Article 11

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What we Believe







"The Great Fight of Afflictions"

Hebrews 10:32-33.

It would be far too time consuming to go into all the Hebrew epistle deals with. However, as a brief statement, this epistle declares the superiority of Jesus Christ to all things, and it deals with the sufferings of the people of God as well, especially in light of their loyalty to Jesus Christ as the promised Redeemer and fulfiller of all Old Testament promises. Thus, I wish to dwell with the afflictions of the people of God.

Affliction is a subject little taught in our day. Could it be that many know no affliction because they are not truly in the way of affliction? Certainly, in this God is the Judge, and I must keep my speculation to myself; but the truth of scripture is: " . . . that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts: 14:22). Those whose experience is always "victory in their experience" have not been brought into the way of Christ.

When the elect are "illuminated" (that is, given light in Christ according to the gospel of Christ) they always endure a GREAT FIGHT of afflictions. They certainly endure a great fight of afflictions (hardship or pain) when they are illuminated as to their true condition in Adam. When God shows one of His own their condition by nature it is a battle. We struggle with what we are and what God in His Holiness demands of us. Many of us also struggle with our religious background -- we must reject the vast error we have been taught down through the years and bow to the teaching of truth in God’s word as to our sinful condition. Many must also endure the great fight against those who have "guided" us through the years, now realizing that their instruction has been error, whether intended or not. Some of us have had to endure our own hypocrisy of the past, being teachers of error ourselves, and leading many others into error. These must struggle with their own rebellion and the rebellion they have induced within others. While all of these are great fights of affliction they are not the "great fight of affliction" of which the apostle speaks.

God’s people are to "call to remembrance" the affliction. While this religious world wants men and women to "forget" any trouble they have had, and take "the high road of faith" for troubles which may come, God calls His people to REMEMBER. We must remember that true "faith" is not an escape from affliction but a God given gift which calls us unto it (Able died because of his faith, Heb. 11:4; "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to SUFFER AFFLICTION WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" but he esteemed the "REPROACH OF CHRIST GREATER RICHES than the treasures of Egypt" 11:24-26). It is upon such afflictions as these that the apostle comments, for, he says: "Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock [exposed as a spectacle] both by reproaches and affliction; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used" (Heb. 10:33). But what does this mean?

The common thought today is that the believer chooses to "live a good life as Christ did" thus he or she suffers reproach and affliction. There is not one true believer who would not "chose to live, and actually live, as Christ lived" if they could, but the reality is -- THEY CANNOT! Christ was impeccable (unable to be tempted to sin) but we are very peccable (so prone to be tempted to sin). The truth is not how we actually conduct our every action, though the believer is concerned about our every action, but esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the world in which we live. Note that Moses was guilty of murder (not even self-defense or the immediate defense of others,) for it is said of him " . . . he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man" he killed the Egyptian (Ex. 2:11-12 cf. 2:13-14). This is certainly no excuse for murder but an account of the truth of the circumstance. However, the faith God had given Moses caused him to make a distinction between the people of God and the people of the world. The people of God were suffering because of their position IN CHRIST and Moses by faith knew the difference in spite of his crime.

Suffering affliction comes as a result of our defense of the purpose of God in Christ. Faith causes one to defend the truth of God in Christ, and though we miserably fail at times, we are, as Moses was, not rebuked or judged for the things we should be rebuked or judged for, but we are rebuked and judged for our stance for the glory of God in the person of the Son. All true believers are made a gazingstock because of their loyalty to the person and work of Christ. The breaking of men’s law is soon forgotten even when it deserves punishment, but the defense of the gospel of Christ will never be forgotten and thus God’s people are reproached and afflicted by the world.

Affliction is the lot of the elect of God. Our stand for the person and work of Christ will be determined as evil by the world, discredited by the world, mocked by the world, and exposed as a spectacle (gazingstock) by the world. If we murder and maim we MAY WELL be punished by man’s law, and rightfully so; but if you declare your stand for the person and work of Christ you WILL BE punished by reproaches and afflictions. This is our lot, and we can take comfort that we are not alone, for we are COMPANIONS OF THEM THAT WERE SO USED. Believers stand amidst a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1) but we are sustained by even greater than these, for the Lord Jesus Christ if the beginner and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). It is not for our own cause we suffer reproach and affliction but for the cause of Christ.

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