1.SUFFERING is not a sermon many Christians want to hear, but “… HEREUNTO WERE YE CALLED: because CHRIST ALSO SUFFERED for us, leaving us an example, that YE SHOULD FOLLOW HIS FOOTSTEPS” [1 Peter 2:21] The phobia of SUFFERING, as Jesus did, is sheer IGNORANCE aggravated by doctrines of devils. Brethren, we are REDEEMED to be “… PARTAKERS OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” [1 Peter 4:13] God FOREKNEW and PREDESTINATED us “… to be CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” [Romans 8:29] Those who look forward to be CONFORMED to Christ in GLORY, are required to experience the FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERING in this BODY, as it is written: “That I MAY KNOW HIM, and the POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION, and the FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, being made CONFORMABLE TO HIS DEATH” [Philippians 3:10]
2. SUFFERING of Christ was primarily IDENTITY CRISIS, “Who, being in the FORM OF GOD, thought it not robbery to be EQUAL WITH GOD: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the FORM OF A SERVANT, and WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF MEN” [Philippians 2:6-7] The root of Christ’s SUFFERING was the FORFEITURE of His RIGHTS to DIVINE EXCELLENCY, when He was BORN in the FORM of man. His SUFFERING was the PAIN of DENIAL of His heavenly PERSONALITY in OBEDIENCE to the WILL of God, and “Though he were a Son, yet LEARNED HE OBEDIENCE BY THE THINGS WHICH HE SUFFERED” [Hebrews 5:8] When we turn to God through Jesus Christ, we are BORN AGAIN into the CRISIS of SELF versus the WILL of God. We SUFFER with Christ when we DENY what we are or wish to be, to BECOME WHAT GOD WANTS US TO BE. Brethren, we are BOUGHT with the BLOOD of Jesus Christ, and FORFEITED ALL RIGHTS to personal AMBITIONS and DESIRES of SELF. We are as STRANGERS in this world, without RIGHTS to our WILL, that we might REIGN with Christ. Beloved, though you SUFFER daily from CONTRADICTIONS of what you could have been versus what you are in Jesus Christ, and called names by friends and foes, “… REJOICE, INASMUCH AS YE ARE PARTAKERS OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS; that, when his glory shall be revealed, YE MAY BE GLAD WITH EXCEEDING JOY” [1 Peter 4:13]
3. FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERING is YOU and I offering our BODIES to God, as Jesus did, and “… we are sanctified through the OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST once for all” [Hebrews 10:10] Jesus Christ indeed offered His BODY to SUFFER and be hung ALIVE on the Cross “ONCE FOR ALL” to REDEEM us from SIN. Those who are CALLED to CONFORM to Christ must in similar fashion present their “… BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” [Romans 12:1] A LIVING SACRIFICE is burnt ALIVE, and so are we in the world. We are BOUND by the WORD of God to live according to His WILL in a world aflame with SIN. Our FLESH is “BURNT” with FIERY TRIALS and our FAITH is sore TESTED. Oftentimes we are TEMPTED to turn back and be free to do our OWN THING, but we refuse to give in to the ADVERSARY. Jesus Christ SUFFERED the same way, and set a worthy precedent for us, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, REMOVE THIS CUP from me: nevertheless NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE, BE DONE” [Luke 22:42] I plead with you to RESIST every move of Satan, using family or friends to weaken your FAITH with THOUGHTS and IMAGINATIONS CONTRARY to the WILL of God, “Whom RESIST STEDFAST IN FAITH, knowing that the SAME AFFLICTIONS ARE ACCOMPLISHED IN YOUR BRETHREN that are in the world” [1 Peter 5:9]
4. FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERING is living in strict OBEDIENCE to the WILL of God. Paul trained as a LAWYER, but God arrested him on the road to DAMASCUS. The disappointment of family and friends are best imagined, when he shunned what he could have been to BECOME what God wanted him to be, saying: “… I COUNT ALL THINGS BUT LOSS for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: FOR WHOM I HAVE SUFFERED THE LOSS OF ALL THINGS, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” [Philippians 3:8] Listen carefully, WILL of God CONTRADICTS WILL of man and “… that which is HIGHLY ESTEEMED AMONG MEN IS ABOMINATION IN THE SIGHT OF GOD” [Luke 16:15] When the Jews offered to make Jesus King, He declined because it was not the WILL of God [John 6:15] Brethren, our professed FAITH in Christ and MATERIAL GAIN are nothing if we are not who God wants us to be. I warn you to beware of FALSE TEACHERS and “… men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, SUPPOSING THAT GAIN IS GODLINESS: from such withdraw thyself” [1 Timothy 6:5] Listen to God, not man, to discern who God wants you to be and be ready to experience FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERING, “Yea, and ALL THAT WILL LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION” [2 Timothy 3:12]
5. The climax of Christ’s SUFFERING was His DEATH On the Cross, and “IF WE SUFFER, WE SHALL ALSO REIGN WITH HIM: if we deny him, he also will deny us” [2 Timothy 2:12] The time to reign with Christ is sooner than you think; accept Jesus Christ today as your Lord and Saviour and reign with Him forever, amen.