Part 21 of 25

Suffering & Glory

No man has seen God because “God is spirit,” John 4:24, but Jesus of Nazareth walked on earth as the “glory and the express image” of the Father. Jesus told Philip “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Hebrews 1:2-3a (God) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person

After His incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection, “now the Lord is the Spirit” (2Cor 3:17).The resurrected “spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2a) who indwells the believer’s spirit is the expression of the very life of the Godhead… as He now is. I say Godhead as He now is because God has changed from before the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth. The first change in God was when “the Word became flesh,” but another change was to come. The change I refer to now altered the Godhead forever when the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth was added into the Godhead at His resurrection.

Romans 1:3-4 (AMP) [The Gospel] regarding HIS SON, Who AS TO THE FLESH (as to His human life) was descended from David, 4 And [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was OPENLY DESIGNATED (DECLARED) THE SON OF GOD in power [in a striking, triumphant and miraculous manner] BY HIS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD, even Jesus Christ our Lord (the Anointed One).

By Jesus’ resurrection, the Godhead has become a partaker of the human experiences of suffering and death by Jesus of Nazareth’s human incarnation and experience. When Jesus of Nazareth “was declared (to be) the Son of God by His resurrection” (v4), His human experience was added into the Godhead. Now, the Godhead is forever both human and divine. Thus, we see how He can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities” (Heb 4:15).

This now is God, who now as “the Spirit of Christ” indwells every believer. After Jesus endured great suffering, death and resurrection, He then “became the life giving spirit (1Cor 15:45), whose life is now available to indwell the human spirit of all those who would believe to receive Him. Jesus here, by metaphor, foretold of His life giving capacity that would come forth out of His death. John 12:24 … Except a corn (seed) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Paul here clearly says we also “must share His suffering” if we are “to share His glorious expression.”

 “And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only WE MUST SHARE HIS SUFFERING IF WE ARE TO SHARE HIS GLORY. 18 [But what of that?] For I consider that THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS PRESENT TIME (this present life) are not worth being compared with THE GLORY that is about to be revealed to us and IN US and FOR US and CONFERRED ON US!” (Romans 8:17-18 (AMP)

“Glory,” as used in the verse above, is best defined in practical terms by the use of the word “expression.” God’s “glory” is the natural spontaneous expression of His life as in “the brightness of His glory” (Heb 1:3). As all life grows, God’s life is organically destined to grow to maturity in the believer; e.g. the full glory of the carnation plant is the full blossoming of the living flower. The result of the life of Christ in the believer is that they would come to maturity as the full expression of Christ’s life within them.

As we’ve seen over and over, each Christian is a partaker of the Christ’s very life and nature (Col 3:4a; 2Pet 1:4) in their spirit. Thereby, each Christian believer has the potential of becoming an expression of Christ’s “spirit of life” (Rom 8:2a) as it flows through their soul’s expression. In this way, the believer becomes the glory or expression of Christ.

Colossians 1:27b … the GLORY (expression) OF THIS MYSTERY among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, the HOPE (elpis, expectation) of GLORY:

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would come to “know” their inheritance. “… (the) GLORY (glorious expression) of his inheritance IN the saints.” “…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of THE GLORY (glorious expression) OF his inheritance IN the SAINTS (Ephesians 1:18)

Continuing with the “flower” metaphor; if the glory of the flower is to appear, the seed of the parent-flower must first be planted in the soil. Are we not made of the “dust of the ground” – the soil to receive God’s “seed which is Christ”? Then, if the seed is to mature, the shell of the seed must be broken, to release its life to grow. At first planting, nothing may be noted of the life of the seed hidden in the soil. Water and sun produce the needed pressure for releasing the life of the flower’s seed. It’s only after the life is released from the seed that first green shoots appear, then the stems and leaves, and ultimately the flower blossom itself as the glory or full expression of the life within the seed.

The above Scriptures and the metaphor of the seeded flower make clear the need of suffering the pressures of life if the believer is to become an expression of the “glory” of Christ’s life within them. Suffering for the flower seed is the result of the light and water. We know that Christ is the light and water of life in the believer’s life. The believer’s “self-soul” is the shell covering the seed, which limits the life of the seed, keeping it from being expressed. The darkness of our unrenewed soul-self is revealed by the light of His life within our spirit. The shell or self-soul of the believer must exposed and become broken if the Christ’s life is to be released and expressed.

We as believers do not need to “act like Christians” because we have the genuine life of Christ within us, in seed form, needing only to be released. Christ within is simply bound by the shell of our self-soul. That soul may either restrict the outflow of the “Spirit of life” within, or it may co-operate to “walk” in union and accord with the flow of the Spirit within. The shell of the seed must become broken. The pressures of life, orchestrated by our loving Father, ultimately burst the shell of our soul so the “life” of the Seed may flow out and become expressed according to its very nature. Thus, it is the work of God in the believer that breaks his soul to release the glory of the life within the Seed. God our Father is orchestrating what is needed in our life for us to become genuine expressions of Christ’s life within us.

Philippians 2:13 (AMP) [Not in your own strength] for IT IS GOD WHO IS ALL THE WHILE EFFECTUALLY AT WORK IN YOU [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

Suffering is the key element to bring Christ’s life to the fore within us. Initially none of us turn to God except out of recognized need. The core problem is that all mankind has been damaged by Adam’s Sin infection, and the work of Sin has corrupted our soul’s mind and will. God has given every believer salvation from judgment and He has given them His eternal life within…now God’s work in us is to renew our damaged fallen souls by “the renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5b). Christ’s Spirit within us is “is now that spirit” (2Cor 3:17 (KJV).

Every believer who falls in love with the Lord ultimately realizes they are poor expressions of Christ as they’ve mostly lived by their ineffectual soul-power – self-effort working via self-will. They need Him to break their soul’s independence so His life can be released to flow out of them however He wills. Realizing our need of His work in us is the basis of the song that contains these words: “(God) send just enough rain, and just enough pain to make me what you want me to be”

We’ve all lived in ignorance of our deepest needs or we’ve denied admitting to our deepest needs. Oftentimes, God must use the tool of suffering in order touch and expose our deepest hurts, in order that He might meet our deepest needs. Thus, our sufferings then are a blessing. Though maturing Christians come to recognize the need and blessing of such sufferings we are not adherents of asceticism (religious masochism). We are those who simply desire “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29b).

Continuing in Romans 8, Paul goes on to shows us how our soul is to be “conformed to the image of Christ.” It is through suffering by which we, as an independent self, are put to death all the day long (verse 36 below) – while we yet abide in the protective love of God” (v39).

Romans 8:28-29 (AMP) We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER AND ARE [FITTING INTO A PLAN] FOR GOOD TO AND FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD AND ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO [HIS] DESIGN AND PURPOSE. 29 For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], HE ALSO DESTINED FROM THE BEGINNING [FOREORDAINING THEM] TO BE MOLDED INTO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON [AND SHARE INWARDLY HIS LIKENESS], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.

36-39 Even as it is written, For Thy sake WE ARE PUT TO DEATH ALL THE DAY LONG; WE ARE REGARDED AND COUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER. 37 YET AMID ALL THESE THINGS WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS AND GAIN A SURPASSING VICTORY THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US. 38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that NEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, 39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Often we come to realize the truth of our needy condition and His care for us only when we have come to face an insurmountable situation of life. It is under His hand of love that we suffer the pressures and trials of life. These are things we cannot control. These sufferings are the key to our acquiescing to His will, to become pliable and co-operative with Him, as the glove is to the living hand within. We must abandon living independently – from living apart from the Lord within us.

The release of the glorious expression of Christ’s life in the believer requires the tool of suffering in our Father’s skilful and loving hand. This will bring us to the place of yielding, to permit Christ’s life to flow through us as He wills.

God’s work in our lives is transformative. The result of His transformative work in our lives is that Christ’s very life, with His characteristics of love, peace, rest, mercy, and grace then has an opportunity for expression through each of us as the members of “the church, which is His body.” We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another by the work of the Lord.

And ALL OF US, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word (Christ) of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, ARE CONSTANTLY BEING TRANSFIGURED INTO HIS VERY OWN IMAGE in ever increasing splendor and FROM ONE DEGREE OF GLORY TO ANOTHER; [for this comes] FROM THE LORD [WHO IS] THE SPIRIT.” 2Corinthians 3:18 (AMP)