Lesson 3

Third Week


How Great Things He
Must Suffer

Background Reading
2 Corinthians 4:6-11

"For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body."
2 Corinthians 4:11, NIV

Devotional Reading
Acts 9:19-32

Key Terms
Deliver unto death — Give someone over to custody of another, to be ridged, punished, and executed.
Manifest — Display or show  (feeling) by one's acts or appearance.
uttering — The state of undergoing a, distress, or hardship.

Introduction

The testimony of the Apostle Paul that we want to consider now outlines how Jesus manifests Himself in the life of His most committed witnesses: through longsuffering. In principle, serious difficulties that may beset a Christian can be contrasted with his or her relatively serene inner life. Trouble, for example. is external, and not within a saint's power to avoid; however, distress is an internal disposition, and can be rejected by the spirit-filled believer. By demonstrating composure as we endure suffering, we present a testimony about the sustaining power of God.


Discussion

At the time of his conversion, it v,-as proclaimed of Saul of Tarsus that he was a chosen vessel to suffer greatly for the cause of Christ (Acts 9:16). From the earliest moments r his saved life, Saul began to fulfill that prophecy. Soon after his conversion. he was taring the gospel throughout Damascus (Acts 9:20). His remarkable transformation from committed enemy to a witness for Jesus gave him real credibility: the power of Christ as evidenced by the radical change it made in his life. That is also why there immediately pose a plot to kill him. He rather dramatically escaped the assassins lying in wait at the city gate with the help of some believers who lowered him in a basket out a window on the all (Acts 9:23-25)!

Paul eventually made his way back to Jerusalem, and after Barnabas interceded for him with the local disciples, the new convert began sharing his testimony in that city. In a short Zile, he was facing death threats there too (Acts 9:29). The record reveals how the Lord
warned him to flee Jerusalem (Acts 22:18); he was again running for his very life!

Saul had begun in earnest to suffer for his testimony. He would, in time, be able to hold his suffering up as a proof of his ministry: he "boasted" to the Corinthians of his abundant labors, stripes above measure, frequent jail terms, and brushes with death (2 Corinthians 11:23). Paul was able to say from experience that in facing death for Jesus' sake, the believer manifests Jesus to the world (2 Cor. 4:11). The apostle not only preached about Jesus, but he also exhibited the characteristics of "the Suffering Servant" in his own life.

Conclusion

In this day of prosperity preaching, the example left by Paul may be unfamiliar to the church. But if we deny the necessity of suffering, we are rejecting a major tenet of Christianity. God expects us to endure the persecution our godly lifestyle attracts. Moreover, our suffering gives God an opportunity to show forth His power of deliverance. May the Lord help us to learn that in our endurance we are living declarations of His matchless, abounding grace.

Questions:

How did Paul specifically suffer "great things" for Christ's sake?
In what ways does suffering fulfill a tenant of our faith?
Christians are not masochistic (suffering for suffering's sake). When is it appropriate to avoid suffering?

 

Essential Thought- 
"We are signposts pointing toward Jesus when we learn how to endure righteous suffering.​​​​"





 

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