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This Changes Everything, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 25, 2023 9:00 am

This Changes Everything, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 25, 2023 9:00 am

We won’t always know how God is working in our suffering. That doesn’t sound very comforting, but we know from the Bible that we can trust in two things: first, the cross shows us that he hasn’t forgotten us and, two, the resurrection shows us that he always finishes what he has started. Pastor J.D. continues in this message from Romans to remind us how and why we can have joy in the midst of our suffering.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Sometimes God breaks you because he wants you to learn to trust in him and the affliction is not punishment. The affliction is simply saying, hey, I'm trying to get your attention to tell you that I'm enough and that's why I'm allowing this pain so when you're flat on your back you'll be looking the right direction. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor, Author and Theologian J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Bittovitch. Okay, I know it might not sound very comforting but we really don't always know how God is actually working in our suffering. However, we do know from the Bible that we can trust in two things. First, the cross shows us that he hasn't forgotten us and second, the resurrection shows us that he always finishes what he has started and today Pastor J.D. reminds us how and why we can have joy in the midst of our suffering. Are you finding yourself deep in pain or trouble? May this teaching be an encouragement to you right now. So let's rejoin Pastor J.D.

where he left off yesterday in Romans chapter five with a message he called, This Changes Everything. Paul says Romans chapter five verse three, not only that but we even rejoice in our afflictions because we know that affliction produces endurance. You see that phrase and you're like, rejoice in my afflictions. What on earth would that mean? Is Paul some kind of masochist where he rejoices in pain for pain's sake or, you know, feels like it shows people how tough he is and how righteous he is?

No. This is rejoicing in affliction because you know, you know that affliction no matter how bitter, no matter how terrible is producing something in you that is of greater value than even a pain-free life would be. Listen, Christians are not stoics.

A lot of people get this confused. They think that Christians are supposed to be stoics. A stoic is somebody who is unmoved by pain. I don't ever cry. I'm just detached.

You can't hurt me. Y'all, that is Buddhism not Christianity. Buddhism teaches you not to feel pain by detaching yourself from the world and by the way, the other way of saying this is not really loving anything. Christianity pushes you the opposite direction. Christianity tells you to love more deeply and because of that, Christians feel pain more deeply than probably anybody else should.

I mean think about Job. Job, after he lost his health, his family, and his livelihood, what was his response? To put a smile on his face and say, well I'm gonna feel positive and encouraging today and bless you brother?

No. He ripped his clothes off. He puts ashes on his head.

He falls to the ground and screams in rage at God. Now a bunch of us, if we saw Job doing that, they'd be like, oh somebody needs a faith recharge. Job, you better check your heart. You better let go and let God. But Job did not sin because our going through pain does not preclude deep, deep pain. Don't go through life like a Buddhist.

Feel the pain. Sometimes even rage at God. Yes, do it with faith. It is not supposed to be where you're just detached from this. But even in those things, you can trust God because you know even in that, God is up to something ultimately good.

And some of that good that he is up to is in you. We know Paul says that affliction produces endurance. Endurance is the ability to keep going when you are experiencing, hear this, no other earthly benefit from your faith. Endurance is the ability to keep going even when nothing else in your life is going right. When your finances aren't being multiplied and when the job's not coming through and the marriage isn't getting better and you're not feeling any better, but you say God is worth it. That's what Paul is talking about.

That is endurance. It is a test because God sometimes wants to know, why are you actually following me? You see, I've got a number of blessings in my life and I'm so thankful for them. My family, my wife, my job, you all, just my health and all those things. And God loves to give me those blessings.

But sometimes there's a question of like, hey, is this, why are you following me? And it is an affliction that reveals that and it produces in me endurance that says, God, you are enough. One of our campus pastors shared this with me earlier this week.

I asked for his permission to share it. He said, back in 2010, when I first came on staff on the pastoral team at the Summit Church, he said, I prayed something that I now think was absolutely foolish. I prayed that God would teach me to walk closer to him by showing me what it meant to suffer well. In many ways, I wish I'd never prayed that prayer and I would never tell somebody else to do that because the next year was the hardest year of my life. One of my best friends died of leukemia. My wife and I lost our daughter that year. For months, we were in the hospital, more often sleeping in the hospital than we did even in our own home.

I hated that season. And it's taken me years even to talk about it. But God walked with me during that time. And I learned what Paul was saying here in Romans 5, and that is that affliction produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope. It's probably the most beautiful, the most painful lesson I've ever learned in my life. There are some things that you learn in affliction that you really don't learn any other way. Or I think here of the words of Corrie Ten Boom, the Nazi concentration camp survivor. I never knew that God was all that I needed until he was all that I had. And that's what affliction showed to me.

Or give you one more here, Robert Smith. I love this. When faith is stripped of the bone, no marrow, no tendons, no muscles, no fat, no crystal, no earthly benefits at all.

All our props, all our crutches are gone. Our faith in God that he is good and that he is still on the throne is the only thing that will keep you going. It is affliction that produces that conviction.

It produces things in you that you can learn in no other way. Martin Luther, again, who studied this book, launched the reformation. He said, there are three things that make for a great theologian. One is knowledge of the scripture. Two is a lot of prayer.

And three is affliction. He said, you'll never really know God until you've been through that furnace of affliction. In fact, speaking of his own experience, he says this, one of my favorite quotes of his, I credit the devil, the Pope and all my other persecutors with my deep knowledge of the word. Through the devil's raging, they've turned me into a pretty good preacher, driving me into the gospel to depths I never would have reached without their afflictions. Suffering in the believer's life is like the cold that triggers the furnace in your house to come on.

You know how this works, right? You and your spouse, by the way, this is always one of the first marriage fights because your spouse wants to turn it on 78 and I want it on 62. But whatever it is that you guys settle on, when the cold dips below that temperature, this furnace kicks on and all this wonderful warm air pours out of the vents. Now, the cold is not producing the warm air.

The furnace is producing the warm air, but the cold is triggering the furnace to come on. And Paul is saying in a similar kind of way, that's how faith works, is that when the cold of suffering, when the cold of persecution or affliction comes into your life, that furnace of your faith kicks on and pours new experiences of trust and confidence and yes, even joy in God that you may not have ever experienced apart from the cold. And the colder the temperature gets, the hotter the furnace gets. And the colder the suffering, a lot of times the hotter the furnace in your life will burn up and it will produce in you endurance. And endurance will then turn into proven character. Proven character means character that has gone through the furnace of affliction and had those impurities burned away. Peter is going to, the apostle Peter is going to take the same concept.

He's going to come at it from a slightly different angle. He's going to say, when you suffer, when you suffer your faith, your faith, which is more precious than gold, is being refined like gold is refined so that it will result in praise, glory, and honor at the revealing of Jesus Christ. Peter's referring to a process back then by which they purified gold. They would heat it up to the point basically of boiling.

And because gold, the kind of metal it is, it would not evaporate and go away, but every other impurity, all the other minerals, all the other defilements would burn out of it. And Peter is saying, that's what God is doing to your faith, in your faith or mixed, all kinds of things. You've got things that you're depending on that you really should be depending on God. And so God sometimes allows this furnace of affliction to purify you so that you come through it and say, I love God and God is enough. And while I appreciate all these blessings that are hurt when they're not there, God, you are sufficient for me and suffering. God might be, and might be, and again, I don't know what's going on in your life, but in suffering, God might be trying to prune out some bad habit. And that's what one of the Psalms says in one place, before I was afflicted, I went astray.

And then after you afflicted me, well, that's when I learned to depend on you. I remember learning in ancient Israel, one of the practices they had for sheep that would wander. If a sheep just kept wandering and kept getting lost, the shepherd would break one of the legs, one of the front legs of the sheep, which of course is unbelievably painful for the sheep, but it wasn't an act of cruelty. After he'd break the leg, the shepherd would put the sheep on his back. And for the next two or three months, while that leg healed, he would carry him from place to place. So if anything, the greater burden is on the shepherd is now he's having to carry this sheep. But what would happen, they say, in those two or three months is that sheep would develop a real affection for the shepherd.

And that sheep would also learn that everything the sheep needed to be happy and to thrive in life was wherever the shepherd was. And so when it was healed and was put back down, it would never wander away again. Sometimes God does that in your life. Sometimes God breaks you because he wants you to learn to trust in him. And the affliction is not punishment. The affliction is simply saying, hey, I'm trying to get your attention to tell you that I'm enough. And that's why I'm allowing this pain.

So when you're flat on your back, you'll be looking the right direction. Maybe it's that there's something in your life that you're growing too dependent on. And God is just trying to shake that. Maybe it's not even that you're doing anything wrong.

God just wants to teach you more about himself. I've used the image here of an ancient Japanese tribe who used to shatter a pot after they had made the pot, shatter it on the ground. You say, why would they do that? It was a process.

I did some research since we figured this out. It's a process called kintsugi. I don't speak Japanese, but kintsugi means golden repair. That was what they were famous for. Because what they would do is after they shattered it, they pick up all these little pieces and they take melted gold and they would put the pot back together so that now the pot is more valuable for having been broken and pieced together with gold than it was before it was ever broken to begin with. Now the flaws are a part of the unique character of the pot.

And now the pot is able to tell a story and show that this gold makes it stronger than it was before it was broken. You see what suffering does is it allows God to infuse the gold of his presence into the broken places, the broken seams of your life. And that whole process is designed to teach you hope, hope, hope, the assurance that God's going to keep his promise, the assurance that when nothing else is working out right, that there is resurrection coming, the assurance that God has never left you or forsake you, and that God has kept his promise to work all things together for good. And that hope, Paul says, that one hope will not disappoint you.

By the way, the implication there, and Paul saying that, is he's a man that's familiar with a lot of other hopes disappointing you. Most of us, we're hopeful people, but how many hopes do we have that disappoint? You hope that this relationship is going to satisfy and it doesn't. You hope this new job is going to be everything that you want it to be and then it lets you down. You hope this friend will never betray you or let you down, but he or she does. Some of you are hopeful just because you're optimistic.

You just let your character quality. I'm a little bit like that. Optimism is the assumption that tomorrow will be better than today just because it's tomorrow. The sun will come out tomorrow. How do you know that? Maybe tomorrow is going to be worse.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but how do you know? Optimism is a hope that will ultimately disappoint. Some of you are hopeful because you have this inspiring idea that whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

And yeah, I mean, I get inspired by that and like, yeah, I can see how painful things made me stronger, but sometimes you go through things and it actually wounds you and you carry that wound with you for the rest of your life. This is Summit Life with J.D. Greer. A quick reminder, this is the last full week to reserve your copy of Pastor J.D. 's essential Christianity.

So reach out to us at 866-335-5220 or jdgreer.com. You know, following Jesus doesn't always seem easy. And if you're like me, you've probably run into a lot of questions along the way.

All of us do, but I've got good news. That's why we created a free resource that we've recently been telling you about that's available on demand. It's called the Ask Me Anything podcast. Each episode is 10 to 15 minutes and features a question from listeners just like you about life, relationships, theology, the Bible, and so much more. You can listen on your morning commute, during your afternoon workout, or anytime that you want to hear honest questions and quick answers from a biblical perspective. To listen to the Ask Me Anything podcast, visit jdgreer.com slash podcast or search for it on your favorite podcasting app. Now let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. I'm reading this book, actually just finished this book right now called Can't Hurt Me, written by Navy Seal. And it's the story of how all these painful experiences this guy went through in life made him into the man of character he is.

Now I wouldn't recommend the book to you because it's got a lot of profanity in it, but it's inspiring. The story's inspiring about how all this stuff worked, but I remember reading this book and just thinking, yeah, I realize that some of this happens, but sometimes you encounter wounds you can't shake. And sometimes people do permanent damage to you. And hey, one day your body just eventually dies. You're not always going to overcome.

You can't go through life with a can't hurt me attitude because yes, life can hurt you and you may never fully recover. That's a hope that disappoints. Some of you seek hope by medication through drugs and alcohol or sexual stimulation or materialism. You know that always ends badly because when it is unhappiness that's driving you to drinking or sex or materialism, those things turn into toxic destructive poisons in your soul because your soul was not designed to feed on them.

They are not valid places of hope. Paul says, I got a better hope than any of those things. I got a hope that will not disappoint because God's love has been poured out in my heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Now, this is the first mention of the Holy Spirit in the book of Romans. And I want you to notice what he's doing because a lot of people are confused about the Holy Spirit. What's his purpose? His purpose is to pour out the love of God in your heart. When you have a moment with the Holy Spirit, you are becoming more aware of who you are in Christ and the greatness and finality of his love for you.

That's what a fullness of the spirit looks like. The analogy I've used is it's like a father walking along with his five-year-old son, holding his hand, looks down at his son, gets swept up and just follow the emotion, thinks of his son, spins his son around. Who's my boy?

I'm so proud of you. I love you. You know, the son's giggling and they're having this father-son moment. Here's the question. Is that kid anymore his father-son legally than he was the moment before?

No, his son status has not changed at all, but his perception of that has changed. The Holy Spirit comes into your life, Paul says, and he creates this awareness that I am a child of God and I am in the favor of God. And a lot of times that's going to happen in this overwhelming moment, like in worship, and sometimes it's going to happen, more often it's going to happen through gentle reminders as God teaches you what his love in your life means. That's why Paul goes on from there, not to talk about an ecstatic experience, but he goes on from there to begin to explain the logic of the cross. He says, you see, while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will somebody die for a just person, though for a good person, somebody might even dare to die. Here's the logic Paul is giving. He's like, it's possible.

It's possible. And we know of stories where some heroic person offered his life for somebody that they loved, but God's love is different than that. God's love is not like those things. In fact, God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Sinners, by the way, verse 10, Paul's going to say enemies. When we were an enemy, that's when God died for us. And Paul says, nobody else has ever done that.

Who does that? God laying down his life for me is not like me laying down my life for my children. God laying down his life for me was like me laying down my life to save a terrorist who had murdered my children. I imagine some terrorists murdered my children, and I show up in court the day that this guy is going to be sentenced to prison for life. And I show up and I say, take me instead. Let this guy go back to his family. He can have all my money, all my fortune, all my inheritance.

He can take it all. He can go start life over, and I'll go into prison and serve out his term for the rest of my life. You say, well, who would do that? That's Paul's point. Nobody would do that, but that's what God did for you. That's what God did when he took you from the status of enemy and through his death turned you into a son or daughter. How much more then, since we've now been declared righteous by his blood, how much more will we be saved through him from wrath? Meaning the ongoing wrath that's existing in the world. Of course, God is not wrathful toward us.

He's already poured out his wrath in Jesus. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his son, then how much more, having been reconciled, are we going to be saved by his life? Saved by his life means this. If Jesus' blood secured my forgiveness, then his resurrection guarantees that what he has started he will complete.

His life proves that he hasn't left me. His life proves that he is standing by the throne of God right now, making sure that I will never be cast away, I'll never be forgotten, making sure that what he has started he's going to complete and that he will never leave me or forsake me, and one day he's going to resurrect me so that I'm going to be like him. What that means is before the throne of God above, what we sing, I have a strong and perfect plea, a great high priest whose name is love, whoever lives and pleads for me, my name is written on his hand, my name is graven on his heart, and I know that while in heaven he stands, no tongue can bid me this depart. What that means is I'm saved by his life.

I'm saved by the fact that there he stands this morning, and while he is standing there, he is the proof that God is never going to let me go, he's never going to forget me, and he is going to complete what he started. I don't know what God is doing in your suffering, I can't know, you can't know, but what I know, people sometimes say to me, well pastor, what does this suffering mean? And I always say, I don't know, I don't know, but what I do know, I know what it can't mean. The cross shows me that it can't mean that God has forgotten you, because when you were his enemy, that's when God came for you. It shows me that it can't be that God is not involved in your life, because the resurrection proves that he is involved in your life. So whatever it means, it can't mean that you're forgotten or God's not involved. You may never figure out exactly what God is doing in a painful chapter. John Piper, the way he says it is, at any given moment God is doing about 10,000 different things in your life, and you are aware usually at most with about three of them. But what you can know in that moment is that the logic of the cross shows me if I was saved from wrath by his death, I'll be saved now through his life. And his resurrection proves that he hasn't stopped caring, that he hadn't forgotten, and that he is not absent.

He is involved. That means your joy and suffering is the measure to which you really believe the gospel. I love the way Tim Keller says it, your belief in the gospel is measured by your ability to have joy and suffering.

Now I want to tell you, this is not something that's going to come naturally to you. That's why Paul talks about it as a learning process. In fact, glance real quick back at verse three. We rejoice because we know. Rejoice is a choice.

It is a choice to remind yourself of what you know. The choice to rejoice, or let's just say the choice to worship, is not a feeling that naturally rises up in you. Many times the choice to rejoice and the choice to worship is in defiance of your feelings. It's amazing to me how many times the Bible commands us to shout, to rejoice, and to worship. 40 different times in the Psalms, listen 40 different times you are instructed to raise your hands in worship. Why would he tell us to raise, I mean like if you feel like it you should raise your hands because God doesn't want you to be inauthentic. Here's why he commands you, because he knows you're not always going to feel like it. And worship is not supposed to be a reflection of your feelings. Worship is supposed to be a declaration of what you know to be true. So the time that I need to raise my hands is when I don't feel like raising my hands. Some of us come in here and we're like well I don't really, I think I should do it if it doesn't feel authentic.

That's exactly when you need to do it. Because what you're doing is you're saying I'm declaring what I know to be true even though in my heart I don't feel like it's true. I know it's true and so I'm going to declare it and I'm going to let my feelings conform to what the realities of the Gospel are. Worship is not a depiction of your feelings. Worship is a declaration of who God is.

Okay? So some of us when we come in here and it's time to worship we look in our heart and say how do I feel? How do I feel? You shouldn't be looking in your heart.

You should be looking in the Word of God or you should be looking upwards and say not how I feel but what is true. And then I'm going to even have my posture reflect that because let me tell you a little secret. A lot of times your heart, often your heart will follow your posture.

Right? I mean think about it. Sometimes I'll get down on my knees when I pray and I don't get there because I suddenly feel submissive but I find that almost always when I get down on my knees I start to feel submissive because my posture is guiding my heart. And the same thing is true when I lift my hands. Oh my God, I mean I feel like this. But you're worthy and you're powerful. And I'm open and I'm surrendered and suddenly my heart follows along with that. You don't feel your way into your worship. You worship your way into your feelings. And so when we worship we put God's truth on display to ourselves and to others. You see when you go through suffering, suffering has a way of defining you.

It becomes your identity. Who I am is determined by the Word of God. What my future is is determined by the promises of God. God's love for me is determined by the cross. The hope that I feel in life is determined by the resurrection. So before the throne of God I've got a strong and perfect plea.

And I know that while in heaven He stands no tongue can bend me dense apart. The mark of those who believe the gospel is joy. What a great word today here on Summit Life with Jadie Greer. For the past few weeks we've been featuring Pastor Jadie's latest book called Essential Christianity as our premium resource. A little while ago I had the chance to ask him about the story behind the book and why he wrote it. There were several streams that went into the river that became this book. Stream one is I had a desire to put something into the hands of my non-Christian friends who really wanted to have a just a thoughtful presentation of the essentials of the Christian faith. Stream number two is I wanted to be able to give a book like this to our church here in the Raleigh-Durham area to equip them to give it to their friends and family and neighbors. What are the essential questions and how do you answer them in a way that takes the believer deeper but also answers the questions of the unbelievers? So that was the second and maybe the third stream. I sort of combined two of them there.

But here's the fourth stream. I was preaching through the book of Romans and I was amazed at the clarity with which Paul answered these fundamental human questions. So I've been hearing great stories from people in our church and from you the listeners here at Summit Life and hearing incredible stories about how the gospel still has the power to radically change. So we would love to get a copy to you.

Just reach out to us at jdgrier.com. We've also designed a discussion guide that can be used to supplement your own reading or to help facilitate gospel conversations with friends, co-workers, or family members who have questions about the faith. This is a fantastic way to have gospel conversations with that one that you might have been praying for since the very first part of this teaching series called Who's Your One? We'd love to send you this essential Christianity bundle today with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry. To donate, simply call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or visit jdgrier.com to give your gift online. I'm Molly Vidovitch reminding you to join us again Friday as Pastor JD takes us back to the beginning. We're continuing our series in Romans here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-25 10:58:22 / 2023-05-25 11:09:48 / 11

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