Thinking through Suffering (…a Dialogue) Pt. 3

Thinking Suffering

Sunday 07/05/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

MESSAGE: Thinking through Suffering …a Dialogue Pt. 3


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Thinking through Suffering …a Dialogue

This week we focused on questions 7-12 in our ‘Thoughts and Questions’ list which is downloadable by the link above. 

These questions probe our understanding of the nature and function of Tests, Trials & Temptations and how the are connected to the initial fall of humanity.

Again, our goal and intention in doing this is to allow this dialogue format to help us think through these questions and so help solidify much of what we have been teaching since the beginning of the year.

Key passages we’ve covered which touch on these topics:

  • 2Cor. 4:6-11 – Suffering, Jesus formed in us
  • Ephesians 1:1-11 – holy, blameless, in Christ, Created for good works
  • Ephesians 1:19-22 – Temple, tabernacle, dwelling place
  • Phil. 3:7-14 – Knowing Him, faith, maturity in Christ
  • James 1:2-4 – Trials
  • James 1:12-18 – Temptations, life
  • James 2:18&20 – Faith, works
  • 1Peter 1:6-9 – Trials, soul salvation, faith
  • 1Peter 4:12-19 – Trials, glory, Christian suffering
  • Heb. 10:13 – Temptations
  • Heb. 10:35-39 – Need for faith, patience, life
  • Heb. 12:1-14 – sin, weights, maturity, chastening, righteousness, holiness 

One message which touched on MUCH of these things was ‘Suffering…who for the Joy’.

Thoughts & Questions: 

7. What is testing?

It is like Spiritual Quality Control. In a manufacturing plant, products are placed through a series of tests to see if the goal intended by the manufacturer is being fully obtained. 

I often think of the Titanic when I think of this. Failure of construction materials under the freezing temperatures and undue speed of the ship greatly contributed to the vessel’s destruction. Regulators should have been in place to prevent the ship from attempting speeds beyond safety measures in cold and iceberg infested waters. If those precautions had been taken many lives would have been saved and it is quite possible that this ship might still be afloat today.

8. What is the difference between tests, trials and temptations?

Only their methods – their outcomes for the devoted child of God are the sam e.

  • Test prove by opportunities and difficulties.
  • Trials prove by pressure and adversity.
  • Temptations prove by testing one’s devotion and allegiance.

9. What is the PURPOSE of tests?

Testing takes place to “prove” you. To reveal to you if your faith is genuine or not. To prove to your accuser that his accusation cannot stand due to insufficient evidence against OR by the admission of new evidence. To present to God, another part of your heart which now truly belongs to Him.

10. What is the PURPOSE of trials?

To pressure you into siding with your flesh. To push you to the limits of reason so that you will let go of faithfulness to God in favor of relief. It is to prove your loyalty has limits.

11. What is the PURPOSE of temptations?

It is to pull you away from allegiance to God and to further tighten the grip your flesh has on your faith and your soul.

12. What part does the original fall of man play in all of this?

It changed our nature. 

We were once undivided, perfectly whole and integrated beings who were healthy throughout, due to our unbroken union with our Creator. 

The fall caused inner division and broken fellowship and connection with our Creator. It changed the nature of our relation to Him. 

Now He is not only Creator but also Judge – the One Who separates us from all that is death in us. This often is misinterpreted as a reason to be afraid of Him, but it is in all reality a reason to respect and revere Him.

It is wisdom, during times of judgment to draw even closer to Him!

Closing encouragement:

Get before God and get a game plan to address these things and make it difficult to slip back into inactivity.

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.


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 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!