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What are the sufferings of a Christian?

Discussion in 'Non-denominational' started by Andrew, Feb 26, 2003.

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  1. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member


    What, according to the Bible, are the types of sufferings Christians can expect to go through?

    To answer the question, let us look at the example of Paul, followed by what Peter teaches about the sufferings of a Christian.

    Paul's sufferings

    What kinds of sufferings did Paul go through? Does he include sicknesses and accidents in his "list" of sufferings?

    2 Corinthians 11:23-29
    23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths [threats] oft.
    24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
    25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
    26 In journeyings often, in perils [dangers] of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
    27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
    28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
    29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

    2 Timothy 3:10-12
    10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
    11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
    12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

    We can see that Paul's sufferings had to do with persecutions and dangers, as he went from place to place preaching the gospel boldly. There is no mention of sicknesses or tragic accidents where lives and limbs were lost. In fact, he makes in quite clear in 2 Timothy 3:12 that all Christians who live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer "persecution".

    Even when Paul suffered shipwreck in Acts 27, it was because he was a prisoner forced to go on the voyage which he already knew would be disastrous (Acts 27:10). Even then, God delivered him as well as the entire ungodly crew to safety (Acts 27:44)! (See God delivers us out of them all!)

    What Peter teaches

    Peter also talks about the sufferings of a Christian. What types of sufferings is he talking about? Is sickness included? Why do Christians suffer?

    Quoting from the NIV, you will see that the sufferings of a Christian described in 1 Peter have nothing to do with sicknesses.

    Sufferings: Unjust treatment and possibly beatings from harsh slave masters.
    Reasons: For being God conscious and doing good.

    1 Peter 2:18-23
    18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
    19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
    20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

    Sufferings: Insults. We also know that Christ was accused by false witnesses (Matthew 26:59-62); spat in the face, punched, slapped, ridiculed (Matthew 26:67,68); scourged (Matthew 27:26); stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck on the head with a reed (Matthew 27:28-31); and reviled (Matthew 27:39).
    Reason: As an example for Christians to follow, that is, to humbly endure (not retaliate) persecution for being a good Christian.

    1 Peter 2:21-23
    21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
    22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."
    23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

    Sufferings: Harm and slander.
    Reasons: For doing good and good behaviour in Christ.

    1 Peter 3:13-17
    13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
    14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."
    15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
    16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    17 It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

    Sufferings: Bodily harm and heaps of abuse.
    Reasons: For no longer participating in evil pagan activities but living for the will of God.

    1 Peter 4:1-4
    1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
    2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
    3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
    4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

    Sufferings: Those of Christ and insults.
    Reasons: For bearing the name of Christ.

    1 Peter 4:12-16
    12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
    13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
    14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
    15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
    16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

    God delivers us out of them all

    We have looked at Paul's sufferings as well as what Peter teaches about the sufferings of a Christian, and seen that they have nothing to do with sicknesses.

    But what is important to note also, is that both Apostles say that Christ will deliver us out of whatever suffering we are going through!

    Paul says:

    2 Timothy 3:11
    11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

    And although we may face the troubles that Paul faced, we must also ask ourselves if we are called to suffer the way Paul suffered, that is, to the same degree.

    Acts 9:16
    16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

    Do all believers have this calling from the Lord? I don't believe God has this plan for every Christian. You might expect a Christian to have the same sufferings Paul had if he were called to preach the Gospel in, say, Afghanistan, but if he just goes to church on Sundays, I seriously doubt that he will suffer the way Paul did.

    In Peter's teaching on the sufferings of a Christian, he ends off by saying:

    1 Peter 5:8-10
    8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
    9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
    10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

    Notice that he is telling us that these sufferings that Christians throughout the world experience are from the devil, not God. But the good news is this: the suffering is for "a little while", after which God will "restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast"! In other words, these sufferings are not permanent and you are not supposed to die from it, unless you are called to martyrdom.

    Below are more scriptures that show us that despite the persecutions and troubles we can expect to face, God will deliver us out of them all!

    Psalms 34:6
    6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

    Psalms 34:19
    19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

    2 Timothy 4:18
    18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    So, even if you still insists that sicknesses must be part of a Christian's sufferings, then you must at least believe that God will deliver the Christian out of all sicknesses, to be consistent.

    What about Job?

    It is strange that Christians who believe in suffering sicknesses "for God's glory" often point to Job's sufferings, but never to his perseverance, healing, double blessings and long life.

    They simply leave out the fact that Job's ordeal lasted only about nine months; that God finally healed job, blessed him with twice as much as he had before; and that Job lived to a ripe old age (Job 42:10-17).

    This is certainly an inconsistent and lop-sided understanding of the book of Job.

    Even James, when speaking of suffering, reminds us of Job's perseverance, and "what the Lord finally brought" about because "the Lord is full of compassion and mercy".

    James 5:11
    11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

    What about Paul's thorn? or Trophimus left sick?
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  2. Blade

    Blade Veteran Supporter

    United States
    Great post Andrew. Was just reading Peter. What a blessing to suffer FOR Christ (not sickness).
  3. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    thanks Blade :)

    if only ppl wld go by what the Word says instead of what experience tells them.
  4. Blade

    Blade Veteran Supporter

    United States
    Amen. It is hard not to go by what you feel, hear and see. Those things change all the time. Yet Gods word is always the same. If he said it he WILL do it.
  5. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

    Eastern Orthodox
    Well I think atleast one suffereing that a Christian could go through is one of poverty.  Here Paul thnks the Phillipians for their gift to him but he makes sure that they know that he has learned to be content.

    Phil 4:10-13
    10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned {before}  but you lacked opportunity.
    11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
    12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
    13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

    Paul shows that he experienced "humble means" and "Prosperity" He also sometimes went hungry.  But that was not the important thing.  In verse 13 he shows that he "Can do all things" meaning that he can live in situations like he described in verses 11-12.  That instead of his suffiency being in his riches or other worldly things Paul was saying his suffiency was in Christ.  Knowing Christ makes him be able to be content no matter what the circumstances may be.  For contextual help read all of Chapter 4 and read chapter 3:7-14. 

    Oh and I used Gordon Fee's commentary on Phillipians for help with these verses.  I had to a report on them for Hermeneutics about how Phil. 4:13 is so very often qoted out of context. 
  6. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    hi blackhawk,

    long time no hear from ya. anyway, pretty much agree with what you said except your first statement:

    1. jus becos someone went thru poverty (and survived by the grace of God) does not mean we shld tell other Christians to go thru poverty or expect to do so. I sure do not want to go thru poverty, do you?
    2. this is more important: if Christ redeemed us from the curse of poverty, why tell other Christians to suffer poverty?

    perhaps you meant something else.
  7. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

    Eastern Orthodox
    Hello.  No I did not mean anything else.  I said that a Christian COULD experience poverty.  I do not think it is something to be sought after and I do not like it.  But it can happen and it happened to a Christian who was very close to God.  Now I do think that some maybe should go through it because of their love of their own wealth.  i.e. the rich young ruler.  I do not agree with what I think you are saying in #2.  That Christ came to make it so that we will not be financially poor.  The Bible is full of followers of God who had much faith but were not wealthy.  Christ Hmself was not wealthy while on Earth.  Of course though financial wealth in heaven is meaningless.  God does not need money. 

    What I am basically saying is that the ultimate is to "know Christ."  Everyything else as Paul would say is dung. So if a Christian experiences poverty the main goal is not getting out of poverty but using poverty to know Christ more.  In fact we should use "all things" to know Christ more and more.  I am not advocating everyone take a vow of poverty but a Christian can be poor and iot could be because God wants the Christian to be poor.  (finanacially)
  8. Blade

    Blade Veteran Supporter

    United States
    Well I believe God wants us all to live well and prosper in all things. Yet through the years the closer I get to him there is just something about having nothing, you know what I mean? To just shed it all and preach him and have nothing there is nothing better.
  9. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    Well i disagree with you blackhawk on this cause no. #2 is a scriptural truth and part of the Gospel. Read Deu 28 then Ga 3:13. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of poverty, plain and simple. So why wld I 'wish' poverty on Christians (for whatever reasons) and go against the cross of Jesus.

    Yes obviously Christians do sometimes become poor and then lean on God, but that is really a bad way or reason to get closer to God. Why must bad things happen b4 a Christian gets closer to God? its a cop out thing and a consolation prize.

    Why wld the Father want to undo the work of Christ???
  10. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

    Eastern Orthodox

    You are taking promises made to the Israelites and making them your own.  God made those promises to the Israelites and they di not meet the qualifications of their conditional covenant with God.  The curseof the law is that it reveals our sin and thus we get the punishment that goes with it.  Christ made it so we can be forgiven of our sins by taking our penalty.  That is what Paul was talking about in galatians.

    look at Gal. 3:14

    Gal 3:14
    14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    I just think you are taking two verses out of their historical/cultural contexts and putting them together.  You can't do that. 

    Paul did not say that he wa far from God andthat was why he was poor.  On the contrary in phil. 3 he makes a strong statement of his faith.  He was just saying that he has learned that Christ is sufficent no matter what the circumstances are.  That whether he is rich or poor he is okay because his sufficiency is in Christ. 

    In fact in Phil. 3 Paul also states that we need to share in Christ's sufferings.

    Phil 3:8-11
    8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
    9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from {the} Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which {comes} from God on the basis of faith,
    10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
    11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

    How do we know Christ. Well partly we do by sharing in his sufferings and being conformed to his death.  The whole Bible is about us knowing Christ.  john said eternal life is defined as knowing Christ.  Knowing Christ is what is sought after more than anything else.  Material wealth is looked upon in an unfavorable and a favorable light ion the Bible.  The Bible is not about God keeping one away from disease or poverty in this world.  It is about knowing God. 
  11. Andrew

    Andrew Well-Known Member

    What's the curse of the law?

    Ga 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

    So the curse of the law is that if you dont obey the laws 100% you will be cursed.

    Cursed with what? All the curses are covered in Deu 28, many of which are poverty curses. eg:

    Deu 28:
    15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
    17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
    18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

    But Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law:

    Ga 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

    IOW Christ has redeemed us from the curses in Deu 28, including the curses of poverty.

    Now, why wld I want to go against the cross by wanting Christians to be poor. More importanly, why wld the Father want to go against the work of his son by cursing Christians with poverty?
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