"Have a pattern of sound words
which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
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"Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
pities and God of all consolation, Who is consoling us in our every
affliction to enable us to be consoling those in every affliction,
through the consolation with which we are being consoled by God, seeing
that, according as the sufferings of Christ are superabounding for us,
thus, through Christ, our consolation is also abounding,"
We often mention, in sermons, the death of Christ, but His sufferings
are too much neglected by us. His death and resurrection are precious to
us, for we are identified with Him in them. We have been crucified with
Him, roused with Him, and seated with Him. I discussed this in the
September issue. But His sufferings should also be precious to us. I
have reference to His sufferings in connection with the cross. His death
is superabounding for us in bringing full salvation from sin. But His
sufferings are also superabounding for us. And they have a purpose,
also. If His death had been all that was necessary, there was no need of
the sufferings, for many persons have died without sufferings. Yet the
sufferings that He endured were such as to beggar adequate description,
even in the scriptures.
II Cor. 1:3-5.
In Psalm 22 Christ speaks prophetically of these afflictions. He begins
by inquiring why God has forsaken Him. Why was God so far helping Him?
Why did not his plaintive pleadings receive no response from God? He
cried and God did not hear Him.
However, He was far from ascribing unholiness to God. "But Thou art
holy", He said. Even in the midst of the worst afflictions that anyone
ever bore, He would not say that God was treating Him wrong.
But He was astonished. He knew that the death on the cross was in the
offing for Him. But it appears that He had not known that He would be
left to suffer with no word of consolation from God, and with no act of
helpfulness. Others had not been so treated. "Our fathers trusted in
Thee; they trusted and Thou dids't deliver them. They cried unto Thee
and were delivered. They trusted in Thee and were not confounded."
The element of astonishment seems to have been necessary, in order that
his sufferings should be as severe as was demanded.
He understood the purpose of His death. It was to give life to others.
This is why He said, in verse 6, "I am a cossus". The King James Version
renders it by worm. The coccus lives on the body of trees, and has to
die in order that its young shall have food. They eat their mother. So
was Christ dying in order that mankind should have endless life.
He said that the people scorned Him, and said, "He trusted in the Lord
that He would deliver Him", and then added scornfully, "Let Him deliver
Him, seeing He delighted in Him!"
Christ reminded His Father that "Thou art He Who took Me out of the
womb; Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother's breasts; I was
cast upon Thee from the womb; Thou art My God from My mother's bowels".
Then He pleaded, "Be not far from Me, for trouble is near, and there is
none to help"---He pleaded pitifully and got no response. The only One
Who could help would not!
He compared His tormentors to bulls and lions and dogs. Then He said
something that no one has ever been able to explain. "I am poured out
like water, and all My bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax. It
is melted in the midst of My bowels. My strength is dried up like a
potsherd, and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws, and Thou hast brought Me
into the dust of death". What really happened to His heart? Men tell us
that He died of a broken heart. He says that He died of a MELTED Heart.
No one else has ever suffered so.
Isaiah, discussing the matter, said that many were astonished at Him.
They had seen people crucified, but not one had ever suffered as He did.
His face and His form were marred more than any they had ever seen. So
great was His sufferings that He did not appear to be a man or the son
of men. Isa. 52:14.
Isaiah 53 tells us that He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with
grief. "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows". "With
His stripes we are healed", says the prophet in triumph. What the 53rd
chapter of Isaiah says amounts to this, according to Matthew: "He got
our infirmities and bore our diseases", Matt. 8:13.
"He got our infirmities". Where did He get them? Not from a germ. He got
them for us. It seems that He became afflicted with every disease that
mankind has ever had. No other person was ever as sick as Christ was.
Whatever is the matter with you today, in the way of sickness, Christ
had it. The severity of His sickness no man can describe. What
sufferings He bore, no man can possibly know. "He got our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
Matthew said that Healing is part of His mission. Matthew 8 and 9 tells
of many healings that Christ performed in the beginning of His ministry.
And He says that this healing was in fulfillment of the purpose of His
sufferings. Now glibly we repeat, "With His stripes we are healed",
without even thinking that it means anything except salvation from sin!
Paul says in our text that the sufferings of Christ are superabounding
for us. they are abounding yet. So long as there is need for healing, so
long will His sufferings superabound for us. The virtue of them will not
Paul has a purpose in stating our text. He tells us that he was severely
afflicted once while he was in the Province of Asia. But he was healed,
even though he at one time, thought he was going to die.
Let us see how this healing came about---this consolation. Many of the
saints assisted by a petition for him. In other words, they prayed for
him. They certainly prayed in faith. Christ says this is necessary. What
a beautiful thought this gives us---hundreds, perhaps thousands praying
to God in unison for the healing of the apostle!
There need be very little suffering, if saints were thus minded today.
What a power would be exercised if many were thus engaged in prayers for
afflicted saints! How I have craved this! For some months my wife has
been afflicted in a way that is a great hindrance and a terrible burden
on me. This need not be so. I am in touch with hundreds of saints. What
a mighty healing would take place if all these would take time to think,
meditate, have faith, have a burning desire, have a deep love for her
and for me, who am trying to carry on under such burdens, and would
assist in a petition for us! There is no lack of efficacy in the
superabounding sufferings of Christ. These sufferings are as potent as
they ever were. But we live in a day when the masses, even of saints, do
not have time to prepare themselves for this kind of prayer. John tells
us that we need to persuade our hearts. This may take weeks of
meditation and devotion to God. We are not to think that we can come in
right out of revelry and worldliness, and say a few words of prayer, and
then go right back into this kind of life, and have our prayers be
effective. We must really do as the song says, "Take time to be holy".
This word means devoted to God. We must take time for extended and
loving devotion to God, as well as devotion to those for whom we are
praying. I cannot imagine that those who were praying for Paul thought
they had time for a great deal of sinful pleasures. They had something
else to do!
It is not enough, either, to merely live a "clean" life in the sense
that we gain the approval of others. We must go further than this. There
should be hours and even days of preparation, and a sustained devotion
to God and His truth. Business must give way to it. Maybe we are
engaging too much in useless "recreation", that leaves us more tired
than before. Perhaps we are too careless about really looking for
someone whom we might help with some of our money, rather than spending
it all on our own pleasures. If we know of ANYONE who is in need, and we
are not concerned about lending assistance to them, we are too
unconcerned about our fellows.
Perhaps we are too careless with our tongue. It may be that we allow
ourselves to become bitter toward some one, and when we are talking we
throw in some word that reflects on that person. Perhaps someone has
injured us and we are holding it against him. We may persuade ourselves
that we have forgiven that person, but maybe we still love to tell about
the injury. This will cause some person to think less of the one about
whom we are talking.
In other words, there is great room for improvement, perhaps.
Improvement in many ways. If we are going to assist the afflicted by
petitions for them, we must be good people in all that this word
implies. Let us seek to be good. It is well pleasing to God, and quite
helpful to us. It is a geat asset if we are going to engage in a
ministry of prayer for our fellows. There must be a life of sacrifice.
We can't join in everything that is going on, and still be in touch with
God to the extent that we can pray effectively.
Living a life of sacrifice as I have outlined, does not mean that you
will miss any real joys. Your life must be a joyous one. do not be
long-faced. Be courageous, always.
If you are afflicted yourself, one of the best healing methods is to be
praying for others. It kills your self-pity. It enlarges your vision. I
keep my health very largely by almost constant prayer for others. It has
a therapeutic value for me. It will be so for you.
Pray for your own loved ones if they are ailing. But don't become
selfish about it. You can pray more effectively for your own family if
you are also unselfish enough to include others in your petitions. Keep
all selfishness out of your petitions.
By all means, avoid worrying. Nothing can kill prayer efforts quicker.
Do not allow yourself to complain.