The Whole Creation Groaneth and Travaileth in Pain

Monday, January 9, 2012

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:22,23 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul explains that all creation groans and travails in pain. The animal kingdom suffers sickness and death, just as we humans experience sickness and death. Saints, short of the Lord’s coming for us at the rapture, we will eventually grow sick and old, and finally die. Does God not care about us? Does God really love us? If so, why do we suffer?

Our suffering has nothing to do with un-confessed sin, meager giving, or being outside of God’s will. We suffer, not because God is mad at us, but rather because we live under the curse of sin, “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). This curse was introduced in Genesis 3:16-19, in response to Adam’s sin.

God will not remove the curse of sin from creation until Christ’s Second Coming. At that time, Christ will establish His earthly kingdom, “the times of refreshing [that will come] from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). But, as Christians, we have an advantage: we will not have to wait as long to enjoy deliverance from the curse.

Either at our death or the rapture—both will come before Christ’s Second Coming—we Christians will leave these sinful human bodies. When the rapture occurs, God will resurrect all members of the Body of Christ, giving them glorified bodies fashioned like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:50-54; Philippians 3:20,21). In that day, we will receive the “redemption of our body” (today’s Scripture), never again to suffer this curse.

For now, we are comforted: “For the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Hang in there!

We Suffer Persecution

Friday, November 18, 2011

“…Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (1 Corinthians 4:12bc,13 KJV).

Contrary to the damnable teachings of prosperity theology, the Christian life is not always pleasant and carefree. In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul explains we “suffer” persecution. While “suffer” means “endure pain,” its older English definition was “allow, permit.” Both definitions are applicable here.

In Acts 24:5, lost people called Paul a “pestilent fellow.” Jesus told His Jewish disciples: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you… I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18,19). The lost world hated Jesus Christ so much that they preferred a murderer’s release as opposed to Jesus’ release (Matthew 27:15-22; Mark 15:7-15)!

The Apostle Peter, writing to Jewish believers, the little flock, who will endure the seven-year Tribulation: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Peter 4:13,14).

Christians are the outcasts of society. Compared to the world, we think differently, we act differently, and we even look different. Accordingly, we are targets of their criticism. Christians down through the past 20 centuries have suffered some rather graphic treatment, far too explicit to mention here. This evil world system has never been God’s friend, so it will certainly be unfriendly to us Christians.

In fact, today’s Scripture tells us that the world will treat us Christians like “filth” and “offscouring” (trash, scum, castaways). We are called names, ostracized, and we may be imprisoned or even tortured and executed, but we are privileged to “suffer for righteousness’ sake” (1 Peter 3:14)!

Beloved, we suffer persecution… for God’s glory!

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Thursday, November 17, 2011

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1,2a KJV).

In today’s Scripture, the author of Hebrews encourages believing Jews to endure the adversity and persecution of the future seven-year Tribulation.

The “great cloud of witnesses,” not our loved ones watching us from heaven, is actually the people of faith of chapter 11—Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, et cetera. God promised them an earthly kingdom (Matthew 25:34), yet Hebrews 11:39 says, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.” These saints are still waiting to see their kingdom, thousands of years later!

Believing Jews living during the seven-year Tribulation will be reminded of those saints of old who endured persecution and yet God was faithful in delivering them (Hebrews 11:33-38). These Tribulation saints are encouraged to endure those seven years—“the race” of today’s Scripture—by following the ensamples of the saints of old (that “great cloud of witnesses” of God’s faithfulness).

Hebrews 13:5,6 says: …for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

Hebrews is not written to us members of the Church the Body of Christ, but we are comforted in that just as God will not forsake those Jewish believers enduring the horrible Tribulation, He will not abandon us in Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

God will keep His promise to those saints to bring them through the Tribulation and into their earthly kingdom, so we can be sure He will keep His promises that He made to us in Paul’s epistles! If God will comfort those believing Jews during the worst period of human history, surely, God will comfort us in our Dispensation of Grace, to one day deliver us and usher us into our heavenly kingdom. 🙂

Not Walking By Sight, Literally

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV).

Two weeks ago Brother “G,” my friend and co-laborer in the Christian writing ministry, suffered a stroke, losing most sight in one eye. Currently, he has greatly limited vision in both eyes (years ago, his other eye suffered a stroke). Last week, after “seeing” my optometrist, I visited Brother G. However, as of three days ago, I have been enduring an eye infection. I am currently typing with sight in just one eye! 🙂

Case in point: in this fallen creation we all have troubles and adversity (they are “common to man”). Sin and its subsequent curse result in our sickness and ultimate death (Romans 5:12; Romans 8:20-22). But, even during sickness, today’s Scripture says we “bear it.” How?

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25).

We Christians are “saved” from despair. While we suffer sickness, we have faith in the hope that, one day, these weak physical bodies will be redeemed and transformed into new glorified bodies (the rapture; 1 Corinthians 15:49-57; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 3:20,21). Our destination, as members of the Body of Christ, is the heavenly places, where there is neither sin nor suffering.

After “seeing” doctors, Brother G and me still groan in sickness, but we are walking by faith, NOT sight. Literally, we hope in what “we see not.” 🙂

The Saviour Who Suffered Surely Succours the Suffering Saints

Monday, June 27, 2011

“And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; and saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch” (Mark 14:33,34 KJV).

We have all experienced great emotional strain. In today’s Scripture, just hours before His arrest, the Lord Jesus’ soul is troubled, greatly tormented. He foresees His suffering and ultimate crucifixion. This foreknowledge is coupled with satanic oppression. It is as if Christ is being squeezed inside. He is “very heavy.” His soul is “exceeding sorrowful unto death.” Jesus Christ is vexed, troubled to the point of depression. This is probably one of the lowest points in our Lord’s earthly life.

Luke’s account records Christ as being so weak (His humanity evidenced) that an angel from heaven appeared to Him in order to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). Verse 44 says, “Being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” He was praying very intensely.

Christ suffered for our sins, far more than we could ever suffer. Sin causes us pain, just as it did Jesus Christ. We all live in this sin-cursed world. However, no matter what temptation we suffer, Someone else suffered worse distress. If our Lord Jesus Christ could endure such extreme depression, surely we can endure much less trying times in Him. Even in the cases of severe suffering (to the point of desiring death), Jesus Christ empathizes with us.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ can draw on His strength in difficult times. Our Saviour can comfort us and give our hearts and minds peace. Regardless of our circumstances, God’s grace is sufficient for us, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).

In times of depression and heartache, we need to look to Jesus Christ: “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [help, relieve] them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).