In Part I of The Fellowship of Suffering, we explored how God has created man will free will, at great risk to His Government. This is how much He values freedom of choice. We then realized that it was because of a thing called “Eschaton”, which has to do with how God orients His thinking in Salvation. He sees the final result of something and then He works from that point back. Though sin causes separation, God is in the business of man’s restoration. When tragedy strikes, God has to experience more suffering since many times He takes the blame for it. But for some of us that separation is just temporary. Through the fellowship of suffering, the Arbiter of every destiny is working out His plan of a final separation and unity for each. How can He do this and operate in harmony with man’s free will choice? This is where we begin Part II.
On the surface, this appears to express the idea that God chooses who will be saved and who lost. But how is this possible if man is granted free will? The Bible teaches emphatically that we are given a ‘choice’ (Joshua 24:15; crf Prov.1:29 and Isaiah 7:15). God desires us to choose the good and refuse the evil. So if the Arbiter (God) of every destiny gives people the ability to choose life, not death, than through man’s choice, God is working out His plan of final separation and unity for each, is He not? Think about it! If I choose the Life giver who laid down His life for me, than through my choice, which results in my willingness to suffer for Him, He works out His plan of restoration for me. He unifies me with Himself and other likeminded folk and separates us from sin at last.
It appears than that I have choice: Either I can undergo a transformation now (which involves suffering) while grace is still available or I can refuse the ‘refining’ and ‘remaking’ process of my character now and later suffer the inevitable and irreparable results—loss of that transformation that will fit me to live with my Creator and Redeemer forever.
Thus, we all will suffer, either now with our consent, or later due to our refusal to consent before. God will honor every choice. But keep in mind, it hurts Him when we refuse the Refiner’s knife now, because it puts off the work that He knows we need at this time. It won’t be easy either way, but at least now you have assurance of Someone walking with you ‘through the fire’, holding your hand as He remolds you into His perfect image. If we refuse this process till the end, our life will end in shipwreck and we will be lost at last.
Why not then accept the ministry of suffering now which we all in one form or another most go through, if we would be saved at last? God loves us this much that He will use every opportunity to reach us. He will put in our path every incentive to choose Him, every inclination to receive the gift of life.
Yes, human beings were not made to suffer, but due to Adam’s sin, we all must suffer. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” -1 Cor.15:57. This comforting passage comes on the heels of the resurrection at the end of the chapter. What we lost in Adam, has been far more abundantly recovered in Christ. He knows the end from the beginning and will grant us a far greater good if we ‘stick with Him’ through thin and thick. Praise God. And he’ll restore our loved ones, our children who were cut down too soon. Oh the joy and rejoicing heaven will be. Truly, heaven is cheap enough!
With this knowledge and experience, “the Fellowship of Suffering” is worth it all. It is my hope and prayer that this teaching was encouragement to you. Loved to hear from each of you and your thoughts regarding this subject.
So, if you are called to suffer with Christ, know that it is only temporary. And remember, trust God anyway.