Phlp 3:8-21 . . .fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; . . .follow our example, not those who are enemies of the cross
Lk 14:27 Whosoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
As believers we are called to a close and intimate walk with the Lord Jesus Christ – the LAMB OF GOD; the SACRIFICIAL LAMB – who came to show us the WAY to God the Father. Jesus/Yeshua IS THE WAY!
This call to be a DISCIPLE is to all of us, but we learn from the N.T., including the verses we have read, that not all believers become disciples. Not all believers are overcomers. Not all believers produce the same amount of fruit. THESE ARE NOT ISSUES OF OUR SALVATION BEING ASSURED THROUGH TRUE FAITH IN JESUS!
But there is something crucial in the life and experience of Jesus that we must identify with, and that is His suffering (isurim – moral, redemptive discipline), which is possible only as we know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the hope that gives to all who believe. I do not mean here, nor do I believe that we are taught by the Holy Spirit, to deliberately suffer physically in order to identify or participate in His sufferings. Some Christians beat themselves on their backs in an effort to “fellowship in Messiah’s sufferings”, or they deny themselves by subjecting themselves to regulations of deprivation. (Col 2:20-23) This is not what I mean, whatever else I am meaning.
We have been studying the parables of Yeshua as He uses them to teach the mysteries of the Kingdomof God. What we have begun to see is that there is evil at work within God’s kingdom at the present time – evil which is being allowed by God until the end. What I want to suggest is that this in itself is a/the source of Messiah’s sufferings. . .and of ours as we fellowship in them as being one with Him.
Let’s just look at a few things to help understand a bit more:
1. Yeshua came in human form to be crucified to take away the sin of the world, to receive forgiveness from God for our sins, and to defeat the works of the devil. This suffering of death and separation from God His Father is beyond our comprehension, yet we join together this evening in the Lord’s Supper, it is HIS DEATH that we remember until He comes.
2. God is GOOD, yet the devil has worked much to have most people think otherwise. This is the suffering of a grieving heart.
3. God is LIGHT, yet Jesus tells us that too many people prefer the darkness because their deeds are evil. This is suffering over the hardness of the human heart.
4. God is LOVE, yet most people reject His love, and turn love into a ‘me first’ mentality, and an act of the flesh.
5. God has GOOD NEWS of a Savior and of salvation, but most people are not really interested.
6. The WORD OF GOD IS TRUTH, but most people treat it as an opinion, or as something to ignore.
7. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, yet Satan works to steal the glory for himself, or for mere men.
8. YHVH God and Jesus are blamed for the horrible state of the world, rather than blaming ourselves and the devil.
9. Constantly confronted with opposition from sinners, serving as a chastening for the children of God (Heb 12:1-11). How many times are we tried by those around us who are, in fact, sinning, and at other times simply by those brothers and sisters whose ways irritate us: they are “sinning”. God our Father uses these experiences to teach us obedience as sons/daughters to learn to obey Him in a redemptive way to conform us to the image of His Son.
10. Too many within Israel and the Church – both being the ‘people of God’ – do not even feel the pain, the suffering, over the bad name our Great God and Savior has in the world which He made, and for whom He died to make possible the perfect new creation for eternal life with Him.
11. Jesus is coming again to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth as in Heaven, but many in the Church are making their own plans and agendas as if His coming is only a possibility, not a certainty. The government will be on HIS shoulder, and without Him we can do nothing to truly fulfill God’s purposes.
12. “How long must I suffer you!” (Mt 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk 9:41) This is the Messiah our Lord Himself expressing His human exasperation over the continual unbelief of even His disciples. Praise God for His longsuffering towards us!
Brothers and sisters, our Lord and God loves us and is calling us to fully identify with Him, neither being ashamed or afraid or indifferent. Our salvation is assured if we have truly repented and put our whole-hearted trust in God that Jesus died on the cross, shedding His blood for us and for our sins, and He is risen from the dead, alive forevermore! Our walk with the Lamb is not intended to be ‘comfortable’, and certainly not to be taken for granted. We learn these things from the parables and from all the other teachings in the Scriptures.
Our confidence grows as our feelings and relationship grow – both with the Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit, and also with our brothers and sisters in the faith. If we do not love one another, then neither do we love the Father or His only-begotten Son. Our faith is not only a personal matter between me and God, but must be seen in my love for one another in Christ, and for them who are still lost.
There is security for those who commit themselves fully to the Lord and to our redemptive suffering for His sake. The appointed time of the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets begins soon. God is calling His people to gather together as a people, as a family, and to repentance – not just one day or period of days each year, but everyday — preparing ourselves to be fully in His presence.