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Why Do Christians Have to Suffer? | Temporary Pain, Everlasting Reward

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 31, 2022 3:00 am

Why Do Christians Have to Suffer? | Temporary Pain, Everlasting Reward

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 31, 2022 3:00 am

When we have something enjoyable to look forward to tomorrow, it makes the stresses of today a little easier to take. Have you noticed that? It’s all about perspective. And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us adopt a biblical perspective on the challenges of today. It’s a message called “Why Do Christians Have to Suffer?” We’ll look ahead to our everlasting reward, and let that give us encouragement for the temporary pain and opposition we face today.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at And while you're there, browse our library of free eBooks designed to help you grow in your faith. worship, dare I say it, heaven is a place of fun, a celebration. When we have something enjoyable to look forward to tomorrow, it makes the stresses of today a little easier to take.

Have you noticed that? It's all about perspective. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us adopt a biblical perspective on the challenges of today. It's a message called, Why Do Christians Have to Suffer? We look ahead to our everlasting reward and let that give us encouragement for the temporary pain and opposition we face today. Heaven. I love to talk about heaven. I love to think deeply about heaven.

Why? It's my future destination as a Christian, and it's yours as well. What will we see when we arrive in heaven? What will we do when we finally get to heaven? The reason I bring this topic up is here before us in the book of Acts is a story of a man who went to heaven and returned.

He's the apostle Paul. He was given a glimpse of glory. Have you ever been to a theater? And I don't know about you, but I've been going to theaters like I used to. But when you're in a theater, they show trailers for new films, right? There was one film I was very excited about seeing after I saw the trailer. The trailer was amazing, and then I went and saw the film, and guess what? The trailer was better than the film.

Has that ever happened to you? Well, Paul has sort of given a trailer, if you will, but even more, he actually died, went to heaven, and returned back to earth. He had a glimpse of things to come, and then ultimately saw the realized version of it, and we've had little glimpses of glory in our lives. You know those special moments, you know, with your, you're with family or friends, or you watch the greatest sunset or the greatest sunrise, or you see a rainbow. Man, if you ever get tired of rainbows, something's wrong with you. And I found that I can't photograph a rainbow.

I'll pull my phone out, and the phone never gives a representation of what I saw with my own eyes. So last Sunday, I was visiting our church on Maui, Harvest Kumalani, and I was having dinner one night with Jim Felchner, who's the campus pastor, and he told me there's more whales here right now, not in the church, but in the water, there's more whales in the waters of Maui than any other time. It's a great time to go whale watching. I said, I wish I could go. He says, there's a guy in the church who has a boat. Maybe he'll take you out.

And sure enough, that guy did take us out. His name is Steve, and we're thankful for that. But you know, all these beautiful things, these are God's creation, and they remind us that something greater is coming. Heaven is not a watered-down version of the greatest moments on earth. The greatest moments on earth are a glimpse of greater things to come.

Heaven will be your greatest dreams realized and even more. So we're gonna talk about that a little bit later, but we come to the second section of the book of Acts now. Here are the apostles. In this case, it's Paul and Barnabas. Remember Barnabas, he was the guy who encouraged people.

So here they arrive at Lystra. Acts 14, verse eight. While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet.

He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed, and he called to him in a loud voice, stand up.

The man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, these men are God's in human form. They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus, and Paul was Hermes.

So we'll stop there. So now that people go on to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas, Paul stops them, you guys. We're here to tell you that there's a god in heaven to worship. We are not gods. We're turning you to the true god.

Now, here's the amazing thing. They face opposition. From who? From their religious opponents. Verse 19. Some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and drug him out of town, thinking he was dead, but the believers gathered around him, and he caught up and went back into the town.

Wow. People can be fickle, can't they? One moment they're worshiping you. The next moment they're stoning you, because these outside folks whip them up into a frenzy, reminding us that when we're doing the work of the Lord, we're going to face opposition. The devil will often hit you in one of two ways. Number one, he'll hit you through outward attack, that this was an outward attack.

They stoned Paul and drug him out of the city. Why do people attack us for our faith? Why do people oppose us for what we believe? Why do people want to cancel us and our message and our voice and our culture?

Today, answer. Because we're bright lights in a dark place, or like salt in an open wound, as followers of Jesus. And Jesus sums it up this way. Jesus says in John 15, if the world hates you, no one hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you're not of the world, but I choose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Remember the word I said to you, the servant has not greater than this Lord. If they persecuted me, they'll persecute you. As I've said before, just make sure you're being persecuted for the right reason. Sometimes Christians are persecuted not because of their faith, but because they're weird, they're obnoxious, they're unnecessarily offensive, right?

Don't be that person. The Bible says, blessed are you when you're persecuted for righteousness sake, not for idiocy's sake, or something like that, right? Second way the devil will hit us is through pride. So first he'll try to stop you, that's what happened to the apostles, but what happened then? Oh, the people said you're like a god, so the devil would say, God would never use you, you're worthless. Why would God ever work through you?

And then you say forget you. The Bible says God has chosen the foolish things of the world that confound the wise, and you step out and God uses you. Devil comes back and says, let me rephrase that, you are awesome.

You are all that and a bag of chips. No one is better than you. No one is more godly than you. No one knows the Bible the way you know the Bible. No one speaks like you. You're the one. Oh, thank you very much, devil.

No, no, he's hitting you again. Now it's through pride, through pride that can be a form of attack as well. Popularity can sometimes be more dangerous than persecution. Okay, so now they take Paul outside of the city. They stone him and they leave him for dead, Acts 14, 19. They stone Paul, drug him out of town thinking he was dead, but the believers gathered around him.

He got up and went back into the town. Many commentators believe that this is the moment that Paul was killed and raised from the dead. Why do we believe that? Well, there has to be a moment where Paul died because Paul talks about it, and we're gonna read the verse in a moment in 2 Corinthians 12. Was this the moment? I personally think it was.

Many commentators think it was as well. He died and was raised from the dead. I wonder how that played out. So here's Paul. He's stoned, and by the way, it was horrible to be stoned, painful.

It could last for a while, awful way to die. And so Paul dies, and he's in heaven, and he's standing before God, and the Lord says, welcome to heaven, Paul. Well done, good and faithful servant. I have some good news and bad news.

It's in great good. Where is this in the Bible? It's not in the Bible.

I'm just saying this could have happened. Okay, Lord, what's the good news? The good news is, Paul, you're coming back again. Really?

Again? Where am I going? That brings me to the bad news. There's some believers down there praying over your dead body that you would be resurrected. Paul says to the Lord, don't listen to them.

They're sinners. No, no, Paul, I actually want to bring you back again. I have some things for you to do still.

In fact, quite a few things. No, Lord, I don't want to go back. Listen to this. No one who is in heaven right now, if given the choice, would want to return to earth again. Don't feel sorry for your loved ones that are in heaven. Feel sorry for you because you're still here. Right? You're having some great experience.

I don't know, a birthday, or you got a cool gift. Oh, I wish my loved one was here. They're like in the presence of God Almighty with angels singing.

I think they're pretty good. I know you wish there, and I'm not making fun of that because I've felt that many times. You wish they were here with you because you missed them, but just know they're really good. You'll see that one day for yourself.

We all will. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. I don't know if you know about this, but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world. Listen to this. We even have Harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the word of God.

So join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Well today, Pastor Greg is in Acts chapter 14 with a message called Why Do Christians Have to Suffer? Whether out of the body, again, I don't know.

God knows. Such a man was caught into the third heaven, and I know such a man, whether it was in the body or out of the body, I don't know. God knows what he was called and caught up to paradise. He heard things so astounding they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. I love the way Paul approaches this. Yeah, I knew this guy.

In the body, out of the body, I don't even know. He's talking about himself. He's trying not to boast. It would be pretty hard to not boast that you'd been to heaven, right? Yeah, I've been to heaven. Notice he didn't write a book about it.

What's with that? No movie was made. And by the way, I have to be honest with you, I'm very skeptical of people who write books about all that they saw in heaven.

I'm not saying they didn't, but I'm certainly not saying I know they did. The only authoritative book on the afterlife is the Bible. That's the book you can trust, no other. Paul didn't write a book.

Paul didn't even write a chapter. He says the things I heard, I can't even really describe them to you. The third heaven, where's that? Well, I think the first heaven is probably just what we see when we walk outside, the sky, the clouds, the atmosphere surrounding our earth, the second heaven, outer space, the planets, the galaxies, the stars. The third heaven, that's a dwelling place of God and the future destination of believers, is the third heaven way, way, way, way out there. I don't think it's necessarily far out there. I think it's simply another dimension. And it may be closer than you realize. We talked about this when we spoke of angels. Angels and demons are coexisting with us right now, just as there's a physical world, there's a spiritual world, just as there is a natural world, there's a supernatural world. So is heaven just right next to us?

I don't know where it is. Paul was caught into the third heaven. He uses the word paradise.

It was paradise. That's a word that is used three times in the Bible to indicate the future life. Jesus used this word when he spoke to that criminal on the cross crucified next to him. Jesus' first statement from the cross was, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. And right on the spot, that hardened criminal believed in Jesus and he turned to the Lord and said, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said, truly, truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in what? Paradise. That's the word. Boy, talk about being at the right place at the right time.

That guy, huh? A deathbed conversion for sure. He believed and joined Jesus in paradise. It's also used in the book of Revelation chapter two to describe our future dwelling place. But it can be translated the royal garden of a king. It's hard for us to wrap our minds around. I don't think there's anything I could point to and say it's like this.

But when we're talking about the royal garden of a king, think of a palatial massive estate with a beautifully manicured garden. Paul says it was like that. Incredible. And then he says in verse four, I heard things so astounding they cannot be expressed in words.

Things no human is allowed to tell. Know this. Heaven is a place of sight and sound. The King James Bible uses the word heaven 582 times in 550 different places. Heaven is a real place. You've got to think of it that way because that's what it is. Heaven is as real as any city you would go to.

D.L. Moody, the great evangelist once said, quote, heaven is as much a place as Chicago. It's a destination. It's a locality.

End quote. Jesus said I go to prepare a what for you? A place. It's a place. Remember heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.

So whatever you're going through right now is preparation for something else. You know we love to quote Romans 8 28 and so we should. How many of you have memorized Romans 8 28? Oh six of you.

Very good. You know the rest of you should do so because that is a great go-to verse. I think more of you know it. We know that all things work together for good to those that love God now they're called according to his purpose. But then verse 29 really helps us understand the whole concept. For whom God did foreknow he also did predestined to be conformed into the image of his own dear son.

Let's put it together. We know that all things work together for good to those that love God and are the called according to his purpose and whom God foreknew he predestined them to be conformed into the image of his own dear son. Allow me to paraphrase it. Whatever you go through in life is preparing you to be more like Jesus. Right.

So that's the big picture. We tend to interpret Romans 8 28 through a narrow lens. Well this means that good will come out of the bad and sometimes that happens. In fact a lot of times despite the bad God will do something good.

Right. But then there are times if we're honest when a bad thing happens to us and we can't see anything good coming out of it and we say so where's Romans 8 28 now. Romans 8 28 is saying read verse 29. Whom he foreknew he called to be conformed into the image of Jesus. God is changing you and preparing you.

Why. Because through many tribulations we will enter the kingdom of God. Heaven. A place of feasting and fellowship. A place of activities and worship. Dare I say it. Heaven is a place of fun.

A celebration. And that puts your present suffering in context. So Paul continues on. So I knew this guy whether in the body out of the body I don't know basically I'm talking about myself I'm just trying to be humble about it. He was caught up into the third heaven.

What he really me what I saw I can't even put it into words okay. And now he makes this statement. Therefore I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses suffering persecutions and difficulties for Christ's sake for my weakness makes me strong in him.

Get it. Oh so all suffering is not bad. Oh so adversity can actually be used by God. So this thing I'm going through right now that makes no sense is actually making me more like Jesus and getting me ready for the afterlife. And God can actually use it.

It could even be a tool for me to help other people. Now I'm starting to understand and I can even rejoice in it. Let me end with this. One day we'll enter the afterlife. We decide in this life where we will spend the afterlife. And I want to ask you in closing do you have absolute certainty that you will go to heaven when you die. As I said earlier heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Listen to this you don't go to heaven to find Christ. You go to Christ to find heaven. Go to Christ to find heaven. It is through Jesus and only Jesus that we will get to heaven. Oh I know that's kind of controversial now.

Too bad. Bible hasn't changed. He is the way to the Father. There is no other way. Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life and no man comes of the Father but by me.

Are you ready? You know when I fly you have to go through a lot of things now. Oh it's just horrible flying. They make it so miserable. And then airline food. That is an oxymoron. Airline food.

It's not food. But anyway you buy your ticket. You reserve your seat. You board your plane. You reach your destination.

You deplane. But you can't just walk down to the airport. Skip security. Do whatever you want. Board whatever plane you want. Take whatever seat you want.

That's not going to happen. And in the same way you can't just say well I am going to go to heaven. I am a good person. You are a good person on the basis of what and compared to who.

You are not good enough I can tell you. That is why Christ died on the cross for you 2000 years ago and shed His blood. You have to admit you are a sinner. You have to admit you are a sinner and turn from that sin and put your faith in Jesus and then you can know you will go to heaven.

So as we close right now I want to extend an invitation for you to get ready. For you to ask Jesus to come into your life and if you have not done this yet do it right here right now. Let's all pray. Father I thank you for your word to us. I thank you for your promise of forgiveness. It will come to Jesus. So we ask now that you will speak to the hearts of any here who do not yet know you. Help them to come to you and believe in you right now. In Jesus name I pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer today here on A New Beginning. And if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will help you with that in just a moment so please stay tuned. You know Pastor Greg many people have been watching the stock market go in the wrong direction. But as believers we know that when we invest in the kingdom of God it only goes up. Matthew recorded Jesus words, store up your treasures in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. And we have a way for listeners to make an investment in eternity don't we? That's true.

You know you can't take it with you but you can send it on ahead. And when you invest in a ministry like Harvest you are literally laying up for yourself treasure in heaven and the stock market doesn't affect that the economy doesn't affect that and no other thing affects that. It's there waiting for you. So I would ask you to prayerfully consider becoming a Harvest partner. A Harvest partner is someone who stands with us every month and gives a financial gift and it's a reoccurring gift. So it's something that we can depend on as we make plans for responding to opportunities that come our way so often to reach new people with this message that we bring. So if you believe in what we're doing, if what we're doing is a part of your life and it's been a blessing to you or perhaps even you or a member of your family or someone you know has come to Christ as a result of listening to a new beginning, wouldn't you like to see more people hear this message? If so join the team and become a Harvest partner.

Here's Dave to tell you a little bit more. Yeah we have some special ways to thank our Harvest partners. We send them a resource each month to show our appreciation.

This month we're sending Pastor Greg's book Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon. But these close friends are really the backbone of our support and allow us to reach so much further with the gospel. We're looking for new Harvest partners right now. Pastor Greg is inviting a thousand new friends to step forward and really that's just a handful of our friends in each community where a new beginning is heard. They're people who believe in the importance of sharing the gospel and they see how effectively the Lord is using this ministry and they say, count me in. I want to be a part. So can we count you in? We'll say thank you for becoming a new Harvest partner with a copy of Pastor Greg's book Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon. And this is our last opportunity to mention this resource. So call us at 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to slash partner. And then if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with God today, Pastor Greg has some additional thoughts to share. Maybe as you've been listening to this message you've thought I wish I could come into this relationship with God.

I just don't know how. Let me tell you how you can come into a relationship with God right here right now. First of all you need to recognize you need God. You need to admit you're a sinner. I know some people choke on that word but the Bible says all of sin and fallen short of the glory of God. But then you need to recognize that Jesus Christ the Son of God died on the cross for your sin. The Bible says while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. And then you need to believe in Jesus. Jesus put it this way for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son and whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. You might ask how does one believe in Jesus? To believe means to put your faith and trust in Christ in Christ alone and to receive him into your life as your own friend Savior and Lord.

The Bible says for as many as received him he gave them the power to become sons of God. Would you like to receive Christ and by that I mean would you like to ask Jesus to enter into your life and be your Savior your friend your Lord if so you can just pray this prayer after me. It's a simple prayer. You can pray it out loud if you would like or you could pray it in the quietness of your heart but if you want Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sin if you want to go to heaven when you die or maybe you want to make a recommitment to the Lord just pray this prayer after me now. Pray these words pray these words if you would Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin. I turn now from my sin and I ask you to come into my life and forgive me of all of my sin.

Thank you for loving me thank you for hearing this prayer and thank you for answering this prayer in Jesus name I pray amen. Hey if you just prayed that prayer I want to congratulate you and say welcome to the family of God. Yeah that's right and we have some follow-up materials to help you begin this new relationship with the Lord. We call it our new believers growth packet it'll answer many of the questions you might have so if you prayed along with Pastor Greg today let us send this follow-up material to you free of any charge you can call us at 1-800-821-3300 we're here around the clock that's 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or go online to and click the words know God. Well next time Pastor Greg has some candid words about the need for harmony in our relationships as we move into Acts chapter 15. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning this is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners so for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-04 01:48:53 / 2023-03-04 01:59:36 / 11

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