The Full Embrace of Eternity
The Glory of Suffering
I Pet.1:3-5 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
So much of western Christianity centers upon this life and all that God has for you materially here and now. What kind of a God showers material blessings upon a segment of His people while allowing millions of others to suffer? It is impossible for us who live in the west to comprehend just how deeply people are suffering around the world.
But the Spirit through Peter tells us that our inheritance is not here on this earth. Our inheritance is reserved for us in a place where God dwells called heaven. And if we truly believe that, then what attraction could the things of this world have for us? The truth is that for every attraction, or addiction, we have to the things of this world, we expose our unbelief in both eternity and the Lord God himself. The entire process is a systematic battle against Christ and a systematic surrender to the flesh.
Now the colossal rebellion can be found in the prosperity theology, but bits and pieces of that carnal philosophy has been subtly embraced by much of the western church, including many who would strongly disagree with any prosperity message. The “have your cake and eat it too” principle has slowly crept into Church practice at the individual level, until the local church as a whole openly prays for God’s blessing on million dollar loans and encourages each member to make a financial vow to cover the debt. And these debts are almost never to send missionaries, but they are by and large building funds.
But as the church pays large interest sums every month to pay for the new building, they still profess to believe that these buildings will soon be left to the inhabitants of the earth who were not rescued. In fact, the joke goes “Let the Mormons have them!” And one of the most exciting times in a local church is when they cut the ribbon on a new building, which incidentally is owned by a bank. Again, the things of this life, even when they are purchased through debt, seem to elicit the most amount of joy in the average church.
Get a pay increase? A praise report! Lose your job? A prayer request. Suffering and loss are never praise reports, and the fiery trials are times of mourning rather than rejoicing. Let us see how the Apostle Paul viewed the trials of this life as compared with the glory of eternity.
II Cor.4:7-12 - But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
II Cor.6:4-10 - But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
II Cor.11:23-30 - Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
30If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
I Cor.4:9-13 - For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
II Cor.4:13-18 - We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
14Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
I have highlighted some things, but I really feel that God’s Word speaks for itself, and that we should all read these words again and again, until their power transforms us so that we can say with all joy and sincerity and in a daily affirmation,
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Phil.3:7-8 -But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
God change us from the inside out!