The Fellowship of His Sufferings
We are called to partake of the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings as prerequisite to reigning with Him. However what are we to suffer? Why should we suffer and how do we suffer? We will begin to examine the scriptural answers to these questions in this article.
What do we suffer?
In Philippians 3:10 the Apostle Paul earnestly desired to know God more by the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings:
Philippians 3:10 (KJV) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
This scripture reveals to us that the power of His resurrection enables us to partake of His sufferings. It is obvious therefore that we can experience that power of His resurrection in this life as there will be no more sufferings in the life to come both during the millennium and the eternal kingdom of God.
Furthermore we can deduce from this that by the power of His resurrection we can and should be victorious in whatever suffering we partake of. This is because the power of His resurrection is more than enough to overcome any force or problem.
In the light of this we can now begin to see what we are called to suffer. We are called to suffer satanic affliction and persecution which arises because we are committed to doing the Word of God.
Mark 4:17 (KJV) And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
Affliction is bodily or circumstantial harm or trouble. Persecution is criticism and rejection that could also degenerate to physical violence against you. Serious Christians who are committed to doing the Word of God will suffer these things.
In fact the more committed you are the greater the intensity of your afflictions and persecutions.
2 Corinthians 11:23-30 (KJV) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
2 Timothy 3:12 (KJV) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
This is because Satan wants to discourage Christians from being serious with the Word of God.
1Thessalonians 3:3-6 (KJV) That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
He does not mind them getting material and physical blessings so long as they do not grow spiritually into the measure of the stature and fullness of Christ and so do not fulfil the destiny of preaching and demonstrating the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness they can get daily manna, remain physically healthy, enjoy the presence of the cloud of glory during the day and pillar of fire at night, but continue to roam around in wilderness and perish there without ever getting to the Promised Land: the perfection and fullness of Christ.
It is vital to see that while we are to suffer the attacks of affliction and persecution we are to be victorious over them. We are not to suffer defeat from sickness, poverty or death, since we have been redeemed from the curse of the law. In fact Jesus suffered these things for us so that we would not have to suffer them. Satan however attacks us with afflictions of these things to destroy our testimony and if possible our faith. So we suffer the attacks but we are to be ultimately victorious over them.
John 16:33 (KJV) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
2 Timothy 4:18 (KJV) And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 34:19 (KJV) Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
So we are to suffer Satanic attacks of affliction and persecution but we are not to be defeated by the attacks. So we are not to suffer sickness, poverty or premature physical death but rather we are to overcome the attacks that want to bring these things into our lives.
In our article next week we will see why we suffer as Christians.