NOW I (continually)
REJOICE: Nun chairo
(2Co 7:4, 2Cor 11:16-33, Php
2:17-18, Mt 5:11 Ro 5:3)
Regarding the word "Now" W E Vine writes "The “now”
looks back over the past of the Lord’s dealings with him. His
sufferings were manifold and were more than that of imprisonment.
While they were endured for Christ’s sake, they were for the benefit
of the Colossian believers, who would not have received the spiritual
help had it not been for what he had suffered and was suffering."
S. Lewis Johnson writes that "Now,
in my present circumstances, Paul declares, there is a deep sense of
joy in my personal sufferings for you Colossians. His general meaning
is clear, but this verse, the twenty-fourth, is probably the most
controversial in the letter. We may introduce the problem of the text
by rejecting any suggestion to the effect that Paul implies there is
any lack in the atonement of Christ. The gospel has an element of
finality in it, if it has any element at all."
(Bibliotheca Sacra: Page 235, 1996, Dallas Theological Seminary)
Maclaren - The very first
word is significant: "Now I rejoice." Aye; it is easy to say fine
things about patience in sufferings and triumph in sorrow when we
are prosperous and comfortable; but it is different when we are in
the furnace. This man, with the chain on his wrist, and the iron
entering into his soul, with his life in danger, and all the future
uncertain, can say, "Now I rejoice." This bird sings in a darkened
1 Expositor's Bible Commentary)
(chairo) means to be glad and
present tense, active voice (this voice calling for a volitional
choice of one's will) indicating that Paul continually made the choice
to rejoice in the midst of his suffering for Christ. This word is used to describe a little lamb skipping around for joy. It
describes a physical change in your countenance. You can't fake this.
It is a physical expression of joy and something that radiates to
people around you. You can walk around and say that you are rejoicing
but if it's not seen then you are not rejoicing. This was a clear
indication of Paul manifesting the fruit of the Spirit (joy Gal 5:22),
supernatural joy which is
independent of one's circumstances. Remember Paul's circumstances were
a dank, dark prison cell
In short, Paul's response to suffering is a visible expression of
the outworking of the fruit of the Spirit. Only a
Spirit filled and empowered Christian could truly rejoice under such circumstances.
joy of the Lord was Paul's strength (Neh 8:10).
Whose strength do you rely on when suffering? Yours or His?
learned how to be content in whatever circumstances he was in (Php
On another occasion, despite being in a Philippian jail "about
midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to
God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25)
After being flogged for speaking in
the name of Jesus, Peter and others were released from jail and "went on their way from the presence of the
Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer
shame for His name." (Acts 5:41)
These men had experienced
suffering and used those times as a divine classroom to learn the
secret it wasn't within their own power to suffer joyfully, but that
they could do "all things through Him Who" strengthened them"
(Php 4:13) in those
times of suffering. Don't waste those times you suffer for Jesus.
Learn the lessons He desires to teach you and you too will begin to
rejoice in your suffering.
MacArthur on Joy in Ministry
- As we serve the Lord Jesus Christ with the recognition that God
has called us, what kind of attitude should we have? What spirit
should we have? Paul answers this in the first three words of verse
24: "Who now rejoice...." What's the spirit of the ministry? Joy.
The spirit of the ministry is joy. Whatever ministry you have been
given is to be enjoyed. The Attitude of Joy 1. Its Cessation
- It's a sad reality that many ministering Christians don't have the
right attitude. There just aren't enough joyous, happy Christians.
It's like the little girl who saw a mule and said, "With a long face
like that, it must be a wonderful Christian." There are a lot of
people who have been given a tremendous responsibility by God, but
grudgingly carry it out. In fact, many pastors have lost the joy of
the ministry. They don't have the right attitude. They become like
Jonah, who, even when his ministry was going good, was hesitant,
angry, reluctant, bitter, and resentful. You say, "Well, I've got it
tough in my ministry. It's hard to have joy." Oh, really? If you
ever think you've got it tough in your ministry and you can't find
joy, just read these words: "...and let us run with patience the
race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and
finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame..." (Heb. 12:1b-2a). Why did
He endure the cross? "...for the joy that was set before Him...."
Jesus never lost the joy, why should you? Further, in verse 4 it
says, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood...." In other words, "You
haven't died in your service, have you?" Oftentimes, I'll talk
to somebody, even another pastor, who'll say, "Oh, I've lost the joy
of the ministry." Well, do you know what that means? That doesn't
mean they have bad circumstances, it means they have bad
connections. You see, a Christian doesn't lose his joy unless he
loses touch with the Lord. There's to be joy in the ministry! 2.
Its Constancy - Oh, it's easy to get discouraged with
circumstances. It happened to Paul. Referring to Israel, Paul said,
"...I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart" (Rom.
9:2). But he never lost the internal joy. The element of personal
joy was the spirit of his ministry. He was rejoicing everywhere he
went. For example: a. Philippians 4:4--Do you realize that when Paul
wrote Philippians, he was rejoicing...even though he was in jail?
Not an ordinary jail, but a hole in the ground called the Mamertine
prison. In this particular prison, once a maximum of forty prisoners
had been accumulated, the sewers were opened to drown all the
prisoners. The water was then drained out (along with the drowned
prisoners) and the process would be repeated. Well, Paul was in this
place when he wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say,
Rejoice." Someone might say, "This guy was out of his mind! What was
he so happy about?" One thing is for sure, it had nothing to do with
his circumstances, did it? He had a relationship with the living God
that was perpendicular-- transcending all circumstances.
Have you lost your joy?
Joy is the deep-down
confidence that God is in control of your life. That doesn't change.
Whenever I encounter a Christian who has lost his joy, I don't want
to talk about his circumstances, I want to talk about his
relationship with the Lord. Why? Because joy is generated from a
recognition of what Christ has done in a person's life. And I'll
tell you something else: Humility also generates joy. For example,
Paul always thought of himself as so unworthy, that the thought of
dying for Jesus Christ gave him great joy. Why? Because he didn't
even think he was worthy of that. You lose the joy when you start to
think that you're too good to be suffering what you're suffering.
But that's the wrong perspective. An attitude of humility generates
in Christ )
Macarthur goes on to describe 4 "Thieves Of Joy" in ministry
(and every believer is in ministry) --
On the other hand he summarizes the three
guardians that protect one's joy --
(2) devotion to
(3) trust in God.
IN MY SUFFERINGS FOR YOUR SAKE: en tois pathemasin huper humon:
20:9 Acts 9:16, Col 4:18, 1Pe 2:21, 2Co 1:5)
I love what Andrew Bonar
said - "We have got more from Paul’s prison house than from his
visit to the third heavens."
[word study] from
páscho = suffer + suffix –ma = that
which is suffered, experience a sensation/suffer pain) refers to the
actual suffering itself (not suffering in general). In other words, it
describes the very pain that one is experiencing right now, those very
things that we can "see, touch & feel", those things that are causing
us anguish and emotional trauma. A less common meaning of pathema (not
the meaning in this context) is passions or impulses.
For your sake
(huper) speaks of suffering in your place.
Have you ever asked yourself,
how many prayers and tears, how much heartache and disappointment
has someone gone through for you in order that you might come to
Christ? We should never read the Scriptures without a momentary
thought, at least, of what it cost others for us to have this Bible
in our hand: the blood of martyrs, the fears and tears of persecuted
people throughout centuries, the sweat and labor of translators, and
the effort of teachers to make it plain and clear. Never read the
Scriptures without remembering that someone has died to make it
possible-their sufferings were for our sake!
John Bunyan said that
"The Lord uses his flail of tribulation to separate the chaff from
the wheat." Indeed, Bunyan's prison sufferings were for our sake,
because out of his furnace of affliction was borne that timeless,
precious classic "Pilgrim's
Progress!" The prince of preachers, C H Spurgeon
once said '“Next to the Bible, the book that I value most is John
Bunyan’s, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and I imagine I may have read that
through perhaps a hundred times. It is a book of which I never seem
to tire, but then the secret of that is, that John Bunyan’s,
“Pilgrim’s Progress,” is the Bible in another shape. It is the same
heavenly water taken out of this same well of the Gospel, yet you
would tire even of that book at last.”
AND IN MY FLESH I DO MY
SHARE ON BEHALF OF THE BODY WHICH IS THE CHURCH IN FILLING UP
THAT WHICH IS LACKING IN CHRIST'S AFFLICTIONS: kai antanaplero (1SPAI) ta husteremata ton thlipseon tou Christou en te
sarki mou huper tou somatos autou, o estin (3SPAI) e ekklesia ta husterêmata ton thlipseon tou Christou:
(2Co 1:5-8, 4:8-12, 11:23-27 Php 3:10 2Ti 1:8, 2:9-10)
In my flesh - Paul is
referring to his physical body.
Paul boasted (2Cor 11:18) about his suffering in his flesh on
behalf of the body of Christ. Read Paul's graphic description of
some of his physical sufferings...
just as the sufferings (pathema)
of Christ are ours in abundance (perisseuo),
so also our comfort (paraklesis)
is abundant (perisseuo)
through Christ (Ed:
Note the "balance!").
6 But if we are afflicted (thlibo),
it is for your comfort (paraklesis)
and salvation; or if we are comforted (parakaleo),
it is for your comfort (paraklesis),
which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings
which we also suffer (pascho);
7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are
of our sufferings (pathema),
so also you are [sharers] of our comfort (paraklesis).
8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our
which came [to us] in Asia, that we were burdened excessively,
beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we
had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should
not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; (2Cor 1:5-9,
see also 2Cor 11:23-33, 2Cor 4:8-12)
Robertson adds "This is
not a new note for Paul. See him in jail in Philippi (Acts 16:25)
and in 2Cor. 11:16–33; Ro 5:3; Phil 2:18." (Also 2Ti 1:8, 2:9-10) (Colossians
1 - Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament)
up (only use in Scripture) (466) (antanapleroo
from antí = in turn or correspondent to +
anapleróo = to fulfill from ana = again +
pleroo [word study] = to fill) means to fill up instead of, to make good.
This verb is used a secular Greek to describe a group of
soldiers filling a road, and a second group forming another line.
Notice the verb is in the
indicating that this filling up is ongoing.
A T Robertson
explains antanapleroo - "It is now Paul’s “turn” at the bat,
to use a baseball figure. Christ had his “turn,” the grandest of all
and suffered for us all in a sense not true of any one else. It is
the idea of balance or correspondence in anti as seen in
Demosthenes’s use of this verb (De Symm., p. 282), “the poor
balancing the rich.” And yet Christ did not cause suffering to
cease. There is plenty left for Paul and for each of us in his
time." (Ed: I would add that Paul used the verb "fill up"
meaning in essence "I take my turn in filling up. I take my turn in
suffering." Each one of us takes our turn in suffering for our
Covenant Partner, Christ Jesus, for the world hated Him, and it will
likewise hate us! So don't act so surprised! Paul's picture here is
like a relay race. He is saying that I will run this lap, and hand
the baton off to you to run your lap (cp 2Ti 2:2-note), etc., etc.)
1 - Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament)
that "because of the union of believers with Christ (Ed:
See study of
The Oneness of Covenant), Paul's
sufferings for the sake of the church can be called Christ's
afflictions as well." (The
Ryrie Study Bible)
At Paul's "commissioning
ceremony" Jesus issued a prophetic declaration (to Ananias)
promising "I will show him (Paul) how much he must suffer for My
name's sake." (Acts 9:13, cp Acts 20:22-23, 21:11, etc) Paul was
so identified with Christ ("If they persecuted Me, they will also
persecute you" = Jn 15:20), that as he allowed Christ to live out His life through
experienced "persecutions, and sufferings" (2Ti 3:11-note)
and promised Timothy (and all believers) that "all who desire to
live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2Ti 3:12-note)
Indeed, one of the purposes of
Christ's body, the church, is to suffer for the sake of
righteousness (1Pe 3:14-note). Christ suffered for believers and
that in this world His disciples would have tribulation (Jn 16:33), so
now as each believer imitates His Master (1Pe 2:21-note),
he takes his turn
suffering on behalf of the body (cp Php 1:29,30-note).
For this [finds] favor, if for
the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when
suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin
and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when
you do what is right and suffer [for it] you patiently endure it,
this [finds] favor with God. (1Pet 2:19-20-note)
To the degree that you share
the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the
revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you
are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the
Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of
you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome
meddler; 16 but if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, let him not feel
ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. (1Pet 4:13-16-note)
John MacArthur explains believers filling up what is
lacking in Christ's afflictions -
"The enemies of Christ were never satisfied with what
they did to Jesus. They hated Jesus with an insatiable hate. They
wanted to add to His suffering. So, as soon as Jesus ascended back
into heaven and wasn't around any more, who did the world attack?
The church! (Ed: See Acts 8:1-4 - Note although persecuted,
they continued preaching!) They began to persecute the church--whipping them,
burning them at the stake, throwing them to the lions. Why? Was it
because they hated them individually? No, it was because the church
stood in the place of Christ. And since Christ wasn't around to
hate, they hated the people who stood in His place." (Read
Paul is not saying that the
redemptive suffering of Christ, His death on the Cross, is in
any way lacking. With His dying breath, Jesus clearly
(It is Finished. Paid in Full)." The afflictions of
believers add nothing to Christ's finished
work of redemption. However, we will suffer afflictions as we make known Christ's
finished work of redemption.
that Paul didn't suffer for himself the way that an ascetic
might. Instead he suffered for the sake of the body of Christ.
Ascetics focus on their holiness, on their spiritual
growth, and on their perfection. Paul followed in the
footsteps of Jesus, and was an others-centered person.
Instead, Paul found holiness, spiritual growth, and maturity when he
pursued them for others.
from ek = out + kaleo = call) is
literally the "called-out ones". Greeks used ekklesia for an
assembly of citizens "called out" to transact city business. The
church is not an organization but a living organism, Christ's body,
composed of individual members (believers) joined together and in
and through which Christ, the Head works, carries out His purposes
Robertson on "that which
is lacking" - “The left-overs,” so to speak." (Ibid)
(husterema) is that which is comes behind, that which is left or
that which is deficient (. The root verb
hustereo [word study]
someone in a company marching together with others who march faster
than he can. He cannot keep up, so he falls behind (he is "lacks" in
the sense he cannot keep up).
Summary of husterema - (a)
the lack of what is needed or desirable, frequently in contrast to
abundance (need, want, shortcoming, deficiency, poverty, destitution
- Lk 21:4) (b) a defect that must be removed so that perfection can
be attained = lack, shortcoming (1Th 3:10-note)
(c) With a person as the object = absence, not being present (1Cor
Vine - husterema
denotes (a) “that which is lacking, deficiency, shortcoming” (akin
to hustereo, “to be behind, in want”), 1Cor. 16:17; Phil. 2:30; Col.
1:24, rv, “that which is lacking” [kjv, “that which is behind” (of
the afflictions of Christ)],
where the reference is not to
the vicarious sufferings of Christ but to those which He endured
previously, and those which must be endured by His faithful
servants; 1Th 3:10,
where “that which is lacking” means that which Paul had not been
able to impart to them, owing to the interruption of his spiritual
instruction among them; (b) “need, want, poverty,” Luke 21:4, rv,
“want” (kjv, “penury”); 2 Cor. 8:14 (twice) “want;” 9:12, “wants” (kjv,
“want”); 11:9, rv, “(the measure of my) want” [kjv, “that which was
lacking (to me)”]. (Lack,
Lacking - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words)
To reiterate, Paul is not saying that Jesus' suffering on the Cross was in
any way deficient to fully atone for the sins of the world because
earlier (which accentuates the importance of carefully observing the
in order to arrive at the most accurate interpretation) Paul declared that reconciliation of all
things was through Christ because He "made peace (aorist
tense = past completed effective action) through the blood of His
cross"... and that Christ "has now reconciled (aorist
tense = past completed effective action) you in His fleshly body
through death." (see notes
Christ's sacrificial suffering on
the Cross paid the price of redemption in full, John recording
that "When Jesus therefore had received
the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" (Paid in full!) And He
bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. (Jn 19:30).
Another thought to consider -
Christ "is also the Head of the body, the church"
(Col 1:18) and the church is to be "holding fast to the
Head." (Col 2:19). It would seem reasonable to deduce that just
as the head is aware of the affliction of the human body, our Head,
Christ, is also aware of the afflictions of the members of His Body.
When the body is persecuted, so is the Head, Christ, because of the
oneness of the New Covenant which links Christ with His mystical
body. In support of this premise, recall that when Saul persecuted
the Church, Jesus appeared to him declaring "Saul, Saul, why are you
persecuting Me?" And (Saul) said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He
said," I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." (Acts 9:4-5). So
because of the identification and communion of Jesus the Head with
His body, the church, when one of them is persecuted and afflicted,
so too is Jesus.
thlibo = to press
together) conveys the basic idea of severe constriction,
narrowing or pressing together (as of grapes) (cf Mt 7:14-note "the way is narrow
[thlibo] that leads to life"). It is notable that the word
thlipsis is never used in the New Testament of the atoning
sufferings of Christ substantiating that the afflictions alluded to
here have nothing to do with atonement.
Vincent - These
afflictions do not include Christ’s vicarious sufferings, which
are never denoted by tribulations (thlipsis).
That which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ signifies
that portion of Christ’s ministerial sufferings which was not
endured by Him in person, but is endured in the suffering of
Christians in all generations in carrying out Christ’s work." (Colossians
1 - Vincent's Word Studies)
S. Lewis Johnson has the
following comments on the interpretation of this somewhat
controversial passage writing "I am inclined to see a much closer
relationship between the apostle’s afflictions and Christ. From the
day when Paul met the risen Messiah and heard His “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me”
(Acts 9:4), identification with Christ in mystical union (I use
“mystical” in the true sense) dominated his theological thinking.
Soon afterwards he heard of further words spoken by Him, “For I will
shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts
9:16). Paul had come to understand that everything done in and for
the body of Christ was done in and for Christ Himself. He and the
body were one. Thus, the sufferings of Paul were the afflictions of
Christ, because He suffered in and with Paul (cf. 2Cor 1:5, 6, 7;
2Cor. 4:10, 11, 12). Lightfoot’s idea of continuity between His
afflictions and the church’s is valid, too. In fact, the sufferings
of Paul, which arose out of persecution, were simply the
continuation of the world’s quarrel with Jesus Christ (cf. John
15:18, 19, 20, 21). It is a very immature theology, then, which
claims that all suffering is alien to the will of God, and it
reaches its ultimate expression in the blind and foolish request,
“If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matt. 27:40),
and its shattering repudiation in the shout of suffering
dereliction, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt.
27:46) It is no wonder, then, that Paul rejoiced in his sufferings.
Seen in the light of his union with Christ, they were transfigured
and made an occasion for fellowship with Him, as well as a benefit
to the body, the church”. (Bibliotheca Sacra: Page 235, 1996,
Dallas Theological Seminary)
What Paul is saying is that he knew suffering was inevitable and he
took his turn to suffer not only for the body of believers at Colossae but for the whole body
of Christ. Even today we read Colossians and gain encouragement
from the example of Paul's suffering. That's what happens when we are
willing to take our turn and suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is Christ's physical body on earth and as Christ manifests
His presence in our life, we are going to go through the same type of
suffering that He went through. This is what is left behind or
"lacking in Christ's afflictions". As the result of what He did we are
going through the same thing. If you let Jesus be the center of your
life then look out! Love Jesus. Preach the Word and duck! You're going
to catch flack. Christ in us is the same One that they persecuted
while He was on the earth.
What does Paul mean "for your sake"?
Our suffering for Christ is never isolated from our responsibility to
the body of Christ around us. The way you are handling your suffering
right now directly affects the body of Christ. It affects the
testimony of other believers. When we are faithful to suffer with the
same attitude that Paul had, it encourages and enhances the
integrity of Christianity to the rest of the body of Christ.
Paul also wrote from prison in (Php 1:12, 13-note)
- "Now I want you to know,
brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater
progress of the gospel so that my imprisonment in the cause of
Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard
(these guards were chained with Paul) and
to everyone else. ." .
In Philippians 4:22 Paul wrote "All the saints greet you, especially those of
Caesar's household." (see
clearly Paul's suffering in prison
resulted in the spread of the Gospel.
Prison bars do not restrict the
spread of the Gospel as Paul alludes to again in his last letter
commanding Timothy to "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead,
descendant of David, according to my Gospel, for which I suffer
hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God
(the Gospel) is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things
for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the
salvation which is in Christ Jesus [and] with [it] eternal glory.
Paul continues in (Philippians
1:14) "and that most of the
brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far
more courage to speak the word of God without fear." (see
that even though Paul was imprisoned at Rome, he never saw himself
as a prisoner of Rome but constantly referred to being a prisoner of
Jesus Christ. A proper perspective on suffering can makes the ordeal
much easier to walk through. Do you see your suffering in the light
of eternity? Ask God to give you His eternal perspective on your
John MacArthur reminds believers
why we can rejoice in suffering, writing that
suffering "brings us nearer to Christ". Paul
wanted to get as close to Christ as he could. In Philippians 3:10 he
said, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and
the fellowship of His sufferings...." You see, when the world casts
its slurs at us and mocks our Christ, that suffering, in a sense,
helps us to understand what Jesus went through, doesn't it? In John
15 Jesus talks about the fact that since the world hated Him, it
would hate us, too (Jn. 15:18). And He said that since the world
persecuted Him, it would also persecute us (Jn. 15:20). Second
Timothy 3:12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ
Jesus shall suffer persecution." So, suffering helps us to
understand more about Him. Hebrews 13:13 says, "Let us go forth,
therefore, unto Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach." There's
joy in suffering because it brings us nearer to Christ. (Paul's
Ministry- Fulfilling the Word of God)
Matthew Henry agreed
writing "The injuries men do us should drive us to God, for to Him
we may commit our cause."
Spurgeon - I am afraid that all
the grace that I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and
happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have
received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether
incalculable. What do I not owe to the crucible and the furnace, the
bellows that have blown up the coals, and the hand which has thrust
me into the heat? I am sure I have derived more real benefit and
permanent strength and growth in grace, and every precious thing,
from the furnace of affliction, than I have ever derived from
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said
"Trials and tribulations are very good for us in that they help us
to know ourselves better than we knew ourselves before."
in Php 3:10
(see note) was "That I may know
Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His
sufferings...." (cf Jn 15:20, 2Ti 3:12
us assurance of salvation" for as Peter writes (Amplified
Version) "if you are censured and suffer abuse [because you bear]
the name of Christ, blessed [are you--happy, fortunate, to be
envied, with life-joy, and satisfaction in God's favor and
salvation, regardless of your outward condition], because the Spirit
of glory, the Spirit of God, is resting upon you. On their part He
is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.." (1Pe 4:14-note)
As someone has written the Spirit rests upon the Christian even as
the Shechinah cloud of the glory of the LORD rested upon the
tabernacle and over the Ark in the Holy of holies.
that "God would impart his Spirit...in proportion to their
sufferings in behalf of (Christ)...and this is the secret
reason why they are so sustained in their trials. Their persecutions
are made the reason of a much more copious effusion of the Spirit on
their souls. The same principle applies, doubtless, to all the forms
of trial which the children of God pass through; and in sickness,
bereavement, loss of property, disappointment in their worldly
plans, and death itself, they may hope that larger measures of the
Spirit’s influences will rest upon them. Hence, it is often gain to
the believer to suffer."
MacArthur goes on to add that suffering
"Brings Us Future Reward - When we're willing to boldly step
out for Christ and speak the truth, regardless of the consequences,
we are promised a reward. Romans 8:17-18-note
says, "...if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also
glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present
time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be
revealed in us." There is a sense in which the suffering now will be
rewarded in the day that we look forward to in the future. In fact,
in 2 Corinthians 4:17 Paul says, "For momentary, light affliction is
producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all
comparison." So, suffering can bring joy because it identifies us
with Christ, because it brings assurance of salvation, and because
it brings a future reward." (Ibid)
Suffering now will be rewarded in eternity future.
MacArthur says suffering "Results
in the Salvation of Others - In Philippians 2:17-note
Paul says, But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering
upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my
joy with you all." In other words, "If I offer my life and you get
saved, that's cause for joy. There's a price to pay, but that's all
right. The results are worth it." Suffering also encourages
their faith for in (Php 2:17, 18-note)
So, we can rejoice in suffering because it brings us nearer to
Christ, it brings assurance of salvation, it brings a future reward,
and it results in the salvation of others. Suffering also "results
in the salvation of others" (Suffering) Frustrates Satan - When
we rejoice in suffering, it leads to terrible frustration on the
part of Satan. When he tries to discourage us and it produces good
results, it puts a dent in the kingdom of darkness. In Acts 9:16 the
Lord said, referring to Paul, "For I will show him how great things
he must suffer for My name's sake." The way we respond to suffering
reflects the glory of Christ." (Ibid)
you ever suffered or been persecuted for being a Christian?
why not (2Ti 3:12
- note)? If you have, what was
your attitude (1Pe 4:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19-see notes
1Pe 4:12; 13; 14; 15; 16;
When you suffer for the Gospel with a rejoicing
attitude in your heart, you can do so knowing that you can are
taking your turn, going through whatever you need to go through for
the glory of God and that you are doing so on behalf of the body.
This will in turn encourage other believers and adds integrity to
the life changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blood
of all the martyrs that has been shed taking their stand for the
Lord Jesus Christ has added just one more level of integrity to what
we profess to believe. Next time you are called to suffer for His
sake, don't retreat...rejoice
because you know that "momentary, light affliction is
producing...an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but
the things which are not seen are eternal." (2Co 4:17-18-note)
A FEW ADVANTAGES
Sufferings and afflictions
while uncomfortable, play a vital role in the growth of a saint.
Joseph Alleine wrote that "Times of affliction are usually gaining
times to God’s people." As someone else has said "Affliction is
God’s shepherd dog to drive us back to the fold."
Here are some other maxims
dealing with the value of afflictions (all these from anonymous
Affliction, like the iron-smith,
shapes as it smites.
Afflictions are often God’s best blessings sent in disguise.
Crosses are ladders that lead to heaven.
Fire is the test of gold, adversity of strong men.
Our great Teacher writes many a bright lesson on the blackboard of
Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the
shadows of life.
The Christian justifies tribulation. Ten thousand times ten thousand
saints … are ready to witness that their most manifest and rapid
spiritual growth is traceable to their periods of trial.
The darker the night, the brighter the stars; the hotter the fire,
the purer the gold.
The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected
The hammer shatters glass, but forges steel.
The more a tree of righteousness is shaken by the wind, the more it
is rooted in Christ.
The water that dashes against the wheel keeps the mill going; so
trial keeps grace in use and motion.
Trial is the school of trust.
God allows (sends) tests not to
break us but to make us.
Where there are no trials in life, there are no triumphs.
Richard Baxter - Suffering
so unbolts the door of the heart that the Word hath easier entrance.
Thomas Brooks - Stars
shine brightest in the darkest night. Torches are the better for
beating. Grapes come not to the proof till they come to the press.
Spices smell sweetest when pounded. Young trees root the faster for
shaking. Vines are the better for bleeding. Gold looks the brighter
for scouring; and juniper smells sweeter in the fire.
J R Miller - Who… fill up that
which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. - Colossians 1:24
This is a strange saying of Paul's in our reading to-day - that he
must fill up on his part the afflictions of Christ.
Was Christ's sacrifice insufficient for the redemption of the world?
Was His work incomplete? Do others have to suffer also to fill up a
lack in His atonement? No; on His cross He said, "It is finished."
He paid the whole price.
What Paul meant was that while Christ had made a full and glorious
redemption, His followers must enter into His experiences in order
to present the benefits of His redemption.
We can make men believe in the love of Christ only by loving as He
loved. We can show them the cross truly only in our own lives.
Christ gave Himself once to redeem the world; now we, His followers,
must give ourselves to make His redemption real to the world. When
we ask Christ to have compassion on men, His answer is: "I have had
compassion - My part is finished. Now do you have compassion and
reach and save men?"