When we begin to contemplate the life of Christ, we see a man on a mission! Right from the beginning He went about doing good, and showing humanity the love of their heavenly Father. What a guy, right? Healing the sick, feeding the hungry and on and on it goes. We can’t help but notice His severe indignation toward all of the hypocrites, revealing them for what they truly were; vipers, snakes, wolves in sheep’s clothing. If He were alive today, He would be referring to the media and liberal left with the hypocrite pronouncement because of their sinister schemes! Jesus did the impossible and was truly the Son of God; But his greatest achievement was dying for the sins of the world! He gave His life to save ours! If we are to truly become followers of Christ, we too are going to have to die; Die to the flesh! So, let us look quickly into His life and learn how it is done!
The Son- Die!
Who is Jesus? What was His mission? Why did He have to die?
Let us consider the ramifications of His birth. The terms AD (anno Domini) and BC (before Christ) are used to number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The term anno Domini is medieval Latin and means “in the year of the Lord”; the full phrase is anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi, “in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This calendar era is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the conception or birth of Jesus. There is no year zero, so the year AD 1 immediately followed 1 BC. Isn’t that amazing? This is something for all those who deny the existence of Jesus to think about. Every time we date a check or type it onto a computer screen, we are declaring that it has been that many years and days since Jesus was born or conceived. There is no denying that Jesus existed on earth because our record of time revolves around His birth. Jesus’s birth changed the way time was recorded; that should be enough for us to take Him seriously.
So, the birth of Jesus changed time, but who was He? When we read the words of Jesus in the Bible, we notice His desire to share things about Himself, His loving Father, and the kingdom of God. Many times, Jesus did that through parables that revealed the spiritual world, challenged our faith, and so much more. But every now and then, the Lord spoke plainly and said things as a matter of fact. When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say I am?” He was talking very plainly. The disciples told Him that everyone thought that He was a great prophet. Then Jesus asked them,
But who say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:15–16)
Jesus went on in verses 17–19 to say that it was true, that He was the Son of God. Jesus is God’s Son, and on that truth, the Lord built His church. Jesus isn’t just a great prophet; He is the Son of God. He was sent to earth by His Father with a mission.
Two chapters earlier in Matthew 14, the disciples were on a boat in a major storm and in fear for their lives when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward them. After Jesus saved Peter from drowning, they got on the ship and the storm stopped.
Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped Him, saying, of a truth, thou art the Son of God. (Matthew 14:37)
This story reminds me of the movie The Perfect Storm, where the ship is being tossed around by the waves until it capsizes and sinks (based on a true maritime disaster). Imagine being on that ship with the disciples crossing the sea at night and the boat being “tossed with the waves.” We would be fearing for our lives. Then out of nowhere Jesus shows up walking on water. I would have thought it was a ghost also. What was Peter thinking when he said, “Bid me to come”? Peter was crazy, but he was the only one to walk on water albeit for a very short time. Finally, Jesus saves Peter, gets on the boat, and the wind and waves cease. Who walks on water and calms the sea? All those who observed worshiped Him saying, “You are the Son of God.” I agree.
While Jesus was at Capernaum, a city in Galilee, He was miraculously healing the people of every manner of sickness and casting demons out of people when we read the following.
And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ, The son of God. (Luke 4:41)
Capernaum must have been Demon City. A few verses earlier, a demon-possessed man ran up to Jesus in the synagogue and said, “Let us alone Jesus, I know thou art the holy one of God.” Jesus rebuked him and suffered him not to speak for they knew He was the Christ.
In John 10:14, the Jews were frustrated and said to Jesus, “How long will you let us doubt? If you are Christ, tell us plainly.” Then a few verses later, the Lord did just that.
I am the Son of God. If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you believe not me, believe the works. (John 10:36–38)
Jesus argued from His works, which He often vouched as His credentials and proof of His ministry as evidence that He had been sent by God through the divine power of them. Jesus can dispense with the laws of nature, repeal, alter, and overrule them at His pleasure and by His own power; that is truly sovereign and a conformation of His doctrine. These miracles were done that we may know and believe intelligently and with satisfaction that the Father is in Him, that Jesus and the Father are one. In Jesus dwelt the fullness of the Godhead, and by divine power He wrought miracles. Jesus was telling them to believe the miracles, so let’s look at a few. Jesus said,
I am the resurrection and the life … and with a loud voice cried: “Lazarus come forth.” (John 11:25–26)
Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave, and the dead came forth. Power went along with the word to reunite the soul and body of Lazarus, a visible demonstration to confirm our faith. Christ has sovereign power, the fountain of life; He is the author of the resurrection, a return to life. We look for the life in the world to come.
Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. (Luke 7:14)
The young man was dead and could not rise by any power of his own no more than can those who are spiritually dead in sin, yet it was nothing for Christ to bid him rise when a power went along with that word to put life into him. The Lord’s commands are triumphant even over death. What great influence it has on people.
And he that was dead, sat up and began to speak. (Luke 7:15)
He said unto them, give place; for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. (Matthew 9:24–25)
Jesus removed those who mocked His ability, and He did not allow them to witness this great miracle. Jesus took her by the hand to awake her from this metaphorical sleep. The high priest of the day wasn’t allowed to get near a dead body, but Christ touched the dead. Jesus Christ is the Lord of souls. He commands them forth and commands them back when and as He pleases. Dead souls are not raised back to spiritual life unless Christ takes them by the hand because it is done by His power. Jesus was saying that the proof of His deity rested in the power of His miracles including rising from the dead Himself.
The Lord was trying to make it plain to see and simple to understand. The people called Jesus the Son of God, demons called Him the Son of God, and He declared Himself to be the Son of God with power, but my favorite declaration of His deity comes from His Father, almighty God Himself, at the transfiguration in Matthew 17:5.
While He (Peter) yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said: This is my beloved Son, in who I am well pleased.
God spoke from the clouds saying that Jesus was His beloved Son. If we had been present at this event, there would be no denying this one. God’s voice was described as “the sound of thunder.” If you think that a lion’s roar is paralyzing, try not to be moved by loud thunder talking.
Jesus truly is the Son of God. What was Jesus doing on earth? What was His mission? First and foremost, Jesus came to establish the new covenant with His blood and to show us the Father, enlighten us to the spiritual world all around us, and experience for Himself what it was like to be human and gain our perspective. He was the sacrificial lamb.
Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (of Sin). (Hebrews 9:22)
Jesus was born to die.
This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which I shed for you. (Luke 22:20)
For this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
The Old Testament was confirmed by the blood of bulls and goats; the New Testament was confirmed with the blood He shed to purchase the remission of our sins.
Almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission (of sins). (Hebrews 9:22)
The new covenant procured and ratified by Christ’s blood reconciled God and humanity. It is the foundation of all other blessings and an everlasting spring of comfort. Jesus came to shed His blood for the remission of sins.
Greater love hath no man than this; he lays down his life for a friend. (John 15:13)
Giving our lives so others may live is the highest form of love we can show; it is love in the highest degree. The excellency of Christ’s love beyond all other love is shown as Christ laid down His life for us when we were His enemy. Christ wasn’t merely passive about it; He made it His own act. No one took it from Him; Jesus freely laid His life down for us. It’s like the stories of the soldiers who dove on hand grenades to save their comrades. Jesus died so that we could live.
So the world knows I love the Father as the father gives command, so I do. (John 14:31)
As His death was evidence of His love for humanity, so it was of His love for God. He died in obedience to God and for God’s glory. “As the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” The best evidence of our love for the Father is our doing as He has commanded. Jesus obeyed the Father, and He showed us true love. Imagine Jesus remaining on the cross when He could have gotten off any time He wanted to. He obeyed the Father unto death; He freely gave His life and honored God with it to ransom many. Jesus inaugurated agape love, the highest form of love, with this one act.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. (John 1:18)
Jesus declared to us this God who only He had ever seen. The nature of God being spiritual means He is invisible to the human eye. This declares that Christ’s revelation was the clearest because it was founded on one who had seen God and knew more of His mind than anyone else did. Only Christ was in the Father’s bosom, dear to Him, of special love, well pleased, always His delight, one in nature and essence, and therefore in the highest degree of love. He is in His Father’s bosom interceding for us.
For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15–16)
Though He is so great and so far above us, He is very kind and tenderly concerned about us. He is a gracious, merciful, compassionate, and sympathetic High Priest. He is touched by our infirmities more than anyone else could be because He was Himself tried with all the afflictions and troubles that are common to us so He would be able to sympathize with and satisfy us. We should encourage ourselves by the excellency of our High Priest to come boldly to the throne of grace and thank God for His grace to help us in our times of need. Jesus knows just how we feel and wants to help us.
Jesus Christ our Lord, which … declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead. (Romans 1:3–4)
According to the spirit of holiness, He is quickened by the Spirit and is the Son of God. The great proof of this is His resurrection. Those who would not be convinced by that would be convinced by nothing. His resurrection proved His claims. As a result of His death and resurrection, the new covenant was established and everything became new.
The night before His death, Jesus gave a new commandment to His disciples. He used the word kainos, which means brand new, not something improved on. The new love he was talking about was called agape love, the highest form of love. It didn’t exist before His loving sacrifice. This is how we are to love God and each other.
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; Behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The Christian theologian Matthew Henry explained it this way.
Some read it, let him be a new creature. This ought to be the care of all who profess the Christian faith; that they have a new heart and nature. Old things are passed away; old thoughts, old principles, old practices are passed away. The renewed man acts from new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company.
We are new men!
That ye put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying … let him that stole steel no more … let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you. And be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God, for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Walk in love as Christ loved us; and gave himself for us. (Ephesians 4:22–24)
Being in Christ is a transformation. Like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is our transformation into a completely different creation.
Be conformed into the image of His Son (Jesus), be the first born of many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
Holiness consists in our conformity to Christ, to be spirited as Christ, to walk and live as Christ did, and to bear our sufferings patiently as Christ did. Christ is the image of the Father, and saints are to be conformed to Christ’s image that He might be the firstborn of many brethren. Let’s face it, guys—this is a lot easier said than done, but it does show us the need to change. Our old men don’t want to leave; they want to live, but the Spirit of God in us doesn’t want our old men to live; He wants them to leave. We are to be continually conformed into the image of Jesus; it’s an ongoing process. This one truth puts us in a very precarious situation.
There are two spirits warring against each other in us as men.
For I delight in the law of God in the inward man, but I see another law in my members (body) warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity … to sin. O wretched man that that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:22–24)
Paul agreed with all the saints who were born again to truly delight in the law of God, to know it, to do it cheerfully, and to submit to its authority. It is not enough to consent to the law; we must also serve the law entirely. We are in a battle between good and evil in our lives; that’s just the way it is. God is calling us to fight the temptations inherent in our flesh. This is in part the good fight of faith.
How do we do battle when we are the enemy? When I first became a believer at age twenty-six, I began this battle. I used to slap myself in the face every time I had a lustful thought. I’m sure God enjoyed my passionate desire, but if I kept it up, those around me would have put me in a straitjacket. I knew there had to be a better way. As crazy as that was, at least I saw the problem and was trying to do something about it. When we aren’t moved by this battle and fail to fight against this darkness with resolve, we’ve already lost. We should continually strive against this darkness in our lives.
Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (Hebrews 12:4)
Our spiritual warfare is honorable and necessary because we are defending ourselves against what could destroy us. We fight for ourselves and for our lives and therefore should be patient and resolute. Every Christian is enlisted to strive against sin, sinful doctrines, sinful practices, and sinful customs and practices in himself.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 1:1)
We are encouraged to lay aside weights that slow us down in this race, weights that are called “the sin that doeth so easily beset us.”
I would like to insert a segment here from my first book to bring more clarity to what I’m attempting to convey. The book is called Strong in the Spirit: Building Spiritual Strength. (I was correlating physical and spiritual strength.)
I used to be a bodybuilder and personal trainer as well as a pastor, and I naturally became aware of these similarities.
Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring loin, walks about, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
The lion is king of the beasts and sits atop the food chain. Our enemy is a formidable foe and not to be taken lightly. He wants to destroy us, make us dead to God and alive to him. He understands the principles of the spiritual world because that is where he lives. He knows that if he can get us to violate those principles, he can weaken us and even get a foothold to manipulate us.
The scripture says he seeks whom he may devour. When we violate spiritual principles, we allow the enemy access to our lives. One of the dangers of sin is that our enemy can hook us with it; our enemy is also a fisher of men. Ultimately, that hook is a trap designed to keep us weak and steal our destiny.
He goes after her straightway, as an ox goes to the slaughter till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hastens to the snare, knowing not that it is for his life. (Proverbs 7:22–23)
What a perfect illustration—an ox being led to the slaughter. The ox thinks that he is going for another fun, happy walk; he doesn’t realize his life is on the line. Sin looks so appetizing and is often fun for a season, but it is designed to hurt us. Doing things contrary to the teachings of Jesus might be easier and satisfy our human passion, but they are designed to destroy and damage us. The father of sin hates us because God loves us. This enemy is stalking us, waiting for a chance to pounce. Remember what Jesus said to Peter?
Simon, Behold, Satan has desired to have you that he might sift you as wheat. (Luke 22:31)
This enemy is sifting us looking for something he can use. He is setting up situations for us to walk right into. The trials we go through are not arbitrary but have been designed specifically for us. Satan wants to steal our destiny and keep us from heaven, but this battle is supposed to go both ways.
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)
We should learn his strategies from wrestling through the temptations we go through. He tempted Adam and Eve, and we can learn from that. He tempted Jesus, and we can absolutely learn from that. Ephesians 6:12 shows us that we wrestle against invisible enemies; it can be very difficult to fight back.
My dear friends have a son who is a great high school wrestler here in Southern California. If you’ve ever seen one of these matches, you’ll notice two kids giving all they got to pin each other. This is a clear picture of what we are involved in spiritually speaking. What you don’t see in a high school match is a father running out of the stands to help his son beat his competitor, but we’re disappointed when God doesn’t seem to help us. God is training us to have dominion over the enemy; He’s teaching us how to wrestle.
The Lord’s responses to the enemy’s temptations were always perfect, but Jesus is God and I’m not. My wrestling with the enemy has been a little more hands-on, you know, learning as I go. When I became a believer at age twenty-six, I would slap myself in the face and say, “Stop it!” whenever a lustful situation raised its ugly head. Though that caught my attention at first, I knew there had to be a better way. I began to learn that I was fighting back when I would share my testimony and invite people to receive the Lord. I would try to do things that would hurt Satan and his kingdom whenever he tried to tempt me. I was wrestling with the enemy and winning with a transformed life. I could have thought God couldn’t have been real because I still dealt with lust sometimes or that I was such a bad sinner that I’d never change, but I didn’t. I realized early on that I was in a fight and that I had to learn how to stick up for myself and fight back.
Our scripture says to be vigilant. I’m not saying we should look for the devil everywhere and that everything is the devil’s fault, but we should notice when hardships come against us and temptations seem overwhelming.
How do we fight? It is one thing to know we’re in a fight, but it’s another thing to know how to fight. Look at the apostle Paul; he and Silas were beaten and thrown in prison.
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God … and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed. (Acts 16:12)
Paul and Silas did the opposite of what the enemy wanted them to do. The enemy wanted them to look at the sewer of their inner prison and say, “Living for God really stinks. I give up. I’ll never do anything for God again,” but they didn’t. Paul knew how to battle in the spiritual realm and shared that with us through his words and life. As we seek to understand this invisible world and live by its godly principles, we learn how to run, fight, and win.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainty; so, fight I, not as one that beats the air. (1 Corinthians 9:26)
I don’t want to be the one who just closes his eyes and swings wildly; I want my punches to connect and have impact. We are in training to have dominion in the spiritual world, and like gladiators who had to fight to the death, we too have an arena of life where we must perform. We are involved in a violent battle.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)
We are being called as Christians to move forward, engage our spiritual enemy, and take what is rightfully ours by force.
Jesus defeated hell, death, and the grave. He loves us and is training us to do the same. He’s on our side rooting for us, and I can’t wait to see Him.
I don’t want the enemy to be a danger to me; I want to be a danger to him. He’s going to hell while I’m going to heaven. Well, that’s it for the strong in the Spirit. We are called as men of God to fight. The way we fight this body of death that we live in is to die to the flesh. Jesus wasn’t the only one who had to die.
When we invite Jesus into our lives, we receive the gift of God and invite God’s spirit into our lives. That’s what it means to give our lives to God, which is what we are agreeing to when we recite the sinner’s prayer. We receive all the wonderful promises and privileges afforded us including immortality and heaven forever, and we agree to do our best to follow God’s leadings, keep our spirits teachable, and stay open to change. When we violate our end of the deal, we do it with our eyes wide open understanding fully what we are doing and thus become rebellious to God.
One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to enlighten us in those areas that need change. As we maneuver through life and these things become apparent to us, it is our job to change to the best of our ability. For example, when we hear a sermon preached and feel conviction, the ball is in our court; it’s up to us to do something about it. When we refuse to follow these leadings, make excuses, and blame others, we become rebellious. This theme is woven through God’s dealings with Israel and is what we should be learning as we continue to disregard the Spirit’s promptings for us to change.
If we are going to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ, some things in our lives will have to change; we have to stop being that way. Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but it’s the same for me.
Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it dies it brings forth much fruit. (John 12:24)
The Lord meant that if a seed never died, it would never grow into what it was destined to be. Almost everything that God wants us to become is directly linked to our dying to certain mindsets in our lives . Take pride for instance. God is trying to produce humility in our lives, so pride must die. One of the ways this happens is when we begin to go through specific trials aimed at destroying pride, and that’s never a pretty picture. People will take credit for the things we do, or they’ll lie about us, or we might even become financially stressed or shunned by our friends and loved ones. We can lash out and blame everyone, or we can swallow our pride and understand that God is trying to change us. Pride begins to die in us, and something amazing begins to happen; love, humility, and grace begin to grow in its place. These are the fruits of the Spirit. This is what the Lord was referring to in the last scripture when He said, “It brings forth much fruit.” Often in this process, we fail to do what we should, but the Lord always comes to us in forgiveness and encourages us to continue through His Word.
When we first become believers, Jesus comes to us as our risen Savior and we experience our sins being forgiven; what a miracle! We recall feeling immensely loved. But when the Lord comes to us in failure, it’s like when He stood at the tomb of Lazarus and said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). By experiencing God’s patience and understanding His commitment to us, we are strengthened. We see God’s love for us like the father of the Prodigal Son running to embrace his wayward son, and we grow in maturity and understanding as Joseph did that the enemy meant this for evil but God meant it for good. We understand our limitations and need for God’s help, and we become spiritually stronger. This is when we see the future trials coming and say, “Bring it on!” This is when we change because we trust that God loves us and knows what He is doing even if we don’t.
When David was escaping King Saul, he went to live with God’s enemies. David was so confused that he threw a tantrum when he wasn’t allowed to go fight the people of Israel in the battle that took Jonathan’s and Saul’s lives. Then when David and his men returned home, everything was gone including their families. That was the last straw, and David’s men were about to stone him. David could have lain there in self-pity and been stoned to death by his own men, but he chose to turn to God. David recalled that God was good and had a plan for his life, and he encouraged himself in that. God told David to go get them and recover all, and that’s exactly what happened. It was just a short time after this that King Saul’s crown was placed on David’s head.
King David learned how not to do things through experiencing personal failure while living with the enemies of God. We fail, but we are far from failures. God is saying the same thing to us that He said to King David in his failure: “Don’t give up. Instead, get up, pursue, and recover all!” The fulfilment of our destiny is just around the corner.
We need a new perspective when it comes to the failures we experience as we are being changed into Christ’s image. When Thomas Edison was asked about his thousands of failures while creating the filament for the incandescent light bulb, his response was unexpected: “I didn’t fail. I discovered many ways that didn’t work, but I needed to find only one way that worked.” Edison learned something from every failure, and those things that he learned eventually led him right to his discovery. Learning from our failures today leads us to a deeper discovery of God and enables us to change.
It would serve us well in this process to have the mind-set of major-league batters. They can fail to get on base seven out of ten times, but instead of feeling like failures, they are considered pretty good with a .300 batting average; it’s all about perspective.
What is God trying to show us through these failures? What is He teaching us about Himself as He helps us through them? We need to learn to trust God; this is God’s way of teaching us. We’re not failing, we’re just discovering ways not to do things, and through that process, we discover how beautiful God’s grace is and how true God’s Word is. God wants to encourage us to press into this good fight of faith and come to know Him in a deeper way.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
The apostle Paul was very aware of this battle; he said that to die was gain. He was talking about the great reward waiting for those who finished their races. For the devout Christian to die is gain because it is the end of all his weakness and misery and the perfection of his comforts, accomplishments, and hopes. What we don’t often consider in this spiritual battle we go through is that when we follow through with our side of the bargain and do all we can to facilitate this transformation, we can rest from our labors. By obeying God, we put all the pressure on Him to accomplish this great metamorphosis because that’s His job.
The Battle is the Lord’s. (1 Samuel 17:47)
When we’ve done all we can do, we are able to rest knowing that God is in control.
Fear ye not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. (Exodus 14:13)
We Need an Eternal Perspective
We can’t always find encouragement in this endless pursuit of holiness and all the difficulties we encounter; sometimes, the only thing that helps us is an eternal perspective.
You are in heaviness through manifold temptations. That the trial of your faith being much more precious that than gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire. (1 Peter 1:6–7)
Peter said that things could be hard here on earth and that a heaviness exists that can come upon us. It can feel as if we’re going through fiery trials, but at the same time, something beautiful is being created. It can be very hard to see the beautiful things God is doing in us while we are going through hard times. These temptations are like the aggravating sand that gets into an oyster shell that in the end turns into a beautiful pearl.
Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)
Paul meant that these afflictions are creating something of eternal weight and glory that won’t be revealed until heaven. It blows my mind that Paul was the one writing these words. We read of some of Paul’s afflictions in 2 Corinthians 11:23–33. I have personally gone through many painful and difficult situations, and the only solace I could find was in reading those verses and thinking that if Paul could endure what he did, God could help me too. Paul called all that he went through light afflictions that lasted about a moment. Paul saw something we don’t, and he told us about it a few verses later.
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter (the third heaven). (2 Corinthians 12:4)
Paul knew someone or had a vision of heaven, and it made everything he went through seem like nothing. As a result of his glimpse of heaven, he was basically saying that we couldn’t even compare what he had gone through to what awaited him! So, understanding the reality of heaven is the key to being greatly encouraged.
Heaven actually exists. It is real, Jesus is real, and our faith is real.
It’s time for us to get real too.
Christ was born to die!