Series: Walking the Talk
Message – Faith and Suffering
Faith and Suffering
What the Father has prepared for us
Psalm 119:9, “How can I make my way clean? By guiding it after Your Word. I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander (or drift away) from Your commands.”
The English Standard version says, “by Guarding it according to Your Word.”
The primary work of the Kingdom…the work our Master/Nobleman & Lord has commissioned us with a stewardship to do is – Good works springing from a heart conformed to His.
Good works are something the Father has prepared before our birth – things which should shape How we live our lives.
It is in fact the purpose behind our new birth!
Eph. 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
We’ve learned that Good works are the product of our ongoing trusting relationship with Jesus – not just in the power of what He has done, but in Him as a relational being Who is our God and Savior – fst in what He is doing, in conforming us to His image and likeness.
God is ACTIVELY at work in us causing us to will and do after His good pleasure.
So holding that relationship with Him as precious beyond words, and honoring Him to the point of causing your heart and flesh to tremble is appropriate and it is HOW we work out our salvation.
That respect and awe springs up quite naturally from a heart that has been reconciled to Him, so long as we purposefully turn our attention to Him with that in mind.
If you remember last week we covered the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood and how unlike the blood of bulls and goats it has the power to cleanse us from both sin and the weight of carrying the grief and guilt of past sins.
But we stand in that cleansing power BY FAITH – which is why departure from the faith – as was described in that chapter of Hebrews 10 – is so awful a crime.
It is the COMPLETE opposite of the verse we just read where we are told to hold the God Who is at work in us towards soul salvation, in our hearts with GREAT deference and reverence.
Now, return with me again to Hebrews 10 verse 30, picking up after the description of that horrible sin.
“(30) For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. (31) It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!”
Now the writer of Hebrews calls on these Jewish brethren to recall what they were willing to suffer for this connectedness with God, back at the beginning of their faith.
If you remember I’ve told you over and over that there is a very real and VERY necessary connection between suffering and glorification.
…and 1 Peter 1:6-9, tells us that trials and temptations are NECESSARY in order to test our trust. Our adversary has a right to bring the genuineness of our claimed trust into question and scrutiny. But God, as Creator, Father and Arbiter will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to trust but will fortify our trust so that we can bear up under it. Both 1 Peter 1 & James 1 encourage us that these sufferings and trials are NOT without reward in the end IF our faith stands the test.
Which is why Romans 8 tells us that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the GLORY which will be revealed IN US!
And so it that we are here in Hebrews, because these precious Jewish Christian brothers were being tempted to depart from Christ and return to the law for their righteousness. These are Christian siblings who suffered MUCH when they first came to Christ and the writer of Hebrews would not have that suffering be in vain!
Let’s pick back up in verse 32 of Heb. 10,
“(32) Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. (33) Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. (34) For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.”
Even now, 2000 years later these words are hard to read. These precious saints had endured persecution from ,family, friends, colleagues and in business. The greater Jewish community in Judea would have held these Jewish people with the utmost contempt. It was fitting for the writer to mention this suffering after the example of rejecting Moses’ law. For that is precisely what the greater Jewish community condemned them as guilty of! Some of these brethren had been imprisoned for their testimony of Jesus – and the church in Judea had openly shared in their shame and persecution by proudly claiming affiliation with those suffering in prison. They did not…they WOULD not abandon them and did what they might to minister to them.
Adam Clarke says about these verses,
“They were deprived of their inheritances, turned out of their houses, and plundered of their goods; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.
To suffer such persecution patiently was great;
to endure it without a murmur was greater;
to rejoice in it was greatest of all.
But how could they do all this? The next clause informs us.
They had the fullest evidence that they were the children of God, the Spirit himself bearing witness to their spirits; and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. They knew that heaven was their portion, and that to it they had a sure right and indefeasible title by Christ Jesus. This accounts, and this alone can account, for their taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods: they had Christ in their hearts; they knew that they were his children, and that they had a kingdom, but that kingdom was not of this world. They had the support they needed, and they had it in the time in which they needed it most.”
But now, they were being sorely tempted to make all the suffering go away, but returning to Judaism and so renounce the grace that comes through their Messiah Jesus.
So the Hebrew writer encourages them…
“(35) So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. (36) For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. (37) For in yet a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. (38) But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. (39) But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.” The NKJV says, “those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
This is one of the things the writer of Hebrews was addressing in Hebrews 3 which I referenced 3 weeks ago.
Heb. 3:6, “but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”
Heb. 3:12-14, “(12) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; (13) but exhort one another daily, while it is called “TODAY,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (14) For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,”
Now, in closing let me ask you. What is the role that hope plays in relation to our faith?
How does the scriptures define faith?
Faith is the concrete under the feet of our expectation. It lends inner and unseen assurance for things we have come to expect and anticipate.
Have we seen sufficient evidence that salvation is BY grace – through Faith?
Rom 5:1-11 HCSB “(1) Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (2) Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, (4) endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. (5) This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (6) For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For rarely will someone die for a just person–though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. (8) But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! (9) Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. (10) For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! (11) And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
1Cor. 1:4-9, NKJV “(4) I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, (5) that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, (6) even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, (7) so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (8) who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.
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