Monday, July 19, 2010

The Purpose of Suffering

1 Peter 3

Suffering for Right and Wrong

And who
is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."
(Isaiah 8:12) 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

[Is Christ the Lord of your heart? If so we are to have a different toward suffering. The natural man will avoid suffering, but the spiritual man will suffer boldly, motivated by his faith. The world can only threaten us in the physical sense which is temporary, but the Lord gives us a hope last lasts forever, knowing we receive an eternal inheritance in Jesus.]


16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

[Nobody wants to suffer, but we are soldiers of the cross. Does a soldier go into battle expecting that the enemy will not try to kill him? Imagine a boxer who goes into the ring and complains that his opponent is trying to hit him. If you are going to suffer, suffer for doing good not evil, that your suffering will honor God and fulfill his purpose. For a soldier it dishonors you to get shot in the back, because that probably means you were running away from the battle. So it is for a Christian if our suffering is caused by our own bad conduct.]

Christ's Suffering and Ours

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us
(you) to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,

[In suffering for our redemption, Christ became a "life giving spirit", he preached in the prison of fallen angels (the world) who were cast out of heaven.

1 Corinthians 15

45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.

This does not means that Jesus became the Holy Spirit, but rather that he surrendered his temporary physical body, to put on his eternal glorified spiritual body. A spiritual body seems paradoxical but not when you consider the entire physical world is temporary, and only the spiritual world is eternal.]

20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited
in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

[The longsuffering God waited patiently to judge the world while one man built the arc, so that mankind could be saved passing through the flood.]

21 There is also an antitype (a figure or example) which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

[Baptism is a figure of the resurrection of Jesus, and only the redeemed can receive this scriptural baptism. So that the suffering that lead to Christ resurrection returned him to his former glory in heaven, and through salvation his suffering returns us to a right standing or "good conscience" toward God. Not that we had earned something in being baptized, but that the suffering of Christ delivered us from our own guilt. This reconciliation with the eternal God, so that man can have a relationship with God, is the original intent of God for man in creation.]

1 Peter 4

 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

[Notice Peter is using the same battle symbolism we discussed earlier. "Arm yourselves" with the mind of Christ, knowing that when you have suffered like Christ, you have overcome the desires of the flesh. We are to use this success in overcoming the flesh to do the will of God.]

3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.
5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

[Here we have a dark description of the depravity of man; lusts, drunkenness, idolatries. The world gets upset with the redeemed when we don't run after the same things they seek, even calling Christians "evil" when we stand for righteousness. But the upgodley men of this world will face the God of creation who judges all men. That is why the gospel is preached to the spiritually dead, because death alone will not save them from judgment. Only those born again of the spirit, will live for God by the Spirit.]

Serving for God's Glory

7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
(Proverbs 10:12) 9
Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him
speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

[Notice the sharp contrast between the depravity of the natural man, and the good works of the redeemed; prayers, love, hospitality, stewardship. All the things abound to the glory of God in the lives of his people.]

Suffering for God's Glory

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 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. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.[d] On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.[e]
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now

      " If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
      Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
(Proverbs 11:31)

 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.

[All suffering we might experience in the physical world is temporary. All the rewards we will reap in the spiritual world are eternal. When God asks us to suffer for the souls of others will we be submissive and obedient to his will, or will we behave as the natural man and avoid suffering. When Jesus was faced with this choice he had a simple answer; "not my will but thine". Jesus endured suffering for the eternal purpose of redemption, and inherited the glory of his kingdom, not for himself only, but for all who follow him in this way.]

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