Suffering & Glory

Sunday 03/22/20

Series: Do we Really Believe?

Message – Suffering & Glory

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Suffering & Glory

This is a bit of an odd introduction, but as I was studying this topic, which is one of the first I’d ever fully studied out and learned on my own apart from any of my teachers, I was reminded of three stories which, in one way, could not be more different and in another, could not be more similar. The first is biblical and it depicts our future, and the second two I will introduce later on. 

The biblical one is where we as Christians – who overcome the devil in this life – will one day join Jesus in a feast at the end of this age. 

Whether the feast is literal or figurative is not important, but I imagine in my mind’s eye the great dining hall in heaven with food and drink in abundance and the family of God gathered together to recount the glories won in battle in honor of our Great King Jesus! 

The stories of battles won will be of temptations and persecutions and of the many, many opportunities we were given to denounce the king and shame the kingdom by acts of treason – but we did NOT yield, but by the mighty power of the Spirit of God we overcame the wicked one – our weapons being:

  • The shed blood of our Great King
  • The un-brokeness of our vow and pledge to Him as our Lord which became our living testimony…and
  • Because we did not count our lives dear to us, but were willing…one and all, to spill our blood if necessary for the honor & glory of king and kingdom! 

This week we are talking about suffering & glory..but let’s dial back and quickly connect where we are heading today with where we left off last week.

We learned last week, about the Spirit’s work of forming Christ in us – by revealing Christ to us!

We’ve learned that Jesus has been made unto us:

  • the wisdom of God – in that He was the first human outside of Adam and Eve to live in vital union with the father. THIS made His very life and physical existence THE message we preach. Creation and Creator united!
  • He’s been made unto us our righteousness – Meaning that we see in Jesus “RIGHT-THINKING” in the kingdom.
  • He’s our sanctification – in that He is the source of all truth enabling us to separate from the world and separate ourselves TO God. 
  • And He is our redemption – in that He is our purchase price and the source of our glorification. When He becomes fully formed within us – we will have fully cashed in on the redemption that He is for, to and in us!

Jesus becomes ALL of this to the children of God WHO receive it…and it is offered by the Holy Spirit of God. Our helper. 

He is the One Who Jesus told us would cause us to know Him better, than if He had continued in flesh among us, in that the Spirit’s work is internal! 

He teaches, leads, guides and influences us towards all truth and the truth is IN Jesus! [John 14:6 & Eph. 4:21].

But as we will see today, that redemption…the forming of Christ IN us, comes at a price and that price is one of suffering. THAT is what called to mind the three stories, the later of which I will tell you now.

As you know I am a bit of Star Trek fan and in the lore of that story-line which runs through a total of 8 series & 35 seasons of television 770+ episodes and still counting… not to mention the movies – one of the fictional races which is known even to those who don’t like Star Trek and have never seen a single episode are the Klingons. 

They are a warrior race who, like Christians, fight for honor and glory. 

For a Klingon there is no greater honor than to die in glorious battle and no greater shame and disgrace than to die an old man at home in his bed. 

They live for the glory of the empire and are guided by the life of their greatest warrior. There are many… MANY similarities between the mythos of this fictional race and the Christian life which I could easily explain but it would be lost on many of you so I will move on to my third and final story this message reminded me of.

This last one is a speech written in the body of a play by William Shakespeare called Henry the 5th. 

In this play, England is up against a battle with the French and they are outnumbered 5 to 1. 

To raise the spirits of the men, the King gathers his warriors around him and encourages them to not despair of their low numbers and even goes so far as to invite all those who are faint of heart to leave their company since the true warriors of England would rather not die in the company of such weak and cowardly men. 

He figures that fewer the men, the less the true warriors would have to share the honor of the glories of victory with! 

In all honesty the speech (minus the old English terms) could have been spoken by a Klingon warrior or of Paul himself!

I’ve included a clip from YouTube of this speech right here…

[Video]

Now, what these last two things – the King’s speech and Klingon lore share in common with the life of all true Christians is our call to glory through suffering!

We ended last week with these two truths:

Suffering Glory

  • All who are mature in Christ, have this habit – they live lives directed by the Holy Spirit. – Rom. 8:14
    • So, a proof of maturity in Christ is to be Christ-like and being Christ-like requires being habitually led by the Spirit.
  • We are no longer slaves of our flesh, but dear and intimately known children of God. – Rom. 8:15

“(15) For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by Whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”  

Now before we press forward into verse 16 (which we read last week, but did not really cover), I want to look at what this verse is really telling us.

We did NOT receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear.

What does that mean? Well, earlier in this letter (in chapters 6-7) Paul talks about the slavery we were under to the impulses of our fallen nature. That fallen nature operates by a law called the law of sin and death. Our bodies STILL have that law at work within us – BUT WE as spiritual beings, reborn in Christ’s image, are no long slaves to its impulses, cravings and desires. We are FREE to serve God from the heart. If we WERE still slaves of our bodies, then we would live in fear of separation from God once again, since Romans 8:13 just told us that “if we live according to the flesh we will die, but if BY THE SPIRIT we put to death the deeds of the body we will live.”

I know I talk a lot about relationship and intimacy and you may even think at times I take it too far, but I want you to notice how Paul places the spirit of slavery to our bodies and the fear it would bring with intimacy with God. Let’s look at verse 15 again. He says, 

“(15) For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by Whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”  

Now, I mentioned that the process of coming into Christ’s image had a cost. Let’s look at that in Rom. 8:16-17.

“(16) The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, (17) and if children, also heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ–seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

The concept of suffering is one that has gone largely wanting in the modern church or it has been substituted by inferior meanings more consistent with physical ailments and persecution than true suffering.

The suffering mentioned here is one of saying NO to our bodies which of course fits nicely in the flow of the topic at hand. 1 Peter 4:1 says it very clearly, 

Holman – 1 Peter 4:1-2,  “(1) Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same resolve–because the One who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin–  (2) in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.”

BBE – 1 Peter 4:1-2,  “(1) So that as Jesus was put to death in the flesh, do you yourselves be of the same mind; for the death of the flesh puts an end to sin; (2) So that you may give the rest of your lives in the flesh, not to the desires of men, but to the purpose of God.”

Now, back in Romans 8 and skipping down to verses 26-30,

“(26) In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. (27) And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (28) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” 

“(29) For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. (30) And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.”

Let’s draw this to a FAR too early close by going back to the key text we’ve had over the last few messages found in 2Cor. 3:3

“(3) since it is plain that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.”

You are Christ’s letter, written by the Spirit of God!

Behold the work and effect of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life:

Romans 2:12-15, “(12) All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law. (13) For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous. (14) So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. (15) They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences testify in support of this, and their competing thoughts either accuse or excuse them.”

So Jesus is being written upon our hearts – OR said another way – we are being transformed into the image of Jesus, by having His words revealed to us and then lived through us!

BUT again…we MUST pay attention to HOW we hear!

“(4) We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ: (5) not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. (6) He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.”

This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words, when He said, “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak unto you are Spirit and they are Life.” ~ John 6:63

2Cor. 3:7-15 says,

“(7) Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel were not able to look directly at Moses’ face because of the glory from his face–a fading glory– (8) how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? (9) For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness overflows with even more glory. (10) In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious in this case because of the glory that surpasses it. (11) For if what was fading away was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious. (12) Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness– (13) not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel could not look at the end of what was fading away. (14) But their minds were closed. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. (15) However, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts,”

What IS that veil? It is the flesh! 

Even Jesus’ flesh was a veil – it shielded the eyes of those living at the time, from seeing Who He really was. 

Jesus’ flesh was referenced symbolically as the veil that separated the Tabernacle of Meeting from the Most holy place in Heb. 10:20.

Then verse 16 in 2 Cor. 3 says,

“(16) but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”

This is another illusion to the flesh or rather the power of the flesh being removed.

Romans 6:5-14, “(5) For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, (6) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (7) For he who has died has been freed from sin. (8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (9) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. (10) For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (11) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (13) And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Finally the 17th verse in 2Cor. 3 says,

“(17) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (18) We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord Who is the Spirit.”

Summary points:

  • Who we are is Spiritual not natural.
  • God’s word as seen through the veil of the flesh is condemnation.
  • God’s word as seen through Jesus by the Spirit is restoration.
  • The Spirit’s Law is intimacy and union with God in and through Jesus!
  • We walk in THAT law, by how we hear and how we hear is determined by how we think…what we SET our minds upon!

God Bless!

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.

Blessings!

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 Pastoring 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 right...safety 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!