By Mike Ratliff
1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:1-4 (NASB)
Last night I posted a short piece titled Be Anxious for Nothing which is about how Christians are not immune from suffering, but are called to not be anxious about anything since God is Sovereign and is using our tests and trials for His own purposes. Also, our main weapon in this battle is prayer. After I posted it I received several emails and some comments from readers requesting prayer and thanking me for that post. I take no credit for that. I wrote it as one of you since I am going through pretty much the same trials and tribulations as the rest of the Body of Christ. In this post we will look at another aspect of Christian suffering. What do I mean? I keep hearing certain “New Evangelism” types say things on Christian radio and other places that really raises red flags in my heart. They say things like, “God loves you just the way you are!” Or something like, “You are unique, God made you like no one else, quit feeling inferior, you are one of God’s favorites, so start acting like it.” You get the idea. These same people are the ones whose “god” just loves everyone and would do nothing to hurt anyone nor judge anyone’s sin.
When I was a new Christian I heard a sermon by Chuck Swindoll in which he stated that before God can use a man for His purposes He must hurt him and sometimes rather severely. That was a quite startling to me at that time since that was so alien to the ‘doctrine’ I was exposed to in the church I belonged to. The focus there was that God was love and that He loved each of just the way we were just like those I mentioned above. If that was so then what Swindoll was teaching wrong. However, as I studied my Bible I found that he was right and what I was hearing in church was wrong. This being the case, where are these “New Evangelism” types getting their doctrine? It certainly isn’t from the Word of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:3-11 (NASB)
I pray that you carefully read the passage above. The writer of Hebrews compares our struggle against sin as tough, but not as tough as what our Lord had to endure to purchase the Body of Christ with His blood. In vv6-7 he quoted from Proverbs 3:11-12.
11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord
Or loathe His reproof,
12 For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NASB)
Never forget my brethren, earthly trials actually testify to God’s fatherly discipline. This scourging by God is for discipline that we have to endure. It is a call to respond in endurance. God is actually treating us as His sons in this discipline. The writer of Hebrews goes on to boldly state that a lack of discipline like this is a marker that we are illegitimate children. In other words, all who are truly His will be scourged and disciplined.
What is the purpose of this scourging? It is for our good, that we may share in His holiness. Yes, the discipline seems painful and not pleasant at all, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. This is how God grows us up from being fleshly and self-focused with little or no self-control to humble, self-denying, God-focused believers who walk before Him controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is through this discipline that God matures us. This, combined with immersion into God’s Word to undergo its scalpel-like surgery in exposing what is inside us, we repent and fight the good fight in mortifying our sin. Do not listen to any supposed Christian preacher, teacher, or prophet who does not stress our utter and desperate need to walk in repentance. We are called to be holy, to literally partake in the divine nature.
I used to believe that judgment was coming upon the world because of those who reject Christ and live evil and depraved lives. However, over the last several years it has become clear that the greatest need of revival is within the visible Church. The Gospel is watered down and made seeker sensitive. The veracity of the Bible is called into question. Youth pastors teach our young people that sin is okay because, after all, all you have to do is repent later. If we are not far from the judgment of God on what passes for the Church in our time then I will be greatly surprised.
Let us examine ourselves my brethren asking God to reveal to us where we are resisting His discipline. Let us pray for revival and holiness within the Body of Christ. Let us pray for wisdom and discernment in these last dark and evil days. Do not neglect the Throne of Grace. Are you suffering? Are you in need of prayer? Let us know. We are safe in the arms of our Lord, but we still need prayer and the peace that passes all understanding that comes when we put all of our anxiety in His hands.
Soli Deo Gloria!