Thursday, June 8, 2017

Redemptive Suffering

Redemptive Suffering

Several Scripture passages in the sections Redemptive Suffering and Temporal Consequences of Sin came from Scripture by Topic. The exegesis is my own.

The Problem: Almost none of our separated brethren understand the role of suffering in the world. They see it as something to be undergone in obedient silence, but they do not understand that bearing pain is meritorious not only for self, but for others.

The Truth: We image Christ through suffering; our individual suffering can and should be offered up to God not only for our salvation, but for the salvation of others and for the whole world. This offering of our suffering may be done at any time, but is best done in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, in which we unite our suffering with that of Christ on the cross, and thereby become images of Christ, living as part of the Body of Christ, which suffering alone redeemed the whole world.

Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church...

Paul states something here which passes almost unnoticed by many sola scriptura Christians - that there is a sense in which Christ's afflictions are lacking. While Christ's Passion superabundantly completed the salvation of all mankind, yet mankind must formally co-operate with the grace poured out on the Cross. Paul indicates this can be accomplished not through the sinner's prayer, but through suffering.

1 Cor 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers...

Eph 3:2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you...

Paul was a steward of God's grace. Stewards dispense that over which they have stewardship. Thus, Paul was a co-redeemer and co-mediator of grace with Christ by his own admission - a true co-worker.

Eph 3:7-8, 10-11, 13 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ... that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, ... So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Paul's suffering is for the glory of the eternal purpose of Christ, our glory.

2 Thess 1:4-5 Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering...

Like Paul, we also suffer for all the kingdom of God, in imitation of Christ...

Heb 3:14 For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end...

Phil 1:7, 12-14,23-24,29-30 It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.... I want you to know, brethren, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14 and most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear.... I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.... For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,30 engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine.

Furthermore, Paul's suffering, our suffering, is shared by all who are in the Church, and can be applied not just to his personal redemption, but to the  whole Church. He (and we) join(s) his suffering to the Cross, and so completes the sacrifice by helping Christ distribute the graces Christ alone won for us. We are Christ's co-workers, His partners.

Phil 3:10-11 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

His work is the salvation of every human being who ever lived, so our work is also the salvation of every human being that every lived. That is why all of our suffering must be offered up to God, in union with the sacrifice of the cross, so that we become the partners and co-workers that God intends us to be.

1 Jn 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Lk 23:28 But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children."

Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Mt 27:32 As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.

Mk 15:21 And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Lk 23:26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

Phil 2:17, 25, 30 Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.... I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need... for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete your service to me.

Heb 11:40 And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Our suffering and work in Christ Jesus brought even the Old Testament heroes to perfection.

2 Cor 1:6,11 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer....You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers.

2 Cor 2:5 But if any one has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measurenot to put it too severelyto you all.

1 Cor 12:24 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Gal 6:14 But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Lk 14:27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

It is in our suffering that we take on the priestly role proper to every follower of Christ. We offer up our own sacrifice of ourselves, to cleanse not only our own souls, but the souls of others, to save not just ourselves, but every man from the fires of hell. We are a royal nation of priests. This is NOT an empty title. The role of every priest is to offer sacrifice to God for the expiation of sin and in glory of His name. As cells in the Body of Christ, members of His Body, we are under obligation to carry out our duties.

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