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Sharing in His Sufferings

Sharing in His Sufferings

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11—NIV)

The New Testament is clear that if we hope to share the inheritance with the Lord Jesus Christ we must share in His sufferings. What were the sufferings of Jesus Christ? Why are we called to share in them? Why do we have to be made like Christ in His death? What does such suffering and death accomplish in our personality?

In the third chapter of the Book of Philippians Paul tells us that he counted all that he had gained as a prominent Pharisee as garbage in order that his whole personality might be immersed in Christ and be part of Christ.

Paul sought to know Christ in the very deepest, fullest sense.

Then he expressed his driving motivation in the above passage.

Paul wanted to live in the power of Christ's resurrection. Paul wanted to become like Christ in His death.

Paul was endeavoring to be so much a part of Christ's death and life that he would be totally ready to be raised in eternal Divine life at the appearing of the Lord from Heaven.

Because of current Christian teaching we cannot readily understand Paul's effort to attain the first resurrection, the resurrection out from the dead. Our doctrine does not accept this point of view, pointing rather to a "rapture" in which all believers, regardless of spiritual attainment, are included.

In the days to come we will be found to have been incorrect in our understanding of the resurrection from the dead. The truth is, the resurrection to life must be attained.

But how is it attained? How do we prepare ourselves today to participate in the coming resurrection of the royal priesthood?

We prepare ourselves today by living each day in the power of Christ's resurrection and being willing to permit the Holy Spirit of God to bring us into the kind of sufferings that Christ experienced.

We know when we are baptized in water we are baptized into the crucifixion of Christ and into the resurrection and ascension of Christ. This is a position we are to take by faith. As we count each day that we have died with Christ and have been resurrected with Christ, the Holy Spirit brings our dual position into reality. We are brought down to death each day, in some form or another, and we are raised up each day by the power of Christ's resurrection. This is the true nature of the Christian life.

The fifty-third and fifty-fourth chapters of the Book of Isaiah give us insight into some of the forms of suffering we will experience if we are being prepared by the Spirit to rule with Christ.

Most of us are familiar with the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. This famous passage tells us of the sufferings of Christ. While many of the sufferings described in this chapter have to do with the sufferings associated with the atonement for sin, which we shall never be called on to experience since the atonement has been made once and for all time, there are other aspects that are common to Jesus Christ and to the members of His Body.

To be continued. Sharing in His Sufferings 2