Sabbath, April 20, 2019

Lesson 16 – Suffering for the Kingdom

“We must be partakers of Christ’s sufferings here, if we would share in His glory hereafter…. We have but a little space of time left in which to work for God. Nothing should be too dear to sacrifice for the salvation of the scattered and torn flock of Jesus. Those who make a covenant with God by sacrifice now, will soon be gathered home to share a rich reward, and possess the new kingdom forever and ever.” –Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, p. 104.

Companion in tribulation and in the kingdom
1. Do we have any idea of the sacrifices, risks, and suffering that the children and servants of the Lord have to face during their life and ministry? What did the messengers of the Lord see ahead of them when they had to suffer? 
2 Thessalonians 1:5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

“In all ages God’s appointed witnesses have exposed themselves to reproach and persecution for the truth’s sake. Joseph was maligned and persecuted because he preserved his virtue and integrity. David, the chosen messenger of God, was hunted like a beast of prey by his enemies. Daniel was cast into a den of lions because he was true to his allegiance to heaven. Job was deprived of his worldly possessions, and so afflicted in body that he was abhorred by his relatives, and friends; yet he maintained his integrity. Jeremiah could not be deterred from speaking the words that God had given him to speak; and his testimony so enraged the king and princes that he was cast into a loathsome pit. Stephen was stoned because he preached Christ and Him crucified. Paul was imprisoned, beaten with rods, stoned, and finally put to death because he was a faithful messenger for God to the Gentiles. And John was banished to the Isle of Patmos ‘for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 575.

2. Why was the apostle John exiled on the isle of Patmos? What is always connected to the way and entrance into God’s kingdom?
Matthew 7:13, first part, 14 Enter ye in at the strait gate:… 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Acts 14:21, 22 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

“Our path to the Paradise of God will be often intercepted by the tempter, who is intent on weakening our faith by hiding the rays of the Sun of Righteousness. Our Saviour has warned us that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God. ‘These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ For every service we render, every self-denial, every sacrifice we make, the Lord has guaranteed to requite us, not because it is a debt He owes, but because His heart is full of infinite love, full of mercy and tenderness. In this life He will repay us a hundredfold, and in the world to come He will give us everlasting life.” –Signs of the Times, October 22, 1896.

Blessed are those who endure temptation
3. What certainty will God’s children of faith have when they must endure tribulations for His kingdom?
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

“Christianity is a religion of progress. Light from God is full and ample, waiting our demand upon it. Whatever blessings the Lord may give, He has an infinite supply beyond, an inexhaustible store from which we may draw….

“The word is: Go forward; discharge your individual duty, and leave all consequences in the hands of God. If we move forward where Jesus leads the way, we shall see His triumph, we shall share His joy. We must share the conflicts if we wear the crown of victory. Like Jesus, we must be made perfect through suffering. Had Christ’s life been one of ease, then might we safely yield to sloth. Since His life was marked with continual self-denial, suffering, and self-sacrifice, we shall make no complaint if we are partakers with Him. We can walk safely in the darkest path if we have the Light of the world for our guide.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 71.

4. What relationship exists between trials and temptations and the kingdom appointed by Christ to His faithful followers?
Luke 22:28, 29 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.
Romans 5:3, 4 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

“What a promise is this! Christ’s faithful ones are to be sharers with Him in the kingdom He has received from His Father. This is a spiritual kingdom, in which those who are most active in serving their brethren are the greatest. Christ’s servants, under His direction, are to administer the affairs of His kingdom. They are to eat and drink at His table, that is, be admitted to near communion with Him.

“Those who search for worldly distinction and glory make a sad mistake. It is the one who denies self, giving to others the preference, who will sit nearest to Christ on His throne. He who reads the heart sees the true merit possessed by His lowly, self-sacrificing disciples, and because they are worthy He places them in positions of distinction, though they do not realize their worthiness and do not seek for honor….” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 67.

5. If we suffer for the Lord now, what will the future with Him be like?
2 Timothy 2:11, 12 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.

“The power of persecution may hinder or restrain the efforts of the minister; but it cannot hinder the operation of the word of truth upon hearts and consciences. Paul may be bound, he may be a prisoner in chains, but the word of God cannot be bound. It will accomplish the work whereunto it is sent, and human forces cannot prevent it…. The condition on the part of the believer, if he is dead with Christ, is that he have his life hid with Christ in God. He must steadfastly believe the truth, and walk humbly before God, in the light that He gives, without turning away, or falling from the holy commandment delivered unto Him. He must believe God. He must rest in His word with that confidence and strength of faith, that makes him willing to suffer the loss of all things for Christ’s sake…. His conversation must be in heaven; and while he is engaging in communion with God; he must hold intercourse with men, and shine as a light in the world.” –Review and Herald,
September 11, 1888.

Tribulation and glory
6. How does the coming kingdom compare with the difficulties and tribulations that are part of today’s existence?
Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
2 Corinthians 4:17, 18 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

“The Holy Spirit irradiated the soul of Paul with light from heaven, and he was assured that he had an interest in the purchased possession reserved for the faithful. Paul’s language was strong. He was not able to find words of sufficient force to express the excellency of that glory, honor, and immortality which believers would receive when Christ should come. Compared with the scene upon which his mind’s eye was dwelling, all temporal afflictions were but momentary, light afflictions, unworthy of thought. Viewed in the light of the cross, the things of this life were vanity and emptiness. The glory that attracted him was substantial, weighty, durable, beyond the power of language to describe.” –(Manuscript 58, 1900) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, pp. 1099, 1100.

7. What is the Lord’s view of those who are afflicted and persecuted for righteousness’ sake? What stands before them as their great hope and rejoicing?
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Hebrews 11:36-40 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. 

“Christianity promises no exemption from sorrow. ‘We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.’ Acts 14:22. Faith is needed, strong, trusting faith, which believes that God will bring His children into no temptation greater than they are able to bear. What such faith has power to do is told by Paul in his letter to the Hebrews. Speaking of those who in the face of persecution and death had maintained an unshaken trust in God, he says: [Hebrews 11:33-37 quoted].” –In Heavenly Places, p. 268.

For additional study
“Holiness, dignity, honor, and felicity in the presence of God are things now unseen except by the eye of faith. But the things which are seen, worldly honor, worldly pleasure, riches, and glory, are eclipsed by the excellency, the beauty, and resplendent glory of the things now unseen. The things of this world are temporal, enduring only for a time, while the things which are not seen are eternal, enduring through endless ages. To secure this infinite treasure is to gain everything and lose nothing.” –(Manuscript 58, 1900) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1100.