Christ’s Suffering and Ours

by Mike Ratliff

3 ἀρκετὸς γὰρ ὁ παρεληλυθὼς χρόνος τὸ βούλημα τῶν ἐθνῶν κατειργάσθαι πεπορευμένους ἐν ἀσελγείαις, ἐπιθυμίαις, οἰνοφλυγίαις, κώμοις, πότοις καὶ ἀθεμίτοις εἰδωλολατρίαις. 4 ἐν ᾧ ξενίζονται μὴ συντρεχόντων ὑμῶν εἰς τὴν αὐτὴν τῆς ἀσωτίας ἀνάχυσιν βλασφημοῦντες. (1 Peter 4:3 NA27)

3 For we have wasted enough time participating in the desires of the Gentiles, having proceeded in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties and unlawful idolatry. 4 Wherein they think it strange you are not running with them into the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:3,4 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

I got the following A.W. Tozer quote from a friend today.

The Loneliness of the Christian

“The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

“The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over-serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

“It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else.”

AW Tozer

I know of what Tozer was talking about. I was amazed when this happened to me at a Deacon’s meeting one Saturday morning when I wanted to share that my walk with Christ had a great deal more to do with my time in the Word, in prayer, in worship, than it did in being a Deacon or whatever. I did indeed long for some of those men, perhaps just a few of them, would be in that same spiritual place. However, I remember the cold stares and from that day forward, I became an outsider looking in even through I was one of the senior deacons and was a Bible teacher at that church. It was only about 6 months or so later that all that Purpose Driven stuff started. We fought it, but it became apparent that those who made the decisions there were not going to listen to anyone that did not agree with them so we left.

However, what we must remember is that this sort of thing is very much a part of our suffering as Christians. I do not let this get me down at all because when the fiery trials come, I look at what Christ did for me and for all who are in him by faith.

18 ὅτι καὶ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ περὶ ἁμαρτιῶν ἔπαθεν, δίκαιος ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων, ἵνα ὑμᾶς προσαγάγῃ τῷ θεῷ θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζῳοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι· 19 ἐν ᾧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν, 20 ἀπειθήσασίν ποτε ὅτε ἀπεξεδέχετο ἡ τοῦ θεοῦ μακροθυμία ἐν ἡμέραις Νῶε κατασκευαζομένης κιβωτοῦ εἰς ἣν ὀλίγοι, τοῦτ᾽ ἔστιν ὀκτὼ ψυχαί, διεσώθησαν δι᾽ ὕδατος. 21 ὃ καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀντίτυπον νῦν σῴζει βάπτισμα, οὐ σαρκὸς ἀπόθεσις ῥύπου ἀλλὰ συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς ἐπερώτημα εἰς θεόν, δι᾽ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 22 ὅς ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ [τοῦ] θεοῦ πορευθεὶς εἰς οὐρανὸν ὑποταγέντων αὐτῷ ἀγγέλων καὶ ἐξουσιῶν καὶ δυνάμεων. (1 Peter 3:18-22 NA27)

18 For Christ suffered once for sins, a righteous man on behalf of unrighteous men, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh yet being made alive in the Spirit, 19 by whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who disobeyed when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not from the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into Heaven, Angels, Authorities and Powers having been subjected to him. (1 Peter 3:18-22 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Christ is no longer on the cross. His atoning work there is finished. He suffered once and there will be no more. His atoning sacrifice for our sins was sufficient. Those who teach, and have always taught, that salvation by grace through faith is indeed free, but we must still earn our way to heaven through good works cannot be taking those doctrines from the Word of God. No, those come from the traditions of men or religious systems. Christ’s one sacrifice for sins was of such perpetual validity that it was sufficient for all and would never need to be repeated. Why was it sufficient? The answer is found in v18, He was righteous and suffered on behalf of the unrighteous. This sacrifice was acceptable in the eyes of the righteous judge, God the Father; hence, our Lord Jesus Christ became our propitiation.

The saving of Noah and his family in the ark was an antitype, that is, it corresponds to the baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit in our salvation. His resurrection is what seals our salvation as being true. In response to what Christ has done for us, how then should we respond to this wicked age and so much apostasy in the visible church?

1 Χριστοῦ οὖν παθόντος σαρκὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς τὴν αὐτὴν ἔννοιαν ὁπλίσασθε, ὅτι ὁ παθὼν σαρκὶ πέπαυται ἁμαρτίας 2 εἰς τὸ μηκέτι ἀνθρώπων ἐπιθυμίαις ἀλλὰ θελήματι θεοῦ τὸν ἐπίλοιπον ἐν σαρκὶ βιῶσαι χρόνον. 3 ἀρκετὸς γὰρ ὁ παρεληλυθὼς χρόνος τὸ βούλημα τῶν ἐθνῶν κατειργάσθαι πεπορευμένους ἐν ἀσελγείαις, ἐπιθυμίαις, οἰνοφλυγίαις, κώμοις, πότοις καὶ ἀθεμίτοις εἰδωλολατρίαις. 4 ἐν ᾧ ξενίζονται μὴ συντρεχόντων ὑμῶν εἰς τὴν αὐτὴν τῆς ἀσωτίας ἀνάχυσιν βλασφημοῦντες, 5 οἳ ἀποδώσουσιν λόγον τῷ ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς. 6 εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ νεκροῖς εὐηγγελίσθη, ἵνα κριθῶσι μὲν κατὰ ἀνθρώπους σαρκὶ ζῶσι δὲ κατὰ θεὸν πνεύματι. (1 Peter 4:1-6 NA27)

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, because the one having suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but in the will of God. 3 For we have wasted enough time participating in the desires of the Gentiles, having proceeded in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties and unlawful idolatry. 4 Wherein they think it strange you are not running with them into the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will given an account to the one ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 To this end indeed was the Good News preached to the dead that they might be judged as men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit. (1 Peter 4:1-6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

Because of our Lord’s triumph at the Cross in his suffering and death and resurrection on our behalf, we should also be willing to suffer in the flesh knowing that it potentially produces the greatest triumph. We put ourselves in this position only by following our Lord’s command to “take up our own crosses and follow him…” All else is wasting time in the flesh living for the lusts of men. Instead, we must be after the pursuit of the will of God and we find that only as we abide in Christ. I do not find that in simply being religious. I do not find that in pietism or pragmatic Churchianity. I find it in seriously living in the Word of God, that is, studying it, and applying it, and walking in repentance as I confess my sins daily before the throne of grace. I pray as I walk through this life and I live this life in light of my walk with Christ.

Do I fail at this? Sadly, yes I do. I confess to you just as I confess to God, that I fail at this and I must deny my flesh just like everyone else. The lust of the eyes, the pride of life, all of that pulls on me just as it does you. None of us are immune to that. However, we can do some things to live in the will of God rather than in the pursuit of the flesh. That is, we do all we can not to expose our flesh to what it wants. I hardly ever watch television for example. When I do, it is excruciating for me because of all the digs into my flesh it makes. I can barely make it through the local news let alone the national news because I get so angry about some things. In any case, What ever it is that gets our lusts going, we must mortify. That is our part. How can we mortify our sins if we are continually exposing our flesh to what it wants? No, we have to eliminate what it wants as much as possible as we pursue our Lord and obedience to all of his commands.

What’s going to happen? God will test our faith. Yes, that is right. He will allow Satan to tempt us and/or our flesh to be tempted and we will be given a test that will have only one way out. What was Jesus’ way of escape when he was tempted in the wilderness by Satan? He used the Word and that is why we must live in the Word as well. We must learn it, become as familiar with it as we can be so that when the tempter comes, we can turn to the truth of God’s Word, and say no.

Never forget my brethren that we always have 1 John 1:9, “ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας.” Or, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, that he may forgive us our sins and may cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

Soli Deo Gloria!

15 thoughts on “Christ’s Suffering and Ours

  1. Hello again Mike. These last three posts of yours are very much like what I attempt to convey to any and all who claim to be Christian. As one who has also learned these lessons the hard way (usually from attempting to follow men and institutions more than Jesus) I can praise God today in seeing the truth as it is in Him alone. It is amazing that as soon as we are willing to relinquish our own efforts in sanctification (as we also had in justification) we immediately are freed from many assaults of false guilt and shame that drove us deeper into sin. It takes courage to step out and stand upon and in Jesus alone and with certainly that comes with a cost. I think this is where many find the struggle, as Mickey said earlier, one wonders whether they are really seeing these things “unlike” everyone else or whether they are “crazy.” Everyone would appreciate at least one other likeminded saint to walk with them upon the road but there are times when Jesus must show us that He alone is our adequacy. Although others can and do occasionally contribute to our understanding of these truths (as you and others do on this site) revelation and illumination are God’s handiwork. Once the truth is seen it is invariably embraced and cannot be abandoned.
    I find today the occasional opportunity to share these truths with others as God orchestrates them. A hymn sing invite at someone’s home, cutting some firewood for a brother in need or sharing with a gal at a restaurant. My part- being prepared as a result of an abiding in Him, prayerful preparation and asking to be used each day. God’s part- open the doors, guide me steps and words and open the hearts. Where I neglect my responsibilities weakness and confusion result. When I’m faithful I find God faithful in carrying out exactly what He deems necessary in that moment of time.
    True trust in God never leaves one wondering if they said the right words or thinking there’s more “they” could have done in helping someone else. There is no struggle to convince anyone else to believe like I do or to adopt the particular path God used in calling me to Him. No, God does require preparation on my part, but we must leave the orchestration to Him. I am free today- from the demands of the law, the power of sin, the expectations of others, the reqirements of instituitions and the political correctness of society why? “But now we have been released from the law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” Just as we have been crucified with Christ (God’s doing) we share in that crucifixion practically by “embracing the cross” which allow us to bear fruit unto God.
    Excellent posts Mike. I find it an intersting paradox to be found among those deeming me to be unworthy and those God’s finds to be unworthy of me.

  2. Thank you Michael. There are good men of God in the ministry who lead the right way, that is, by pointing us to Christ not themselves or their little empire they are building, et cetera. I have no problem listening to men such as these as they open God’s Word and as they exposit it, the Holy Spirit strikes my heart with blow after blow and yet I am also comforted in the arms of my Saviour. After I posted this last night I watched a video from the 2010 Shepherd’s Conference. It was from Session 8 in which Steve Lawson exegeted Job 1 and then gave a personal example of losing his church by him being accused by malicious people bent on running him out of the ministry claiming it was impossible to be a Baptist and Reformed in your Theology at the same time. I had heard it live and had listened to that video several times before, but even so, I wept anew as I heard of how Satan, when allowed by God, unleashes cruel hate on those God is testing. It can seem as if we are being crushed yet this is how God prepares those he uses for his glory.

    In any case, yes, there are way too many examples of those in the ministry who should be doing something else, but God does have his men…

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Most Baptists know not our history, nor the history of the church or The Reformation. They only know the effects of Charles Finney and love their fuzzy image of C.H. Spurgeon, being more like Joel Osteen than Spurgeon in everything except the Baptist label. I had a seeker sensitive, self-professed “people driven” preacher (I cannot call such men “pastor”) who adjusted his preaching to accommodate his perceptions of the people (which led him to skip most of chapter 2 when he was preaching through James). All was soft and “loving” (in the Greco-Roman sense) with the Lord portrayed as meek and weak. This man’s dog was named Spurgeon – there was no other discernible connection with that man or his preaching.

  4. Thank you, Mike, for this post, it is so true of the church but so sad that so many who claim to follow our Lord in reality only serve to blaspheme Him. I too have been through the whole seeker-sensitive nightmare, and it was always so confusing to me that professing believers would act so horribly in the name of Christ. We had almost given up on finding a good, solid church in town. Willow Creek Canada has their head office not 5 minutes from our house – as a result, pragmatism runs rampant in this town, and there are only 2 or 3 churches that teach sound doctrine (in a city of roughly 100,000!). Praise God, the Lord led us to one of them a few weeks ago, and it has been such an encouragement! To find a place with real fellowship, expository preaching and teaching, and Christ-centered worship has caused me to weep so many times in the last few weeks. It almost seems surreal, like if I poke my finger in too far the bubble will pop, and all will be lost. Our pastor actually said to me on Sunday that he has nothing on his own, all he has is the Word of God! I told him, you realize if you keep saying things like that, you will NEVER get rid of us! lol. What a blessing a true pastor and true fellowship in the Lord is. It really makes the battle that we go through to proclaim God’s truth do-able. We were never meant to fight the battle alone.

  5. Allison, I rejoice with you my sister that you have found that good church and pastor. So many I hear from nearly every day have no church close to them that has not apostatized.

  6. Hi Mike, Tozer’s mysticism aside, I appreciate the post. It is rough out here on the lonely road. There are so few who want to dig into the Word of God and really get to know Him. Let us rightly divide the Word of truth. Thanks, Mike.

  7. Carol, yep, but compared to today’s mystics who are going full after R.C. mysticism, Tozer, I think, was simply trying to describe what happens within when we do meditate and meet the Lord on his own terms. I would never define meditation outside of the parameters you defined in your comment my sister and I doubt if Tozer would either, at least I would hope not. Yes, let us rightly divide the Word of truth.

  8. Mike, I agree that Tozer probably didn’t enage in the Lectio Divina that we see today, but he did have great admiration for those mystics who came before him. http://asterisktom.xanga.com/705113756/the-way-of-the-mystics–the-roots-of-aw-tozers-righteousness/

    If we look at only the first paragraph of the quote you posted, it’s great, but the second paragraph betrays his mysticism. He may smell myrhh and aloe; I smell Brother Lawrence. :)

    Am I being too critical? Perhaps. But after having experienced God’s hand in guiding me out of the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Arminian milieu, I am quite cognizant of such teachings. The wrong path always starts somewhere — inconspicuously enough — but ends in all manner of error, even shipwreck.

  9. Yes, Carol, let us be discerning. The knowledge we have in our time of the danger of mysticism was sadly not as precise in Tozer’s time, hence, the shipwreck you spoke of for so many people. God graciously has delivered many of us though hasn’t he so let us continue to pursue the straight and narrow with our eyes fixed on the prize.

  10. Dear Mike,

    I praise God for your “safe place”. It is refreshment for a weary soul.

    Hello Angi:) I think of you often when I listen to your sons godly, Christ centered music. What a blessing!

    Grace and peace in Christ Jesus, charisse

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