There’s Suffering, And Then There’s Suffering For The Gospel

Young Lady 01My Cerebral Palsy naturally drew me to the various Bible verses on suffering when I was young. And my friends often read those verses to me during times of frustration and discouragement. Ministries to people with disabilities characteristically use those verses in their books and seminars.

A few of the Scriptures used in ministering to the disabled (and others who experience profound suffering) actually do apply to such situations. Please understand that I support using them when we can do so without violating their context. Hurting people need assurance that God cares about their struggles. That He has a purpose in allowing them to suffer.  Certainly, using God’s Word to extend comfort and encouragement must never be overlooked or disdained.

But lately I’ve been thinking about how often evangelicals focus those Scriptures on the types of suffering that don’t really discriminate between Christians and non-Christians. Many non-Christians sit in wheelchairs, go through divorces, bury loved ones and lose jobs just before the holidays. Yet God’s promises don’t apply to them.

You see, most of the New Testament Scriptures about suffering address a particular type of suffering. They specifically target suffering persecution for the sake of the Gospel.

Let me offer an example of a passage I often turned to for comfort when I was young.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~~1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)

I grabbed on to the phrase, “various trials,” quite confident that Cerebral Palsy fell somewhere under that umbrella. I appropriated that promise with gusto! Clearly, the Lord would reward me, simply because I spent my life in a wheelchair, right?

Wrong!

When you read 1 Peter in its entirety, you find that he wrote this letter to persecuted Christians who suffered because of their stand for Jesus. They had been scattered throughout the known world, fleeing from those who would kill them for the crime of being Christians. Yet many of them still ended up in regions that were hostile to the Gospel — and therefore hostile to them.

Peter wrote his first letter to these beleaguered Christians, reminding them that they weren’t merely strangers in their adopted countries. They were also (and perhaps more profoundly) aliens to the world system that hated Christ. As such, they would most likely suffer persecution again.

1 Peter is really written as an encouragement to Christians on how to conduct themselves in environments that didn’t tolerate their commitment to Christ. In this context, the various trials he mentioned specifically referred the sufferings they endured for the Gospel.

As 21st Century culture grows in animosity toward Christ and those who represent Him, we must expect to suffer for Him. And it’s that suffering (rather than suffering because of disability, bereavement, divorce or job loss) that this passage addresses. Certainly, it applies to us. But let’s be sure to make the proper application.

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Saturday Sampler: September 23 — September 29

Birds Sampler

In her guest post for Biblical Counseling for Women, Svea Goertzen muses about a One Hit Wonder — The Impact of a Single Song to demonstrate how someone, even in the depths of suffering, can rejoice in the Gospel.

Visit Growing 4 Life to read Leslie A’s thoughts on “Wordless” Christianity. You’ll see why spending time in God’s Word is so vital to spiritual development.

I’m including Steven Kozar’s The Gigantic Problem Beneath the Really Big Problem a week late because I didn’t see it until this week. But I can’t emphasize strongly enough how crucial his point is in developing discernment through sound doctrine! Kozar’s blog, Messed Up Church, appears on the Pirate Christian Media website.

Unafraid  to write on a difficult topic, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes What about hell? I didn’t want to read it any more than you do, but willfully ignoring the reality of eternal damnation has eternal ramifications.

Elizabeth continues confronting us with unpopular truth with When Women Pastor. She stands against today’s cultural climate in favor of Biblical gender roles. She also draws an interesting connection between women as pastors and the rise of Pentecostal churches.

Since we get a double dose of Elizabeth Prata this week, why not also have a double dose of Leslie A? Her piece, What Determines Truth for You?, challenges us to continually examine our hearts.

Personally, I’m not a fan of tattoos. But neither am I a fan of misusing Scripture to support my distaste for them. Peter Krol’s post in Knowable Word, Context Matters: Your Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, provides excellent guidance on using 1 Corinthians 6:19 appropriately. So I’ll enjoy my cheesecake while those of you with tattoos enjoy them. Deal?

John Ellis, writing for adayinhiscourt (his personal blog), ruminates on #BelieveWomen Versus the Presumption of Innocence. His empathy for accusers and the accused alike encourages us to think Biblically instead of rushing to judgment.

What’s Behind the Social Justice Gospel-ers? Colin Eakin answers that question in his riveting essay for Pyromaniacs. His assessment couldn’t be more accurate! Ladies, I beg you to read this one.

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Saturday Sampler: September 16 — September 22

 

Fall Garden Sampler

Taken by John Kespert at Boston Public Garden

The trouble with Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure is that I want to include the majority of his articles in Sampler! Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season certainly belongs in this week’s curation, since it addresses many themes that I want you ladies to understand. I hope you won’t neglect this one.

Michelle Lesley handles an important topic with The Mailbag: Is lust a sin for women, too? Of course the short answer is yes. But Michelle’s long answer enhances our understanding of just how seriously the Lord takes female lust.

Despising God’s Word Might Not Mean What You Think It Does, suggests Mike Leake in a post for Borrowed Light. I agree.

In an article for The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel, Justin Peters uses his own experience with Cerebral Palsy to repudiate the victim and entitlement mentality that fuels the Social Justice Movement. Thanks for Nothing reminds us what true justice is and why we really don’t want it.

Sydney, a high school age young lady who blogs at Squid’s Cup of Tea, displays her astonishing insight with Are You Texting God? Do you need to learn from her?

You’ll be encouraged, challenged and inspired by Life Lessons from A British Cemetery, which Courtney McLean writes for Biblical Woman. I guess the tombstones of Susanna Wesley and John Bunyan would have an impact on me, too!

For another healthy challenge,  consider We Need to Change How We Pray by Jordan Standridge on The Cripplegate. His perspective isn’t popular, but it’s definitely Biblical.

It’s true! You Don’t Want to Miss This Post that Leslie A writes on Growing 4 Life. She muses about the odd disconnect that keeps so many Christians from becoming all we should be in Christ.

I totally agree with Jason Marianna of Things Above Us about The Saddest Day in Church History NO ONE Talks About. Even if you deplore history, you’ll learn something that may give you better insight into how problems arise when churches embrace social justice.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings takes on a familiar challenge to Christian faith with The Rock — But Can He Lift It? Frankly, I’ve always found this question to be incredibly obnoxious, so her positive approach to it humbles me.

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Saturday Sampler: September 9 — September 15

Cinderella Sampler

In a guest post for Pyromaniacs, Darrell B. Harrison insists that God Has Spoken regarding how Christians must implement justice. Scripture speaks clearly to how we can live justly in this fallen world.

Do you remember how excited you were about Jesus when you first became a Christian? Elizabeth Prata invites us to think back to those days by Remembering our earliest grace in The End Time. She definitely provides wise counsel in this essay.

When the Holy Spirit helps us understand Scriptural principles, we naturally want to pass  those insights along. And that’s generally a good thing. But, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life shows us, sometimes we need His wisdom on When to Stop Talking.

With compassion and fidelity to God’s Word, Michael Coughlin writes Do People Who Commit Suicide Go To Hell? as his contribution to the Things Above Us blog. You might appreciate his thought-provoking perspectives.

Look at Pilgrim Theology Versus Ethnic Theology by R. Scott Clark on The Heidelblog for a helpful understanding of why we must avoid classifying Christians by ethnicities.

It pleases me to recommend a second Elizabeth Prata post this week. The Truest Poverty Social Justice Can Never Cure brings us to the heart of the conversation. Isn’t it amazing how Scripture gives such clarity to a controversy?

John Ellis reviews Aimee Byrd’s controversial book on friendships between men and women for his personal blog, adayinhiscourt. Aimee Byrd Asks About Men and Women ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’ candidly examines the book’s strengths and weaknesses from a male perspective that few women really understand. We desperately need to consider the points Ellis makes.

Against the backdrop of suffering for Christ, Mike Ratliff studies 2 Timothy in Possessing the Treasure to remind us why we must Rekindle the Gift of God. He even uses the text to show us how to rekindle our spiritual gifts. As persecution increases against American Christians, Ratliff’s teaching is much needed.

Take a look at Colin L. Eakin’s article, When the Sunday Sermon Is Really Demon Doctrine, in Pyromaniacs. Dr. Eakin highlights the desperate need for Biblical discernment in evangelical churches today.

Speaking of discernment, Michelle Lesley takes us back to the fundamentals of it with Basic Training: Being Berean — 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture. Even if you excel at discernment, her principles might serve as a helpful refresher.

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A Webcast That Got My Attention — Bold Chinese Pastors Aren’t American Snowflakes

Chinese ChristiansJohn and I enjoy listening to The Dividing Line with James White (usually for different reasons). I’m pretty sure it’s John’s favorite, and it’s definitely mine.

Today we listened to roughly the first half of yesterday’s show, which started off with a discussion of the persecution Christians and Muslims are facing as the Chinese government has recently imposed religious restrictions on both groups. Truthfully, I  started out only mildly interested. But then White Continue reading

Playing Catch-Up Is Just Fooling Around

Playing Around

The visible church, often comprised of false converts and true Christians who haven’t received solid teaching, betrays its eagerness to follow the world. From the ordination of women as pastors to the Woke Movement, evangelicals have worked long and hard to catch up to the progressive standards of our greater culture.

Compromise indeed keeps us comfortable, especially when the world has declared (in no uncertain terms) that Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: August 19 — August 25

Birds Sampler

Let’s start this week’s Sampler by going to Knowable Word for Ryan Higginbottom’s Context Matters: The Lord’s Prayer. I particularly appreciate his emphasis on the fact that we mustn’t isolate portions of Scripture.

I debated long and hard about including The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding? by Michelle Lesley only because I don’t want to tempt men to read it. But I definitely believe young mothers should seriously consider Michelle’s Biblical perspective on this controversial matter.

The Believer And Suicide by John Chester appears in Parking Space 23. He handles this difficult issue with sensitivity and tact while also maintaining a solid commitment to the Word of God. Please note: throughout his article, Chester correctly identifies suicide as a sin. Nothing he writes should be construed as permission to kill yourself.

Don’t overlook Maybe We Need Less Math and More History, in which Tim Challies outlines several benefits of studying church history. How can I not love this one?

As a contributor to For The Church, Patrick Meador encourages each of us to Be a Missionary, Not a Marketer. This is one of the best responses to the church growth industrial complex that I’ve read in a long time.

John MacArthur continues laying his foundation for critiquing the Social Justice Movement on this Grace To You blog with The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1  and The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2. These posts help explain why this current trend weakens the mission of the Church.

Reasoning from Scripture, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time analyzes a Facebook meme in Throwback Thursday: Does God Speak In Unidentified Promptings? Ladies, we must follow Elizabeth’s example and think Biblically when we see “Christian” memes on social media.

Few American evangelicals really believe that persecution is knocking at our door. SlimJim of The Domain for Truth gives us a needed wake up call with Tolerance? Church Vandalized. It’s a short but personal account that demands our attention.

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