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Suffering is Sanctifying, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2023 10:15 am

Suffering is Sanctifying, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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June 30, 2023 10:15 am

None of us looks forward to experiencing hardship in our lives.  It is human nature to avoid pain and look for pleasure instead.  Yet Christians who have faced adversity often speak of it as a time of deep growth in their lives- learning truths that they believe they would’ve missed in the ease of life.  In this message from 1 Peter 4:17-19, Rich shares four ways that God’s people can face hardship well, reminding us that Suffering is Sanctifying in the hands of our Redeemer. 

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. None of us looks forward to experiencing hardship in our lives.

It's human nature to avoid pain and look for pleasure instead. Yet Christians who have faced adversity often speak of it as a time of deep growth in their lives, a time where they learn truths that they believe they would have missed in the ease of life. In this message from 1 Peter 4, 17 through 19, Rich shares four ways that God's people can face hardship well, reminding us that suffering is sanctifying in the hands of our Redeemer. Good morning, church. 1 Peter chapter 4, how free people suffer, verses 12 to 19.

Today is the concluding sermon of that miniseries within the series of 1 Peter. 1 Peter is live as people who are free. What is our freedom in Christ? If you are in Christ, you are free from the penalty and the bondage of sin. But you're not just free from something, you're free to something. You are free to know God and walk with Him and delight in Him. That's what you were created for.

And only in Christ can you realize the very purpose for which you were created, and that is to know God and enjoy Him forever. That's our freedom. So live as people who are free, and that includes suffering. And Peter is writing this letter to first century Christians because of their suffering. It was right in the wake of the great fire of Rome, which was blamed on Christians, and because of that Christians were disdained throughout the Roman Empire.

They were ridiculed, denounced, and oftentimes driven out of their homes. And so we're going to look at today, continue this series, concluding the series, how free people suffer. Because it says in verse 12, beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial. It could be a reference to having been expelled from Rome because of the great Roman Roman fire, 64 AD.

We don't know that for sure, but it could be. In verse 17, where we begin today, for it is time for judgment to begin, for when he says for, what he's referring to is what we've covered in the last three sermons in this series. Number one, suffering is not strange. Christians, are you hearing me? There is a heresy that is pervasive in many Christians' way of thinking that if I'm a follower of Christ, He's not going to let me suffer. Is that a part of your faith this morning that I call you to confess that and to repent of it? Because the Bible does not promise that. In fact, Jesus promised the opposite.

We're going to see some of that this morning. We should not be surprised at suffering. It is not strange. It is a part of the fallen, created order. And it is also a part of following Jesus Christ. Suffering is not strange. Secondly, suffering is shared. We share in the sufferings of Christ. Thirdly, suffering is sacred. It's a God thing. And it's a sacred kind of suffering because we're not talking about the suffering that is self-imposed by bad character and bad behavior.

There's plenty of that going on in the world. That's not the suffering he's talking about. That's not the suffering he's talking about. He's talking about suffering specifically because you are a follower of Jesus Christ. But also we can expand that out to all forms of suffering, just suffering simply because we're a part of the fallen, created order. But we recognize that there is newness and there is hope in Christ. And so we live and we suffer as a free people. Now today, suffering is sanctifying. Suffering is sanctifying verses 17, 18, and 19. Didn't get the text up there right.

Sorry about that. 17, 18, and 19. First of all, suffering of fire, we're talking about fire, right? Fiery trial, I said in verse 12. Fire. Fire purifies.

It's time, he says, it's time for, it's time for judgment to begin at the household of God. What is it that sets us apart as believers in God, as followers of Jesus Christ? The natural human behavior involves generally two things. Avoid pain and pursue pleasure, right?

What else is there? Avoid pain and pursue pleasure. Now those are natural, that's normal human behavior. Here's the problem, that for you and me, if our life becomes consumed in simply a matter of avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure, that avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure can become idols to us. And they very often do. In fact, I think to some degree, they become an idol for all of us, avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. But there's more to life than that.

There's more to what God has called us. And we need to see the value in the pain that exists in our world. I know some of you out here in the medical industry and your whole business is about getting rid of pain. That's a good thing because we don't desire pain, right?

But yet, we need to recognize that there is a value in it. The surgeon, for example, has to cause pain if he is going to remedy something going wrong inside a person's body. Yancy, Philip Yancy, in his book Back Hurts, he talks about the marvelous design features of the pain system of the body.

You're going to discover something about yourself today. He says all the disfigurements that make leprosy such a dreaded disease traces back to the loss of the pain sensation. Every square millimeter of the body has a different sensitivity to pain.

Now, Ernie could easily come up and teach this, you know, right? So that speck of dirt may cause excruciating pain in the vulnerable eye, whereas it would go unreported on the tough extremities, right? So a little speck of dirt on my arm, whatever.

But if it's in my eye, it's an entirely different story, right? I've made your body that way. Pain serves us subliminally as well. Sensors make us blink several times a minute to lubricate our eyes and, listen to this, shift our legs and buttocks to prevent pressure sores.

That's when a NOAA preacher knows he's gone too long, when people start shifting. Because they're alleviating those pressure sores. You didn't know you did that. You didn't know that that was related to the pain sensors in your body when you're shifting like that.

But it is. It's amazing, isn't it? Pain is the most effective language the body can use to draw attention to something important.

Did you get that? The most effective language a body can use to draw attention to something important. Now let's hear from somebody who has suffered a lot for a long time.

Joni Erikson. This is in her writing, A Place of Healing. We tend to worry, and this is where we justify our desire to avoid pain. She says, we tend to worry that the cares and troubles and afflictions of life will wear us down dulling our joy, deluding our hope and robbing us from the radiance we experience as believers. In fact, writes Joni, it may be the very opposite. It isn't the hurts, the blows, the bruises that rob us of the freshness of Christ's beauty in our lives. More likely, it is careless ease, empty pride, earthly preoccupations and too much prosperity that will put layers of dirty films over our souls.

Truth is. And then she uses the example of visiting Notre Dame, Grand Notre Dame Cathedral. And she visited it once and it was ancient and on the outside it was dingy, centuries of grime. And then she goes back and visited it another time and it had been sandblasted and it was beautiful.

And she got to enjoy a whole new level of beauty in the Notre Dame Cathedral after being sandblasted. And so she writes, there's nothing like real hardships to strip off the veneer in which you and I so carefully cloak ourselves. Heartache and physical pain reach below the superficial surface places of our lives, stripping away years of accumulated indifference and neglect. When pain and problems press against a holy God, suffering can't help but strip away years of dirt.

Affliction has a way of jackhammering our character, shaking us up and loosening our grip on everything we hold tightly. But the beauty of being stripped down to the basics, sandblasted until we reach a place where we fall empty and helpless is that God can fill us up with himself. When pride and pettiness have been removed, God can fill us with Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Those are good words. God ordains suffering as a refining process to purify his people. God ordains suffering as a refining process to purify his people. Surrender and sacrifice are the cost of following Christ. Jesus was constantly weaving out fair-weather followers, but he referred to one this morning, just before his birth. But he referred to one this morning, just before his prayer. You need to look at John chapter 2 and John chapter 6, some of the striking things Jesus said and did because his followers needed to recognize that following him was a matter of surrender.

It was a matter of sacrifice. We're so glad you've joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, www.delightingrace.com. You can also check out Pastor Rich's book, 7 Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's Word the very purpose for which you were designed. 7 Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace, weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-30 14:25:41 / 2023-06-30 14:30:06 / 4

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