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Intro: What is one of the first things your parents taught you (or at least tried to teach you)? To share… Why is this so fundamental?
- Because we do not naturally do it.
- Because it is so essential to our ability to live together (societal)
- Because sharing is essential to living a fulfilled life. (personal)
- The Fundamental Element of Sharing: Fundamental to our life in Christ. This is why we are here together in this place. We share things. We have fellowship. The sharing is both vertical (share with God, Christ) and horizontal (we share with each other) – 1 John 1:3 – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
- Sharing = fellowship – verb – koinoneo (koy-no-neh’-o); to share with others (objectively or subjectively): to communicate, distribute, be a partaker with…
- Share with Me in the Suffering…. We often consider and teach about the things we share with each other and the blessings God shares with us (love joy peace – fruits of the Spirit; We share salvation (common); hope; peace; citizenship; worship; work; share in physical blessings, But there is a fellowship (sharing) that we seldom discuss or catalogue.
- 2 Timothy 1:8 – Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God… Near the end of his ministry, Paul calls on the younger Timothy to share with him in the sufferings for the gospel. Paul uses a different phrase in the Greek here – (sugkakopatheo – soong-kak-op-ath-eh’-o); – a single compound word that means to suffer hardship in the company of another. To partake of it with another person. Do we share our suffering for Christ? Although suffering seldom enters our discussions on fellowship, It was seldom missing from the apostle Paul’s teaching on the gospel mandate and our common discipleship.
- Romans 8:16-17 – Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 – so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
- “For the Gospel” – The suffering and hardship that Paul enjoined Timothy to fellowship him in was suffering for the gospel. We certainly all share in suffering. None of us are exempt from it in the human experience – both physical and emotional. But the suffering Paul is speaking of is intentional by definition; Timothy must choose to share in it. For the apostle this suffering has taken several forms – He has suffered physical pain (beaten, scourged, left for dead); He has suffered emotional pain (been betrayed by comrades, ridiculed, scorned) In 2 Timothy he is experiencing both (physicallyimprisoned and emotionally stigmatized as a criminal).
- Jesus or Paul could have chosen not to suffer. The apostles and early disciples connected their personal suffering with the suffering of Jesus. The early church considered it a privilege to suffer for the name of Christ – a mark of discipleship. There is no indication that they intentionally placed themselves in physical danger just to evidence their willingness to suffer. They did not run blindly into trouble, or stage a rebellion so as to highlight their persecution. But, In Acts 5:41, the apostles “went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” To the Philippians Paul wrote, “To you it has been granted [bestowed as a gift] for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29.
- Consider Paul’s somewhat perplexing statement in Colossians 1:24 – I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church – He mentions 2 important truths about his suffering (in which he was rejoicing).
- He is suffering for them (Colossian Christians) – It is not for himself but for another. Not instead of them, but in their behalf. If he is unwilling to suffer, they may not hear the gospel message. He tells them that what he was going through was for the sake of His body, which is the church. It was not about who Paul was (his personality); but rather it was about Paul’s ministry in behalf of the church. (Some brethren are opposed because they are contentious; they just imagine that it because they are righteous)
- His suffering is filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ; This phrase has been the subject of some controversy. Roman Catholic doctrine imagines that this is a reference to the suffering of Christians in purgatory. They teach that Christians must make up what was lacking in Christ’s suffering on their behalf by their own suffering after death. That contradicts what Paul taught just taught in 1:20 Jesus sufficiently reconciled all things to Himself… in the body of His flesh (v. 22) The scriptures teach that Jesus paid it all – all to Him I owe. There is also no mention of a place like purgatory in Scripture.
- So In what sense were Paul’s sufferings filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions? It would seem that best way to see this is that Paul, and other Christians as well, were receiving the afflictions that were meant for Jesus. They want to do this to Jesus, but He is out of their reach, so they come for us. Jesus told His apostles if they hated me, they will hate you.
- In 2 Corinthians 1:5 he wrote that “the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance.” The Holman Christian Standard Translation renders it …the sufferings of Christ overflow to us,.
- Paul told the Galatians thatHe bore in his body the marks of the blows intended for Christ (Galatians 6:17) The believer’s suffering is so connected with Jesus’s suffering that the one fills up the other.
- Jesus’ suffering culminated in His death. He could have stopped it at any point, but He chose to honor God the Father, and was obedient , even to the point of death.
- 2 Corinthians 4 is helpful here. Paul says the treasure (gospel message) was placed in earthen vessels (human beings) so that the power would be seen as coming from God and not men – specifically, the apostles (v. 7) These vessels were hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.
- How do you view your life in this godless, opposing society? Paul says we always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that others can see His life in our body. We are constantly being given over to death for Jesus’ sake. As Christians we share in this suffering as an integral element of our mission in preaching the gospel. If we are not willing to die with Him, we are not showing others His life. Luke 9:23-25 – Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
III. What is the aim of such chosen suffering?
- Suffering for the Gospel brings us closer to Christ. This point is hard to miss in Philippians 3:7-11. The apostle gives the answer again and again in these verses. His suffering (counting all things as loss) has an ultimate objective… to gain Christ“
- 8 – For the excellence of knowing Jesus
- 8 – that Imight gain Christ
- 9 – and be found in Him
- 9 – have a righteousness through Him
- 10-11 – may know Him.. and the power of Hid resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death, in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
- And two times that gaining is called a knowing—( verse 8& 10) Do we want to know him? Do we want to be more personal with him and deep with him and real with him and intimate with him? Then we need to prepare to suffer with Him.
- Suffering for the Gospel is an indication that we belong to Christ – Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
- Paul warned Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
- Peter tells suffering Christians, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
- Suffering for the Gospel has a future reward. “If indeed we suffer with [Christ] in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:17-18). “
- For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
- Suffering for the Gospel can result in the salvation of others. Paul recognized that His willingness to suffer had emboldened others to make the same choice and not abandon Jesus. He knew Timothy needed to be willing to share in those suffering as well if he was going to convert others to Christ.
- When I choose to suffer for the gospel, I give attention to God’s power in the face of my weakness. God sustains me and He triumphs in my behalf. Suffering for the gospel frustrates Satan. He wants suffering to harm us, but God brings good out of it.Certainly, the record of the early church in the book of Acts shows this to us.
Conclusion:the task of spreading the gospel isn’t just about the words that we speak (as imperative as that is). It is about the choices we are called to make each day as we face opposition and trouble. Teaching the gospel message is a sacrificial activity and at times a painful activity. It is one that manifests God’s power through our weakness and suffering. This is why Paul can say, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).
You must make a choice – will you stand with Jesus? Will you submit to His words and give Him the honor and respect He deserves.Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say? That is a good question isn’t it? It applies to all of us. If you are not a Christian, you need to believe that Jesus died and rose again, Repent of your sins, confess his name before others, and be baptized for the remission of your sins.