A Hope Worth Suffering For

KEY VERSE: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings: that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” —I Peter 4:13


MOST professed Christians who accept the inspired testimony of the Scriptures, readily agree with the fact that Jesus voluntarily suffered and died for the sins of the world, however much their viewpoints might differ regarding the things involved in this work of redemption. But very few seem to realize clearly that the true followers of Jesus are invited likewise to lay down their lives in a voluntary sacrifice which is described by the Apostle Paul as being “planted together in the likeness of his death.”—Rom. 6:5-8

Yet, this is what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that they should take up their cross and follow him. They were to follow him into death. Paul echoed this thought when he said, “I am crucified with Christ.” (Gal. 2:20) Throughout the Scriptures, Jesus is portrayed as the Lamb of God, “the Lamb that was slain” for the sin of the world. (John 1:29,36) In Revelation 13:8, he is pictured as the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” In Revelation 14:1 he is shown exalted on Mount Zion, and there are “with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” Verse four declares, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”

Yes, Jesus died for the sin-cursed and dying race. He died that the way might be prepared for the children of Adam to return to life. The Bible reveals that the time will yet come when those who believe in Christ and obey the laws of his kingdom will indeed live; that they will be restored to perfection of human life, and will not become sick and die at all. This will be true of all sincere believers during the age to come, the Millennium.

But prior to the Millennium, that is, during the present age, another feature of the divine plan is being accomplished. God in his wisdom knew that it would be good to have representatives of the human race associated with Jesus in the great future work of restoration. He designed that those who would be chosen to this high position in his plan should be tested severely as to their heart-harmony with his great and loving redemptive program, so he is giving them the opportunity of demonstrating their love and loyalty to him, and their love for the human race, by their willingness to suffer and die sacrificially as Jesus did.

First, as stated by Jesus, these are invited to deny self. During the Lenten season, millions practice what they term self-denial, and no doubt they receive a certain blessing from their little sacrifices. They deny themselves little pleasures, or delicacies, or other things of which they are especially fond. Self-discipline along any line is a good character builder, and in principle should not be condemned.

But this is not what Jesus meant when he invited his disciples to deny themselves. He meant that they should deny themselves completely—to deny themselves the right to govern their own way of life, and, instead, by giving up their own wills, to accept the will of God through Christ.

Peter spoke of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (I Pet. 1:11) Throughout the epistle he makes it clear that the followers of Jesus partake with him in the sufferings of The Christ which the prophets had foretold, and that they will also—those who are faithful—partake with him in the promised glory to follow. Note a few of his statements in this connection: “Even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps.”—I Pet. 2:20,21

“It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”—I Pet. 3:17,18

“If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”—I Pet. 4:16

What marvelous grace, that in return for self-denial and faithfulness in dying with Christ, we may have the signal honor of being associated with him in that glorious future work of extending human salvation to all mankind!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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