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Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”


In today’s Christian environment it almost feels like heresy to say that it has been granted to us, not only to believe in Him, but also the privilege of suffering for Him.


In this lesson we will deal with the reason why

jesus on the cross

God considers it a privilege when the followers of Jesus are allowed to suffer for His sake.


Let us start with the basics; what is suffering for His sake?

1 Peter 3:17 “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

To suffer for Jesus’ sake is to suffer for doing good.


But let us not gloss over the importance of suffering itself, for all of us suffer one way or another. Suffering always has to do with discipline, for those who suffer are trained by their sufferings. And it is part of the natural process as well, as children we are deprived of many of the things that we want until we learn how to use them properly.


Now in the world, suffering, though it may bring some kind of discipline to the sufferers, it is usually the result of bad personal behavior, or due to the failures of the progenitors of those who are suffering.


We can see that throughout the many nations of the world today. Those who are fortunate enough to be born in nations where the early fathers made sure that future generations would have better living conditions, by setting the right political and educational systems that would allow their descendants to be raised with the proper discipline to make things better, definitely suffer a lot less than those who are less fortunate.


Those who are born in nations whose early fathers fostered hatred, division, and intolerance, whose aim was to regenerate their own bigotries after they were gone, and not what would be best for their descendants, suffer more due to the prejudices that they have inherited that keeps them from making the right choices.


But this is where I believe that many Christians miss the true purpose for Christian suffering, for their understanding of suffering is based partly in where they were born. Those born on the west see suffering from a different perspective that those born in the east do, globally speaking.


Christian suffering overrides whether one suffers for the lack of our ancestors discipline or because of it, it does not matter. Christian suffering is a different matter altogether and we need to understand that.


1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed…”


The reason why Christians suffer is so that they can become partakers of the divine nature through their sufferings! That is the blessing.


2 Peter 1:3-4 “As (according to) His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”


The divine nature is this: in Christ we are not of this world any longer!


Let’s see if we can take a practical look at what Peter is trying to tell us.


When Jesus was asked by Pilate if He was a king, Jesus answered that His kingdom was not of this world. Suffering for Christ’s sake prepares Christians for the kingdom that is to come, as it is written in the Lord’s prayer: Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


2 Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him…” KJV


There is divine order in all of God’s creation, and that order is enforced by His divine power that governs everything in the creation in accordance with the laws of God. Suffering for Him and ruling with Him is one of those laws, if we suffer for Christ’s sake we do not suffer in vain!


Being saved qualifies us to operate within the law of suffering for Him so that we can reign with Him, since in Him we have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.


Now here is the process of suffering for His sake and becoming partakers of the divine nature.


2 Peter 1:5-9 “But also for this very reason (becoming partakers of the divine nature), giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”


Diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance (patience), godliness, brotherly kindness, love. All these are spiritual fruit that emanate from the anointing of the Holy Spirit that covers us.


And just like the olives must be separated from the tree and crushed to make the oil flow, we too have the need to be separated from the world and made to endure the sufferings that allow for the anointing that is in us through the born-again experience to come forth.


Philippians 1:11 “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”


Now there is a higher and more futuristic agenda to suffering for Christ’s sake as well, and that has more to do with the kingdom that is to come.


Matthew 20:23 “So He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left in not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.’”


Jesus gives us insight into the kingdom that is to come, He tells His disciples that they will indeed suffer a martyr’s death but that God Himself will decide what position each believer receives in accordance with how much they suffered for Christ’s sake.


The reality is that most of us just want to make it to heaven and we don’t care where we sit, as long as we are in with Jesus and where Jesus is.


But if we think in terms of excelling in our training that is preparing us for the future, they both accomplish the same thing; let me explain.


The future kingdom of which all born again believers will be a part of, is an eternal kingdom. What does that mean? That means that in that eternal kingdom we cannot make any mistakes, for one mistake in eternity disqualified even the most anointed of the cherubs.


When God made us, the human race, He made us a little lower than the angels, see Psalm 8: He did so for the purpose of working all the bugs out of us before we became eternal, therein comes the suffering part.


You see when Lucifer and the angels that followed him sinned, their natures were abruptly changed, and since they dwelled in eternity, they became eternally dammed and unredeemable, for time is the fourth-dimension where past present and future are all the same, one eternity.


God placed us humans in the third dimension which is lower than the dimension that the angels occupy, for those who live in the third dimension are stuck in the present, which is not a bad thing if you figure that as long as it is called today, the present, we still have a chance to repent and make whatever wrong we made, right again, before we die and enter into the fourth dimension of eternity.


Hebrews 4:7 “Again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts (and repent before you die so that you can enter into God’s rest).’”


Hebrews 4:1 “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”


What that means is that once we die, as believers, we go before the judgment seat of Christ where our abilities to sin are removed from us once and for all, and then we are rewarded with our eternal position which is based on the things that we did while here on earth in Christ.


2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”


This is not a judgment of salvation, for if one is not saved he will not make it into the judgment seat of Christ. This is a judgment of rewards or the lack of them.


What that means is that Jesus is trying to get us, while here on earth, to let go of the worldly things or what is called the works of the flesh, so that we can produce spiritually eternal fruit, like Peter listed, for the more spiritual fruit that we produce the greater our standing or the higher our heavenly position will be.


But the flip side of that is that the more spiritual that we become while here on earth the more power that we have to impose the kingdom of God in our midst, but in order to become more spiritual the greater the suffering that we must endure by denying ourselves of the worldly pleasures that war against the kingdom of God.


Now this is the kind of suffering that Paul is talking about:


Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”


So that it is only suffering if it seems to us that we are missing out instead of gaining eternal blessings.


Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”


Hebrews 12:2 “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, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”


His suffering earned Him the highest position, which is to sit at the right hand of God. Our suffering will get us to the highest position ordained by God for us, which is for His good and perfect will to be done in our lives.

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