Participation in His Sufferings
Leaving the Grave BehindPastor Jerry Gillis - April 15, 2018
Community Group Study Notes
- What does it mean for us to share in the sufferings of Jesus?
- How does sharing in Christ’s sufferings put God’s glory on display in our lives? How do we participate in that display and not resist it or inhibit it?
- What is one action step you can take based on what you heard in Sunday’s message?
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings. -Philippians 3:10a
All right. So how many of you when you were school age brought your lunch to school? Let me see it. All right. It's a bunch of you. That's awesome. How many of you when you brought your lunch to school brought it in a lunchbox, not a paper bag, a lunchbox, give me. All right. That's good. Now we're showing our age a little bit, right? Now, I'm talking not about the kind of plastic, bendable, moldable ones. I'm talking about the old school, vintage lunchboxes that were made out of tin or aluminum or whatever they were made out of, right? They were metal. It's like whenever you put them on the lunch table, it sounded like a car parts assembly plant when you open that bad boy up. That's what I'm talking about, right? You remember some of those. If you're of a certain age, you certainly remember some of the classics. Here's a few of the classics. You remember the Walt Disney school bus? Huh? That's a classic one. Here's another one. How about Superman. That was a great one, an absolute classic. Here's the next one. The Jetsons. Right? Some of you guys might have had the Jetsons. That's possible. With the thermos. You don't want to miss out on the thermos.
Now, if some of you guys were pretty serious about your lunch, this is what you had. Rambo. I'm not exactly sure why an elementary age kid would be bringing a Rambo lunchbox, but whatever, I mean, it gets his food stolen a lot. He's thinking this will help, right? Don't touch my Little Debbie oatmeal. That didn't even sound like him. That was the worst Rambo impersonation. Yo, yo. That's all I got. It was horrible, wasn't it? Forgive me.
Now, I also had a lunchbox when I was growing up, back in the dark ages. They made them back then. I had a lunchbox. I had a number of them through the course of my grade school time frame. But I'm going to give you a picture of my lunchbox. Now I feel like I'm being a little vulnerable doing this, showing you the lunchbox that I used. You cannot use this against me. I'm just being open with you and you're going to have to act like Christians. This may explain some things about me. Here's the lunchbox that I had. Evel Knievel. Come on with that. Yeah. You're applauding that. Okay. I'm not sure if I'm concerned about that even, that you're applauding that. Evel Knievel. You might remember Evel Knievel. If you're young, you may not know who he is. He's a guy who got on motorcycles and jumped over tons of stuff, and he crashed all the time. Like every time almost. No, he didn't every time, but he crashed a lot. So this guy, you might remember him, he jumped over tons of cars in a row, and he would do it over his motorcycle or maybe you remember him jumping over the fountain at Caesar's Palace or across Snake River that winds through the Grand Canyon. It was like he was shot out of a rocket or something. It was nuts. This dude was crazy.
So in his career, his name really wasn't Evil. He spelled it E-V-E-L, not E-V-I-L, but his real name was like Robert Craig Knieval Junior, but I think he just had a stage name because rhyming with Knieval, he was like Evil works. Evil Knieval, but that wasn't is real name. Anyway, dude broke 400 bones. 400 bones in his career. You know the human body only has like a little bit over 200 bones in it. He was breaking bones multiple times this guy, but he was kind of wired in a different way and he had a unique perspective on his suffering and all of his bone breaking and all of that kind of stuff. Here's what he was one of his more famous quotes. He said, "Bones heal. Chicks dig scars. Pain is temporary. Glory is forever." Now, even though he had a twisted few maybe of suffering, a twisted view of kind of the pain that he endured for what he was going after because it was probably motivated by personal gain or adrenaline or attention, right? It was kind of motivated by all those things. But at the very least, what you could say about Evel Knieval is that he had a different way of looking at suffering than most people.
The same thing is true of the apostle Paul that we're studying today in a very different way. What's the same is that he has a different view of suffering than most people would have about suffering, but it's not motivated by the same things that Evel Knieval was motivated by. You see, when we started looking at last week kind of the idea of what it means to lead the grave behind by knowing Christ, we were looking in Philippians chapter number three verses 10 and 11. Last week we're looking about the power of his resurrection that I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. But there's a second piece to that when Paul was talking about how badly he wants to know Christ that don't want us to miss. He says in verses, kind of the first part of verse 10, "I want to know Christ. Yes to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings."
Now, you read that kind of initially and you think to yourself, "Man, I'm not sure if I really want to hear completely a message on suffering per say. I don't know that that's exactly what I was signing up for. I mean, it was hard enough I had to scrape all the ice off of my windshield in April today, and now I'm going to come to church. It's like, 'Oh, welcome to church. We're going to talk about suffering.' It was like, 'Ugh. Yeah, great. One more thing I got to deal with.'" Right?
Well, Paul had a different kind of view. For Paul, the power of Jesus resurrection and the fellowship of sharing or participating in his sufferings were really inseparable to him. Those weren't things that you just parsed out and kind of did away with. He knew, Paul did, he knew that he was going to have to suffer. This is something that he was aware of.
Now, let me kind of preface this by saying kind of when we're talking about this idea of suffering today, I know that it's going to have a couple of different levels of application and we're going to see that maybe kind of the direct level of application may not be as applicable to us now as it might be in the future. But it is really applicable to our brothers and sisters around the world who may be facing a whole bunch of things in terms or persecution and suffering and all of that kind of stuff that it's really kind of straight forward application for them, but for us, we may be dealing more with kind of marginalization or kind of being looked over or being mocked or made fun of, kind of an emotional persecution so to speak living here in the west. But our lives aren't on the line for preaching the gospel. It's not criminal at this point to preach the gospel. I'm not going to jail for preaching the gospel, which is the truth in some places int eh world that brothers and sisters are going through some of that.
You see, Paul knew that he was going to face significant persecution from people that were really unhappy with the message of the gospel and that was going to come not only from his kind of brothers and sisters in the Jewish faith, but it was going to come from the empire in which he was operating the Roman empire, and they weren't going to be happy with him. Now you remember that Saul, who became Paul, used to persecute the church for the sake of the gospel. Imagine that, right? He was having people killed for the sake of the gospel, and then Jesus transforms his life and he's going back sometimes in the same places where he had people killed for the gospel and he's preaching the gospel to family members of people he'd have put to death. That's a really interesting thing to think about, isn't it?
So Paul knew from the outset after he had met the resurrected Jesus and he was blinded. He knew that something was going to happen because God gave him a vision that there was a man named Ananias that was going to come see him. Paul knew that this was coming and then God told Ananias, "Hey, I want you to go see Saul, and I want you to talk to him. I want you to lay your hands on him. I blinded him." Of course, Ananias is having a conversation with God going, "Yeah. Maybe you forgotten who this guy is. He kills people like me. Why do you want to send me into him? He has people like me put to death?" Here's what God said to Ananias in Acts chapter nine. "But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go. This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer,'" here it is, "'for my name.'" You see, what this does is it helps us to understand the nature of what Paul knew he was going to experience, and now what he's writing about when he says, "I want to know Christ, and I want to know the power of his resurrection and the participation in his sufferings."
You see, this is what helps us to understand that because Paul knew that he was going to suffer, here it is, for his name. For Jesus name. You see, what this helps us to understand is the type of suffering we're referring to when we talk about it in this context. We're not just talking about general suffering when we lose a loved one, when we go through a relational heartache, all of those kinds of things. By the way, those are all important things and Paul and others addressed those in volume in the New Testament so we're given understanding of how we deal with things like that. But this is a bit more specific.
Paul, I believe, here is talking at a high level, but he's specifically talking about suffering for the gospel. Suffering for Jesus name. Suffering because of the testimony of Christ. Again, the level of application here in western culture is slightly different than it is in some other parts of the world who are legitimately, physically suffering for the sake of the gospel. They preach the gospel and they get beat up. Just read within the last two months an email from some of our partners in India of a brother, who had been trained through some of our partners there in India, who in preaching the gospel there was attacked and killed by an angry mob because he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in a Hindu village. They beat him to death. This is happening in the world to brothers and sisters in Christ. We, on the other hand, are sometimes experiencing marginalization or mocking or making fun of or being looked over or being called various things. We're kind of experiencing that. That's certainly real as well, and I think we have to look at that level of application.
But you see, Paul is making clear to us that he's talking about what it's like to suffer for Christ's sake, for Christ's name. In fact, if you looked earlier in Philippians, you get that indication anyway. Here's what he says in Philippians one. He says, "Whatever happens church of Philippi conduct yourselves in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ. Then whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I'll know that you stand firm in the ones spirit. Striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in anyway by those who oppose you. This is assigned to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved and that by God for it has been granted to you on behalf Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. Since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now here that I still have."
Here's what he said, "God has granted to you not only the opportunity to believe in Jesus, but to suffer for him." That word granted, when you read it, you're like, "Wait a minute. Is this like a gift? It's not a gift I want," right? Actually it is according to Paul. Now, Paul is not a masochist. He's not saying, "I'm looking forward to a beating. Somebody, somebody, step right now." Right? He's not doing that nor is he encouraging us along that line, but what he is saying is when he says, "God has granted to you that you would have the opportunity to suffer for him," that word granted in the Greek language is from the same root for the word grace. Basically he's saying this, "Suffering on behalf of Christ is a grace to you. It is a gracious gift of God to you. It's a privilege."
Now, some of us are going, "Man, I'm not sure if that's the case. I don't know if I can put all of that together in my head." Well, that's what we're going to look at. That's what we're going to look at. Let me see if I can kind of crystallize in a statement what I'm talking about and then we'll start to unpack it.
Here it is, sharing in the sufferings of Christ is a privilege that puts the glory of God on display. Sharing in the sufferings of Christ is a privilege that puts the glory of God on display. Now, some of you are saying, "Man, can't God glorify himself in other ways?" Sure he can. This is one of those ways. This is what I don't want you to miss because if this is the case, if Paul is making the case that to know Christ and the powers of resurrection also means to fellowship with him in the sharing of his sufferings, then how does sharing in the sufferings of Christ, how is it a privilege that puts the glory of God on display? That's a fair question to ask. How is it a privilege that puts the glory of God on display, and that's what I'm going to answer. I'm going to give you a few things that are going to help us to see this.
Here's the first one. What it will do is it will deepen and sweeten our fellowship with Christ. It will deepen and it will sweeten our fellowship with Christ. You see, in verse number 10 here, when he's talking and he says, "I want to know Christ." He has to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings. The word there in the Greek language is koinonia. Some of your translations say sharing in his suffering. Some of your translations say the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. That's what the word koinonia means. It talks about a fellowship. In other words, an intimate relationship that when we are experiencing suffering, there is something that is happening in our lives where we are deepening and sweetening our fellowship with Christ.
In fact, in First Peter talks about this as well. Peter talks about it just as well as Paul does. Here's what he says in First Peter chapter four, beginning in verse number 13. He says, "But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you maybe overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you're blessed. For the spirit of glory and of God rests on you." You see, there's something to the idea that when we face sufferings for Jesus sake. I'm not talking about self imposed misery. I'm not talking about just natural things that happen in our life that can be difficult. All of those have biblical answers to them as well in terms of how we walk through them. But when we face suffering for the sake of the gospel, when we face suffering for the sake of the testimony of Jesus, there is an intimacy and a deepening of relationship that happens with Christ if we press in. What I found is that when that starts to happen to us, we only have one place to go. We only have one place to go, right?
I still remember, this just kind of came to me as I'm talking to you here, when there were people leaving Jesus because of some of the hard things that he was saying and they were just like, "I don't know. I don't know if I can do this." Jesus said to some of the disciples, "Are you going to leave me too?" Peter said, "Where else will we go? Only you have the words of eternal life. Where else will we go? I know it's about to heat up and it's about to get crazy." Peter didn't know you're going to stumble and fall a little bit too, but where else would we go? This is what happens when we begin to suffer for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I talked to a young lady after this first worship gathering, who was writing a poem at five o'clock this morning because her unbelieving dad was trying to kick her out of the house. She loves Jesus. He's not a believer. They've been having some strains and she's trying to figure out how to deal with all this stuff. At five o'clock this morning, she's writing a poem that's talking about how God is allowing some of this pain so that she can be a witness. Then she comes here and she hears this message. She stops me outside to say this message was just like God's grace to me. God's grace saying to me I know what you're walking through and I know that I want to use it for my glory.
You see, sometimes we face this, right? When we're the only person in our entire family who has followed Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and then people think that we're nuts, right? Even our family thinks that we're nuts. "What are you doing? You're crazy, man. You've gone overboard. This is insane." You're at the job, right? And the people at your job, they know that you're a follower of Jesus, so you don't get invited to much. You don't get in the group emails or the group chats. You don't get involved in any of that stuff, and sometimes you hear a little bit of whispering going on behind your back and all that kind of stuff. It happens. Right? Or you're a student. Maybe you're at a high school, maybe you're at a college, and the place where you are is not a place that's really Jesus friendly. In fact, it's kind of anti-Jesus it seems and that everybody that follows Jesus is stupid and narrow minded and all of those kinds of things. Then there you are, right? Having to deal with some of the thoughts people have regarding you and all of that kind of stuff.
I understand. These are the things that we walk through, but if we allow it to, it pushes us right back in to Jesus and wanting to know Christ and to know the power of his resurrection that transforms us so that we can fellowship with him in the midst of sufferings that he himself faced. Jesus knows what it's like to feel marginalized by his own people. Jesus knows what it feels like to be persecuted by those that were like him, kind of religious leaders so to speak that didn't accept him. He knows what it's like to be not accepted in his own group. Jesus knows all of these things, right? He knows what it's like to be falsely accused for things that he didn't do. He's a drunkard. Right? He knows all of those things. So he can identify with us and when we push back into him, we start to understand that.
I remember going back to a time at 19 years old, I got serious and surrounded myself to Jesus Christ. I walked back into my apartment at the University of Georgia with the guys that I was living with and they were doing the same things that used to be done in that apartment, right? I walked in and I said, "Man, Jesus is changed my life. Things are different for me." I realized that for them that was not maybe their reality right now, but it was my reality. I had to decide am I going to walk with Jesus or am I going to let the power of the spirit kind of overtake me. Am I going to walk with Jesus and I did. It was not the easiest thing in the world. You know it's not like they were always mocking me, but just sometimes but not always. Some of them were like, "Cool. I respect that." But just then there'd be these raging parties on the bottom floor of our apartment, right? Then there's me up in my room upstairs with a cassette player and a cassette tape of a bad Christian band. They would be signing things about Jesus and I would order myself some pizza. I would eat some pizza and listen to that and try to look at the word while they're raging downstairs.
Why? Because I walk with Jesus now. I left the grave behind. I'm not who I was. I'm not who I'm going to be. But I am his. I want to make sure that as I am his, I walk with him in that process. I didn't do what I used to do. I didn't live like I used to live. Things were different for me. I'd left the grave behind. My life had been made new. But it did feel a little weird sometimes when you have to walk downstairs in your own apartment and push yourself through everybody to get to your own refrigerator so that I could get a Coke or something. People are like, "Why aren't you down here?" I'm just like, "I'm going back upstairs and listening to my bad music and read my Bible and cry and eat my pizza. Talk to Jesus. That's what I'm going to do." Man, this is sometimes where you got to start drawing the line, right? Is it real? Is it not real? But ultimately, what it did, it deepened and sweetened my fellowship with Jesus. That's what it did. That's what it does if we will allow it to do that.
Let me give you a second thing it will do. It will start to shape us into becoming more like Jesus. When we face suffering for the gospel, when we face suffering for the testimony of Jesus, we start becoming more like Jesus. Verse 10 implies this in our text, right? I want to know Christ and know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings. Paul assumes that in knowing Jesus, we will be shaped into his image by his power living in us and by the fellowship that we have in sharing in his sufferings. We'll be shaping more into his image.
In fact, Paul says it even more clearly in Romans chapter number five. He says this, "Not only so but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance, character, hope, and hope doesn't put us to shame or disappoint us because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Here's what he's saying when we face this kind of suffering, this is what Peter was saying and this is what Paul is saying and this is what Jesus was teaching us in his example. When we face this kind of suffering, our suffering is what produces perseverance. Perseverance in the faith where we press back into Jesus is what produces the character of Christ in us, right?
We always talk about perseverance being a really great thing, but you don't need perseverance unless you have adversity or suffering. You don't have anything to persevere through because we're all about perseverance, man. You just got to persevere. Perseverance is great. How about suffering? Nah, not really interested in that. Nope. Well, how do you get perseverance? You're persevering through something, right? You're persevering through adversity. You're persevering through persecution. You're persevering in your faith, trusting in God in the midst of these things, and what does that produce in us? The character of Christ. That is what it means to know Jesus. Must have the character of Christ formed in our lives.
But it also does a third thing that I'll note. It helps us to demonstrate the will of God. That when we share in the sufferings of Christ, this privilege puts the glory of God on display by doing what? Demonstrating the will of God. You see, Paul knew, listen to this, Paul knew that the purposes of God were played out in suffering. He knew this. He knew the life of Jesus and he knew that just as Jesus suffered according to the will of God, so to those who follow Jesus will suffering according to the will of God. A student is not above their teacher. That's what Jesus said. So if he is suffering according to the will of God, we will also suffer for the sake of the gospel according to the will of God. That's something for us to consider because Paul was considering Jesus life, and you know Paul, as a scholar of the Old Testament, is a scholar of the Hebrew scriptures. Remember, he used to be a Pharisee of the Pharisee's he said. He knew very well what Isaiah was talking about when he talked about the suffering servant, the messiah, and the prophecy associated with him. He knew very well what that said.
In fact, I'll remind you real quickly. Isaiah 53 says, "He, the suffering servant, the messiah to come, was oppressed and afflicted yet he did not open his mouth. He was lead like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its sheers is silence. So he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away, yet who of his generation protested. For he was cut off from the land of the living. For the transgression of my people, he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death. Though he had done no violence nor was any deceit in his mouth yet it was the Lord's will or the will of God to crush him and cause him to suffer. Though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days. The will of the Lord will prosper in his hand."
You're going, "Wait a minute." Let me pause you right there. Before you have in your mind the idea that mean old father sent the unwilling son and tried to crush him down and took joy in that, think again. Jesus is God. Because Jesus is God, listen to this, he went in willing submission. Jesus willingly did what he did. The scripture sometimes says sent by the father. Sometimes it says Jesus went himself. Jesus talked about this. Nobody takes my life from me. I lay it down of my own accord. Yet this was the will of God that he would be crushed. Not that the father was taking pleasure in the pain of the son, but that the father was taking pleasure in the outcome of the suffering of the son because it would bring healing. This is why it's so amazing for us because here's what Paul knew. Paul knew that according to the will of God, Jesus crushing was for the healing of the world.
So Paul says, "If that then I'm also willing to face a crushing if it will contribute to the healing of the world in the gospel that preaches the death and resurrection of the son of God." I find it instructive when we talk about the crushing of Jesus. We commemorate that sacramentally. I find it interesting that we do that with wine. You know why? Because you can't drink grapes. They have to be crushed. This is the picture the crushing of the son of God poured out. But as he was crushed, it was for the healing of the world. You see, for you and I, we can't be so concerned about what fingers are crushing the grapes. We just need to know that it's under the sovereignty of God. There's no question, evil people put Jesus on a cross and those evil people will be accountable for the sin. But yet it was the will of God. There's also no question in our lives, believers, that from time to time in our lives, non-well-meaning people will persecute or mock or belittle us for the sake of the gospel. They'll have to give an account for themselves, but we don't need to be worried about the fingers that are doing the crushing because it's all under the per view of God's will.
So we don't have to be picky about it. We just have to understand yes, this is bad. Yes, this shouldn't happen. Yes, I shouldn't be treated this way, and they'll be held accountable for that. But God has sovereign purposes right in the middle of it. In fact, when Peter was talking to kind of the fringe people that were scattered all over, here's what he said to them in First Peter chapter four. "So then those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful creator and continue to do good." In other words, what do you do when you're facing persecution? Keep trusting God and keep doing what he's called to do. That's what you do.
You say, "Man, that can be a little bit of a challenge." No question. You might get squeezed. You might get crushed. But God is using it for his purposes. I can't help but think of the young lady Kay who was so influential in my life that she didn't have this testimony where at the age of 17, after living a sorted life, that she ended up coming to Jesus. It wasn't that at all. Like, I mean, third grade, fourth grade, she loves Jesus, right? She just keeps walking with Jesus her whole life. Then when I'm around her, I just don't feel so good about my own life because she's really serious about Jesus and I'm too serious about trying to be cool or trying to be hip or whatever, right? I'm immature and I'm ugly to her sometimes. There were times where in my life, I'm really embarrassed by this, but there were times in my life that things I said to her were cruel and hurt her and made her cry. They were based around the fact that she was kind of a God girl. She was a follower of Jesus. I'm not proud of any of those things. But that's just the truth of what happened. But it seemed like every time that I would press in and squeeze and crush just Jesus came out even more. More. Every time she was crushed, more Jesus comes out.
That's why when, again, some of this is just coming to me now as I'm thinking and I feel like maybe the spirit of God is just bringing it in my mind. But when the letters to the churches in Revelation chapter two and chapter three are being written. There's one being written to the church at Smyrna and basically what it's talking about in the church of Smyrna, it's talking about persecution that they're going to be facing. But you know the word Smyrna is kind of a root word. The root word in there is the word for myrrh. You remember gold, frankincense and myrrh? That's a root word that's a word for Smyrna. You know what was kind of unique about myrrh? Myrrh was actually an interesting kind of a deal because when you took it, it was a bit bitter until you crushed it. Then it became sweet. You see, that's what happens in the midst of persecution. That's in essence what Jesus was talking to the church at Smyrna about that in your crushing there will be the sweet savor of Jesus Christ. But you know what it does is it reminds the people around us that even when we're crushed and facing those things, when they see Jesus coming out of us in the midst of that, they're reminded of the authenticity and the sweetness of our faith.
Listen to what Peter said in First Peter chapter one. "In all this, you greatly rejoiced though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith, which is of greater worth than gold, which parishes even though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." You see, this is the beauty of what happens. God has actually, listen, God has actually putting his glory on display when we are being crushed and persecuted, but yet Jesus is coming out of us. This puts the glory of God on display according to the will of God.
Let me give you a fourth thing. It's this that we witness to the lost and encourage the believer when we share in the sufferings of Jesus. God puts his glory on display because it allows our lives to be a witness to those that don't know him and it encouragement and an empowerment to those that do. You see, here's what the Philippians knew. The Philippians knew that Paul had been with them. He's writing this letter, the Philippian letter, not from Philippi. He's likely writing it from Rome in a jail where he's being held in Rome for the first time. But he has been in Philippi before.
If you go back and you read in Acts chapter 16, you will note that Paul was in Philippi and here's what happened. You might remember the story. Paul's preaching and then there's this like demon possessed girl that keeps following him around. "You're Paul. You're preaching about Jesus." He's like, "Hey. Chill out. I'm just trying to preach here." Right? So for a couple days he just gives her the, "Please chill out. I'm trying to preach here." But she doesn't chill out. Why? Because she's demon possessed. They don't chill out. She keeps talking and finally Paul's like, "I'm done with this." He cast the demon out of her. She comes back to her sanity and she's all good. Here's the problem. She was owned by people that were making money off of her. They were not happy with Paul at this point because now they've taken away. They're basically trafficking this young lady whose possessed by a demon and they're monetizing off of her life. Paul did her a favor freeing her from this demon, but now these particular people who are her owners, so to speak, they're not happy at all.
So what happens to him, he gets turned in to the authorities and he's beaten and he's flogged and then he's put in jail along with his associate Silas. You remember when they were in jail what happened, right? They started singing. They started praising God, and then the whole place started rocking like an earthquake happened, right? Then the bars on the gates and all kind of flew open, but they didn't go anywhere. They stayed right where they were, why? Because they were going to be a witness to the people that were holding them in this place, and sharing the gospel with these people. It was extraordinary. The Philippians had already seen that happen, and now they were hearing from Paul what was happening in Rome.
Listen to what he says at the beginning of Philippians chapter one. He says, "Now, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it's become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I'm in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear." In other words, here's what Paul said, "I know I'm in jail, but I'm in jail because this is an opportunity. I'm in jail for the gospel. I get it. I'm suffering. I've got to be in jail, but you know what I'm doing. I'm sharing the gospel with the palace guard." By the way, we find out that made it all the way back to Caesar's household when you read the text. "I'm sharing the gospel with all these people and you know what's happening to all the brothers and sisters that are in Rome?" Who are scared to death, right? They're in the Roman empire. They could get killed for their faith. You know what's happening to them as they watch Paul? They are being emboldened to share the gospel even more.
Listen, this is what suffering will do. It's a gift that God gives to us because when we do it right, when we really get to know Jesus and have the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, what happens is this, is that the lost have an opportunity to see and hear the gospel and believers look at our lives and they get encouraged themselves to say, "I can share the gospel of Jesus as well." This is a beautiful picture.
Let me give you a last thing. We'll be rewarded. Why else when we share in the sufferings of Christ, how is it a privilege to put the glory of God on display? Because we will actually receive a reward for our suffering. The New Testament says it a number of different times. Jesus said it quite clearly in Matthew chapter five. He said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is our reward in Heaven from the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." You see, Jesus says, "Hey, it's happening to me and it's going to happen to you. In it happening to you, here's what you should be, you're blessed. You're blessed. Don't worry. When they persecute you, revile you, say awful kinds of things about you because of me. You're blessed. For great is your reward in Heaven." That's what he says.
Notice what else Paul says in Romans chapter eight. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Then notice what Paul said when he was writing to Timothy in Second Timothy. "Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead, decedent from David. This is my gospel for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." Here's a trustworthy saying. "If we died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him." How about that for a reward? Reigning with Jesus. Here's the thing. Jesus is the rewarder but he himself is also the reward.
Some of us have such a backwards understanding of what Heaven is that I'm going to talk about in two weeks from now. Some of us have such a backwards understanding that we don't even need Jesus for our vision of Heaven. Because for us it's like eternal Bora Bora. Jesus was just a real estate broker to get us to the destination that we can chill out and enjoy for the rest of our lives. That's how people generally speaking in the world that's how they view this idea. It's broken and crazy and awful because I'll tell you this, Heaven is not Heaven without Jesus. Heaven is way below Heaven without Jesus. This isn't about, listen to this, this isn't about a destination. It's about a relationship. It always has been. It always will be. You see, Paul says, "I want to know Christ," not, "I want to go to my eternal vacation." I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering. Why? Because sharing in his sufferings is a privilege that puts the glory of God on display.
Let's bow our heads together. Before we're dismissed, if you're here and you've never turned from sin and put your faith in Jesus and started this relationship that is the preeminent relationship and all of life, then I encourage you, we'd love to talk to you for just a moment if you wouldn't mind. If that's something going on in your heart. We just ask you to come straight across the atrium into the fireside room, and take a moment, talk to one of our pastors, one of our prayer partners there about what it means to begin the journey of surrendering your life to Jesus and knowing him.
But for father for those of us who are here who know you and who love you, who have been transformed by you, I pray that we would remember that to know you that we can know the power of your resurrection, the spirit of God in our lives and we can also know the fellowship of sharing in your suffering. Because like Paul understood, we want to understand because Paul had a view of suffering that's different than maybe what the rest of the world looks at it. We want that kind of sanctified view of what it means to suffer for Jesus sake. That it has been granted to us to suffer for his name. That it is actually a privilege to put the glory of God on display because of the various ways that you demonstrate your glory through it.
Father, I know that I speak for myself and I likely speak for all of those who are listening. We're not looking for suffering. We're not inviting it and trying to, as an act of pride, say try me and see how much I can endure. But, father, we also know as Paul wrote that all who are Godly in Christ Jesus will face and suffer persecution. That we cannot be immune to it, even when we live in western culture. We will not be immune to it. In increasing ways, in an increasing days, it will become more and more obvious. But I pray that in the midst of that what you will do is you will demonstrate your glory through those who are genuinely follow you, who are not just spectators to the gospel, who are not just religious leeches that just kind of cling on until it's uncomfortable. But who are people who are serious about what it means to know you, Jesus, and to follow you. Because it is through those people that you are going to glorify your name in the world in a world that desperately needs to see you.
So may we be a people who press into know you, Jesus. To know the power of your resurrection and to know what it means to fellowship with you as we participate in sufferings for your name's sake. Would you do this so that your glory might be demonstrated in the world and that men, women, boys and girls will see Jesus as a result of it. We pray in Jesus name, amen.