“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ’s sake not only to believe in (adhere to, rely on, and trust in) Him, but also to suffer in His behalf. Philippians 1:29 AMP
The Bible speaks about Christians suffering with and for Christ. This is not the undeserved suffering of sickness and disease as some misinformed, religious people have taught, because that is unscriptural. The only suffering that is appropriate and even inevitable for a true Christian is persecution and the pressures and opposition that come from obedience and yieldedness to God’s will. Opposition and persecution come from the devil and demons and from ungodly people. Sometimes, even lukewarm or backslidden Christians are the ones who are used by the enemy to persecute those who are living godly lives and who are on fire for God. Persecution is a consequence of faithfulness toward God and His word and being a doer of the Word and will of God.
1. It is not strange or unusual for Christians to suffer—godliness attracts persecution
1 Peter 4:12 AMP – Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you.
2 Timothy 3:12 AMP – Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].
2. You should rejoice when you become a partaker ofthe sufferings of Christ—you are not alone—and great is your reward
1 Peter 4:13 AMP – But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory [full of radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may also rejoice with triumph [exultantly].
Matthew 5:10-12 NIV – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
3. The greater the suffering you experience, the greater also your joy and glory
Romans 8:17-18 AMP – And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. 18 [But what of that?] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!
4. Not only is there a greater glory that is to come, but Christians also have the Holy Spirit upon them now to help them and enable them to endure
1 Peter 4:14 AMP – If you are censured and suffer abuse [because you bear] the name of Christ, blessed [are you—happy, fortunate, to be envied, with life-joy, and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of your outward condition], because the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God, is resting upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
Romans 8:26-27 AMP – So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. 27 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.
5. Christian sufferings glorify God and it is an honor and not a shame, to suffer as a Christian
1 Peter 4:16 AMP – But if [one is ill-treated and suffers] as a Christian [which he is contemptuously called], let him not be ashamed, but give glory to God that he is [deemed worthy to suffer] in this name.
6. Christians should patiently bear sufferings according to the will of God, realizing that God is always faithful toward those who are His own, in the midst of their sufferings
1 Peter 4:17-19 AMP – For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God? 18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the godless and wicked? 19 Therefore, those who are ill-treated and suffer in accordance with God’s will must do right and commit their souls [in charge as a deposit] to the One Who created [them] and will never fail [them].
1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Jesus suffered major persecution and when we accept Him as Lord and Savior, that is what we sign up for as well—whether we like it or not. But for those who endure and don’t buckle under the pressure—there remains great rewards from our Father in Heaven! You will not be tested beyond your ability to endure—God’s grace is always enough for you. So don’t back off; don’t give in, keep hanging in there and praising God, and you will finish your race and win your prize!