“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake”
“For unto you it is given … to believe on him”
“It is represented here as a privilege to be permitted to believe on Christ.
(1) It is an honor to a man to believe one who ought to be believed, to trust one who ought to be trusted, to love one who ought to be loved.
(2) It is a privilege to believe on Christ, because it is by such faith that our sins are forgiven; that we become reconciled to God, and have the hope of heaven”
“But also to suffer for his sake”
“Here it is represented as a privilege to suffer in the cause of the Redeemer – a declaration which may sound strange to the world. Yet this sentiment frequently occurs in the New Testament. Thus, it is said of the apostles Act 5:41, that “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” Col 1:24. “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you” 1Pe 4:13. “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” compare Jas 1:2; Mar 10:30; see the notes at Act 5:41. It is a privilege thus to suffer in the cause of Christ”
– Albert Barnes
The school of Christ is the privilege of discipleship. It is a life of instruction filled with the ministration of powerful truths whereby our life in this natural world becomes subject to the realities of the Kingdom of God. Paul, writing from a Roman prison, lived and dwelt in dark and damp quarters, yet referred to himself as “a prisoner of Jesus Christ”. His view was heavenly. The intense lessons of the school of Christ had brought him to the place of sowing and reaping in all circumstances of life. He was not a prisoner of Rome; he was in fact the emissary of Christ!
The known world at that time was largely under a one world government and for the most part ruled by the iron fist of Roman decrees. Many of our brothers and sisters today live under the oppression of tyrannical regimes and savage Christian persecution. I have had the privilege of meeting with the underground church in a couple of countries and it was both humbling and inspirational. There is a feeling of oppression in our land of “freedom” which does not seem to exist for them. There is a liberty of the Spirit of God of which we have much to learn. These precious ones go forth each day with a boldness to declare the love of God in Christ which is both refreshing and convicting. Many of the things we call freedom here are based on our “legal rights” and reveal themselves in a spirit of entitlement and arrogancy rather than the humility of Christ. This so called religious freedom is founded in worldly declarations instead of the true liberty arising from a grace wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit. In those persecuted countries the true freedom of spirit is garmented in meekness in contrast to our demands to maintain our legal rights. The freedom in which they walk is that of the Spirit and not of man. It is one which has at its foundation the truth of our heavenly rights*. This freedom is only known to the extent to which we are freed from the life and the dominion of self. The truth of the Sovereignty of God can only become real in those who are in truth dead to self and alive in Christ.
True freedom is only known in our submission to Him. Wherever self reigns, there can be no freedom of the Spirit. The natural life will always reflect its natural surroundings, so also in the spirit. Those who live in the Spirit cannot but reflect the graces of the Spirit regardless of their natural surroundings. Bitterness, envy and anger are expressions of the carnal natural life. The school of God brings us to dark and trying circumstances that we might learn how to live in heavenly places. In our oppressive situations there are opportunities for us to discover hidden treasures of great value.
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord…”
The school of Christ is a difficult and arduous journey. It is the “way of the cross” and blessed are those who follow the Lamb through obedience. There is a grace which quietly works within those who choose His way above their own, and a freedom which comes from His bonds at work in our lives. We will know the power of true fellowship as we walk in His growing light and develop in obedience and submission to Christ.
The life of Paul abounded in this rigorous school of Christ. His heart was set upon learning and growing in God. These lessons are reserved for the true disciples of Christ. The graces learned result in a life of victory in all circumstances.
“Not that I speak as to need, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. And I know to be humbled, and I know to abound; in everything, and in all things, I am taught both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound, and to lack. I have strength for all things in Christ the One strengthening me”
Philippians 4:11-14 (LITV)
Prayer for Today
Heavenly Father let the confines and the circumstances of the moment become the Secret Place of your indwelling. Let the fragrance of your Spirit bring its healing balm to our hearts. May our limited surroundings give way to vistas of your Glory. Bring to us the clarity of your wisdom by which you are weaving your graces into the very fabric of our lives. Let us learn that in all things you are working out the mystery of your Sovereign Will for our good.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever”
Freedom from self
brings us into the
liberty of His Spirit.
*Note: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake”