by Mike Ratliff
34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own 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 finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39 (NKJV)
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 from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits 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 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Romans 8:11-21 (NKJV)
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 labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Romans 8:22-25 (NKJV)
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.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
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 can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)
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!