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These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Jesus never minimizes or diminishes the real cost of following Him. The above Scripture says “you shall have tribulation”. Not maybe, not perhaps, but for sure, you will have tribulation.
Jesus came to defeat the works of the devil and to save sinners from everlasting destruction. The heart of the battle is that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died for the sins of the World, and that there is Salvation in no other. If this is your message, then you have become a participant in this age-old battle.
To be clear, the tribulation we experience is not personal but the result of an ongoing battle to prevent Jesus Christ from redeeming His Elect, to the glory of God. This battle began before we were born, even before Creation, and has continued throughout history until the present. Jesus came to a dying World with a message of forgiveness of sins. It is this message - that we need forgiveness and that Jesus is the only One who can forgive sins - that is so vehemently opposed.
Following Christ is really a confrontation with spiritual darkness. Our message is a message of Life and Truth, a message of who Jesus is and what He says. This message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and His gift of Salvation to a dying world, is a laser guided missile to the kingdom of darkness. If your life speaks of this victory, if you shine the Light of Jesus into the Darkness of this World, if you spread the fragrance of Christ, then you will experience the fierce opposition of which Jesus speaks.
Jesus, in John 15, makes a number of statements to his disciples clarifying the reasons they would be hated:
- If the world hates you then know it hated me before it hated you.
- The world hates you because you are not of the World.
- If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you.
- If they have kept my sayings they will keep yours also.
- The servant is not greater than his Lord.
- All these things will be done to you because they do not know my Father.
Nobody enjoys the pain of rejection, or hatred, and for sure we want to avoid physical violence. However, Jesus says, whatever we face, we can remain optimistic because He has overcome the World and in His victory we have victory. Remember Paul, “I have learned whatever state I am therewith to be content,” Phil. 4:13. The World can hate you but it can’t own you, and it can’t destroy you. The World could not defeat Christ and it cannot defeat those who are in Christ. This is no small matter. Our victory over the Darkness of this World is birthed by His victory over the World; our victory is found within, and not apart, from His victory. After the spirit of this World has exhausted all attempts to diminish, demoralize, and destroy you, after they have used every trick, and every deception, then you, who are in Christ, step into Eternal Glory, which is our ultimate destination! We are here temporarily just passing through to our Eternal Home. This is very, very, good news and a very, very, good reason for cheerful optimism!
The point is this. The enemy of our soul attempted to destroy Christ through death. But his attempts only provided Christ the opportunity to show His power over death. Because He is God the Son, He defeated death and won an eternal victory for all who put their faith in Him. He defeated that old enemy, that old serpent who had the keys of death and hell, and because of His victory He brought in everlasting righteousness to His people. His victory over this World sealed the fate of every follower of Christ from that moment forward. He overcame the World!!
This is our challenge – can we see the cost of our discipleship in light of our future glory? We are followers of Christ and we live within the context of who He is and what He said. If we move away from His example in suffering, then where is our courage, our wisdom, or our strength?
Learn From Hebrews 12:1-3
12 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, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
What is being said?
- All Suffering is temporary. This is a major truth. For the followers of Christ there is an end to all suffering. Whatever your circumstances, keep your faith for your sufferings on behalf of the gospel will bring you to a good end. This is the message of Hebrews 12:1-3.
- Following Christ requires patience. This race is not won by how fast we run but by the heart attitude of our running; we embrace every attitude that encourages patience and we discard every attitude that prevents patient running. To say it another way, keep your patience for only by patient endurance can we win this race!
- Jesus kept His eyes on the prize. Even though His sufferings were intense He saw them as the doorway to the prize. He was appointed unto death but the joy of the prize was infinitely more valuable than the personal cost of His sufferings. According to 2Tim. 3:12 “All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” but we can keep our joy if we will see our sufferings as Christ saw His, ie, in the light of our future glory.
- The will of God requires endurance. Heb. 12:2 says Jesus endured the Cross. Isa. 53:10 says “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him”. Being a disciple of Christ may not be easy or pleasant, and you may experience some bruises. Following Christ can cost our very life. To gain the prize, we may have to endure the will of God. We arm ourselves with this truth. Life was not easy for Jesus and it will not be easy for those who follow Him; we tell ourselves the truth so that when persecutions come we can keep our head, our heart, and our faith.
- We are to live with an understanding of the opposition faced by Christ. There is a doctrine that teaches Jesus took our sufferings and therefore we will never have to suffer. If this is what we believe then we need take a good look at the Church in the Middle East, or China, or Russia. Consider the cost of following Christ for the Christian living in Iran. We are wise to remember Jesus was hated with a passionate, demonically inspired, hatred. He was hands down despised and rejected of men. If we refuse compromise and live godly in this World, the World will always hate us and will always hate the righteous message we bring. While here, the World will bark at you, but Jesus has removed its teeth and it cannot bite. We are predestined to overcome this World, and then leave this World, and then enter into the eternal glories of Christ. This is a very, very, good reason for rejoicing! Thank you Jesus.
God bless you,
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