The Second Most Controversial Thing I’ve Ever Said

The Second Most Controversial Thing I’ve Ever Said

I said the statement below on a TV program and a guy hunted me down on Facebook and wrote a diatribe about my heresy for the entire world to see.  Actually every time I say it I take some heat.  No matter – I still believe it, because I’m convinced the Bible backs it up and so does personal experience.

Here it is:  I believe God’s most effective tool for sanctifying us (making us who we need to be) is suffering.

Exhibits A,B and C:
We must go through many hardships to enter the
kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)

Although [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

… because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:20)

Jesus learned obedience through suffering. Why would we be exempt?

Now for the personal experience: If I’m honest with myself I have to admit that the times I’ve grown the most spiritually have been through times of intense personal suffering.  I’m not going to venture into whether God caused that suffering or not, but I’m certain he allowed it.

I’m not encouraging you to go out looking for suffering like a self-flagellating monk, but I am saying that if you are in the middle of suffering (even if you caused it) you can rejoice because God is at work sanctifying you.  Philippians 2:11-13 (below) is alive and well in your life.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation [sanctification] with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.