Summary: We get so busy doing other things that we forget the main things. But God has great goals for our lives. Today we will focus on the fellowship of His sufferings.
God’s Greatest Goals for Your Life
Part 3: To Know the Fellowship of His Sufferings
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Nov. 8, 2009
*Last week I mentioned The Beverly Hillbillies to you. But when it comes to goals, Eric Thomas makes a good point from the Professor on Gilligan’s Island. Eric said: “So many of us are living our lives like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island. We can make a battery last for 7 years, create record players out of bamboo and vaccines from algae, -- but we never find the time to fix the hole in the boat... (1)
*We get so busy doing other things that we forget the main things. But God has great goals for our lives. Paul shared 3 of the greatest goals in Phil 3:10:“That I may know (Jesus) and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,” Today we will focus on the fellowship of His sufferings. God wants all believers to know the fellowship of His sufferings. Let’s look into His Word and see why.
1. First: This fellowship helps transform our character.
*In the last part of Phil 3:10 Paul was saying this: “I want to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, being conformed, molded, shaped, or transformed into His likeness, even to His death.” Paul wanted to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Of course, Paul was not talking about suffering and dying for his own sins. When Jesus died on the cross, He was the perfect sacrifice for all of our sins. And one of the last things He said on the cross was “It is finished.” That means “paid in full.” The price for our sins had been paid in full. Christ’s suffering for sin was over. And all we need to do is receive God’s gift of salvation by receiving the risen Christ as our Savior and Lord.
*Praise God Christians, we don’t have to suffer God’s wrath for our sins! But as we serve the Lord and as we suffer in this world, we can have a special fellowship with the Lord. It is a life-changing fellowship that makes us more like Jesus, even to the point of being conformed to His unselfish, sacrificial death.
*And this transformation process can be hard. Elias Reyes explains: “The closer you get to Christ, the greater an enemy you become to Satan. As you go down the road of knowing Christ, you will run into challenges that are tough, awkward, and painful. At these times, the decision you face is crucial: Do you really want to know Him?
*At the place of suffering there is also the simultaneous call to intimacy. In trials we often ask, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ Very often, the reason behind our trials is that God will take us to the next level of intimacy with Him as we trust Him and grow in Him.
*Think about a shirt being ironed: A hot, heavy iron presses down on that shirt, moving over every inch with its pressure. But this process is required to get out all the wrinkles.” (2)
2. The fellowship of His suffering helps transform our character. And it helps us see our close connection with God.
*When we open our hearts to receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God’s Spirit comes to live in us. And at the same time, He puts us in Christ. In a very real and spiritual way we are in the same body. So in Eph 1:22-23, Paul tells believers that God the Father “put all things under (Christ’s) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
*We already have this unique connection through our relationship with Jesus. But the fellowship of His suffering helps us see it, because Jesus takes on our sufferings. He makes them His own. He shares in our suffering. God’s Word makes this clear to us in Acts 26:9-15, where Paul gave his testimony to King Agrippa. Paul began with his life before Jesus and said:
9. “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
10. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many of the believers in Jerusalem to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death.
11. Many times I had them whipped in the synagogues to try to get them to curse Christ. I was so violently opposed to them that I even hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands.
12. One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests.