“Perhaps God has been speaking to you and you wonder why you have troubles. Maybe you have suffered a financial loss and you find it very difficult to understand. Is God speaking to you in an effort to bring you back to Himself? You need to face these matters squarely and be honest with God as He deals with you.”
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,”
“Afflictions are light when compared with what we really deserve. They are light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. But perhaps their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us.”
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
2 Corinthians 4:17. KJV
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
Hebrews 2:10, ESV
“God is the One who made all things, and all things are for his glory. He wanted to have many children share his glory, so he made the One who leads people to salvation perfect through suffering.”
Hebrews 2:10, NCV
There is complexity embedded in this verse. But that shouldn’t stop us from understanding its scope and meaning, yet there is the compelling question.
How did Christ learn obedience through suffering when he was already perfect?
Christ was human and “tempted in all points as we are and yet perfect and without sin,” and thus Christ was sinless. The humanity of Jesus can be seen throughout the gospels. He hungered, and he got thirsty. We see him very tired, and sleeping in the back of a boat in a storm, which reveals his humanity. However, “He committed no sin, neither was their deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).
Only humans need to learn obedience. And everyone of us have faltered. Yet he didn’t. He had to learn, but He didn’t fail. As a man, He met every issue and every obstacle with a solid and a profound obedience. He learned how to obey, but without any failure, or fault.
In every person’s life, we are challenged to obey. There are so many twists and turns, and each of us has stumbled. It can be quite painful. We are also learning “obedience through our suffering.” It seems our own trials and suffering are the tutors teaching us about our Father, and His kingdom.
This thought, “bringing many sons to glory” is of significant consideration. It reveals the intent and purpose of Jesus coming and doing all of this. He wanted to open the doors for all those who come to salvation. In a direct way, His intention was to become our escort, or safeguard to make a way for us into the Presence.
The words, “many sons,” shows the breadth and width of His work. It is considerable. The idea of “sons” is just as astonishing. We are not slaves, forced to labor in the quarries or mines. We are sons and daughters, His own children. Eternity is too short of time, I suppose, for us to hold and occupy this kind of glory.
“They strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”
“The wise people will shine like the brightness of the sky. Those who teach others to live right will shine like stars forever and ever.”
Daniel 12:3, NCV
“So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18, CEV
In my teenage years, my mom and I attended a bunch of services in a Christian commune. (This would’ve been in 1972 -73.) They all lived in a house, and had started a Christian rock and roll band. I was impressed with what I saw. When we gathered together for worship, they began to ‘glow’. I would stare at them and they became ‘illuminated’, I had never seen anything like this before. The presence of Jesus was there making Himself known in the hearts of His disciples.
Since then I have heard many testimonies of that same dynamic at work. Confessing believers engaged in prayer and worship, have their countenance changed while in the Lord’s presence. A peace and a joy and a confidence affects them in a profound way. Their physical appearance is altered, and they proclaim ‘a peace that passes understanding’.
Since I became a Christian in 1982, I have retained those images in my thinking. I now am very aware of the “witnessing presence’ of Jesus in the lives of His people. And scripture itself, on several occasions points to this wonderful dynamic in active gear in the lives of consecrated believers.
When the light comes, it can’t help but transform those of us in darkness. Our faces, hearts and countenances change when peace and joy (especially knowing our sins are forgiven). For the first time we can truly know ‘joy’.
Daniel talks about ‘shining like a star’. This is simply not ‘do-able’ in the mechanics of normal life as an unbeliever, at least for any real length of time. That is simply not plausible. The only answer is the Christian’s belief. Namely, that Jesus Christ who is indwelling every believer, reflects His presence out into a dark world.
A few winters ago I was out walking on the Alaska Bible Institute campus. Twilight was settling in and 20-30 yards ahead I was jolted by a child’s sled left in a snow pile. In the monochromatic world of an Alaskan winter, the fluorescent sled glowed and could not be missed. It was then I understood the verses about Christians being‘a light on a hill that could not be hid’.
You and I who bear His presence are to be ‘fluorescent’. His activity in our hearts are to make us astonishingly conspicuous. We can’t hide His presence (even with sin) and we have been irrevocably marked and adjusted. We have become ‘glow-in-the dark’.
9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.
Look at the disciples. There were 500 standing with their mouths open tracking Jesus’ ascension. They were witnesses to the Lord’s departure.
Suddenly two men appear, clothed in white. They both seem to be extraordinary–they clearly explained what has just happened.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”
We live in an age of history where Jesus sits on the throne. It is not an ordinary time, He has ascended to His Father and now lives “to make intercession for us.” This is no small thing.
Perhaps sometimes we wish to move with the disciples and have their experiences. Perhaps we feel we would be better followers if we could share with them the miracles of the Lord Jesus. Somehow we would be stronger believers.
Let us remember though that we will see His second coming. The angels were quite clear about this– He will come again! Scripture is quite vocal about this.
We will see Him just as He is, and we will be changed into His likeness.
We don’t know exactly when. It is Father’s decision. But we will be there, and the promises are true. This is possibly the greatest privilege we could ever have.
Saint, now it the time to prepare. We know enough scripture to understand the imminent. We are to take active steps to be part of His return to earth and His Kingdom which becomes visible.
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”
“If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides.”
Martin Luther, From the Melanchthon Letter no. 99, 1 August 1521
Luther is essentially communicating the things that are real to us. He takes it down to bare wood. We are given an understanding of this World, an a sense of what we can expect from the hearts of all those who surround us. Sin is the issue, and we need to accept that from our brothers and sisters. We should not be surprised when someone we love intentionally blindsides us with their disobedience to God.
Dramatic words, ‘sin boldly’. We instantly see this as a way to sin, without restraint. And let’s face it, sinning is fun. At times perhaps, even a whole lot more pleasure than walking out godliness. Luther recognized the inevitably of sin. As fallen people we should accept that fallenness. We sin, it’s what we do, and we do that very well. And the Lord knows that.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
1 John 1:8
Our ‘religious’ hearts often go into this ‘deception mode.’ We endeavor not give in to the viciousness of sin. “We will overcome!” And yet we are so infected with sin, and rebellion that we try to minimize the problem. If the truth be known, we are sick, infested and condemned. There are no ‘quick fixes’ for us. Evil runs rampant. It is the ultimate epidemic.
“Let your trust in Christ be more boldly still.’ The Lord Jesus has decisively interrupted our lives. He has wholesale entered into our darkness and sin. In a way it’s like a ‘roadside’ bomb, and needs a direct intervention of a specialist to disarm it. As people who are completely saturated with sin, we need a third party to step-in and to save us from all the embedded darkness.
Often there is a sense of boldness when we completely understand our depravity. We ‘know’ our sin. For the most part can grasp its deadliness, and its infectiousness. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to bring us to this transparent moment when we can see the darkness and harm we’ve caused. The fact is, that we are to accept this, it’s all true. We have been this evil and awful to those around us. Most believers would curiously admit that ‘they have sinned more as a believer’ than before they were first saved.
Luther declares a significant point when he tells us ‘to believe in Christ more boldly still’. Simply, our ‘sin’ awareness must never exceed our Christ awareness. We must have a stronger sense of Jesus’ victory then our sinfulness. Our confidence, which has taken a hit on our sinfulness, now shouts ‘hallelujah’ at His victory.
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”
1 John 1:8-10, NLT
“You need not fear because sin still plagues you – instead rejoice that by God’s grace you are on a journey toward eternal life and sin will finally fade into the distant past.”
“May it be the real me, that seeks and finds the real You.”