Saturday, May 9, 2009

Jesus Calls His People To Suffering

We are Christians, therefore we are dedicated to Jesus—right? We look to Jesus for our salvation and trust in God that through Jesus we will be delivered from sin, Satan and death. Praise God for the deliverance we have through his death on the cross! May the cross be proclaimed from the lowest parts of the earth to the highest point in heaven!

But in our proclamation of the salvation to be found in the cross of Jesus, we have forgotten the teaching of Jesus about the cross. The cross is not just something that we look at, believe in and admire from a distance. Rather, the cross is something for us to carry. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)

The gospel is not a “feel good” religion. The source of the gospel is Jesus himself, and he himself determines what the gospel consists of. And Jesus himself declared the gospel to be the accepting of suffering and economic sacrifice— not only for himself, but for everyone who wishes to receive his salvation.

If we desire to partake in the salvation of Jesus, the cross is not just an option—it is a requirement. To lose our lives, to deny ourselves is not just something for the super-powerful saint, but for the everyday disciple of Jesus. If we do not follow him, we do not have salvation.

The New Testament is clear about the place of suffering in the Christian life. If one is not suffering persecutions, rejections, tribulations, testings or opposition because they are following Jesus, then that one is not truly following Jesus. The one who does not suffer does not receive the kingdom of God.

What do Jesus and the apostles say?

Those who are persecuted will gain God’s kingdom.“Blessed are you when men hate you and insult you and slander you and separate themselves from you for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for your reward will be great in heaven.” Luke 6:22-23
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
“But woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers treat the false prophets.” Luke 6:26

If we are followers of Jesus, we will receive the sufferings he suffered“A disciple is not greater than his teacher, nor is a slave greater than his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher. If they have called the head of the household “Satan,” then how much more will they slander those who live in the house!” Matthew 10:24-25
“If you patiently endure suffering for doing what is right, you have favor with God. For the purpose of suffering like this you have been called, since Christ also suffered for you, and thus he left an example for you to follow in his steps.” I Peter 2:20-21

It was Jesus’ purpose that his followers suffer opposition
“Do not think that I came to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace to you, but a sword will be held against you. I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34-36

The one who hates his life and suffers for Jesus will gain eternal life.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. John 12:24-25

We will not gain the benefits of the salvation of Jesus without suffering.
“We will not enter the kingdom of heaven except through many trials.” Acts 14 22
“Everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” II Timothy 3:12
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17

Suffering is not an option. If we do not suffer for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, then it shows that we are not true followers of Jesus. If we do not truly follow Jesus, then we will not gain the kingdom of heaven or be called children of God.

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