Sunday, June 8, 2014

Five Reasons Christians Think They Should Be Exempt From Suffering


SERMON            GMT14-019

SERIES:              Topical – Helping the Church Learn to Suffer

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM

SUBTITLE:        Five Reasons Christians Think They Should be Exempt From Suffering

SCRIPTURE:     Selected Scriptures (Luke 21:19)

SUBJ:                  Don’t misunderstand suffering

SUMMARY:       I propose to you that there are reasons why many believers have a tendency to think that they are or should be exempt from suffering

SCHEME:           The aim of this message is that the members of NKBC understand that they are not exempt from pain and suffering

Why do believers have a tendency to think they should be exempt from suffering?

1A     Christians maintain an improper view of the balance of scripture

2A     Christians fixate on the tyranny of the urgent

3A     Christians misunderstand key scriptures

4A     Christians have a convoluted system of theology

5A     Christians have not reflected on the meaning of the cross

Disclaimer: Please Take Note of the Following

First - Thank you for taking your valuable time to read these sermons

Second - If you find any blessing or benefit, please leave a comment

Third - If you find a "whole" in my theology, please tell me so I can grow

Fourth - I "borrowed" the outline for this message from D. A. Carson from his book O Lord, How Long? The outline is his but the meat on the bones, the sermon is mine. However, I know that I have been influenced by Piper, Bridges, Carson, Yancy, Lewis, and others on this subject of suffering. I make no apologies for the influence that seeped into my heart from extensive reading and meditation. However, I want to give credit where credit is due. 

Even though he is unaware of it, thank you Brother Carson for this outline. I acknowledge that it is yours and not mine.


Five Reasons Christians Think They Should Be Exempt From Suffering
Selected Scriptures
(Luke 21:19)

INTRODUCTION

1.     Driving through Texas, a New Yorker collided with a truck carrying a horse. A few months later he tried to collect damages for his injuries. "How can you now claim to have all these injuries?" asked the insurance company's lawyer. "According to the police report, at the time you said you were not hurt." "Look," replied the New Yorker. "I was lying on the road in a lot of pain, and I heard someone say the horse had a broken leg. The net thing I know this Texas Ranger pulls out his gun and shoots the horse. Then he turns to me and asks, 'Are you okay?'" He truly misunderstood the Ranger’s question.

2.     The Bible is full of instructions, warnings, exhortations, and directions when it comes to the subject of pain and suffering. As students of the Scripture each one of us must be on our guard against misunderstanding vital passages.

3.     Christians much of the time respond in a non-biblical manner when they experience or encounter pain and suffering. They often become angry, bitter, disappointed, frustrated, or bewildered. As a matter of fact many Christians assume or believe that they ought to immune from pain or suffering.

Our theme is: Don’t misunderstand suffering

This is a good reminder for us all to check our belief system about suffering in order to ensure that we do not have the wrong ideas thereby missing out on what God is doing in our lives through pain and suffering.

Interrogative Sentence:  Why do Christians think they should be immune from pain and suffering?

Transitional SentenceToday’s topic suggests five (5) essential reasons that lead Christians to believe that they should be immune from pain or suffering.

 [So, without further delay, let’s look at the first reason why Christians believe that they should be immune or exempt from suffering.]

1A     Christians often possess an improper balance of Scripture

How do you feel about taxes going up? What do you think about spinach? Do you like a Shakespearean sonnet? Do you like getting vaccines? Do you like hikes in the price of gasoline? What do you think of ice cream?

We have a tendency to focus on good things and to reject what we consider to be bad things. I don’t like taxes or gas going up, but I do like ice cream.

We remember the wonderful stories of Joseph, or Gideon, or even David.
We meditate on the miraculous healings of people in the bible who were born blind, or crippled, or who had died and were raised from the dead.

We like winners, stories or parables that have happy endings.

We like bible verses that are happy, or make us happy, or gives to us promises, or promises good things:

1 Corinthians 10:31
When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God. 
(CEV)
Psalm 118:24
The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. (NIV)
Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (NIV)
Ephesians 4:31-32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT)
John 14:27
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (NLT)
1 John 4:4
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 
(NKJV)
Ephesians 4:21-24
If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. 
(NASB)

We love to focus on healings:

Peter heals a man who had been lame his entire life (we learn later in Acts 4:22 that the man was over 40 years old):
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
We have Paul resurrecting a man from the dead in Acts 20:7-12. The man died because Paul talked him to sleep and he fell out of a window:
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 
Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. 
·        How about the widow’s son who died and Jesus raised from the dead
·        How about Dorcas, whom everyone loved – Peter raised from the dead
·        How about all the promises of heaven, future glory, and eternal life?
We love to read and think on the good things in the bible.
We are less likely to meditate on and think on the examples of suffering found in the bible.
·        When was the last time you mediated and focused on Jeremiah? 
Jeremiah is commonly known as the "weeping prophet," based on his wish to have a "fountain of tears" with which he might weep for the slain of his own people (9:1). It is this trait of deep empathy for those he continually chastises that differentiates him from others of his prophetic brothers

·        How many times have you meditated on the constant sickness and problems of Timothy or the illness ofTrophimus?

·        Do you focus on the thorn that God gave Paul in his flesh?

·        How about the story of Naboth? Here a righteousness man was put to death by false and trumped up charges. (1 Kings 21)

This is a classic illustration that good guys don’t always win.

My point is that one reason we as Christians often think that we should be exempt from pain and suffering is we have an out of balance view of Scripture. We must read it all. We must think on all of it. We must meditate on the trials, tribulations, and the tragedies of those who suffered in the bible – and those who suffered an often died outside of the bible. You need to read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs once each year.

“All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us, who live at the time when this age is drawing to a close.” (1 Corinthians 11:11, NLT)

We need to learn the principles and truths from the bad in Scripture as well as from the good.

So, if you need to, examine your balance of Scripture. If you need to ask the HS to help you recalibrate your balance. Many bible characters including Christ suffered and we can learn how to respond to and live with any and all suffering that Christ designs or permits us to undergo.

The first reason that Christians think they should be exempt from suffering is they have an improper balance of the Scriptures.

Our theme is: Don’t misunderstand suffering

This is a good reminder for us all to check our belief system about suffering in order to ensure that we do not have the wrong ideas thereby missing out on what God is doing in our lives through pain and suffering

[The second reason many Christians believe that they should be exempt from suffering stems from the fact that many…]

2A     Christians tend to fixate on the tyranny of the immediate

It is no secret, and you are well aware that we live in a microwave age. By that I mean we live in a time of the instant:

Melissa Francis has no patience for waiting — for anything. When the 26-year-old Allston barista talks about slow Internet connections, she can barely hide her disdain. Waiting a couple of extra seconds for a page to load feels like an eternity.

“I’m not proud of it, but I yell at my computer when it’s slow,” Francis said.
The demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives, and not just virtually. Retailers are jumping into same-day delivery services.
Smartphone apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date, or a table at a hot restaurant.
Movies and TV shows begin streaming in seconds.
But experts caution that instant gratification comes at a price: It’s making us less patient.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project sums up a recent study about people under the age of 35 and the dangers of their hyper connected lives with what sounds like a prescription drug warning:
 “Negative effects include a need for instant gratification and loss of patience.”
Linking this instant gratification mindset to our Christian life, many time Christians think that if God is going to end our trials or relieve us from suffering, he should do it right now, right away, and instantly!
Sadly, when there are delays in relief we begin to feel as if God is not keeping his promises.
With this instant world we live in we want our prayers answered just as instantly. We want God to work in our lives as fast as our home computers work.
·        Moses spent 40 years in the back side of the desert
·        Joseph spent 20 years before his relief and exaltation came
·        David was anointed king as a teen-ager, yet had to wait 40 years to rule
·        Paul spent three years in the Arabian desert before preaching
When George Muller was a young man, he had a dream--an earnest hope for his life and legacy. He would become an evangelist, who would take the message of Christ to the world. But after several unsuccessful attempts in his twenties to follow this career, he concluded it wasn’t in God’s will for him. He gave up.
Until age 67. At this unlikely point in life, his dream finally materialized. For the next twenty years--until he was 87--Muller traveled thousands of miles, carrying out numerous speaking missions, and becoming one of the nineteenth century’s foremost Christian statesmen. 
Muller’s path to becoming an evangelist illustrates one of the most fascinating and encouraging aspects of God’s providence that we experience. It’s the fact that certain dreams we have, which we assume have failed and forever been denied by God, do eventually succeed--but at a later point than we expected. For some of us, a dream is realized much later in life than we thought possible.
God is not tied to any earthly time table including our own. God knows that even in the midst of pain and suffering delays are a good thing for our good and His glory.
Most of the time we can look back when relief finally comes and say that God’s time table is perfect. For some the time of relief from pain and suffering may be delayed until they are in the presence of the Lord.
Listen to the Scripture:
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ec. 7:8)
In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.”
 “Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness.” (Martin Luther) 
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.” (Titus 2:2)
For you have need of patience, that, after, you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)
But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
We could go on and on and on couldn’t we? This isn’t taking in to count how many passages tell us to endure, to be steadfast, or to be unmovable.
Many believers belief that they should be exempt from pain or suffering because they think God should respond immediately if not sooner to our pleas and prayers for relief. We succumb to the pull of the immediate.
Our theme is: Don’t misunderstand suffering
This is a good reminder for us all to check our belief system about suffering in order to ensure that we do not have the wrong ideas thereby missing out on what God is doing in our lives through pain and suffering

[The third reason many believers think they should be exempt from pain and suffering is that some…]
3A     Christians abuse key Scriptures
“Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NLT)
You know the KJV – Study to show thyself approved…rightly dividing the word of truth.
The context does not say study the bible to be a know it all, or to win arguments, or to win contests.
The context means study, know the word well enough to know what scriptures to apply, when to apply them, and how to apply them in various situations. In Timothy’s case he was told by Paul to know the scriptures well enough in order to apply the right ones to the false teachers who were plaguing the churches.
The biggest challenge that we as believers face is knowing what scripture goes where. IOW, we need to know what passage addresses issues in our lives, especially issues of pain and suffering. We cannot take passages out of context nor can we make them say what we need or want them to say.
Let me give you an example: Turn to Romans 8:28.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro 8:28, ESV)
Many people interpret “the good” as materialistic, humanistic, selfish things such as peace, possessions, or prosperity.
In the context of this paragraph it is the bad things of this world and life that Christians encounter which are part of the “groaning” of this entire universe. It is the death and the decay that culminates in the persecution of God’s people. What is promised is that in the midst of, as you are undergoing such trials, persecutions, heart-aches, pain and suffering you can be assured that God is at work “for the good of those who love him.”
This is a promise. But it is a promise that must be taken hold of and grasped by faith. This faith should have been already made strong because of all the proof God has already given us. VSS 31-32 tells us that the ultimate proof is that God has already given us the gift of His son.
Listen, this is not telling us that God is going to make good things from the bad things happening to you. This verse is not saying that. The bad things happen, will happen, and will continue to happen.
God is promising that even as you experience bad things – pain & suffering, God is working good in you by those bad things.
This is what Joseph meant when he told his brothers that God used their evil deed against Joseph.
“As for you [his brothers] you meant evil against me [taking his coat made by his father, putting him in a pit, selling him as a slave] but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people who’d be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20, ESV)
God didn’t stop Joseph’s brothers from stealing his coat. God didn’t stop his brothers from throwing him in the pit. God did not stop his brothers from selling him as a slave.
God may not stop you from losing your job, or getting sick, or losing your home, or from being robbed, or from getting cancer, or from a terrible car accident. These things are part of this world under sin.
But God promises you that these things will not destroy you, separate you from him, nor will they keep you from – unless you let them – from the good that he desires for you.
Joseph did not seeing any “physical” good from his experience for 20 years. You may not either.
There is nothing in Romans 8:28 that provides or promises an easy life, easy times, or a quick way out of pain and suffering. That may never come.
Don’t misinterpret or take out of context key scriptures. Discover what the text really says.
Some Christians misinterpret key passages.
Our theme is: Don’t misunderstand suffering

This is a good reminder for us all to check our belief system about suffering in order to ensure that we do not have the wrong ideas thereby missing out on what God is doing in our lives through pain and suffering

[There is a fourth reason that Christians often come to believe that they should be exempt from pain or suffering. Some…]

4A     Christians have a convoluted theology

First let me say, that theology is not limited to the pastor or to teachers. Everyone here is a theologian. The question is, are you a good theologian or a bad theologian.

Everyone here has a theology. You have thoughts and opinions on about God. The real question is, are your thoughts and opinions accurate or are they convoluted.

Some Christians have the attitude that they can give an answer for everything, including every negative thing in your life.

Job’s friends were like that. They concluded Job had sinned and needed to repent or God would destroy him. They were dogmatic. We have the tendency to throw out standard answers to every problem that comes along, especially if it is someone else’s problem and not their own.

We feel like we need answers, assurances, and affirmation. We really leave very little room for God to be at work in mysterious ways. We want it all wrapped up in neat little bows.

One of my favorite hymns is by William Cowper: 

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
I don’t know why some Christians lose their jobs, or their houses. I don’t know why some are robbed, some are raped or killed. I don’t know why people get cancer, or why many people suffer so much pain. I just know that God is at work and that God is sovereign. God’s will is being carried out perfectly in His timing.
It is not God’s will that every Christian is happy, healthy, and hearty. Not all will live a blissful pain free life this side of heaven. Some believes may never know good health, riches, have nice homes, or cars, or careers.
So, some Christians have a convoluted theology.
Our theme is: Don’t misunderstand suffering

This is a good reminder for us all to check our belief system about suffering in order to ensure that we do not have the wrong ideas thereby missing out on what God is doing in our lives through pain and suffering
[There is a fifth and final reason that Christians often come to believe that they should be exempt from pain or suffering. Some…]

5A     Christians have not reflected on the true meaning of the cross

Another way of saying this is that some Christians have never counted the cost of becoming or being a Christian.

Some Christians only see the cross as a means of our salvation. The cross is a place where Jesus died some 2000 years ago for my sins.

Most Christians have never given any thought as to what it means;

“…to take up our cross, and die daily.”

“And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains he whole world and loses or forfeits himself.” (Luke 9:23-25, ESV)

Jesus told Ananias that he was going to show Paul how much he must suffer for the sake of his name. (Acts 9:16)

Jesus told Peter that one day he would suffer and die for being a Christian.

This is not your best life now. God does not promise you a wonderful life it you come to Jesus. Oh, wait, yes he does, but your wonderful life may include being robbed, getting sick, losing a child, or death.

The end result and major problem of not meditating on the cross is that most Christians respond the same way as non-Christians to pain and suffering:

·        Complaining
·        Anger
·        Bitterness
·        Self- dependence and or self-reliance
·        Self- medication – booze, pills, dope
·        Fear and anguish
Our theme is: Don’t misunderstand suffering

This is a good reminder for us all to check our belief system about suffering in order to ensure that we do not have the wrong ideas thereby missing out on what God is doing in our lives through pain and suffering

CONCLUSION [What do you say we wrap this up?]

None of us like trials or pain. None of us like to suffer. None of us wants to face the future with uncertainty, pain, suffering, sorrow or fear.

We face reality every day. We, being Christians are not exempt from pain or suffering. God wants us to trust Him. The reason He wants us to trust him initially doesn’t even have anything to do with us.

We are to trust God because God is worthy of trust. He can be trusted. He expects us to trust Him.

The problem that we face is developing and maintain false concepts of pain and suffering in our lives as Christians.

I propose to you that there are reasons why many believers have a tendency to think that they are or should be exempt from suffering

The aim of this message is that you understand that none of us are exempt from the pain and suffering that as a part of this sinful age we experience.

Exhortation:  So, I exhort you to not resist or run from the pain and suffering, but trust God to be at work in your life and to rest in him for the grace that he has promised. So, by patience possess your soul! 

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9, (ESV) 


My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness...”

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV)

 Let’s pray! J













1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...

SAINTHOOD QUALIFICATIONS

Who are the saints of God? God's saints are those who are under His covenant. A covenant is an agreement between God and mankind.

ALL MEN WHO ARE OR WERE UNDER GOD'S COVENANT ARE SAINTS.

Psalm 50:5 "Gather My saints together to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." (NKJV)

ALL OF GOD'S PEOPLE ARE SAINTS.

Deuteronomy 33:1-3 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2. And he said: "The Lord came from Sinai, And dawn on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousand saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them. 3 Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hands; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words.(NKJV)

Yes, those under under the old covenant were saints of God. The people under the old covenant were saints and they did not have to be placed in a canon of saints and then enacted by the ecclesiastical rule of church authority and approved by Moses.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (NKJV)

All men in God's churches are saints. The body of Christ are God's saints; one and all.

Ephesians 3:8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (NKJV)

The apostle Paul did not consider himself a candidate for beatification. Why not, because there is no such title of "Super Saint" found in Scripture. Paul said he was the least of saints.
If there was a class of God like "Super Saints" that men could worship, by petitioning them through prayer, the apostle Paul certainly would have qualified. GOD IS A JEALOUS GOD, HE DOES WANT MEN TO WORSHIP ANY SAINT, DEAD OR ALIVE, BY PRAYING TO THEM.

Ephesians 6:18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints---(NKJV)

These Christians were not praying for dead saints. These were live saints praying for other live saints. Saints are all members of the body of Christ; nothing more and nothing less.

There are no Scriptures that mention a beatification of saints, through a canonical process; thereby turning a selected few into "SUPER SAINTS."

THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR SAINTHOOD!

The qualification for sainthood under the new covenant are:
A. FAITH: John 3:16
B. CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10
C. REPENTANCE: Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38
D. WATER BAPTISM Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:20-21

When you come up out of the watery grave of baptism you are saved, you are a child of God, you are a member of the Lord's church, your are part of the body of Christ, you have been clothed with Christ, you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, your sins have been forgiven, you are a member of the church of Christ, you have been raised to walk in a new life, you have been washed by the blood of Jesus, you are in the kingdom of God here on earth. YOU ARE A SAINT!


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