How Suffering Benefits The Church Pt. 2 (Phil. 1:14b)

    I recently read a story of a Christian pastor in India who was beaten along side his congregation for preaching the gospel of Christ. Despite this, he vows to continue to preach the gospel saying, "Since I am working for the Lord, I have always prepared myself for any kind of eventuality, persecution, or danger. I am prepared to pay the price for serving my God." His name is Bengali Das.

   What an awesome statement by someone who has truly suffered for Jesus. When I read Bengali's story I cannot help but think if I would share in his same attitude. I question whether I am truly willing to suffer as Bengali did for preaching Christ? But, in saying that, reading Bengali's statement encourages me.

   We are looking at how suffering benefits the church for the second time. And I want to begin by saying that what happened to Bengali was not meaningless. I know to many it appears so, but when a follower of Christ suffers, it is benefitting to the church. To understand this, I want to continue to look at Paul and how is imprisonment was to the churches benefit and show you how it applies to us today.

   Paul wrote in Philippians 1:14, "And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." Look at what is underlined. It says "most of the brothers", which is a reference to the church, "by my imprisonment", meaning through his affliction at Mamertime prison, "are much more bold to speak the word without fear." So, as Paul suffered in Mamertime prison, the church became less hesitant and less fearful to proclaim the gospel. When they witnessed Paul suffer for the gospel, the church became more courageous and more daring to preach Christ. The church became less apprehensive to disobey man in order to obey God as they witnessed Paul's affliction. That was the effect Paul's suffering had on the church.

   As I marinated on this, my mind went to Acts 4, to Peter and John as they stood before the council. They boldly preached Christ before the religious leaders of their day and when told "not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus" (4:18), they boldly responded: "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (4:19,20). Paul, Peter & John were all bold because of their confidence in Christ, and they were so confident about Jesus, they were willing to lose their lives if necessary. And as these men suffered, the body of Christ were encouraged to be all the more bold.

   Look at Moses who boldly opposed Pharaoh. Look to Meshack, Shadrack & Abednego who boldly opposed Nebuchadnezzer and risk a fiery furnace. Daniel who boldly continued to pray and risk his life in a den of lions. Peter and Philip were crucified upside down. Bartholomew was skinned alive. Matthias, who replaced Judas as an apostle, was hacked to death. These men boldly risked their lives and some give their lives obeying God rather than man.

  These men risked their lives believing in the resurrection of Christ Jesus. When I see people willing to risk their life and lose their life for their faith, I cannot help but be all the more encouraged to be more courageous for Christ. The point I want to make to you is this: your suffering serves to make the church more "bold to speak the word without fear." John Chau, dying by spear attempting to get the gospel out to an isolated tribe, is not a meaningless death. God will and I believe is, using John's death to glorify His name, make the church more confident and bring boldness to the body of Christ. And I pray that the way you live your life makes the body of Christ more bold.

 

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