TRINITY HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH
30th of July, 2023
Topic: Perfection through Suffering
Preacher: Pastor Samuel Komolafe
Text: Hebrews 2:10
We know that this is our month of perfection and restoration. One of the ways that God brings us into perfection is through the things that we suffer. Many Christians don’t like messages of suffering but the truth is that there are things we suffer for the sake of Christ because we are connected to Him and are His Disciples. However, our suffering is for a purpose and one of them is for us to be perfect. Jesus, our perfect example, suffered suffering; He was made perfect through the things He suffered.
God is perfect. The perfection of God means that nothing can be added to God. He is perfect the way He is but as regards man, our perfection speaks of getting into maturity, growing into maturity. So, God achieves perfection in us when we become one like Christ; when God cuts off things that are limiting us – things that are not Christlike – in our lives. Ephesians 4 teaches that God gives the church officers for the perfecting of the saints, the work of ministry and edifying the body of Christ till we all grow to maturity and the fullness of Christ. We are projects in the hands of God and He is making us like Christ. So, if Christ suffered persecution we would also suffer persecution but our suffering is for us to be perfect.
In John 15, Jesus was telling His disciples that the world would hate them because it first hated him: ‘If I as your master am persecuted, you also will be persecuted because the world would love its own.’ If we are to share our experiences… you just being named with Christ, you know the things you have lost and have been denied: promotion, employment, etc. including being ostracized from the family because you are linked to the name of Christ. Persecution is expected as a Christian, so when you are going through a problem, don’t say, ‘Why is my own like this?’ Jesus, the captain of our salvation, suffered in the hands of men. So, God also allows us to experience such. Some have paid the ultimate price even with their lives when at a point, they asked them to deny Christ but they refused. We know of the story we hear from the north yet Christian persecution is not only limited to that. There are things we also suffer for the sake of Christ and this morning, we shall be going through some things the Lord will open our eyes to.
In John 17:14, Jesus prayed for the church, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Because of the Word of Christ, the world hated them. 1 John 3:13 says, “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” The world definitely hates us but God is working out the hatred of men for our perfection. The Bible says those who desire to live godly would suffer many persecution. We are not of this world.
God has a purpose for our suffering for the cause of Christ. Our calling as followers of Christ, naturally, would invite persecution to us. Because Christ has called us out of the world, we would be persecuted for it – our beliefs, actions and taking a stand for Christ. You will be persecuted for taking a stand for Christ. This is not only limited to adults; as students, you know what you pass through in school because you are a Christian and you follow Christ. This is part of the call we have as followers of Christ. When Jesus appeared to Saul (Paul) at his call, He told the disciple, Ananias to go and speak to Saul because He has called him to stand before kings, gentiles and to minister to the Jews and also that He has shown him everything he would suffer – ‘I have shown him everything in which he would suffer.’ So, don’t just look at the glory, there is suffering attached to this cross – to our call as Christians. Many are opposed to the idea of suffering; some people would preach the gospel message that when you come to Christ your suffering has ended but the truth is that when you come to Christ, the suffering and denial increase. However, it is for a purpose – as Christians, we don’t suffer like people of the world suffer. We must know that the suffering and persecution we pass through is for God to achieve perfection in our lives.
The disciples, when Jesus began to tell them of the things He would suffer, were not happy (Mark 8:31 downwards). Peter had to call Jesus by the side to rebuke him and say He wouldn’t suffer but Jesus rebuked Satan in him. Each one of us know what we are passing through, but this word is coming to us as an encouragement not to lose heart. Whatever we are passing through is for a purpose.
Thus, how do we handle the suffering?
The first is to Pray. James 5:13 says, ‘Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.’ In the midst of suffering, when we pray, God can cheer us up; that even in the midst of suffering, we can begin to sing to the Lord. A particular hymn says, ‘Faith sings even in the midst of sorrow.’ So, whatever we are passing through, pray. By praying, the Lord fills our heart with joy and we become cheerful and can begin to sing through the troubles of life.
Next, while you pray, rejoice. Rejoice! Remember the case of the disciples in Acts 16. They were in prison for the sake of the gospel but at night, they began to sing; not minding their condition, they sang praises to God and God came through for them. The early apostles, when the council forbade them from preaching the Gospel in Acts 5:41, after beating them, the Bible says, they went back rejoicing for they counted it worthy to suffer shame for Christ. When we suffer shame for Christ, what’s our attitude? Is it thanksgiving or do we just cover our head like the whole world is upon us? So, be cheerful. Rejoice in the midst of persecution because it is for your perfection. If we know the end of what we are passing through from the beginning, it would encourage our heart to rejoice. And we know now that the end goal is for our perfection, this should encourage us to rejoice.
What should be our attitude when suffering? We must understand that we are even blessed. Blessed for what we are passing through (Matt. 5:10 – 12). The Christian heritage is full of people that have been persecuted before us, so in this 21st century, the persecution at this time is not something new. They will speak all manner of evils against us: ‘Are you the only one that is a Christian? Why can’t you even bend at all?’ They will say, ‘You are too hateful, your words are not full of love,’ just because you identify with Christ but understand that you are blessed even to suffer for the sake of Christ.
Our attitude should be an attitude of surrender to God. Leave it to the Lord. In the midst of persecution, leave it to God. Don’t fight for yourself. 1 Peter 2:21 – 23 talks about the example of Jesus to us. I know of a man that was denied a position that he was due for. They even brought somebody lower than him to be head over him but instead of troubling himself, he kept on about his duties as if nothing was happening. After a while, this man left the company and after a while, a fight ensued between the boss who denied him promotion and the man brought over him. God will fight for you when you refuse to fight for yourself. So, the example of Jesus – when they revile him, he didn’t revile in return. He didn’t threaten them though he has the power to call down the host of angels against them.
When we understand the purpose of God for our lives in suffering, this would help us to endure and face it strongly. Here are the purposes of God for our lives while suffering:
- God uses suffering and persecution to build our trust in Him. At times when things go all smoothly, there are tendencies that we forget God. We may forget to acknowledge God, but God uses suffering and persecution to build our trust in Him. In Phil. 3: 7 – 8, Paul was saying he counted everything he has gained as loss because of Christ: ‘Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ’ (v. 8). God was using the suffering of Paul to build his confidence in Him. That’s why Paul could say, ‘What can separate us from the love of God? Is it persecution?’ He was convinced that nothing can separate him from the love of God. When we suffer persecution, it’s not the time to say, ‘Has God forsaken me?’ It’s a time for us to build our confidence and trust God the more that he would definitely come through for us (1 Tim. 4:10). Is that suffering and persecution and loss building your confidence in God? Paul said, ‘For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day’ (2 Tim. 1:12). The times are hard but build your confidence and trust in the Lord.
- God uses our persecution to build our character. God uses suffering to build our character: character of obedience, etc. If we look at the example of Christ in Hebrews 5:8, the Bible says, ‘though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.’ We can only walk perfectly before God when we obey Him and suffering and persecution is the means of achieving that perfection. We must learn obedience to God. When we are passing through trials and persecution, it is for us to draw closer and give ourselves to the obedience of the Word of God (not only to know the Word of God but to obey). God uses this to build our character – to build our character of prompt obedience. God also uses suffering to build our character of patience and endurance. James 5:10 – 11, ‘My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed, we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.’ The examples of the past, of people that have endured in the Bible is to help us to be patient – to build our character of endurance. So, we have good examples; the Bible says, ‘the things that are written were written as an example for us that we may have the comfort of the scriptures.’ Have you been misunderstood? The friends of Job misunderstood him and said his suffering was because of his sin. Have people also told you that you have backslided and that’s why you are going through what you are going through? You need to endure. That’s why Job said, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I wait for him.’ So, you must understand this purpose: that our trials and troubles are to build our character of endurance.
God also uses suffering to build our character of faithfulness. Jesus was telling the church in Revelation 2:10 that, ‘Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer… Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’ Be faithful. Our suffering and persecution are for us to endure and be faithful till the very end. For those that have paid the ultimate price, some have been torched with fire, some have been thrown into the lions’ den but have remained till the end. Jesus said, ‘Do not fear those who can kill the body but fear Him who can cast both the body and the soul to hell.’ Whatever you are suffering, do not fear.
- God uses suffering and persecution to unite us with Christ and other believers. In Phil. 3:10, Paul was saying that ‘that I may know him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.’ He wanted the power but he also recognised that the suffering of Christ would accompany it. Many desire the power to raise the dead and heal the sick but there are sufferings attached. ‘That I may know him… and the fellowship of His sufferings’ – fellowship means ‘sharing’, the sharing of the suffering of Christ. So, when we are suffering for the sake of Christ, we are sharing His fellowship, God is uniting us with Christ. When we share in the suffering and are persecuted for the sake of Christ, we share in His suffering and are being conformed to His death. This is God’s purpose for our lives when suffering and persecution come our way. Remember the case of Moses, as the Bible said, he rejected being called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he rejected that title and chose rather to suffer with the people of God. He had everything going well for him in Egypt and could have become the king of Egypt but chose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasure of Egypt – esteeming the suffering of Christ than the pleasure of this world. So, brethren, when you are suffering, you are not alone. The bible says, when one member suffers, the other members also suffer (1 Cor. 10:26). At times, the suffering of members bring us closer to each other. When a member is going through something, those that have even passed through such can come and encourage such person and we become united. Thus, even in the midst of suffering, either the loss of a loved one, God is still achieving great purpose. 1 Peter 5:9 says, ‘…the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.’ So, there is nothing new, that’s why as brethren, we must not keep to ourselves what we are passing through. Is it sickness? You need encouragement from others, that’s why we must not separate ourselves from fellowship. Two are better than one; when one is down, the other would lift him up – that’s the essence of brothers. Whatever I am passing through, somebody that has passed through it can also encourage me. So, God uses this purpose to unite us together with Christ and other believers.
- God uses our sufferings and persecutions to prepare us for ministry. Every believer has a ministry. Don’t say, ‘I am not a pastor,’ not called as a servant of God. You are a servant of God. What you are passing through is an encouragement for others, that’s why you must not keep your experiences to yourself. Your life’s lessons is even a lesson for your children. Don’t say, ‘I always get A when I was in school,’ let your children know your score, it will help them. No matter the sermon, some may not be encouraged, until a brother or a sister shares what he or she has passed through in the same condition, that may be even stronger than quoting so many scriptures – that’s encouragement. So, you have a ministry. The essence of pastors coming to preach to us is so that we can minister to others. When we go to places where people do not know Christ, your testimony is powerful and can encourage somebody, taking them away from whatever they are going through. Therefore, don’t keep your message to yourself. God has made you pass through that suffering to minister unto others (2 Cor. 1:3 – 4).
- God uses suffering to bring us into glory. No gain without pain. The shame works out for the glory. Jesus was telling the disciples on the road to Emmaus, ‘ought not the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ when he was discussing with them after His crucifixion and burial (Luke 24:26). So, the purpose of that suffering for Christ is to enter the glory, so is it also for us. We suffer at times that we may enter into His glory and perfection; into that Glory that God has prepared for us. For us to experience that glory, we must carry that cross (1 Pet. 4:12 – 16), but he gave a warning in 1 Pet. 4:15, ‘Let none of you suffer as a murderer….’ Your suffering for the sake of Christ is working for you glory (Romans 8:17 – 18). Christ is glorified. Our suffering is to bring us into His glory. Romans 8:18 says, ‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ That’s the pattern of God. Believers, understand this, before we enter into the glory that God has prepared for us, there are persecutions. They are working for our perfection that we may enter into His glory.
- God uses our suffering and persecution to perfect us, establish us, strengthen us and settle us (1 Pet. 5:10). This suffering is for a while. It has a time period. The time will elapse and we would enter into His glory. There is divine settlement after the suffering. Revelation 2:10c says, ‘Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’ There is reward after the suffering. God works every suffering for our perfection – to establish, strengthen and settle us. Hebrews 2:10 says, ‘…in bringing many sons to glory…’, so, as people of God, as sons, we are entering into His glory. The things we suffer and are persecuted for is for us to be perfected through sufferings.
Submit to him this morning that you now understand that all that you have passed through is for your perfection.
Call to Salvation
There is reward for all those who suffer for Christ, but you need to know Christ before you can partake in His suffering and reward. Are you saved yet? Have you received the Lordship of Jesus? If you haven’t, say this prayer: Lord Jesus, I surrender to your Lordship. Today, I receive you as my Lord and Saviour. Please, wash me clean and let your redemption promises be evident in my life. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus Name I prayed. Amen.