4:1 To us it looks as if the same fate befalls the wicked and the righteous, there is no distinction between them and us.

Many a saint and prophet wondered about why God did not destroy the wicked or deliver them from the evil.

Jer.12:1-2: “Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; they grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from their mind.”

Solomon who once had the greatest wisdom in the world was perplexed .

Eccl. 7:15: “I have seen everything in my days of vanity: there is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.

Job wondered as well in Job 21:7-15: “Why do the wicked live and become old, yes, become mighty in power? Their descendants are established with them in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. Their bull breeds without failure; their cow calves without miscarriage. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the flute. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Yet they say to God, 'Depart from us, for we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?'

David wondered about this, the same as Job. Ps. 73:2-19: “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth. Therefore his people return here, and waters of a full cup are drained by them. And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?” Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.”

David had to go in the temple and meet God in prayer, as he sought the Lord the answer came. Then he understood that we see from mans perspective, a temporary one. there is an eternity, which is Gods perspective. He concludes afterward in vs.22-24 “I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; you hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

Job concluded as well Job 21:30: “For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; they shall be brought out on the day of wrath.” There is a day when wickedness will be dealt with in a permanent way.

David After speaking of the righteous as a tree that becomes fruitful in their season Ps.1:4-6 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

There are some famous evangelists today who teach “The Lord does not give trials. He does not give people suffering or kill anyone.” That we are to receive only blessing and be delivered from trials as well as sickness if we have faith. We hear the devil comes to kill, steal and destroy. That he physically is trying to kill us. Well the devils kingdom does do this, but not without it first being permitted by God.

To walk around saying we are not to suffer and everyone is to be prosperous is false. We deal with suffering not by removing it but by going through it. And we are not alone in it but God is with us all the way. Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” He is there for us just as Jesus said he would never leave us as, he sent another like himself, the comforter.

God spoke to Israel Deut. 32:39: “Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.” Essentially God is in control of all things, not just some things.

Speaking to Moses who was arguing with his commission. Exod.4:11: “So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?

In Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphirra were judged by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t Satan that killed them.

The judgments in Revelation during the tribulation come from angels who are doing Gods bidding. It is God who sends destruction upon the earth for people to repent. He is able to judge both unbelievers and believers alike.

The devil is like a dog on leash that God will use to chasten and direct a believers life if necessary. As believers we do not have the same relationship with him as the world does. He is used to buffet us not exploit us. God will use the enemy to keep us awake.1 Pet 5:8-10: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

Satan comes to have us focus on grief and trials, fostering us to have no hope. Despite what things may look like, we are to understand our trials by Phil. 2:13-15: “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure; Do all things without complaining and disputing,; that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” He has us to be examples no matter what state of health we are in.

Our God is an ever present friend and suffers along with us. He asks to cast our cares upon him. He has a purpose for our trials and sufferings. Job who suffered probably more than any other gives us insight into how God controls the circumstances in our lives. The enemy had permission by God but he could only go as far as God would allow it. The lord has overall control in every situation.

In this suffering that the Lord allows for his children, he does not fully reveal to us the why’s or the how’s.

Isa.55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.” “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

It is by his infinite wisdom that he interacts with his children. Job 28:20-24 “From where then does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding?  It is hidden from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the birds of the air.  Destruction and Death say, 'We have heard a report about it with our ears.' God understands its way, and He knows its place.  For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens.”

Gods ways are unsearchable. We cannot always see or comprehend Gods purpose, but with the eyes of faith we can understand the things of heaven being done in our lives on earth..

Ps.139:1-6: “O “LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off.   You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.  You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.”

Isa. 40:28:  “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”

Deut. 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” God will only reveal so much to us here on earth, he does not let us have an intimate knowledge of his ways. What we may not understand now will be better understood later in his presence.

Isa.9:6 his name is wonderful-(Hebrew- Pele) this word is exclusively used of God alone, it means unable to comprehend ,indescribable. He is a God of perfection, in love, mercy as well as justice that we serve.

On earth we are Gods children conformed to Christ’s likeness through suffering. It is the potter’s hand putting pressure on the clay. If there is no suffering there is no learning. Christ called us to sacrifice and die to self in our lives by picking up our cross and following his footsteps. This is to be our daily basis of training. He’s given us his example, by being perfected through his own suffering by his life and while on the cross.

We find consistently throughout he scriptures that those who live godly are not promised prosperity and health or are kept from suffering. There is a purpose in it we cannot know now and even a reward that awaits us in heaven if we submit correctly through the trials. Our trials are custom made by God for us as individuals. The potter puts pressure to the clay to make it new. If the clay is soft and pliable it becomes an easier task. If the clay is hardened it becomes more difficult. It may not be pleasant it may make us be uncomfortable but it is how we go through it that counts.

David knew the usefulness of suffering reflecting back on all he went through he wrote Ps. 119:67: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep they word.” V.75 “In your faithfulness you have afflicted me.” David attributed his affliction to Gods hand not the devils. We need to understand that if we are afflicted or go through a trial that can be extremely long that God is not angry with us. Even if it is for chastisement, it is out of love and his purpose in it is always for our good.

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.” Times of affliction are temporary even if they last a lifetime, they are short in comparison to eternity when they are removed.

But to go through the fires of affliction we must focus on the Lord that can make us strong and not on our trial that can make us weak. God will then be glorified and we will know him in a more intimate way!

By suffering gods glory is brought out. God is glorified when your sick or handicapped, not just when you are well. I can honestly say, He is more glorified in those who are not healthy, then are. The model of Job proves this as well as Paul the apostle. Trials can be a witness of our faith to others. Faith grows in the soil of adversity. The more life throws at you, the greater the amount of fruit that will be produced. We receive spiritual blessings through our buffeting, although at the time it may produce discomfort and anguish.

Charles Spurgeon said “Through our trials God is slowly weaning us from this earth for the world beyond.” He is purging us from something very real and offensive to him. That which is contrary to him. They don’t make us perfect but implant faith and give us a glimpse of what a rest we will have in the promised land.

True comfort is found not in knowing why we suffer, but in knowing the one who truly understands our pain. We cannot know all the why’s right now. It is like the back of a tapestry. When viewed from behind it is just weaves that are unrecognizable. This is our perspective from earth. But looked from the front which is Gods view we can see exactly what he is weaving and it makes perfect sense.

Trials will have us either draw closer to the Lord or move away. We have two choices in it. We can get bitter by our questioning God about his design or get better in trusting him through it. It can be distressing but when it is finished yields peace.

As our trials become deeper so does the well we draw from for us sustenance. Heb.11 gives us a sequential list of those who overcame this world. By faith Abraham, by faith Sarah, by faith Isaac, by faith Jacob, by faith Joseph, by faith Moses. Paul was called to suffer in his life and used his stigmata (his scourging) as proof of his call to apostleship. When Paul was called in Acts 9 the first thing said after he was chosen to be sent was, That he would learn what it is to suffer for Christ's namesake.

James 5:10-11: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord-- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

We all have seasons of trials in the valley and the outcome of victory which put us on the Mt. Tops. We certainly enjoy the mountain tops that give us a reprieve to life’s trials.

God has a different will for everyone in our lives. For Peter he was lead to die for John he lived a long life. There is not one will for all people. Rev. 1:9: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,” Yet though John lived longer than Peter he still was a fellow sufferer.

We follow in their footsteps as they followed in Christ's.

II Thess. 1:4-5: “so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; “

Phil 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, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.” Being afflicted does not mean the Lord has ignored you or loves you any less. It can actually mean he has turned his favor upon you.

1 Pet 4:13: “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy…V.19 “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” Peter goes on 1 Pet 5:1: “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Peter explains Because we partake of his suffering we can participate in his glory later. “

Rom 8:17: “ and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Through much suffering we enter the kingdom. The harder it is for us, the more beneficial the outcome. We can never wonder the why or the what for. He’s already told us. So we need to view everything as coming from God.

In our time there are those who do not want to bear the reproach of the cross. We are expected to take up the cross and walk the road of suffering. IF we die to self we will be given the power to live unto God .

Heb. 2:10: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Even Christ suffered to preserve his sinlessness.

1 Pet. 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved or made sorrowful by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” we get married for better or worse, we are married to Christ and his love will see us through the worst of times. He does not say to pray to be delivered out of the trials but that we should be strengthened through them for our own benefit.

But trials are not judgment, although they can be chastisement for correction, For whom God loves he will chastise to correct. Rom. 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,v.39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing can separate us from his love. If you were able to measure the universe you still can’t measure his love for you, its too great. So he does things for our growth and maturity.

None of us know our future but we know God holds our future and us in his hands. That’s better than Allstate insurance being in their good hands.

Death is no different, No Christian is taken by the enemy in death, only unbelievers are. If we are of the 2nd birth then All of our names, as well as our days are written down in the book of life.

2 Cor.5:1-2 “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,

As the Psalmist writes in Ps 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

Instead of hanging on tenaciously to this life we need to loosely hold it, as we should everything we have. Because our name is on the roll at our real address. That is where our heart should be. Jesus said store up treasures for heaven not earth. By accepting Gods hand on us in our trials we are doing just that. As Paul proclaimed to the church as his hope and ours Phil 1:22 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Vs.23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

The purpose for our sufferings is to know him. Phil 3:10: “ that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, “suffering is mostly foreign to the Christian lifestyle today in America, but it was a way of life to the early Church. The phrase “fellowship of his sufferings” sound strange. How can one have intimate relationship around suffering? It means to partner together with him, we will receive strength now through the trials and the outcome of the resurrection later. Without it we can’t know him and we certainly can’t possess resurrection power. By participating in suffering we can understand how Christ felt who had no sin, struggled in his flesh to be perfected. We then can have a personal experience of Christ’s power “by means of sufferings.”

Jesus said in Jn.14 he went ahead and prepared a place for us , that where he is we may be also.

Some of us may leave to enjoy it sooner than others, but as Christians we all have flight reservations to the same destination. We can be assured as it says in Ps.16 in his presence Is fullness of Joy.” If we experience momentary joy now, imagine what it will be like later.

As David said Ps 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

To behold his beauty face to face, in his presence is fullness of joy. That day is coming for all of us, lets make sure we are prepared.

What looks like a defeat in your life, can be made into Gods greatest victory. We cannot fathom the ways God uses the things of earth in our lives

What looks like failure can bring out the greatest success given time. By faith, trust we apprehend his ways, we can wholly trust ourselves into his hands. Because our relationship to our perfect heavenly father is operated by his love. We see through a glass darkly now, but one day we will see face to face.

Col. 3:4: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” That is a promise you can bank on. Nothing in the economy of God is wasted, it has purpose and eternal value.

One day we will thank God in heaven for our trials on earth. Until then lets learn to discipline ourselves to endure them with faith, knowing he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him in times of peace, as well as in times of adversity.

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