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Fri, Mar 25, 2016

Part 01

Duration:27 mins 8 secs

Almost every day we are reminded in one way or another that as good as it gets in this world it is a place of suffering.

  • Suffering in the townships
  • Suffering in a forest
  • Suffering in Syria
  • Suffering in Brussels
  • Suffering in our homes and hospitals
  • Suffering in our old age homes
  • Some people suffer simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time
  • Some people suffer because they do wrong
  • Some people suffer because of illness
  • Some people suffer for a cause
  • Most of us do everything in our power to avoid suffering at almost any cost

But no matter what we do we will all face suffering of some sort in this broken and fallen world.

So how do we deal with suffering?

About 1,953 years ago the apostle Peter wrote a letter to a bunch of Christians who were suffering for a cause.

These Christians had been trying to explain to the people around them that although they were sinners, under the judgement of God because of that sin, that God in His love had made a way for them to escape judgement… and that way was Christ Jesus.

These Christians were suffering because the people they were engaging with for the most part really enjoyed their sin and resented anyone coming to upset the apple cart.

Unfortunately, these people couldn’t just ignore the Christians or walk away… they decided to persecute them. Even though the Christians were living good lives and sharing good news.

And so Peter writes to them to help them deal with this situation.

He says… carry on living good lives and don’t retaliate but bless even those who insult you and plot evil against you because if you do you might through your suffering and your hope in suffering win them over to God. And through this perseverance in the face of suffering God will bless you.

1 Peter 3: 8 – 16

And then he reminds them of what happened on the very first Good Friday… that Christ Himself who lived a perfect life suffered for a good cause, a good purpose, and through that suffering and death, people are able to be won over to God.

And in this second reminder they need to be encouraged to persevere like their Master did in suffering.

And in this second reminder they remember the point of Christ’s suffering and death. They see the point of Good Friday. They see that what Christ did through His suffering on the cross is so glorious that it is worth suffering for, for the sake of others and the glory of God.

1 Peter 3: 17 – 18(a)

On the cross Christ suffered and died to deal with the sin that separates the world from God and puts them under His judgement.

“Christ died for sins once for all” – the idea is that Christ died for our sin just once (once = one time + that one time was conclusive and complete).

To put it into the words of the communion service: “All glory to You, our heavenly Father, for in Your tender mercy You gave Your only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death on the cross for our redemption. Who made there, by His one offering of Himself, a full, perfect, sufficient and never to be repeated sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.”

Christ made a perfect offering for sin.

“the righteous for the unrighteous” – or literally “the just one for the sake of the unjust ones”.

Christ… He who had no sin, He who was perfectly righteous… dies in the place of the sinners and the unrighteous. Taking the penalty due sin and unrighteousness away from them and onto Himself so that Romans 5: 21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin (to be a sin offering) for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

And what is the result?

“to bring you to God” – The barrier of sin that separates us from God, brings us under His judgement now and for all eternity… is removed by the suffering and death of Christ on the cross. So that God and the believer can be in a glorious family relationship once again.

Which is why Jesus said in John 14: 6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

And again, the reason that Peter is reminding them of this in their suffering is that they should take heart and inspiration to persevere in suffering like their Lord…

And to remind them it is a cause worth suffering for. It brings glory to God, it brings blessing to those who suffer for it and to those who embrace it as a result of the hope they see in us as we suffer for it.

 

 

So yes there is so much suffering in this world…

But if you are a Christian, you know how to deal with suffering now. It’s not easy but you know how.

You see suffering differently. It is an opportunity by God’s grace to bring more glory to God and more good to others around you.

So you pray for perseverance in all suffering, particularly that suffering which is as a result of the gospel.

You continue to live a good life sharing the good news. Because your hope is in God who uses your suffering for glorious results.

And that hope will bring much blessing into your life from God (even… particularly… in the context of suffering).

And that hope God will use to change lives around you for good and the glory of God.

If you are not yet a Christian, suffering is a reminder that you live in a world gone wrong. A broken, fallen world.

And unfortunately it is a reminder that worse is to come beyond this world. It must be terrible if Christ had to suffer and die like that as the penalty due sin.

Your only hope is to put your trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross.

Only He has done on the cross what is needed to save you from your sin and the judgement of God on you because of that sin.

Only He can transform your suffering into something glorious that can bring glory to Him, be of good to others and yourself.

Today is the day. Submit your life to Him today.

Pray. Commitment. Communion. Connect

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