Suffering For Glory's Sake: Promise Revealed

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Scripture Reading and Sermon for 02-04-2024 Scripture Readings: Zephaniah 3.14-20; 2 Corinthians 1.3-14 Sermon Title: Suffering For Glory's Sake: Promise Revealed Sermon Scripture: Ephesians 3.1-6 Pastor Andrew Beebe

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Would you please stand with me in honor of God's word? We'll be reading from the book of Zephaniah, chapter three, verses 14 through 20.
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In your pew Bible, it's page 790. Zephaniah chapter three, verse 14.
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Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion. Shout in triumph, O Israel. Rejoice and exalt with all your heart,
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O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord has taken away his judgments against you.
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He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.
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You will fear disaster no more. In that day, it will be said to Jerusalem, do not fear, do not be afraid,
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O Zion. Do not let your hands fall limp. The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.
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He will exalt over you with joy. He will be quiet in his love. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
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I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts. They came from you,
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O Zion. The reproach of exile is a burden on them. Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors.
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I will save the lame and gather the outcasts, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.
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And at that time, I will bring you in, even at that time when I gather you together. Indeed, I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth when
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I restore your fortunes before their eyes, says the Lord. The New Testament reading is in 2
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Corinthians, chapter one, starting in verse three. Blessed be the
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God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by.
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For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
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If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
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Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
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For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia, for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.
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Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, but it was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead.
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He delivered us from such a deadly peril and will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again.
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You also must help us by prayer so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessings granted to us through the prayers of many.
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For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we have behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, and not by earthly wisdom, but by the grace of God, and supremely toward you.
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For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and acknowledge, and I hope that you will fully acknowledge, just as you did partially acknowledge us, that on the day of our
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Lord Jesus, you will boast of us as we will boast of you. You may be seated.
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Well, good morning. Open your Bibles to Ephesians chapter three, please.
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Ephesians three. Well, it's a delight to be back in this book and to continue on that we stopped at a good part for Paul kind of makes a summary statement there that we'll be able to summarize what we went over.
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But I'll read chapter three, verses one through 13, then we'll go to the
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Lord in prayer. So Ephesians chapter three, verse one.
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For this reason, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, on behalf of you
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Gentiles, assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation as I have written briefly.
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When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men and other generations, as has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the
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Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
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And it's of this gospel I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace, which was given to me by the working of his might, power.
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To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to preach to the
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Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities and the heavenly places.
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This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
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So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
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Oh, Father in heaven, we are gathered here, Lord, on this Lord's day, together as a church, as your body, to proclaim your word to ourselves, the word that you have entrusted to us,
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Lord, not only to proclaim to ourselves, but also to proclaim to the Gentiles, to the unbeliever, to the world.
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Oh, God in heaven, as we've seen in church history and we even see in our own day when we preach this word to the world, it is offensive, it comes with suffering.
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I pray, God, that we would learn from our dear apostle Paul that suffering comes with faithfulness to Christ and that we are not to turn away from suffering, but if it is your will, we are to grab hold of it for the sake of glorifying our
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Lord. Oh, Lord, give us this sort of foundation, give us this sort of constitution.
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May your word be furthered in our hearts and minds now so that we would live a life differently, not only today, not only this week, but the rest of our lives as we strive together to glorify the
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Son for all that he's done for us. We praise you and we thank you. May this be a blessed time now together as we look to your word, in Jesus' name, amen.
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For this reason, Paul says in verse one, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you
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Gentiles, and then go down to verse 13 because he cuts off his own sentence for several verses, and then he says, so again, for this reason,
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I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles, and then 13, I ask you not to lose heart over what
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I am suffering for you, which is your glory. Here now in Ephesians 3, we have a doctrine on suffering.
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Involved with this book of Ephesians that we've been looking at, we have this doctrine on suffering, how we are to look at suffering and how we are actually supposed to respond to suffering.
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And one of the most natural instincts for humanity, for us as humans, is that when we engage in something that harms us, we naturally pull away.
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I don't have to teach my children that when they touch the hot stove, I don't have to teach them that when you touch something hot like that, make sure you put your hand back really quick.
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They know that already, that once they are about to engage, they're engaged in something that's sufferable or that's gonna hurt them, they know to flinch back, right?
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Think about your own life. Anytime you are met with something painful or suffering, it is natural to just put your arm back or to flinch away from whatever hurts, right?
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You don't even have to think about it, it's a natural instinct. But of course, that doesn't mean that suffering is always to be avoided in life.
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It doesn't mean that any time we are faced with a painful thing, that we are to do everything we can do in like manner to avoid it.
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In fact, many things in life take suffering, a good thing takes suffering in order to get, right?
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If you find out you have cancer, you need to suffer through treatment, oftentimes chemo, in order to get that cancer away from your body, right?
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Imagine saying, well, I don't suffer pain, I don't suffer, I don't do those things ever and so I'm not gonna undergo chemo.
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No, you would know that's the suffering that I must do in order for the prize of being healthy without cancer.
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Or if you want to be in better shape, you must have your body undergo exercising or suffering as you get in better shape or as you work out.
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If you didn't want the pain of, or if you wanted to get in better shape and you didn't want the suffering of the body, it wouldn't go together, right?
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You must know that suffering in this case is a good thing. Or how about a mother who's in labor?
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Imagine a mother saying, I don't, or a future or potential mother saying, I don't wanna have a child because I don't wanna suffer that labor, right?
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Well, no, the suffering comes with the great reward of a child, as Jesus tells us, she has sorrow, but then she remembers it no more when she has a child.
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And the reason why this should be underlined is because we live in a world and we're told all the time that any time, the world's philosophy is that any time physical, the world's philosophy is that all things are physical and not spiritual.
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And so anytime you go through something that's not fun or suffering or painful, you should always reject that and avoid it, that is the world's philosophy.
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But what the Bible says is much different. The Bible does not give this kind of philosophy that we must avoid all sorts of suffering.
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Nature herself tells us that, and the Bible tells us that we must be ready to endure suffering for a greater reward.
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So we gotta reject the physical nature of this world's philosophy, which all things are physical, so therefore eat and drink and avoid suffering.
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And we must see that no, the Christian life is one of suffering. Scripture is very clear with this.
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Paul is very clear with this here. He tells us that suffering on the foundation of Christ is ordained by God and should not lead us to lose heart is what we're seeing here in these set of verses.
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Again, he's showing us, he's telling us that suffering on the foundation of Christ, and we'll get to why that's an important caveat there, suffering on the foundation of Christ is ordained by God and should not lead us to lose heart, as we see.
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And this is what we're looking at, and what we're gonna focus on today is kind of how he does that sandwich of verse one and 13.
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We're gonna highlight that so that the innards can be better understood, as far as I'm concerned, and we'll go over that the next couple weeks.
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So again, let's read it once more. This is what we'll be focusing on with this in your mind, that suffering on the foundation of Christ is ordained by God and should not lead us to lose heart.
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Look what he says again, chapter three, verse one, for this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and it's on behalf of you
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Gentiles, verse 13, I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you because it's your glory.
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So there's this, again, focus that in the path of Christlikeness, suffering is ordained by God and should not lead us to lose heart.
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Look what he says in verse one again, chapter three, for this reason, for this reason. Now, this suffering on the foundation of Christ is what we have in mind here, right, proper suffering.
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I don't wanna jump ahead too much, but there's a suffering because of your sin that you must turn away from, right?
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Sin produces suffering and you always turn away from that. You should lose heart with that kind of suffering, but a suffering that's on the foundation of Christ or for Christ or through Christ or to his glory, you don't shy away from that if that is his will.
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And so we see that he's underlining this when he says for this reason, what reason? Well, the glories of Christ that he referred to the last couple chapters, what we've been going over ourselves.
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For this reason is in light of what I just said, generally speaking with the thesis of Ephesians, you remember chapter one, verse three, for this reason, he has in mind his general thesis in chapter one, verse three, blessed be
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God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
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In light of that, and also for this reason, in light of what I just said in chapter two, 11, to the end of the chapter, and this is specifically, what did he say in those two things?
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Well, generally speaking, the blessings that Jesus has brought for us, blessed be the God and father who has blessed us in Christ Jesus with every spiritual blessing.
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Remember what we said about that? What does it mean to be blessed by God through Jesus with every spiritual blessing?
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Well, it means that at one point we were at odds with God. We were distant from God. We were separated from God, and he in Jesus has brought us near to God.
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We're going through Genesis right now as flock, and we're in the very beginnings of it, chapter four,
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I believe now, but we see that after the fall of Adam and Eve, God says, he says, where are you,
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Adam? Where are you? And you gotta understand when you read that after the fall of Adam, and God is looking to have fellowship, sweet fellowship with Adam, and he cries out and said, where are you?
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That is tragic that we would live our life at odds or separated from a God instead of living our lives in light of God in all that we do.
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You talk about spiritual curses. Your life is cursed when you live your life not in unity and fellowship with God.
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That is a cursed life. But praise be to our God that in Jesus Christ, he has brought us near in Christ, right?
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And so for this reason, as he's saying this in chapter three, verse one, he has in mind that general truth that we have all spiritual blessings in Jesus because he has brought us near to him, to God through Christ.
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But there's also a particular for this reason that he has in mind in chapter two, verses one through, or I'm sorry, 11 through the end of the chapter in which because of our nearness that we can have with God through Jesus, he makes us near to each other as well.
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That not only did Adam hide from God and God says, where are you? But then his son
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Cain killed Abel. And so not only is man at odds with God, but man is separated from man in which we do things like murder each other.
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Now, in case if you were thinking, well, hey, God never said to me in the garden, where are you? And I never slew my brother.
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In case that you're wondering that, at any time you're living life without the joy of God in all that you do, you're at odds with God.
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Any time that you do not have fruitful and healthy and good relationships with your neighbor, you are at odds with your neighbor.
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This is something that has been the identity of man since the fall that we are still struggling with today.
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Praise be to God in Jesus, he has done away with that. And Paul says for this reason, because of that.
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Remember, we talked about how God gave the law. This separation between us and God, you individually and God, and you individually with another individual, with your neighbor, the person sitting beside you in the pew, that's exasperated, that's made worse by the law.
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Not that the law is bad, the law is good. But God gives the law to show you, you are more messed up than you know.
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Right, that's the point of the law. You thought it was bad, it's worse. You are more at odds with God than you realize.
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You are more at odds with your neighbor than you could ever imagine. Because the law, what it does, is how to love God, how to love neighbor.
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And I look at that, and I mess up terribly. In fact, the law was given to Israel, separating them from the
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Gentiles, exposing it to Israel. So Israel is separated from Gentiles since they received the law. They're given the law, how to love
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God, how to love neighbor, and all they can see, all that we see as we read the Old Testament is they are awful at it.
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And that's not supposed to stop there. Like, and I'm good, and you try doing the law on your own power and see how well you do.
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It's supposed to lead you saying, I am undone, I can't do this.
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But it's not like God does that, you remember, and laughs and said, ha ha, look how terrible you are. I'm gonna give you the law and make it worse and put my finger in your eye.
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Why did God give the law? It wasn't to hurt us or to harm us. Although exasperated the issue, he gave the law so that he would send his son to fulfill the law perfectly, die on the cross, rise again, and give that blessing to everyone who believes upon him.
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Right? Jesus comes and fulfills the law perfectly where we can't. But he doesn't just fulfill it, go back and say, ha ha,
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I did it, you can't. But he died, he rose again, and he gives that benefit, that blessing of unity with God and neighbor to us who believe upon Christ.
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This is what Ephesians 1, 2 has been about. Look at what he says. Look what he says in Ephesians 2, 13 through 16.
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But now, but now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near, how?
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By the blood of Christ. He gives us a benefit through his blood. For he himself, that is
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Jesus, is our peace. He's made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create himself one new man in the place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
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What are you saying there? That he's made us individual at peace with God, and he's made other individuals at peace with God, so together we are united together at peace with God.
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Jesus has came to make us at peace with God individually and in unity at peace with God.
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That is what he's came to do. He fulfilled the law perfectly. Love God, love neighbor. Jesus came and he's done that. In himself and by his death and resurrection, he gives you that blessing.
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So the good news is that all spiritual blessings in Christ, he brings you near to God, and he also brings you near to your neighbor as he brings us all near to God together.
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In fact, so much are you in unity with each other that Paul says we are one body.
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We are actually the body of Christ. You know how unified one must be in order to be a body?
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Right, it's all unified together. So not only are we individually unified to God, but we make up together the very body of Christ himself.
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That's the blessing that comes forth from Christ. You talk about the love you can have with your neighbor beside you on that pew.
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You are, if you're both believing upon Jesus, you are both one body together. This is a blessing that God has brought.
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You realize, I know, hold your breath, but this year is an election year. And we're all just terrified by it because of what happened last time.
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We got lunatics out there. Why is that? It's because we are all at odds with one another because we don't know
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Jesus. And so we see this reality everywhere we look. But praise be to God that in the church, it doesn't belong there.
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There's unity there. We're together in God. We're the very body of Christ there. And so there's this blessing that just flows forth from the wounds of Christ Jesus, our
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Lord. We are, in fact, his body. We are, in fact, his building, the very temple of God, Paul says.
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Look at Ephesians 2 where we finished off. In verse 19, he says that, so then you are no longer strangers.
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You're no longer aliens, but rather you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
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Built on the foundation of the apostles, prophets, Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone in whom the whole structure being joined together grows into a holy temple of the
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Lord. In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
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You see that God creates a separation. He magnifies it with the law so that Jesus would come, fulfill it, bring
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Jew and Gentile together to make one body of Christ, one building of the temple, one dwelling place of God, praise be to God.
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So it's for this reason, Paul says in chapter three, verse one. That's all he has in mind. Everything is what he just said.
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For this reason, he says, because God made a way to him through Christ. For this reason, because God made peace between man and man through Christ.
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For this reason, Paul says, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ.
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He says, for this reason, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ. Notice Paul's participation in the all spiritual blessings in Christ, right?
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Christ, or Paul's participation in the all spiritual blessings that's found in Christ meant a lack of avoiding all physical suffering by being a prisoner.
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You get what I'm saying there? Was that way too wordy? Christ's engagement in the spiritual blessing means that he had physical suffering, right?
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He says, I, Paul, a participant, if I may say, of the blessings that's found in Christ, I'm a prisoner of Christ.
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So his blessing participation and his faith in Jesus has led him to a point, not a physical blessedness in which he lives at ease in a mansion somewhere, but instead he is in prison.
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He's actually met physical suffering for his participation in spiritual blessings.
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But it's very fascinating as you look at it, you can't miss it. Not only that, but he identifies his sufferings with Christ explicitly.
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Did you see that? Paul, a prisoner of Christ in the genitive. That is, Christ owns his prisoner status.
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Now, if you were there with Paul when he was dictating this letter, he was not, he was in a prison cell, which
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I've heard could be in a hole somewhere in the ground. It would be a terrible, he'd be looking around and it would just be wretchedness, right?
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The prisons weren't very well kept. You would imagine, whatever your mind can fathom, just how bad it would be to be in Rome as a prisoner, which is what he was facing.
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He looks around and instead of saying, I'm a prisoner in here, help me! I'm a prisoner of Rome, this is terrible,
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I hate it! I hate this suffering! What does he say? I'm a prisoner of Christ.
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He looks around him in which all of us would be so tempted to live a pity party of this is the worst suffering and what does he say?
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He puts Christ's stamp on it. He says, I'm a prisoner of Christ. He sees the glory of Christ around him in that cell.
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When we would want to complain and murmur and perhaps Paul did himself, but he had to repent of it, who knows? He says,
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I'm a prisoner of Christ. That doesn't mean he wasn't a prisoner of Rome. It just means that Christ's glory was just overflowing in that prisoner's cell.
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And he says, I'm a prisoner of Christ. Now, that is worthy of implications.
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We should pause and stop right there for our lives. There's implications there for our own lives as we're looking at that concept that he'd be suffering in that way and instead of viewing the suffering isolated from Christ, he sees his glory overflowing from it, right?
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That has such implications to your own life. I mean, just imagine that, right? I mean, very explicitly, pray for your leaders that if we were to ever suffer this way, we would view suffering this way, right?
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That we would play the man, that we would so much enjoy and love the blessings that come forth from Christ and the unity we can have with God, unity with one another, that to suffer physically in that way, we would say it's suffering for Christ, a prisoner of Christ.
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Pray that your leaders would so love the spiritual blessings that's found in him that if we would undergo such suffering from whatever enemies that are around us, we would take it in this sort of way.
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And of course, pray that your own suffering would be this way, that if physical persecution as Paul was facing for the faithfulness of Christ would happen to you, that you would play the man, that you would so love the blessings that come forth from Jesus Christ that you would view the persecution endured to you as an expression of Christ's glory and it would fill you up with all joy and hope and peace.
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But also, there's another implication of that. That okay, right now, the enemies of God, the new
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Rome as we have around us today, God has his protective arm on them to not let them go too much out of control right now.
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Who knows when he might lift that up? We see that can happen any generation. We're aware of that. But as of right now, that protection's there.
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But it doesn't mean that there's not an implication for us now, is there? Life is one of suffering, is it not?
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We all in some way are suffering in some way. In one way or the other. Maybe not external persecution, but there is a suffering going on in some way.
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All of us in some way are grieving. All of us in some way are in pain. All of us in some way are depressed.
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Are you looking around that prison cell of those sufferings? Are you saying Christ gets the glory in that?
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I'm gonna glorify Christ in there? That Christ is the one who I grieve for?
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That I grieve through him? Whatever grieving it may be, I'm a slave of Christ, I'm gonna grieve for his glory and honor?
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If he's allowed this in my life, I will give him glory in it? Do you see that in your suffering?
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Do you put Christ's stamp on that and say it is his? Or are you rather isolating that and saying, no, this is something completely different from the glory of Christ?
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Love it, there's so much life to be had that God is using this for me to be nearer to him because that's all the spiritual blessings
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I get in Christ. So if I am to grieve, if I am to be in pain, physically, spiritually, if I'm to be depressed, may
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Christ be the stamp on that. May I see it through him, may it be for his glory as Paul did all he did for the glory of Jesus.
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I will go through this drawing near to God in Christ because he's enabled it through his wounds.
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All spiritual blessings flowing out of his wounds of suffering means he owns your suffering now.
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Every one of it, every bit of it, he owns it. Paul says, for this reason, his participation in the blessings of Christ, Christ owned his imprisonment.
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I am a prisoner of Christ. Paul was suffering as a
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Roman prisoner for breaking their law, right? That's why you would typically end up in prison for breaking the law of the land.
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Paul specifically, going back to him particularly, he was a Roman prisoner for breaking their law but it was because he was obeying the law of Christ.
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You see what I mean? He's in their cell but the reason why he's there is not because he was a lawbreaker of God's but rather because he was a
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Christ, he was obeying the law of Christ. Look at Matthew 28, look at Matthew 28. What was the law of Christ that was driving his prisoner status for Rome?
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What has Christ commanded his people to do? Look at Matthew 28, verse 18.
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Paul is about to go back, or Jesus is about to go back to be with the Father and he came to them, his disciples, and he said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
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Right, he's the authority. That's why we obeyed Christ, not man, right? All authority has been given to me.
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Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. And you see the word, all gentile nations, right?
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Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. So there's that law of Christ saying, go and make disciples of all nations.
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Guess who doesn't typically like that too much? The nations, the world does not like that as they are led by Satan, the serpent.
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He hates the idea of the gospel spreading to the world. So we can have this rub here, right?
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We see very clearly that Christ says that as a church, it's not optional that you go and preach the gospel to the nations, but you are mandated to do it by my authority.
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And we see Paul's place in that specifically in Acts 9. So go to Acts 9, if you will, in Acts 9.
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I think it's worth looking at the life specifically of Paul where he's ended up, right? As a prisoner in Rome, writing to the
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Ephesians, look at that Paul, him specifically obeying God and then suffering because of it.
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This has been Paul's life since his conversion to the Lord. Look at Acts 9, verse one.
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Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples, again, Saul's Paul, right?
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That's his name in the Hebrew versus Paul's, his name in the nations, in the
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Gentiles. Paul, Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus so that if he found any belonging to the way, that is to, in Christ, following Jesus, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
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So again, we all know or most of us know that Paul was murdering or was persecuting the church.
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But now as he went on his way to do that, he approached Damascus and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him and falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him,
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Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, who are you, Lord? And he said,
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I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Can you imagine that? I don't want to spend too much time here, but Paul thought for sure,
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I'm doing this for God. He falls down and he hears the Lord saying, I am Jesus whom you're persecuting.
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Can you imagine your whole worldview just going down the drain? What? But Jesus tells him, rise and enter the city and you will be told what you are to do.
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The men who were traveling with Paul stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground and although his eyes were open, he saw nothing, so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
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And for three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named
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Ananias. The Lord said to Ananias in a vision, Ananias, and he said, here I am. That's always a very good response, by the way, in the scripture.
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When you hear God call out, here I am, Lord, I'm here, use me. But Ananias was about to be used for something very scary.
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The Lord said to him, rise and go to the street called Straight and at the house of Judas, look for the man of Tarsus named
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Saul. He would have known who that was. For behold, he is praying and he has seen in a vision a man named
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Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. But Ananias answered,
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Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon your name.
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But the Lord said to him, go. And look at this, this is essentially the point here. For he,
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Jesus says, is a chosen instrument of mine to carry out my name before the nations, before the
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Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel, for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.
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So at the very conversion of Paul, right, it was very clear, you're gonna go to the nations, as Jesus commanded all disciples to do, and you're going to suffer for it.
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And we see, and I don't have time to go through it, but we could continue on in this chapter. Right away, what happens?
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Paul's converted, and what does he do? He proclaims Jesus Christ, and what happens? And he's persecuted, and he suffers.
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He has to be let down in a basket down the wall. Can you imagine that being the first trial of your faith? That you gotta be let out of a wall and a basket because of your proclaiming of Jesus, right?
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But Paul then goes on to the Jews and is persecuted once more. And he suffers once more.
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And so we see that it is the command of Jesus. You will proclaim my name. You will proclaim the gospel excellencies to the nations.
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That is what you will do. And we see that Paul, in light of that, is the one who heralds that as the apostle to the
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Gentiles, and we see that he faces persecution, suffering for that purpose, which is why he says in chapter three, verse one,
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I'm a prisoner of Christ, Jesus, and then what does it say? On behalf of you
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Gentiles, right? I'm a prisoner for Christ as I am being faithful to his law to proclaim it to the nations, right?
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On behalf of you who have received the gospel even with the world hating it.
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You know, we see in Revelation 12, 12, right? That verse in which the world being led by the
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Satan who knows his time is short and he's desperate, right? It's one thing to have an enemy.
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A desperate enemy is a whole other story because they're willing to lash out at any way they can.
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And this is exactly the enemy that we face in the world. He is a enemy that has a death blow.
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He knows it, his time is short, and so he works tirelessly against all those who would preach the gospel at all, especially
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Paul as he is witness at himself. Even all who desire, he says, to live a godly life in Christ will suffer persecution.
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So this is what we see here in chapter three, verse one. This reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ, Jesus, on behalf of you
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Gentiles, and then he cuts off this sentence. He cuts himself off to then go into the very nature of the gospel revealed and the gospel proclaimed, which is bringing him all the suffering, right?
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He's explaining that. He cuts himself off, though, to describe that. He can't help it, he's gotta go into it.
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And then he goes back to that same sentence in verse 13. And so, again, I think it's helpful to then, for me to finish today by going through verse 13 so we can grab hold of that thought he has and then look at it in the verses in between.
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I hope that makes sense what we're doing there. So again, he says, I'm a prisoner of Christ, Jesus, on behalf of you Gentiles, then go down to 13.
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And so I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
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You see, he's saying the same thing, only there's a nuance there that we're gonna dwell on for a moment. You notice he's saying the same thing.
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He says, a prisoner of Christ, Jesus. And he says in verse 13, don't lose heart over what
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I'm suffering for you, right? Those are mere statements. I'm a prisoner, and I'm suffering as a prisoner.
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I'm physically suffering, right? And notice he says, but it's for your glory, which is on the same thing, what he said in verse one, on behalf of you
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Gentiles. So he's saying the same thing in verse one and 13. I'm suffering for you
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Gentiles because I am proclaiming the gospel message. The world hates it. But yet the nuance is found in when he says,
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I ask you not to lose heart. I ask you not to lose heart.
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And so not only is there a doctrine here that we're looking at of how to view suffering, godly suffering, but there's also a doctrine here of how we are to respond to godly suffering, whether it's ourselves or we see in others, right?
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When we see another Christian suffering, putting Christ's stamp on that. How are we to look at their suffering, right?
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And so not only do we have a doctrine of how to view suffering, but how to respond to suffering when he says, do not lose heart.
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When suffering is on the foundation of Jesus, do not lose heart. Now, I want you to know something that he's not saying don't be sad.
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It is the most natural thing to use the emotions God has given you appropriately. And when you are suffering, it is okay, it is actually good, it is actually glorifying
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God to respond in natural emotions because of that suffering. If you lost a loved one, be sad.
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In no way is it proper to say we're not gonna be sad here. I go to a funeral and I hear that from the pastor and I want to cry out.
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Do not tell people whenever they lost someone not to be sad or that we are just celebrating. You are to be sad.
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That is an emotion God has given you for his glory to fit the occasion. No, Paul is saying when he says do not lose heart, he's not saying don't be sad for me.
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You see someone suffering in a prison cell for the sake of preaching the gospel to you, sadness is one of the emotions you are to feel.
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That is the way we love one another, that you're going through something and I'm going through it with you.
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So he's not saying don't be sad. God's will is not to stop your tears in this life, you know that.
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It is not God's will to stop your tears in this life, but rather it's to collect them all in a bottle.
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That's what God, every one of your tears, he collects in a bottle and he will cause them one day to be fuel for your worship in eternity.
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Every tear that you have, he collects and it will be your worship in eternity. You need to remember that whenever you're so overcome with sadness over a particular thing that's going on in your life.
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That God isn't forgetful, he doesn't not see it, he collects it and one day it will be your worship.
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And so let that then cause you to worship him today even through the tears. Paul's not saying don't be sad, don't be sad.
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He's saying don't lose heart, there's a difference there. Do not lose heart. Lose heart has an emphasis of don't cease activity, right?
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You're sad, in fact you might be really sad depending on what happened, right?
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And he's saying don't let that then cause you to cease activity of what you're supposed to do, right?
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So this grieving, stamp it with Christ and don't you dare cease activity of glorifying
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Christ in that sadness. Don't be so overcome with sadness, I'm no longer gonna glorify
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Christ now. Don't isolate it that way, connect them, let that give you the energy to continue with those emotions that will glorify
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Christ. To lose heart means to cease activity. He says don't become so overwhelmed with sadness that you then would cease glorifying
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Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3 .13, as for you brothers, do not grow weary, it's the same phrase, same word
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I should say, same Greek word. Do not lose heart in doing good, is what he says.
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As for you brothers, do not grow weary, do not lose heart in doing good. Galatians 6 .9 says the same thing, similar thing
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I should say, and I want to settle for a moment on 2 Corinthians 4 .1. Look at 2
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Corinthians 4 .1 and then going through that chapter, it is very, very good, good for you to meditate on.
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2 Corinthians 4 .1, he says the same thing. The apostle writes in 2
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Corinthians 4 .1, therefore, having this ministry, the ministry given by Christ for his glory, by the mercy of God, we do not what?
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Lose heart. What does that mean? We're not sad over these things. We don't get emotional at all about the fact that people are constantly trying to kill us,
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I'm hungry all the time. No, he's not saying that, he's saying we don't cease activity. In fact, look at verse eight.
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He says we are afflicted in every way, but we're not crushed, right?
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We're not crushed to the point of no longer active in what we do. We're perplexed, but we're not driven to despair.
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Persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed. You see what he's saying, right? We have these emotions, we have these things hitting us, we're not denying that, but it's not causing us to lose heart.
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It's not causing us to cease activity. Now, go back to Ephesians now.
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It's important to know that sin, so we've been talking about and assuming that the suffering that we're talking about is on the foundation of Christ, right?
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It's on the, this is for Christ. But sin isn't. And sin always leads to suffering.
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And when we are sinning and it's leading to suffering, we don't say, and I'm not gonna lose heart. Indeed, you are meant to lose heart in that case, right?
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The suffering that we have, just like you touch a hot stove and right away you're back, right? That's the type of suffering you do try to avoid at all costs.
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And so if you're sinning and you're suffering, it's meant to, that emotion or that feeling of suffering is meant to cause you to cease activity.
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But when that suffering is for Christ, we are to not lose heart.
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Now, if you have a way to avail yourself to no longer be suffering, like whatever it may be, avail yourself to it. But there's times where, no, this is where you're at.
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And you can either isolate it from Christ and look at the Roman cell around you and say, this is the worst.
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Or you can say that this is Christ. I'm gonna suffer for the Lord. If this is the way he wants me to glorify him,
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I shall do it. For he is worthy. The spiritual blessings are good. They are my desire all the day long.
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So as we finish here, this is what we should ask. This is what you should ask yourself, right? This is what I should ask myself.
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Is my suffering, the things that, because we're all suffering in different ways and different levels. Is my suffering a result of sin in my life?
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Well, let's lose heart. Let's cease that activity. Let's turn away from it. Because Christ is always better.
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But is my suffering stamped with Christ? Do not cease to glorify Christ despite how awful your suffering might get.
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That is the purpose of it, is that you would glorify Christ. Say, this is the Lord's. And what we're gonna see here in chapter three in verses two through six, we're gonna see the nature of receiving the revelation of Christ and his gospel, right?
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That's what Paul's talking about. His suffering is for Christ. Well, we've received the revelation of Christ and his gospel.
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And seven through 12, we'll be proclaiming that same revelation as a church. And we see that suffering will be in light of that going on.
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That we have been gifted with the revelation of Jesus. If you know Christ, you have been gifted with Christ being revealed to you.
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And you have been commanded by God to declare the excellencies of Christ in all that you do, even your suffering.
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And we see that even as we declare Christ to a world that hates us, suffering happens quite often.
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But the beauties, the blessings, the cherishing that we have of the blessings from Jesus Christ needs to cause us not to lose heart.
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Instead, no, I will lean into the Lord. I will lean into the suffering he's called me to for the sake of his glory, for the sake of the proclamation, for the sake of giving his glorious name to the nations,
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I shall do it. Let us pray. Oh God in heaven, what a difficult task for the
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Christian. It is so easy, Lord, for us to be like the world in which when we are suffering, we become overcome with it and we lose sight of the purpose that you have for it.
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But I pray God that we would see that Paul shows us how we are to look at suffering.
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When it's for you, we are to have a certain look. We are to look at it in a certain way. In fact, we are to respond in a certain way, that we are to see our suffering through the lens of the glory of Christ.
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Our whole life since we've been called out of darkness into light with our fellow brothers and sisters in the body, our whole life now is may
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Christ be glorified. Whether I live, whether I die, the blessing is that I can live unified with you in all that I do.
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Even if that calling, that life is one of suffering or a season of suffering.
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May we not isolate that from that great blessing that you've given us from the wounds of Jesus. Our Lord suffered.
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Lord, he suffered. He cried tears when he saw his friend in the grave, even as he knew he was about to heal him.
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He suffered. He suffered on the cross. And it's through that suffering that he makes all of our suffering make sense.
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In fact, he makes it glorious and he'll one day make it our eternal worship. So may we realize that now and go through it in this kind of mindset in which we say, we are a prisoner of Christ.
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We are not to lose heart, but rather we are to glory in your name. Thank you for this great gift we have in Jesus.