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Strengthened by God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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April 8, 2022 12:01 am

Strengthened by God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 8, 2022 12:01 am

The grace that saves us from sin is the same grace that sustains us in suffering. Today, H.B. Charles Jr. teaches that the God who pardons His people also protects them in their time of need, enabling Christians to endure hardship.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. When we're in the middle of a trial, it can seem like God is so far away, and we're tempted to ask, as David did in Psalm 13, how long, O Lord? But as we'll discover today, God is not only closer than we think, He's promised to bless us through our trials. Welcome to our study of select doxologies and benedictions from the sacred Scriptures. These are wonderful statements of praise, statements of blessing, that we can cling to, hold fast to, stand on, but we need to remember that these are not isolated statements. All of these benedictions and doxologies that we find in the Scriptures are given in the context of particular God-inspired settings. For instance, Ephesians chapter 3 verses 20 and 21 is a doxology, benediction in the context of prayer that increases our confidence that God will answer prayer.

First Thessalonians 5, 23 and 24 is an assurance of God's work to help His people live out the calling to holiness as they live in light of the coming of the Lord. All of these benedictions and doxologies sit in a scriptural community that must be considered for us to understand the richness of the benediction or the richness of the doxology. So it is with the blessing doxology in 1 Peter chapter 5 verses 10 and 11. First Peter is about how to live as a Christian in a hostile environment. There is growing hostility against the Christian faith in the Roman Empire, and Peter writes to brace his readers scattered throughout the Roman world to brace them for things to get worse. Verses 10 and 11 record a benediction and doxology that is a part of a larger passage which consists really of verses 8 through 11 to get the scope of it. And in verse 8, Peter is clear that we as Christians have an enemy, a spiritual enemy.

Be sober-minded. Be watchful, he says, your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. It has been well said, Christianity is a battleground, not a playground. There is a war going on, and we have an enemy who is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. But then Peter says, let me give you the believer's response. We are not to run away. Verse 9 says, resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. Satan is like a roaring lion, says Peter, but the believer is to stand his ground even when suffering comes.

How are we to do that? Verses 10 and 11, I believe, is the answer. This benediction and doxology is stated here in the context of these statements about the spiritual warfare believers face to say to you and me, friends, that when you stand for God, he will make sure you are not standing alone. When you stand for the Lord, he will make sure that you are not standing alone.

We have a divine ally in spiritual warfare. And these verses show us three ways the Lord is at work on our behalf even when suffering comes. He first wants us to know in this passage that God loves you in your suffering.

God loves you in the midst of your suffering. He says in verse 10, after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Notice how God is identified here in verse 10. What a wonderful title for God. He is the God of all grace.

He is nowhere described this way in Scripture, but here, what a lofty title for God. What a great assurance this is for the believer, that God is the God of all grace. And it is significant to note that he presents to the believers a God of all grace in the context here of suffering. What do you say to a believer who is going through a season of suffering?

You point them to God. And what attribute does the believer need to know about God when he is suffering of all of the attributes and perfections and wonders of God? I would think he would say that God is strong and powerful and greater than the roaring lion, but listen to him say it. He's the God of all grace. Any grace when we are suffering. Verse 12, drop down there. He says, by Sylvanus, a faithful brother, as I regard him, I have written briefly to you exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God.

Stand firm in it. As these believers are suffering, he wants them to have the assurance that they are in the true grace of God and that in this grace they can stand firm. God is the God of all grace, not just the God of grace, the God of all grace.

Hebrews 4, verses 14 through 16, since we have so great a high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our profession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with us in our weakness, but one who is tempted in every respect as we are yet without sin. Let us then draw near to the throne of grace with confidence that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in the time of need, God is the God of all grace. And his grace is not just saving grace, it's suffering grace.

Don't minimize the amazing nature of God's grace. Sometimes we misunderstand grace as if grace opens the door to the family of God and then once we get in, we've got to make sure we live right or we'll get kicked out. But the same grace that saves us is the grace that sustains us. As sinners who need to be made right with God, God is the God of all grace. But as saints who may suffer for his name's sake, God is the God of all grace.

We are saved because God's incarnate Son died a vicarious death at the cross for our sins. But to say that God is the God of all grace means that we have the assurance that the same factor that sent Jesus to the cross is at work on the behalf of those who believe when they suffer, the love of God, the grace of God. God, by his grace, he is saying not only pardons, he protects.

If we go up to chapter 4, verses 10 and 11, there is a call to serve and the basis upon which we are to serve. Chapter 4, verse 10 says, as each has received a gift, we're to use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace. God's varied grace is literally God's multicolored grace. God has grace to fit every circumstance the believer faces.

He is the God of all grace. John 1, verse 16 says, from him we have received grace upon grace. That's the believer's life, not just our salvation in which we are gripped by God's amazing grace when we trust Jesus Christ and his finished work at the cross. But the whole experience of the Christian life is grace upon grace upon grace. In Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9, it says we are made right with God by saving grace. We live righteous lives, says Romans 5, verse 7, by the sanctifying grace of God.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 8 and 10, Paul acknowledges that he doesn't deserve to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, but he serves as an apostle, he says, because by the grace of God I am what I am. In 2 Corinthians chapter 8, verses 1 through 9, Paul attributes the generosity of the Macedonians to the grace of God. There is a sacrificing grace in which these needy believers were able to be generous with joy. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 9, Paul has suffering grace to deal with the thorn in the flesh. Colossians 3, 16 says the saints should be singing with grace in our hearts.

Colossians 4, 2 says our speech should be seasoned with grace. In 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 1, Paul bids his protege to be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. There is the strengthening grace.

He is the God of all grace. And while the enemy would have the believer to think that you are going through what you are going through because God does not care for you, here Peter says, let me tell you, even though you're going through, you are the beneficiary of a God who is the God of all grace. God loves you in the midst of your suffering. The second lesson he says here in this benediction to the suffering saint is that God puts a limit on your suffering. Here verse 10 again, and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Notice how Peter here speaks about the way God puts a limit on our suffering. There's the pronouncement of that limit.

Notice there's a phrase we'll be prone to skip over if you're not careful. After you have suffered a little while, isn't that wonderful? God puts a limit on the suffering and says, I want you to know that I'm the God of all grace and I'm in control.

I care about you in the midst of this and I want you to know that this suffering will only be for a little while. What you have here is an affirmation that believers will face suffering. In fact, in chapter 4 verse 12, he says, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you. Well, apparently Peter was not an adherent of prosperity theology. He did not promise the believer's health and wealth and success.

He says, don't be surprised when trouble comes, and it doesn't happen incidentally either. Philippians chapter 1 verse 29, Paul says that it has been granted to you on the behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him but to suffer for His name's sake. Suffering for Christ, Paul says, is just as much a gift as saving faith is. But in the midst of that suffering, God gives us an assurance that it is only for a little while. That doesn't mean, friends, that your suffering will be brief.

You may suffer the ordeal for the remainder of your experience on this earth, but in light of the glorious blessings of eternity, it's only for a little while. A noted preacher was respected for his patience and calm and gentleness, and a friend visited him and saw him pacing back and forth like an animal in a cage, just restless, and asked what the matter was. And after thinking about it for a moment, he summarized that, I believe the problem is as simple as this, I am in a hurry and God is not. We're all prone to find ourselves there, for we are in a hurry and God is not. It's frustrating to be stuck in a waiting room.

All the more frustrating, if your attitude is not right, when you are in God's sovereign waiting room, no answers, no explanations, no numbered system to let you know your ticket is coming up. But He does leave word for us. I'm not going to give you a time frame for what you are dealing with, except I want you to know this assurance, the suffering is only temporary. It will not last forever, it is only for a little while. Psalm 30 verse 5, God's anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Isaiah 40 verse 31, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Romans 8 verse 18, for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. Second Corinthians 4 verses 16 through 18, so we do not lose heart, knowing that these present trials that adjust for a little while are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. Galatians 6 and 9, so let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not lose heart. He says your suffering is just for a little while. Here's the proof of that. How do you know? He says, and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ.

Do you see that? The suffering is not the end. The end is eternal glory in Christ.

Sometimes I'm watching the television show or watching the movie and there's such suspense. Time is running out, the villain's still on the loose, the damsel is still in distress, the hero is still far away, and I'm getting tense and nervous until I remember that the same people that wrote the beginning of this wrote the end. How much more is that true for the Christian journey? The one who wrote Genesis wrote Revelation.

The one who wrote the beginning wrote the end. And even though we may suffer for a little while, we've been called to eternal glory. This is a new identity we have in Christ related to our past, but there's a new destiny that we have in Christ related to our future. We've been called to eternal glory.

This is an effectual call. We have the assurance of Romans 8 verse 30, in whom He is predestined, He also called, in whom He's called, He is justified, in whom He is justified, He has glorified. God loves you in the midst of your suffering. God puts a limit on your suffering. God wants you to learn from your suffering. God wants you to learn from your suffering. After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory will, watch this, the assurance here is not that He's going to change the circumstances, fix all your problems, end all your sufferings.

He may not do anything about what's happening to you, but know that in the midst of the suffering, He's doing something in you. He will, and note this, He will Himself, here again we find the undelegated work of God, He Himself will restore you, confirm you, strengthen you, and establish you. He will restore you.

Same word used in Matthew 4 21 and Mark 1 19 for disciples mending their nets. He will fix you. He will restore you. He will perfect you. Mark 1 19 verse 71, it was good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.

It wasn't good to me, but it was good for me. There are things about God I would not have learned, says the psalmist, if I had not been afflicted. He uses it to restore us and to confirm us, to make us firm and stable. Luke 22 verses 31 and 32, he says to Simon, Satan desires to have you, to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have been converted, here's our word, when you've been confirmed, strengthen your brothers. He will restore you and confirm you. He will strengthen you. He assured this of Paul as he suffered with his thorn in the flesh.

So much so that in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 10, where Paul begins the passage praying for the thorn in the flesh to be removed, he ends by saying that I'd rather the infirmity because when I am weak, then I am what, strong, he will establish you, laying a firm foundation under you. This is our hope in Christ. This is the life of the believer that stands on the Word. Matthew 7 verses 24 through 27, remember Jesus tells the brief parable of two men who built two houses on two different foundations, one on the rock and one on the sand, but the storms assaulted both houses. The righteous are not exempt from the storms of life, but as you stand on God's Word, you will be made firm.

How then should we respond to this? This is a great passage in which benediction and doxology are blended together. There is the benediction in verse 10, which seamlessly shifts into doxology. The God who loves us in the midst of suffering and limits our suffering and causes us to learn more about Christ and our suffering deserves dominion forever and ever. Dominion is manifested power. It is God's presence and dominance and authority. He is worthy of our praise even when suffering comes.

Amen. Even when we're in the middle of a trial, God's dominion and authority and His love for us have not diminished one bit. Not only that, He uses trials for our ultimate good and for His glory. This is Renewing Your Mind, and over the last couple of days, we have featured messages from the series Blessings and Praise, Benedictions and Doxologies in Scripture. It's by Dr. H.B.

Charles, Jr., who is pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. There's much to learn from this eight-part series, including how to receive God's peace and protection and how He answers our prayer requests beyond anything we might ask or imagine. We'll send you the full series on one DVD for your donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. There are a couple of ways you can make your request.

One is by phone at 800-435-4343, or you can go online to Please know how grateful we are for your generosity. Your donations help Ligonier produce and distribute resources like those we've heard this week.

They help people know more about the One who has dominion over the universe and loves His people with an everlasting love. So we thank you. Well next week, we'll begin preparing for Holy Week. Dr. R.C. Sproul will help us understand the work of Christ on the cross, and I hope you'll make plans to be with us beginning Monday here on Renewing Your Mind. God bless you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-10 17:30:30 / 2023-05-10 17:38:30 / 8

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