Suffering as a Christian

by Mike Ratliff

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)

There was a large demand today where I work for some sort of way for people to watch the US Presidential Inauguration. Of course, I observe people during things like this so I noted how some of the people in my office were actually worshipping Barack Obama. They were viewing him as if he was some sort of savior. Emotions ran high. Several of those I work with stayed home today in order to watch the coverage on TV. I was amazed. I have not seen anything close to this since I was in the 3rd grade when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated or when Mikhail Gorbechev visited the United States back in the 1980’s. However, there were many of us who simply tried to ignore the whole thing. I observe my own reactions to these things as well… What was bothering me?

I have absolutely no problem with an Afro-American being President of the United States. That is not the issue. The issue for me is that this man is being worshipped and treated as if he is the messiah. Also, it is well known that there is coming a wave of liberalism from the US Government itself at a level that we have never imagined in this country. This “liberalism” will have teeth and will contain mandates, laws, executive orders, et cetera that will present to the Christian an obvious point of decision whether to obey them or obey God. They will be mutually exclusive. I wonder if most professing Christians in the US are ready for this.  However, let us not forget that the New Testament Church was born in the period of the pagan Roman Empire that was opposed to it in nearly every area. Did our Lord and the Apostles become rebels in an attempt to overthrow the oppressive government? No! In fact, what we learn from scripture is that our relationship to all secular authorities must be according to our Lord’s own words, which He spoke to Pilate at His trial.

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world-to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38 ESV) 

We must take this to our own hearts my brethren. Yes, we should stand for morality and justice in our society, but we are to treat the government authorities God has placed over us within the framework of our citizenship as Christians being not of this world. No, our true citizenship is the Kingdom of God. However, that being said, we must also be prepared to experience a level of persecution that we have never seen in this country. Oh, in many countries of the world Christians within them have been experiencing barbaric persecution from other religions and the governments which support them. So, on what grounds would be consider ourselves to be somehow exempt from this?

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV)

Peter called Christian suffering fiery trials and stated that believers should not be surprised when they come upon them.

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory [2] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” [3]

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV)

Christians are called to persevere in suffering. God uses these fiery trials to purify the church. Therefore, Christians should pursue God even more during them, giving themselves to Him in their sufferings. Peter tells us that suffering is the norm for the Christian and that within each trial we should rejoice as a disciple of Christ. This joy is the beginning of the joy to come at our Lord’s return. When evil people insult us because we are Christians then we are actually blessed even more because during these fiery trials the “Spirit of glory” rests us in a more powerful way than when we are not.

Another purpose of this suffering is to bring honor to Christ. The term “Christian” was actually a derisive term coined by the enemies of Christianity. It simply means one who is a follower of Christ. The early Church eventually learned to love this name and adopted it, giving glory to their Lord as they suffered horrendously at the hands of those intent upon wiping out Christianity.

What does it mean that “it is time for judgment to begin a the household of God?” This in reference to the Jewish Temple in Ezekiel 9:1-6 and Malachi 3:1-4, however,  since the Cross, the temple is God’s people. The judgment refers to God purifying them through the cleansing fires of suffering. What is Peter referring to in v18 about the righteous being scarcely saved? This is referring to the difficulties that genuine believers suffer. Peter is telling us that the Christian life is not one of ease nor is it free of difficulty. His point here is that if the saved need such purifying then how severe will be the judgment of the ungodly, the unsaved, at the Last Judgment?

The call for the Christian then is to suffer according to God’s will as they entrust their souls to the Lord while continuing to do good. This means that we are to do good even to those who persecute us. I know that this is not normal behavior for anyone, but it is what the Spirit-filled Christian does.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:3-21 ESV)

Soli Deo Gloria!

13 thoughts on “Suffering as a Christian

  1. Pingback: Suffering as a Christian - Reformata

  2. Mike said: ‘The term “Christian” was actually a derisive term coined by the enemies of Christianity. It simply means one who is a follower of Christ.’

    The suffix ‘ian’ has as one of its definitions the meaning ‘belonging to’. From this, the definition of Christian is ‘belonging to Christ’, a much different meaning than ‘follower of Christ’. Isn’t it great that we belong to Christ, our Lord and Saviour knowing that no one or nothing can separate us from Him.

  3. Dear Mike,
    I felt the Lord did not want me to even watch the swearing in yesterday. At my sons “christian school” they wanted the kids to dress up patriotic and call it God bless America day. I was stunned…how can God bless America when a gay priest gives an invocation, when a deceived pastor who’s sold millions of books helps to bring christinity into further apostacy by endorsing that priest and praying at the inauguration with a mesh on names for our Lord. ISA for the muslims is not JESUS of the bible for they proudly proclaim God has NO SON!! I COULD NOT DO IT….I took my kids out of school and we spent a wonderful morning together ..it’s like Daniel in babylon….where do we STAND…..invoking more death and sodomy on our nation…I could not be a part of it….but I will tell you what happened at 11 am (central time)….I knew it was noon in DC and I started praying in the SPirit…after about 5 minutes of this …bubbling up in my spirit and then coming out of my mouth were the words…The gates of hell shal not prevail against the church of the Living God..it sounded military…with a beat….. and with authority and i could not stop saying it…I must have said said it 5 times or so…
    I thought Lord…this man is being sworn in and your true remnant must prepare to stand firm..I think persecution and jailings are to come for if we speak God’s TRUTH and a word AGAINST Obama we’re in trouble with this new “sea of change”. We are more than conquerers and our Lord Jesus is getting ready to return. The SPirit and the Bride say COME!!

  4. Amen T.J. I was sitting in my basement office after posting this last night. I could not stop weeping. I had spoken to some people earlier in the evening who had fallen in love with Obama because of his speech. It was heartbreaking. It is like Christians are willing to climb on the bandwagon of anyone regardless of the evil they represent. It is amazing how BLIND most professing Christians are. As I wept I kept asking God to open the eyes of His people. I rejoiced as I read your comment because it is obvious that God has His remnant and He has most definitely not allowed some of us to be deceived. Yes, come Lord Jesus!

  5. I couldn’t stomach watching that horrific inauguration either. It is one thing to watch as unbelievers in Jesus Christ fall for this false messiah, but how can any believer be so blinded by the cultic figure of Barack Obama? Sometimes I feel abandoned by God and don’t know how to cope with this feeling of where is God and why are we being punished instead of the baby killers and sodomites.

  6. Mary,

    That is why our hope is Christ alone. We make a huge mistake when we place our hope in what men do and say. That is why I am so appalled by what is going on with Obama and those deceived Christian leaders who are part of it.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. We can’t believe how the people are ‘making’ over all of this. Sounds to us like somethings up. We watched parts here and there and just shook our heads. It all must take place before our King returns to get us. He will sustain us in everything we need. Just cling to Him and stay as close as you can to Him. And one more time…….Come quickly Lord Jesus.

  8. Fellow Brothers and Sisters, I too was crying during the inauguration. Some may have thought it was because I’m proud to be black, but no, it was because I know it’s all about to hit the fan. In actuality I’m embarrassed it has to be a black man to lead us into the tribulation. But all these are the beginning of sorrows. Lets keep looking up, for our redemption draws near! Lets all keep praying God will open the minds of our neighbors, co-workers and families to this deceit, come to repentance and turn to Him.
    Stand Firm in the Faith

  9. Pingback: Are You Prepared to Suffer? « Fragrance of Truth

  10. KF , you have great courage to admit you are black and grieved by all of this. As a white woman I am concerned I will be considered a bigot and a racist for not joining on the Obama bandwagon. I talked to my sons principal today and expressed my grief (with tears) that the first thing our new President did was lift the ban on partial birth abortion and the WHite house website makes it clear the gay agenda will march forward with a vengence. Yet I said…I do not want to be considered a racist but must adhere to God’s word…He will NOT bless our nation for more death and sodomy ushered in…she said we needec to send a message that racism died in America on jan. 20th….but at the cost of God’s word and God’s truth…..we will only reap more death and perversions into our nation as we so this agenda….but no one wants to be thought of as a racist so the strong urge will be to compromise…and as a black man I suppose the strong urge was to be on board with Obama….how the body of Christ must truly be ONE IN THE SPIRIT, love one another and have the love of His truth in us….be encouraged my brother…the Lord Jesus will be with us until the very end and then we will see His Glorious face and His Perfect GOVERNMENT in operation…the govt. upon HIS SHOULDERS!! AMEN!!

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