Today we look at three common misunderstandings about suffering. We ask:
- How should we interpret the “sufferings of Jesus” the believer is supposed to endure?
- What about the discipline of the Lord?
- What about God’s judgment?
SESSION 10 - GROUP VIDEO
Watch 10-20 minutes of a GROUP video teaching, that correlates with the full Workshop semester topics.
GROUP CONVERSATION GUIDE
- How should we interpret the “sufferings of Jesus” the believer is supposed to endure?
- What about the discipline of the Lord?
- What about God’s judgment?
In the way we answer these questions, our goal is to restore every believer to a secure attachment to God. When there is ambiguity around these ideas you will drift back to a chaotic, confused, anxious, avoidant or insecure attachment to God.
"DOESN’T THE BIBLE TEACH 'SUFFERING' AS A CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE?"
HEBREWS 5:8-9 NIV Although he (Jesus) was a son, HE LEARNED OBEDIENCE from WHAT HE SUFFERED 9 and, once MADE PERFECT, he became the source of eternal salvation…
PHILIPPIANS 2:6-7 AMPC Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God POSSESSING THE FULLNESS OF THE ATTRIBUTES WHICH MAKE GOD GOD], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, 7 But STRIPPED HIMSELF [OF ALL PRIVILEGES and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
LUKE 2:40, 52 NKJV And the Child GREW and became strong in spirit, filled with WISDOM; and the grace of God was upon Him. ... 52 And Jesus INCREASED IN WISDOM and stature, and in favor with God and men.
1 PETER 2:20-21 NIV But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you SUFFER for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because CHRIST SUFFERED for you, LEAVING YOU an EXAMPLE, that you should FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS.
The sufferings of Jesus, or the doctrine of suffering, is not to be equated with general human sufferings like sickness, disease, poverty, victimization or even natural disasters.
There Are Two Kinds of Biblical Suffering:
- The EXAMPLE of Christ’s sufferings – a type of suffering we are to follow and implement into our lives
- The SUBSTITUTIONARY suffering of Christ – suffering Jesus did FOR us so that we would NOT have to suffer that way
Clearly, these and many more verses tell of a “doctrine of suffering.” But the suffering we are to have are exemplified by the type things Jesus suffered. Keep in mind that there is a difference between the “EXAMPLE OF CHRIST in suffering” and the “SUBSTITUTION OF CHRIST in suffering.” We are exhorted to follow His example in suffering, but not His substitution, in that He was taking our place.
So the question to ask is, “Did Jesus ever suffer evil outside of persecution during his entire 33 years on the earth?” More specifically did he ever suffer…
- Sickness, disease, common colds, flu, cancers, etc.
- Accidents, donkey wrecks (car wrecks), falling from buildings, drink poison, etc.
- Natural disasters, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, lake storms, etc.
- Terror, vandalism, physical abuse (Jesus said, (John 10:18) “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
HEBREWS 2:18 NIV Because he (Jesus) himself SUFFERED WHEN HE WAS TEMPTED, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
How Did Jesus Suffer As Our Example?
So if Jesus didn’t suffer as our example on any of these issues it isn’t the way we are perfected either. The suffering that perfected Jesus was 2-fold…
- When Jesus was TEMPTED, TESTED AND TRIED by the devil.
- TEMPTED TO SIN - HEBREWS 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
- TEMPTED TO DISOBEY/DISBELIEVE (Obedience to God’s Call brings suffering)
- When Jesus was PERSECUTED for His spiritual convictions.
- 1 PETER 2:20-21 NIV But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you SUFFER for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because CHRIST SUFFERED for you, LEAVING YOU an EXAMPLE, that you should FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS.
- 1 PETER 3:12-14, 17 NKJV For the eyes of the LORD [are] on the righteous, And His ears [are open] to their prayers; But the face of the LORD [is] against those who do evil." 13 And who [is] he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, [you are] blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." ... 17 For [it is] better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
- 1 PETER 4:12-16 NKJV - 12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed [are you], for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
- 2 TIMOTHY 3:10-12 NKJVBut you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 PERSECUTIONS, AFFLICTIONS, which HAPPENED TO ME at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra — what PERSECUTIONS I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will SUFFER PERSECUTION.
Both kinds of suffering required an intense reliance on the Word of God to overcome. It wasn’t simply suffering but the power of God’s Word working in our lives when any of these kinds of suffering were present.
Again, the Christian doctrine of suffering does not include any of the curses of the law. If Jesus redeemed us from a kind of suffering, then we don’t have to experience it.
"WHAT ABOUT THE 'CHASTENING' OR 'DISCIPLINING' OF THE LORD?"
HEBREWS 12:5-8 KJV And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the CHASTENING of the Lord, nor faint when thou art REBUKED of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he CHASTENETH, and SCOURGETH every son whom he receiveth. 7 IF YE ENDURE chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But IF YE BE WITHOUT chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
The bottom line on this verse is that “chastening” happens through “rebuke” or words, in our case the Word of God. When we don’t surrender to the Word of God hardness enters into our lives (not as an overt “act of God” but a by-product of our own disobedience that is consistent with spiritual laws like,
GALATIANS 6:7-8 KJV Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever A MAN SOWETH, that shall HE ALSO REAP. For he that SOWETH to the FLESH shall of the flesh REAP CORRUPTION; but he that SOWETH to the SPIRIT shall of the Spirit REAP LIFE EVERLASTING.
ROMANS 8:6 KJV For to be CARNALLY MINDED IS DEATH; but to be SPIRITUALLY MINDED IS LIFE AND PEACE.
Let’s look at the NIV translation…
HEBREWS 12:5-7 NIV And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the LORD'S DISCIPLINE, and do not lose heart when he REBUKES you, 6 because the Lord DISCIPLINES those he loves, and he PUNISHES everyone he accepts as a son.“ 7 ENDURE HARDSHIP AS DISCIPLINE; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
The spiritual laws that God has placed in the universe, like physical laws can work for us or against us. Inherent with in our disobedient choices are a slew of hardships. God doesn’t create those hardships nor is it His will that we develop hardships in our disobedience. He simply knows that inherent within our choices we will have hardships and those hardships serve as symbols of His Word rebuking us. In essence, when hardship arises we can easily see that God’s Word was true bringing clarity to not violating His Word.
This disciplining cannot be God overtly causing things like hurricanes, cancers, terror, and accidents to happen as our “punishment” in that He says here, “If ye endure the chastening…” and “if ye be without chastening.” This indicates the discipline the Lord brings to us is contingent on our free will response to Him, not some overt, dominant event. If it were overt and dominant like the hurricane, cancer, etc. He would not have to say “If…ye endure” we all would endure by the fact that the storm is present.
Also He distinguishes here between the way the unbeliever and the believer are treated. Hurricanes, cancers, etc. are experiences that all human beings, believers and unbelievers, experience. The emphasis cannot be on the evil around us but on how we respond to God in the midst of suffering. That is where true correction, discipline and the love of a Father happens.
"WHAT ABOUT THE 'JUDGMENT' OF GOD?"
There clearly is the doctrine of God’s Judgment in Scripture. The Bible calls God “a God of Judgment. (Is 30:18)” But again let’s see what this kind of judgment is in 1Cor 11:28…
1 CORINTHIANS 11:28-32 KJV But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup (communion table). 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (judgment) to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (die). 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Here we see that we engage the judgment upon ourselves when we “drink unworthily” (in this case). Spiritual laws of sowing and reaping are engaged and consequences happen. When we are judged we are “chastened of the Lord.” Our chastening is a by-product of refusing to allow God’s Word to govern our choices. Inherent within that disobedience is our judgment.
There are two applications of judgment to two different people groups:
1. Judgement on Believers/Christians
2. Judgement on Non-Believers/Non-Christians
Judgment on Believer’s/Christians
According to Deuteronomy 28:15-17, 38-40, the curse of poverty was to come upon people if they disobeyed God’s laws. It was a curse that would come upon them because they failed to observe all His commandments and His statutes. This wasn't a show of God’s revenge or retribution; but man, in violation of God's spiritual laws, engaged the judgment/curse that was inherent within a law. In Deuteronomy God is simply warning the people He loves that judgments come when spiritual laws are broken without repentance. The curse wasn't a personal attack from God, but a process that happens when laws are disregarded. The law itself brought the judgment/curse. Similar to how a violation of gravity isn't a personal vendetta from God, the law itself holds the judgment.
Jesus gave us progressive revelation of this by sharing, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--THE WORD THAT I HAVE SPOKEN WILL JUDGE HIM in the last day (JOHN 12:48 NKJV).”
The Apostle Paul also says, “[But] we know that the JUDGMENT (adverse verdict, sentence) of God falls justly and IN ACCORDANCE WITH TRUTH… 12 …all who have sinned under the Law will be JUDGED AND CONDEMNED BY THE LAW (ROMANS 2:2, 12).”
Within the violation of the law is the curse of that broken law. The curses are physical, emotional/psychological, material/financial and social. But Christ has Redeemed us from the curse of the law. So Christ has Redeemed us from physical, emotional/psychological, material/financial and social need.
Judgment on Non-Believers/Non-Christians
For the non-believer/non-Christian there is an additional judgment to what is mentioned above, this one is an eternal judgment. While the wrath of God, which is a part of God’s justice, His just-nature, is absorbed in Christ’s sacrifice for the believer, it is forcefully experienced by the non-believer. We do embrace the concept of God’s wrath being poured out on unbelievers as an eternal judgement. It is real, it is genuine emotion, yet it is stable and principled. God’s wrath initiates God pulling back His mercy and revealing the awesome power of His Holiness that manifest to people as judgment. Funky things happen when sin, rebellion and hardness are exposed to God’s purity. This isn’t God flying off in a rage, but an allowance of those who refuse to accept Christ’s sacrifice for them to encounter God’s justice. Sin has to be dealt with.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:9 NKJV For God did not appoint us (believers) to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
- Redemption is what Christ DID (for you)
- Spiritual Authority is what you DO (in response to Redemption)
- The Holy Spirit is how HE HELPS US (DO spiritual authority in response to what Christ DID)
GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Take a few moments to discuss your answers to these questions with the Group.
What is something you wish you did more of in your life and something you wish you did less of?
MY MEMOIR STORIES
IMPORTANT: If the Group would like to continue telling one Memoir Story per week until they are completed, that might allow for a more congruent transition. Please be sensitive to the Science of Freedom content and discussion. It is important that our people are exposed to the possibilities in their potential that this content will provide. Please take no more than 20-25 minutes for the Memoir to leave time for the rest of the content below.
MEMOIR: PREPARING TO TELL MY STORY (Scope Timeline) worksheet to help you think through your story. You can download the SCOPE TIMELINE WORKSHEET at the link. There is a longer version of the worksheet, that gives an extra step to dig deeper into your story, which can be downloaded at LONG VERSION WORKSHEET (RECOMMENDED). You can also watch the WRAP UP video from last week that explains how to use the worksheet. Each person's Memoir should be 10-15 minutes long.
- After watching Session 10’s video, what is your biggest takeaway, “ah ha” moment, or challenging thought? Why?
- Describe how you feel to know that God will never use human suffering to discipline you, but only use His Word and the conviction of His Spirit.
- Describe how it makes you feel to know that God is NOT taking out a personal punishment of human sufferings to “judge” you.
- What does it mean to you to “endure sufferings” as it relates to the sufferings of Jesus (obedience and non-physical persecution)?
SESSION 10 - WRAP UP
This is a 5-10 minute section for MOVING FORWARD, GOING DEEPER, use of worksheets and periodic church-wide announcements.
Receive the challenge to “move forward” by applying what was learned this week.
1. IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY, PREPARE TO TELL YOUR STORY, your MEMOIR, to the rest of us over the next few weeks. Use the MY MEMOIR: PREPARING TO TELL MY STORY (Scope Timeline) worksheet to help you think through your story. You can download the SCOPE TIMELINE WORKSHEET. There is a longer version of the worksheet, that gives an extra step to dig deeper into your story, which can be downloaded at LONG VERSION WORKSHEET (RECOMMENDED).
2. PRAY FOR GROUP MEMBER - Pray for at least one person in the Group. Try to identify someone who hasn't been prayed for, or given an encouraging Scripture. Don't worry about feeling inadequate as a prayer. No one feels like they are professional prayers, at least not when they look into eyes of the Almighty God. Praying the Scriptures over people is the best way to learn how to pray effectively. Simply find a Scripture, put the person's name in the text, and pray those words out loud. Then ask the Lord to help you think of things to say to Him about them that would help their lives.
3. ASK FOR A SCRIPTURE WORD - Ask God to give you a Scripture to give them to encourage, comfort and edify them. You can Google search "God's Promises" and find a plethora of appropriate texts. Look for one that seems to give you a spark of energy as you think about the person you have been praying for.
4. DELIVER THE WORD TO THEM - Then send them an email, text or phone call to encourage them. This is how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. As you practice these movements you will expand your own capacity with God, all while giving people much needed hope and strength.
Encouragement to engage the FULL WORKSHOP SEMESTER experience. While this is not required, nor is the Group discussions connected to the full workshop, it is an option for everyone.
PRAYER / DISMISS GROUP
Prayer time with the Group.