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How God Uses Suffering, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2021 3:00 am

How God Uses Suffering, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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January 27, 2021 3:00 am

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God has the ability to pour out enough grace so that it literally overflows you and always you will have all sufficiency for all the issues of life and an abundance of grace for every good grace necessary to do your suffering and disappointment and pain and sorrow that all trials serve two purposes to better acquaint you with your own sinful heart and with your Lord and Savior. What was one thing to rejoice in that truth when the trial is over.

But what do you do when your times of suffering never seem to end. And why can you be certain God will get you through even the toughest struggles. John MacArthur has encouraging answers today as he continues a series making sense out of suffering. If you have a Bible turn to second Corinthians chapter 12 and follow along with John as we come to this wonderful time in the word of God together. I want to draw your attention back to the text of second Corinthians chapter 12 as we approach this text. One phrase one expression in the text stands out and it's in verse nine and he has said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, and by way of introduction, let me just start with that word grace and then we'll get into the text itself.

This is a magnificent Greek word used 155 times in the New Testament the word in the Greek is Congress, and it basically means a favor bestowed it means a generous gift given.

That is, it sort of normal, common meaning, but in the sense of the New Testament in its redemptive sense, it means a favor bestowed and a generous gift given by God to people who are totally undeserving and unworthy is God's favor, God's goodness. God's generosity to provide for those who are unworthy of that provision. It starts at salvation, and it goes right on forever because it tells us in Ephesians that through the ages to come.

God will show the riches of his kindness in his grace toward us. Grace starts in a very general sense, theologians, common grace with the rain falling on the just and the unjust, and God giving us life and breath and families and and the joys of life and in the beauties of life than just life itself that's common grace, then grace reaches a completely different and wonderful proportion when it saves us and we go from common grace to the uncommon grace of salvation and we are given salvation forgiveness of all of our sins. All the blessings that are gods in the heavenly's are then bestowed upon us and held for our disposal that goes on. Then, through sanctification, and on through glorification.

God is generous to undeserving sinners is generous to those who are in Christ. From the time of their salvation.

Forever and forever.

This grace is a dynamic force. It is a dynamic force by which God applies to us everything we need to save us to keep us to enable us to deliver us to sanctify us to glorify us.

We were saved by grace. Ephesians 2 says, through faith, but it is God's grace. The just initiates there and sustains all the way through all of eternity. Every benefit in life.

Every benefit in eternity is by God's grace and this great redemptive aspect of grace comes only to those who know Jesus Christ is faith in Jesus Christ that brings us into God's uncommon grace into God's special saving grace and eternal grace we think about the Christian faith.

We could sum it up in the word grace. No word more clearly sums up the message of our faith and grace. No word sets us apart from all other religions of the world and grace for all others have inherently in them.

Some attainment of salvation through some human achievement, religious or moral, or a combination of both.

But ours is a grace religion.

Ours is a faith that includes the concept the overriding concept that we deserve nothing, and yet God gives us everything because of his goodness he bestows on us eternally favors undeserved. One of the most wonderful statements ever made about our Lord Jesus Christ was the inspired word by John the apostle, in John 114, when John said of Jesus. He was full of grace. He was full of grace.

We shouldn't be surprised by that since he was God incarnate in God is a God of grace. If God incarnated himself and came to the world, we would expect him to be full of grace.

The wondrous fact of his being full of the attribute of grace was followed by an even even more thrilling reality in two verses later, John 116 it says of his fullness have all we received an grace upon grace God's grace.

Christ was full of grace and when Christ comes into our lives we received grace upon grace upon grace that is to say, those of us who know God through faith in Jesus Christ are the recipients of the outpouring of God's continual blessing and favor we accumulate grace we accumulated moment by moment by moment by moment all through our lives, and even on it of the glories of eternity. No wonder Luke writing about the early Christians in acts 433 says they were experiencing abundant grace and Paul writing to the Romans chapter 5 verse two said we stand in grace. In other words he was saying it's it's as if grace is the environment in which we live, the air we breathe, we have received. According to Romans 517. An abundance of grace and Ephesians 1. As I told you in two talks about the riches of his grace.

James adds that whatever great need, we might have. God gives us a greater grace and Peter calls it the multifaceted many colored multiplied manifold grace of God and from just those few scriptures you get the idea that God doesn't skimp on it. Don't when it comes to grace for salvation when it comes to grace for sanctification. Grace for service grace for suffering. There's plenty of it in all areas of life. His kindness abounds. His benevolence abounds.

His goodness abounds. This is contrary to the gods of the pagans who are at best indifferent and must be coddled and cajoled and appeased so that they don't destroy their subjects. Our God is a God who by nature is gracious, who incarnated himself in the Lord Jesus Christ was full of grace, who comes to live in our lives and pour out upon us grace upon grace upon grace upon grace. Nowhere is it more magnificently summarized than in this very epistle. Second Corinthians go back to chapter 9 for a moment in verse eight. This is the greatest statement on the sufficiency of grace made anywhere in the Scripture. Notice its comprehensiveness. Second Corinthians 98 and God is able. That is, he is powerful enough. He is capable to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything you may have an abundance for every good deed. The superlatives here are almost overwhelming. All grace, all sufficiency in all things always and an abundance for all our every good deed God has the ability to pour out enough grace so that it literally overflows you and always you will have all sufficiency for all the issues of life and an abundance of grace for every good deed you have all the grace available, you need to believe you have all the grace and admit you need to remove your sin and apply the righteousness of Christ to you.

You have all the necessary grace to understand the word you have all the necessary grace granted to you to apply the word to overcome temptation to triumph over habitual sin, you have all the grace necessary to endure suffering and disappointment and pain and sorrow. You have all the grace necessary to obey the Lord all the grace required to serve him effectively and powerfully all the grace necessary to worship him in truth and in spirit. No wonder verse 14 of second Corinthians 9 calls it the surpassing grace of God I love this in you when you became a believer, the floodgates of grace were opened.

Grace, for everything is poured out on you and continues and will continue to do that is no wonder the hymn writer and looking for an adjective to describe it, came up with amazing grace now gets that background of this great sufficient grace in our text.

The question is posed. Is there sufficient grace to help us in every issue of life. And Paul is finding out in our text as we remember that indeed there is life is filled with trouble is in it.

Life is filled with difficulty.

Life is filled with pain and sorrow and suffering. There are fears that abound in life but people made much out of the book written by Rabbi Kushner called when bad things happen to good people. I'm gonna write a book in the title of is going to be bad things happen to everybody why sort out good people do bad things happen to everybody because we are bad people living in a bad world.

This is fallen humanity in a fallen environment. Obviously things go wrong, they go wrong all the time God has given us the grace to save us. God has given us the grace to sanctify us, God is dispensed to us the grace that will bring us to eternal glory.

God has given us the grace to serve him and proclaim his truth. The question here is has God given us the grace to handle the sufferings of life.

That's the issue we find Paul in this text at the low point of his life depressed. He says he is in chapter 7, depressed, heartsick, heartbroken, betrayed by the people he loved the most.

And we point out the fact that the deepest pain in life comes from people in the closer we get the people in the more intimate we become with people and the more we love them and the more devoted to them. We become and the more of our hearts, we give them the more potential there is for them to hurt us deeply. There is nothing as profound as being wounded in the house of your friends far greater than any economic pain or physical pain. Is that pain of unrequited love and betrayal. And that's where Paul was the Corinthian church are turned on. They had betrayed him. They turned away from his love for them and were abusing him following false teachers and believing lies about him and his heart was broken and it was affecting the joy of the church and affecting the witness of the church as well. And so there was that suffering as well because he cared so deeply about the work of the church we find them at this point in his life, or he's he's really at the bottom and he can't seem to do anything about it. And therein is the right place to ask the question to define sufficient grace for his trouble was God's grace sufficient in the deepest pain of his life. Many would say today. Well, if you're really talking about deep issues. If you talking about the deep pains of life. The depressions of life, the deep, profound disappointments of life of the deep anxieties of life. You certainly don't want to give shallow answers and I would agree with some would suggest that when you get to the deep things you have to turn away from the Scripture. Because the Scriptures only good for the light touch. If you want the deep things to be dealt with.

Gonna turn to psychology and psychiatry in therapy and counseling and even medication that the fill in the.

The lack in our Christian life with some human inside your human wisdom. Sad to say us bizarre as that sounds. Most churches have bought into that most evangelical churches have bought into the idea of the serious problems that Christians have are beyond the realm of the spiritual there, beyond the round of the power of God. There beyond grace.

There beyond divine grace and they require human technique human technique for the large part invented and defined and basically altered over the last hundred and 20 years. Psychology is offered as the source of power in solving the deep problems. While divine grace is adequate only for the shallower ones.

If turn to some human source for the deep things and you can turn to God for the shallower ones I was reading in a Christian periodical that came out in article advocating psychology as the necessary source for solving the problems of Christians and in the article they attacked me in the and of course in some periodicals being attacked is an honor, because you know on a particular be identified with it and so they they said it was kind of interesting. What it said. They said them. John MacArthur has written a book called our sufficiency in Christ and in it he says that Christ is sufficient for all our needs and that the word of God is sufficient for all our needs and I forget the exact words of the Holy Spirit is sufficient for all our needs and all that we ever need is available to us and in the in Christ and through divine grace and then the response was, can you believe anybody would say something like that. They didn't even try to argue with that. They just said how archaic is this guy where did he come from where has he been for the last 30 years.

They think they just called me without comment like people would say well what kind of bizarre belief is that pastors and Christians who give people the Bible and call them to prayer and to intimacy with God and to the resources of God's grace are even thought to be potentially dangerous and maybe even liable. That's why I was sued for clergy malpractice a tenure lawsuit that ran from 1980 to 1990. So if you don't know about it. I was sued for clergy malpractice because the young man had taken his life in a suicide in the family sued me and sued Grace Church. Obviously, all lawsuits have money is there ultimate end, but the lawsuit was based upon the fact that in ministering and preaching and speaking to this young man and giving him biblical truth to apply to the problems of his life, Wade exacerbated his preconditioning driven him to suicide and were therefore guilty of clergy malpractice while happily by the goodness of God and the sensibility of the court system. We won the case all the way to this to the California State Supreme Court, which ruled in our favor in front of the US Supreme Court upheld the decision of the California court at one of the court said isn't the issue simply to say that there's a whole community out there who believe that if you try to solve people's deep problems with the word of God, you're a threat to society that maybe the worst of it. On the other hand, the best of it might be churches that believe only shallow things can be dealt with by divine grace, deep things need human wisdom. How strange is that is the word of God so insufficient which word is perfect totally transforming the whole person. According to Psalm 19 is the wisdom from above, which confounds all the wisdom of man and calls it foolishness so insufficient to call upon that foolishness to help it is the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we are complete and whom we have all things that pertain to life and godliness and to become partakers of his own divine nature and possessors of all his fullness so insufficient that he can provide what we need is the Holy Spirit who is filled us with might in the inner man and given us all the fullness of God so we can do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think so weak and insufficient is not to be able to help us cope, so unthinkable is the package of spiritual resources we have received in salvation which enables us to do everything in which we are strengthening to all things in Christ, unable at any point in our lives and what does human wisdom add to us. When Paul said, our sufficiency is from God.

Was that just ignorance. Was he wrong was that foolishness when he said in second Corinthians 35. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate. Was he wrong, are we not adequate for every issue of life in the grace of God that is lavishly poured out on us. What a tragic delusion in the world but one infinitely more tragic delusion in the church and was an affront to our God in our Christ in our Holy Spirit and the word truly borrow the words of Galatians 5.

For we have fallen from grace. What fools people are in their troubles not to realize there is a throne of grace where we can go in time of need. To find help. Hebrews tells were the Pogo in the time of his deepest depressions greatest sorrow was go back to our text we read verses 7 to 10, and because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations. For this reason, to keep me from exalting myself. There was given me a thorn in the flesh messenger of Satan to buffet me to keep me from exalting myself concerning this.

I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me, and he is said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather boast about my weaknesses at the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses with insults with the stresses, with persecutions with difficulties for Christ sake. For when I'm weak, then on strong. This is a monumental passage. Here we find Paul in his deepest disappointment. Here we find Paul with a broken heart in pain and sorrow and depression rejected, betrayed, maligned, suffering from supernatural attacks on what was most precious to him, the church, particularly the church at Corinth. You're never the false teachers of come in. He defines all of that in verse seven as a thorn in the flesh literally the word thorn is a stake he was impaled by the state was just rammed through him, impaling him and what was it he defines this thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan. That's another word for a demon and on the loss of Satan. Satan's Angel demon, a demon had moved into some false teachers brought the false teachers into the Corinthian church and they had created this terrible betrayal in this mutiny and current. They were tearing up Paul's church they were trying to destroy his reputation. They were maligning his character. They were assaulting his people. They were hence starting to destroy the effectiveness of the church potentially its witness. When Paul saw this as a thorn in his flesh it was. It was something was just dripping into him because of his great love for the church and the people in it remind you in verse seven there was given me and I told you it was given to him by God. And I remind you that most people want to wander through life thinking that God brings all the good times and the devil brings all the bad times and don't understand that the bad times come at the will of God.

Just like the good times and the bad times are by God's design and far more productive than the good times there was given me by God.

This this demon inspired conspiracy.

The just ripped and torn me like a stake driven through my flesh to buffet me the word buffet meaning to punch this thing was hammering on me.

God had brought this in all people.

You need to understand this, there is this idea in Christianity today that if you have a problem. It needs an immediate solution and you gotta run somewhere and get it fixed. Counselors officer Philip full with people who want quick fixes on the issues of their dilemmas.

People who are suffering from being hated or rejected or abused or misrepresented or maligned, betrayed or unappreciated or whatever it might be in all these human problems of un-fulfillment of dissatisfaction and create all these problems with people are brought before the counselor and there's this passion to get them all solved the right perspective is to understand that in the midst of life. This is part of it and don't look for a quick solution try to discern what God is doing in the midst of it and don't assume that the devil brought it independent of the allowances of God because God has purposes and are suffering, and sometimes God's purposes are really amazing. It's hard to imagine one way that God wanting to achieve something in the life of such a special man as Paul would allow one of his own beloved churches to be torn up to achieve that doesn't seem rational to us, but God would allow this discontent in this chaos and confusion in the church at Corinth so that he could accomplish something in Paul's life, but in fact that's exactly what happened. Now this isn't the God in love Paul. He loved them greatly as he loves all his own, isn't that God was indifferent to Paul, not at all. In fact, our dear Lord Jesus himself after he'd already gone to heaven and taken his seat at the right hand of God came back to earth to visit Paul three times in one time took Paul to heaven to see them there so we came down to visit in three times. It took Paul to heaven once to confirm his love and to strengthen Paul for the immense amount of suffering he had to endure you pure doom on the Damascus Road face-to-face made blind. And then he took him to heaven.

And then he appeared to them and ask 18 just to in the moment of Paul's suffering when he was starting the church at Corinth.

Ask 18 and then he appeared to him again in jail.

And the Lord came to him and powerful unique unequaled encounters in the Lord was personally involved in Paul's life to shape them into the man he ought to be, but it was it was not that the did the work of shaping Paul wasn't the Damascus Road vision and wasn't the vision that he had when he went to heaven. As noted earlier in the same chapter and wasn't the vision and car. The wasn't the vision in jail later on. What really made Paul the man he was one of those high and elevated and holy and glorious experience with the risen Christ. What made in many was suffering and pain. Lord came to Paul to shape and mold that man into the man he wanted to be through suffering and his pain. Painful trials used by God for the good of the Christian.

That's a consistent theme in the life of the apostle Paul and its encouragement for every believer is John MacArthur is showing you in his study called making sense out of suffering here on grace to you now John.

Despite all the biblical evidence were seeing in this series about how God uses suffering for our good.

The suffering and pain that overshadows so much of life often leads to a whole series of questions about God mainly how can he be a God of love is that a fair question to ask. That's the question that nonbelievers ask, how can he be a God of love. That's the agnostic question. That's the their ejectors question the reason people ask that question is because they look at their own circumstances or the circumstances in the world that don't aren't going the way they think they are go and they draw their conclusions about God from that. If you want to know whether God is a God of love, you look somewhere else. You don't look at the fallen world. You look at the plan of redemption.

When you going to ask the question is got a God of love, look at the whole history of redemption. Look at sins forgiven.

Look at the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for utterly unworthy, undeserving sinners look at the lavish grace of God poured out from his love on all those who believe in him. If you wonder whether God is a God of love, look what the Bible says about eternal heaven where we will live forever in sheer joy and peace in bliss and glory and be joint heirs of everything that belongs to Christ. Gotta get your focus on the right thing to get the answer to the question. You know, that happens to us a lot. We get diverted away from the things that would really take us out of our despair and distress when he mentioned a book it's called anxious for nothing. We want to send a free copy to anyone who requests that's right of free copy. This book has been used by God literally through the years to help people struggling with anxiety, fear, doubt, depression. It's called anxious for nothing, it will show you how to cultivate contentment, defeat anxiety and get on the triumphant side of life, no matter how challenging the issues might be just request a free copy of anxious for nothing, will send it to you right when people ask us how they can overcome fear, depression and worry. This is the book we point them to its had a tremendous ministry in the lives of many people again will send you a copy of anxious for nothing, free of charge. Just ask for your free book today.

Request anxious for or call us here at 855 grace anxious for nothing, lays out the spiritual resources God has given you not only to endure trials, but also to experience God's supernatural peace and even joy in the midst of those trials again. We want to send you a free copy of anxious for nothing, while supplies last. Just call and ask for it.

855 grace or go to our website Jide and thank you for telling us what these daily broadcasts mean to you and thanks especially for praying for us. We rely on that more than you know to let us know how God is using this listener supported ministry in your life.

You can write to us at box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 or send an email to and again, be sure to request your copy of anxious for nothing, when you get in touch now for John MacArthur on Phil Johnson reminding you to watch grace to you television this Sunday. Check your local listings for channeling times and be here tomorrow when John continues his study making sense out of suffering with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

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