FORESIGHT OF THE MASTER PLANNER
First Begotten Son is God Part 3
THE NATURE OF JESUS CHRIST
IS JESUS EQUAL WITH GOD ? The Difference Between Actual Suffering & Having A Mind To Suffer. Part 2
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-7)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. (John 1:1)
“Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand. JUSTICE and JUDGEMENT are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king” (Psalms 89:13-18)
“For the time is come that JUDGEMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1Peter 4:17) .
“Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress. They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing. And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD. Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5: 6-18)
Like I said in our last post, Church folks have been preached at to “accept their sufferings” – “suffer suffer for world – enjoy for heaven” while most of those who do the preaching (this days) tend to live opulent lifestyles that is being envied by showbiz folks – These make the notion of suffering in the course of doing the work of God become a very touchy issue which when not taken before the Lord in prayer could lead to shipwreck.
In our last post as part of our look at the obedience of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as seen in His emptying and humbling of Himself we looked at Difference Between Actual Suffering & Having A Mind To Suffer we will now continue with the second part of the discourse by watchman Nee Called Having A Mind To Suffer.
I will like to reiterate again that as we move more into the perilous times prophesied by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, a time when it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate the true brethren from the false ones; a time when as Jesus put it:
“Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:12-13).
It is fast becoming a time when with everyday reality:
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold“ (Matthew 24:12) .
It is a time when like never before:
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13)
But continually remember that:
“It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth“ (Lamentations 3:22-27).
Like in our last post, in going through this post, I would like us to ponder on these verses of the scriptures:
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9).
“For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:26-27).
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (Heb. 13:12-15).
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1Pet 2:21-25).
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1Pet. 3:18).
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead” (1Pet. 4:1-5).
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you“ (1Pe:5:10).
Let us now carry on with our look at this discourse written by Watchman Nee – HAVING A MIND TO SUFFER
Here we see the dilemma in the Lord’s service. Sometimes, for example, in the work which God has called us to do, we find ourselves in physical need because He seemingly has not provided sufficiently for us. What shall we do amidst such trial? Well, if we stop working because of material straitness, might not our Lord be surprised and He not be justified in asking us what is the basis and reason for our service? So that in God’s service, having the mind to suffer is a decisive factor. For you cannot come to the Lord and say you quit because you encounter some unexpected difficulty or trial. No one who serves the Lord may stay home during rain and go forth only after the sun comes out. If you have the mind to suffer, then you will work on in spite of privation, difficulty, pain, sickness, or even approaching death.
Possessing a mind to suffer, you will stand up and declare to the devil, “I will work on, no matter what may come!” But if you are inwardly afraid, you will fall away at whatever provocation Satan may cast along your path. If you say, “I am not afraid of hunger,” then when Satan threatens you with hunger, you stand firm and the devil flees. If you say, “I am not afraid of coldness,” you will stand and Satan must withdraw when the latter tempts you with coldness. But if you should say, “I am afraid of being sick,” Satan will make you sick and thus you will be vanquished. Without a mind to suffer, you are subject to Satanic attack at this very point of your fear, and you will be finished. But if you declare, “I am not afraid of sickness,” Satan will be bound.
In the light of all this, every one of God’s workmen must be prepared before the Lord to go forth with a fearless heart. Whatever may happen – whether it be family trouble, physical ailment, hunger or cold – you shall continue to serve. With the result that the Enemy can do nothing to you. Such an attitude reveals having the mind to suffer. On the other hand, when such an attitude is lacking, you will be tempted with the very thing of which you are afraid. And the consequence will be that you will invariably withdraw from the work of God. In short, you become unusable.
May we all say to God, “For the sake of Your love and because of the grace You have given me today, I am fully committed to Your work. Come heaven or come hell, I will work on. Wether competent or incompetent, I shall pursue the work to its very end.” Without such a heart as this we will be open to the attack of the Enemy at our point of weakness. We will quickly be finished and reduced to ineffectiveness. For this reason we must plead with God to show mercy towards us and grant us this mind to suffer.
To have this mind is to be inwardly ready for the Lord regardless what event or future circumstance may overtake us. Having such a mind to suffer does not necessarily automatically incur suffering; probably, there will be no suffering; yet an inward determination anchors us firmly. And whoever has this inner assurance is fortified against trouble of any kind. But whoever lacks such certitude will collapse when confronted with trouble.
Have you now realized the absolute necessity for having such a mind? The way of service lies not in suffering, but in possessing the mind to suffer. That is to say, you thank God for hunger and nakedness as well as for food and clothing. These things create no difficulty in your life. Neither good nor bad represents any problem to you at all. Please understand that Christians do not ever seek to suffer, they must simply have a mind to suffer. They are prepared to press on in the face of whatever difficulties come their way. But if this should remain an unsettled issue in your life, then nothing is settled.
Let us take what may occur in travel as an example of what we have been saying here. It is true that some people may be physically weak and need to sleep on a better bed. But if you as God’s servant insist that you must sleep on a more comfortable bed because of your feebleness, then Satan can attack you at this very point and cause you to have an uncomfortable bed to sleep on. To have the mind to suffer denotes that, regardless of the condition of the bed, you will work on. If the Lord so arranges for you to sleep on a better bed, do not prefer to sleep on the floor. You should sleep on any kind of bed He provides for you. No matter what the condition of the bed is, you continue to serve and will not shrink back. Such an attitude is what the Scriptures call having the mind to suffer.
Some brother may be living under a poorer material condition. By this alone it cannot be assumed that he has the mind to suffer. Do not conclude that the materially poorer brother must certainly be one who possesses a greater mind to suffer than a materially better-off brother. Only those who have truly consecrated themselves to the Lord are in possession of such a mind. Such a heart to endure suffering knows no measure nor end. You may go to one place and sleep on the floor. You may go to another place, and there is no floor for you to sleep on but only a pile of hay in the mud. What will you do in such a circumstance? Someone may accept it with great reluctance.
Nevertheless, though he suffers, his suffering has a measure or boundary to it. He may be willing to sleep on the floor, but that is the extent to which he can manage the situation – he cannot lower himself further by sleeping in the hay on the muddy ground. By this he seems to say that his standard of living is already low enough and cannot go any lower. This only affirms that he has the fact of suffering but not the mind to suffer.
On the other hand, there are other brothers and sisters who in their daily living enjoy more material comforts and yet when their standard of living is compelled by circumstance to be lowered, they can take it in stride as though nothing has happened. They can sleep on the floor or even on muddy ground spread with hay. They utter not a word of reluctance or complaint, for they gladly accept the provision. Now this is having a mind to suffer. And God will choose such people to serve Him.
So our issue today is not over how much we suffer but over what is the measure or boundary to our endurance. Suffering may not be necessary for us, but having the mind to suffer is a must. The Lord will not purposely put us in continuous trial or hardship; He only desires to create in us a mind to suffer. No one who goes forth to serve God can be strong without possessing this kind of mind. Else he will be a feeble workman. He will pity, favor and shed tears for himself at the least difficulty or inconvenience. He will sigh and say, “How have I fallen into such a trying situation!” This reminds me of the instance when on one occasion a sister was weeping. Another sister who had served the Lord many years asked her: “But for whom are you weeping?” Alas, many weep for themselves. They bemoan the fact that, being so lovely and so precious, they have now been demoted into this uninviting, unpleasant place or situation. So they weep for themselves. Such people are the weakest, and they are the quickest to fold when the going gets rough.
The questions before you is this: when trial and pain come your way, where is your heart? On the one hand is your hardship; on the other hand is the Lord’s work. In the even you do not have the mind to suffer, you will immediately sacrifice the work of the Lord. You will muse, “How can I possibly take care of the Lord’s work when I can hardly take care of my distress!” Oh, at all costs, we must arm ourselves with the mind to suffer, for there is no question that our suffering shall indeed subside if we lay down the work; but in so doing God’s work will suffer loss.
Here, then, is the problem: when there is a lack of a mind to suffer, or when there is no mind present to suffer at all, Satan is able to tempt us to desert our work for the Lord at any time. yet we are to be people who maintain the glory of God. Come life or come death, we must fulfill our duty. We have to finish our course and persevere to the end. This that I have said is not meant to imply that it is expected that our laboring brothers and sisters are to suffer. Under ordinary situations, our need for food, clothing and lodging is legitimate and good in God’s sight to be met. We do not in the slightest encourage brothers and sisters to seek out sufferings to bear, nor would we ever put suffering upon anyone: we would that God would supply our every need so that we would lack in nothing. Yet we still maintain that to have a mind to suffer is an absolute necessity for those who are God’s workmen. On the one hand, we are aware that God would not withhold any good thing from us; on the other hand, we must possess the mind to suffer. If not, we shall fall at the least inconvenience or trouble.Four
How much of a mind to suffer must we posses? The demand of the Scripture is: “faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10c). In other words, we must be able to endure anything, even death itself. We are not advocating extremes here. Yet having the mind to suffer isnever moderately defined in God’s word. If moderation is called for in the case of some of you workers because of excess, then let the Lord, the Church or the more matured brethren temper your excess. But so far as you are concerned, you must give your all. How can you ever serve if you temper yourself? There is no way for you to work. A person who looks upon his own life in his own hand is very limited in the work of God. Every one of us who would be in God’s service must be prepared to be faithful unto death. This is the only path we can travel. It goes without saying that the Lord will not ask you to die because of your faithfulness. Nonetheless, the preserving of our life is up to the Lord and is not a matter for our concern. Should the Lord so order, that is His business. On our side, we must always be ready to lay down our life. No matter how painful, we must learn to endure.
Let me say this, that if you live your own life, you will not be able to be faithful unto death. Yet this is the basic demand of the Lord. The mind to suffer should be so strong in us that we may say, “O Lord, it is fine with me if death should come! I am willing to lay down my life for You, totally unmindful of any distressful situation.” God needds such “violent” ones to serve Him (see Mt. 11:12) – those who would dare to put their lives on the line. Let us not worry about how we can avoid being extreme. That is another matter. Here we must realize that though it is impossible for us to pre-arrange everything, it is absolutely necessary that we have this mind to suffer before God. We must be prepared to give our all in the face of outside trouble or physical weakness. If we will not be “violent” with ourselves, then we can do nothing. Let us tell the Lord, “O Lord, I am willing to give my all. Hereafter nothing can hinder my serving You. Come death or life, come sorrow or joy, with You I have cast my lot.”
This one thing is most effective – that of serving the Lord even unto death. The more you stand on this ground, the less the Enemy has any way with you. Alas, how people love their own selves. A little pain draws out rivers of tears and eruptions of sighs. Were we not to love ourselves, these tears and sighs would vanish from the scene. In order to travel this road God’s servants must be “violent” people. They must say to the Lord, “Lord, whether You have ordained for me to suffer or not, I am fully prepared to suffer.” Again and again I would say that suffering is a limited matter, whereas the mind to suffer is an unlimited one. the amount of hardship or trial the Lord allows you to endure is measurable, but the extent of your readiness to suffer before the Lord is to be immeasurable. On the other hand, if your mind to suffer is measurable, then you do not really have the mind to suffer. Any limit here renders such a person ineffective in the Lord’s work. Anything less than what God demands makes one’s service unacceptable to Him.
Never entertain the thought that the mind to suffer is restricted to only a certain measure of suffering. No, no, it is to be measureless, even unto death. Otherwise, Satan will be able to tempt you and make you fall. “They over came him [Satan] because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death” (Rev. 12:11). What can the Enemy do if your conscience is void of offence, you have the word of the testimony of Christ’s victory, and you love not your life even unto death? The Enemy has no way in the slightest to deal with those who love not their lives in that way!
We all know the story of Job. The reason why Satan attacked him so fiercely is because God’s Enemy just could not believe that a man would not seek to preserve his own life for the Lord’s sake. Hence he challenged Jehovah, saying, “Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce You to Your face” (Job 2:4-5). Satan knew that if he touched Job’s life and the latter loved his life, then God’s enemy would have his way. How very clear are the implications of the words in Rev. 12:11: Satan is at his wit’s end towards those who love not their lives even unto death.
The failure of God’s workmen can be plainly perceived right here – that they love their lives too much. Let us ask ourselves which is more important, the work of God or our own life? our duty to God or our own life? people’s souls or our own life? the Church of God or our own life? the testimony of God on earth or our own life? Those who love themselves cannot serve the Lord; and those who suffer may not necessarily be serving the Lord. Only those who have the mind to suffer, who have an unlimited measure of the mind to suffer, who have a mind that “love[s] not their life even unto death” – these, and these alone, are qualified to serve God.
Today, let us offer ourselves afresh to the Lord, not offering ourselves to suffer, but simply offering ourselves to give our all. The Lord may not have destined us to be martyrs, yet we must have the mind to suffer even unto a martyr’s death if that be His will. Let us acknowledge and confess how often the failure of our work can be traced to our indolence, self-protection and lack of self-denial. Do not presume that people are blind, that the eyes of other brothers and sisters are closed. Let us realize that they can easily detect whether we are giving our all or keeping back something.
When the Lord calls us, He calls us to put all on the altar. May He be gracious to us that none of us will so treasure his or her life as to be unwilling to lay it down. From the depths of our hearts we must cultivate the habit of not loving or pitying ourselves. Otherwise, our work will be circumscribed. The measure and extent of our having the mind to suffer will determine the measure and extent of our spiritual work for the Lord. Any limitation in having this mind limits the scope of spiritual service. It also limits the blessing to people. We need not use any other standard by which to measure God’s blessing than that of having the mind to suffer. And with a measureless mind to suffer there shall come an unlimited scope of blessing.
O Lord You have said in Your word in 1Corinthians 11:31-32 that “for if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world”: We pray this day O Lord that, You will multiply the Father’s glorious riches in You unto us and fill us with the Knowledge of The Father’s will to RIGHTEOUSLY JUDGE OURSELVES, SO THAT WE WILL NOT BE JUDGED AND CONDEMNED WITH THE WORLD.
Meanwhile, seek to be set free from God’s wrath today and seek the righteousness that really counts:
You might say – “Why do I have to know and experience this Jesus you are going on about?” Here is why, when and how you can get to know Him.
Admit your spiritual need.
We all are sinners: nobody likes that title “SINNER”, but the bible says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.
What is the result of sin?
In Romans 6:23 we read “The wages of sin is death…” in other words, every sin is another step towards death. One thing that we need to remember is that God never sends anyone to hell; one can send himself there by rejecting the truth.
Since we can never measure up to God’s standards by our own strength; God has reached out to mankind.
In Romans 5:8 we read, “God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. It is Jesus, after all, who is the source of life’s greatest high.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17).
What must a person do to accept this gift?
Simply receive it! Matthew 11:28 states –“come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me” Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks, seeking entrance into your life to give you peace, change you for the best. John 1:12 says: “For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God”.
If you haven’t already received Christ as your Saviour, don’t put it off another day! Take time right now to reflect on the state of your life, how does Romans 3:23 apply to you? Ask God to empower you to see the true state of your heart – “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) then when enabled, invite Jesus into your life. Confess your sins. Receive His forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. You could pray something like this:
Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of a Saviour. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank You for giving me eternal life. Help me to live my life in a way that pleases You, for whatever time You give me here on earth. I look forward to living forever in Heaven with You. Amen.