TEACHER: Ken Hicks
SCRIPTURES: Romans 8:14-25
BOTTOM LINE: Our Suffering might be the most powerful way we bring Glory to God!
QUESTION: Why does a God of Love allow His Children to experience suffering?
DOWNLOAD: in this section of Romans 8, Paul dives into this idea of Christian Maturity. This is one of those passages that we can underline of highlight, and make sure we can come back to it over and over again, because there’s some pretty Rich stuff here.
Paul sort of gives us all sorts of suggestions here, but then sort of never really lands the plane in some ways too doesn’t he? It’s like we get a look behind the curtain that’s intriguing, and fascinating, but he never quite explains what’s going on here,
And let’s look at these 2 sections together …
- Characteristics of A “Son” – 14-17
- The Gift of Suffering – 18-25
Characteristics of A “Son”
Paul uses 2 words here Children & Sons … and we hit this briefly last week as well, but there’s a huge difference between being a Child of God and a Son of God right? That moment we exchange our life w/ the Life, Death & Resurrection of Jesus we are born into the Family of God, and we’re Born in the Spirit, and we receive a new birth when we place our Faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
At that moment … we’re born into the Family of God and have the right to be called Children of God.
The 1st mark of new life In-Christ, is the sign of being a Child of God. We know The Father, but the sign of a Son is somewhat different isn’t it? The sign of a Son of God is that he is an heir of God, and he has begun to possess and enjoy his inheritance.
Now catch this: if we are a child, we are a potential heir for sure but there’s a difference between entering into the full possessions of our inheritance and simply having it held aside for us until we reach our age of inheritance.
This is what Paul’s talking about here. Until we begin to live in the fullness of the Spirit of God, we are like the minor child who has not yet experiencing his inheritance. For it is those who are led by the Spirit of God who are son’s of God.
Paul’s pleading w/ the Christians there in Rome … that we would enter into our Inheritance.
And I know sometimes people write about how great the stage of Childhood is … how it’s this happy, ideal, care-free time of life, and I don’t know how you feel about it, and as good as my childhood was, but I don’t want to go back to it!
When I was a young boy, I couldn’t wait to be a Man! At times, I felt inadequate. I feared failure [whether that was in the Gym, in the classroom, etc…]. As I grew up, I had this sense of peace that only growing up could provide.
And in verse 17 … Paul says, we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. An heir is one who possesses what he owns!
The Gift of Suffering
One of the most difficult questions Followers of Jesus ever wrestle with … is Why do the Righteous Suffer? Why do Christians suffer? Why does a God of Love & Power permit the one’s He loves to go through such anguish here on earth?
My guess is, any of us who have been in the place of pain & suffering, or have watched others go through these times of heartache and anguish. We have felt the full force of that question, and Paul felt qualified to answer it. Scripture tells us many of his sufferings, and it’s honestly pretty convicting for me for many of the times when I feel uncomfortable or suffering in my own little bubble.
- Paul was shipwrecked and left afloat on sea
- He was beaten w/ rods many times
- He was beaten w/ stripes 5 times
- 39 stripes each
- He was hounded and hungry
- He was prisoned often
- He had a physical affliction that bothered him his whole life
… and this is the guy who tells us what Suffering is for … and what’s the reason behind suffering!
And the 1st thing Paul says is that suffering is an expression of our union w/ Christ. We are to suffer w/ Him. This is important because suffering in and of itself doesn’t accomplish anything in our lives, but it’s suffering w/ Christ that does that!
There’s so many times in my life that I’m experiencing Suffering … on my own … in my flesh … alone … but it’s only the suffering w/ Him that accomplishes anything in my journey w/ God!
3 Kinds of Suffering:
FIRST … there’s the suffering that comes to us as a result of our own Sin … this is the most common … even among Followers of Jesus … the pain … the heartache … the grief … the tears … the misery … we have this tendency to bring this upon ourselves so often. Sometimes our own Stubbornness … selfishness … self-dependency … even rebellion … and this kind of suffering is NOT suffering w/ Him. Christ has no part in that.
SECOND … there’s that suffering that comes from circumstances over which we have no control! Maybe we call them accidents … or coincidence … the results of others actions … unforeseen circumstances that come crashing into our lives.
This Can be suffering w/ Christ … or Not, depending upon our attitude in that season. If we take this attitude of rebellion and refuse to accept it, and fit it … maybe becoming bitter and resentful … this this is simply suffering that comes w/o accomplishing anything in us. It only makes us hard and bitter and difficult to live with!
However, if we take these things as from the Hand of God, who knows what He is doing and whom we can trust, recognizing that we need these things to accomplish something that He is after in our life … in Love … then this is Suffering w/ Christ!
THIRD, there’s that suffering that comes from involving ourselves deliberately and willingly in the problems and heartaches of others … Shared Suffering.
When we willingly choose to suffer alongside someone else, this is Clearly suffering w/ Christ! That in fact was what Jesus did when He was here.
And any time we are facing Suffering … there’s 3 things we can do:
- Break Out
- Break Down
- Break Through
In the midst of our own suffering, often times it seems like there’s no reason at all for what we’re experiencing. because in our current Lens, we can’t see the incredible wave of Glory that will be revealed when and how God knows will bring Him Honor and Glory and Advance His Kingdom just as He has planned.
So often, we don’t see things from the standpoint that God sees them. Paul says … [and please don’t miss this] … it’s thru these seasons that we bring Glory to God, and thru that Glory, that God is transforming our lives. Transformation, revealing more and more of the life of Christ in us, and ultimately that’s what our entire journey here on earth is about … the Life of Jesus lived out once again thru our lives.
Are we learning to Walk in the Spirit more and more each day? And yes, it’s a learned process! I’m not perfect at it for sure. Some days, some weeks … I’m better at it than others to be honest. But are we growing?
Are we maturing? Are we in a transformation from a Child of God to a Son/Daughter of the Most High King?
And remember, one of the ways God does that in our lives, and one of the ways we bring Him the most Glory thru our lives is thru those seasons of suffering. Suffering, where in our current lens and current condition things may be difficult … painful … completely crazy to see how anything GOOD could ever come from it.
But God sits from a different view, so we take 1 more step of Faith at a time, knowing our Walk in the Spirit glorifies Him if nothing else!