Faith and Suffering


Sunday 04/14/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – Faith and Suffering


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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.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been shepherding in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!