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Suffering and the Goodness of God (Acts 5:33-42)

June 4, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates how the Holy Spirit produces unspeakable and inexplicable joy in the midst of suffering by consistently pointing the Christian to Christ. Pastor Carter describes both the reality of the suffering and the goodness of God in an ungodly world. The focus of this sermon is on four biblical reasons of suffering, which is the result of: 1) the human experience in a fallen world, 2) our own sinful and foolish living, 3) the attacks of the enemy and 4) standing up for Jesus.


Suffering: The Result of the Human Experience in a Fallen World

“…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:17-19; ESV).”

Why do we suffer? Living in a world marked by sin is living in a world marked by suffering. After the Fall, suffering became part of life, whether physically, spiritually, emotionally or socially. Nonetheless, God in His goodness and mercy toward humanity provided the ultimate end to suffering through the suffering of His son, Jesus Christ. Christ suffered pain from beatings, dehydration, and alienation from the Father for the sin of all humanity, that the Christian might understand that present suffering is only a means to a greater end.

Suffering: The Result of Our Own Sinful and Foolish Living

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8).”

Meanwhile, not only did the results of the Fall cause suffering in our lives, but we also suffer due to our own sinful and foolish living. Sin causes scars that often have lasting and lingering effects. Not only does it hurt us when we sin, but it also causes pain to those around us. For example, the foolishness of a father is often the burden of their children (cf. Adam, Abraham, David). When this happens, if this individual is in Christ, they often experience the loving and gracious disciplining hand of God (Proverbs 3:11, 13:24, 19:18). God loves His children too much that He will not spare the rod. If they go wayward, He is going to bring them home (Heb. 12:6).

Suffering: The Result of the Attacks of the Enemy

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10; ESV).”

Another reason for suffering is the attacks of the enemy, namely, Satan. When stealing, killing and destroying comes, there comes suffering (cf. Job). Satan desires to shake the Christian’s faith and confidence in Christ, by the same means he used on Eve, mainly, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (Genesis 3; Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 John 2:15-17). God may allow Satan for a time to try you, to show the world and the devil that His people are different and hold out under trials and tribulations. Although these afflictions are real in this world, those who are in Christ have overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5).

Suffering: The Result of the Standing up for Jesus

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening 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 (Acts 14:21-22; ESV).”

Above all else, the Christian suffers in this ungodly world because of their faith in Christ. The apostles and other believers felt the shame and dishonor for being beaten and mocked publically, yet they rejoiced not because the pain was not real, instead they were convinced that Christ would be glorified through their suffering. Suffering is a means, not an end. Christ is the glorious end to all suffering. Christ said, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his master, and the servant as his lord”, thus, for the disciples to take on the name of Christ meant taking on his labors, even to the point of shedding their blood for His sake (Matthew 10:25). Along with the many benefits of following Christ (i.e. peace with God, unspeakable joy, etc.), also came constant trouble, tribulations, and afflictions. This is the cost factor for being a child of God in an ungodly world (Luke 14:26-33; John 17:13-18).

Have I been counted worthy to suffer for Him?

Despite popular opinion, Christians suffer loss in this ungodly world just as non-Christians. However, the Christian does not grieve as the world does, because we have a hope in Christ, which gives us a different perspective. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (Jim Elliot).

How do you discover joy in the midst of suffering? How can you rejoice and be glad when the world troubles you? It is only when you look beyond your circumstances to a Sovereign God, who is in and over your circumstances. Then and only then, can you rejoice in the midst of suffering (Hebrews 12).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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