by Mike Ratliff
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36 and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39 NASB)
Cleansing the heart of man-made religiosity is not fun and games. In fact, it hurts. Many resist God’s truth even to the point of bitterly expressing their anger over what is taught or preached. God’s ways are not man’s ways. The way that seems right unto man is not God’s way. Even the regenerate can cling to a paradigm they have constructed in their hearts that represents God in a way that pleases them, but in fact, can be idolatrous. Their God would not do x,y, and z while the Word tells us that the God of the Bible most certainly does allow things to happen to His people in such a way that their idols comes under direct attack. Many of us have learned the hard way that in this age God sometimes allows His people to be oppressed by their governments, big business, false teachers, or social activists. This could very well be unjust treatment. How are we to react?
“The scribes and the Pharisees laid also to Christ’s charge (Luke 23) that he moved the people to sedition. And said to Pilate, we have found this fellow perverting the people and forbidding to pay tribute to Caesar, and saith that he is Christ a king. And again in the same chapter, he moveth the people (said they) teaching throughout all Jewry and began at Galilee even to this place. So likewise laid they to the Apostles’ charge, as thou mayest see in the Acts. Saint Cyprian also and Saint Augustine and many other more made works in defence of the word of God against such blasphemies: so that thou mayest see, how that it is no new thing, but an old and accustomed thing with the hypocrites to wite (cite) God’s word and the true preachers of all the mischief which their lying doctrine is the very cause of.
Neverthelater in very deed, after the preaching of God’s word, because it is not truly received, God sendeth great trouble into the world; partly to avenge himself of the tyrants and persecutors of his word and partly to destroy those worldly people which make of God’s word nothng but a cloak of their fleshly liberty. They are not all good that follow the gospel. Christ (Matthew in the thirteenth chapter) likeneth the kingdom of heaven unto a net cast in the sea that catcheth fishes both good and bad. The kingdom of heaven is the preaching of the gospel, unto which come both good and bad. But the good are few. Christ calleth them therefore a little flock (Luke 12). For they are ever few that come to the gospel of a true intent seeking therein nothing but the glory and praise of God and offering themselves freely and willingly to take adversity with Christ for the gospel’s sake and for bearing report unto the truth, that all men may hear it. The greatest number come and ever came and followed even Christ himself for a worldly purpose. As thou mayest well see (John 6) how that almost five thousand followed Christ and would also have made him king, because he had well fed them. Whom he rebuked saying: ye seek me not, because ye saw the miracles, but because ye ate the bread and were filled: and drove them away from him with hard preaching.” – William Tyndale from The Obedience of a Christian Man, 1528, pp27-28.
I pray that you carefully and prayerfully read this excerpt from William Tyndale’s book The Obedience of a Christian Man. To those who did read it, I pray you also noticed that even in the 16th Century people were perverting the Gospel for money and for fleshly pursuits. In fact, this has been the case from the very days of Christ. Genuine Christians “come to the gospel of a true intent seeking therein nothing but the glory and praise of God and offering themselves freely and willingly to take adversity with Christ for the gospel’s sake…” In this age, the Christian will experience adversity and the more Christlike and humble he or she becomes, the more the world will persecute them. Also, God does allow His people to be treated unjustly by the wicked. This fills up the cup of wrath that awaits these people in eternity. God also uses this to refine His people in the fires of adversity.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:11-21 NASB)
All in Christ are heirs with Him. However, receiving the inheritance that comes to them in Christ involves sharing in His suffering, which is the pathway to sharing in His glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). We also learn in this passage that the Christians will receive glory. This is speaking of the transforming, ennobling, joy-bringing manifestation of God in one’s personal being. This is the spirit-filled expression of Christlikeness that God manifests in mature believers. All genuine believers will experience this freedom in glory when their residual flesh is done away with in eternity. However, let us not forget that it is through suffering for Christ’s sake that the believer will be made ready for this.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:22-25 NASB)
Yes, those who serve the Lord now will experience the groaning and persecution because they are not of this little kingdom, but of a far greater kingdom. The genuine believer is a citizen of the Kingdom of God. However, many believers still have their focus on the little kingdom of this lost and dying world. This blinds the spiritual consciousness of the blessed hope that awaits each believer. When we are temporally focused we can lose sight of the spiritual reality and this causes us to react in the flesh to the suffering of which we all must partake. This is when we have no patience for waiting for the Lord in our tribulation. However, the spirit-filled believer does have this patience, views it all with joy, and reacts to it in humility and this glorifies God and others glorify God when they witness it because they know it is not something done “naturally” or “from within” a natural person so they recognize that what they are witnessing is “of God.”
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:26-30 NASB)
Yes, we suffer tribulation if we belong to Christ, but we are not without one who helps us in our weakness. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us as we pray to the Father for help, courage, and deliverance. Our eternal destiny is assured my brethren. God will bring each of His children through the fires of tribulation to glory.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 NASB)
We are not promised here that we will not have trouble. No, God does allow His people to be treated shamefully at times, however, nothing our enemy or his seed does to us can separate us from our Saviour. So, you see, trouble comes when God’s truth is taught and preached because God allows it. Our Lord came not to bring peace to the world, but to divide His people from everyone else. This division causes conflict. God uses all of this for His glory and the refining of His people unto Christlikeness.
Soli Deo Gloria!