Suffering Unto Perfection

By Kenneth E. Hagin

 

When tests, trials, and persecutions assail you, stand your ground on the Word and obey what God has said to you.

Yes, you may suffer for a while, but you’ll eventually come out on top! You will be blessed, others will be blessed, and the Kingdom of God will be exalted!

Though he [Jesus] 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.
– Hebrews 5:8,9

One great lesson to be learned by Christians is that God has His own way of working out His will in our lives. Our text says Jesus, the Son of God, learned obedience and was made perfect by the things He
suffered.

Suffering is a subject we don’t necessarily like to talk about. One reason we don’t is that we can sometimes get carried away with only one side of the truth about suffering.

When it comes to the subject of suffering, folks get all tangled up, so to speak. In other words, they’ve done the same thing with the subject of Christian suffering that they’ve done with the subject of prayer. They’ve taken all types of suffering, put them in the same sack, shook them up, and then poured them all out together.

But all suffering is not the same just like all prayer is not the same. The Bible plainly teaches that.

 

I PETER 2:19-21

19 ..this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, SUFFERING wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and SUFFER for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also SUFFERED for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE, THAT YE SHOULD FOLLOW HIS  STEPS.

Verse 21 says that Christ suffered for us, leaving us an, example, that we should follow in His steps. Since all suffering is not the same, we need to distinguish between Christ’s example in suffering and Christ’s
substitution in suffering.

Here is the difference: We can follow Christ’s example in suffering, but we cannot follow His substitution in suffering.

Christ’s substitution in suffering means His substitutionary death on the Cross when He took our place. In suffering death – in shedding His blood and taking our sin upon Himself – He was our Substitute. In
other words, He suffered those things so we wouldn’t have to suffer them.

When Christ died on the Cross, He suffered sin, sickness, and disease so we wouldn’t have to. Yet people still get this business of suffering all mixed up in their heads. For example, someone who’s sick
will say, “Well, I’m just suffering for Jesus.”

But, no, a sick person is not suffering for Jesus. Jesus redeemed mankind from sickness and disease (Deut. 28; Isa. 53:4,5: Gal. 3:13,14). Jesus suffered sickness and disease for us – in our place – not as our example but as our substitute. In other words, we can’t follow in Christ’s steps in His substitutionary suffering.

But in Christ’s example in suffering, He was reviled, persecuted, and spoken against, and there was suffering in that. The way He reacted to the persecution and suffering inflicted upon Him is our example. And in the midst of that kind of suffering, we should follow in His steps.

 

I PETER 2:22,23

22 Who [Jesus] did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

23 Who, when he was reviled, REVILED NOT AGAIN; when he SUFFERED, he THREATENED NOT; but COMMITTED HIMSELF TO HIM THAT JUDGETH RIGHTEOUSLY.

We know that Jesus suffered sickness and disease in His substitutionary suffering so we wouldn’t have to suffer those things. But on the other hand, we do experience the kind of suffering Jesus experienced in First Peter 2:23. For example, at one time or another, every one of us has been reviled, talked against, and persecuted.

That’s what this passage in First Peter is talking about. We should follow in Christ’s steps in His example in suffering. For instance, when Jesus was reviled, the Bible said “He reviled not again.” He didn’t act toward those who reviled Him in the same way they acted toward Him. And it said that when He was threatened by folks, He “threatened not.” He didn’t threaten them in return. He just went right on doing His Father’s business.

Let’s look at our main text again.

HEBREWS 5:8,9

8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.

This passage isn’t just talking about Jesus’ suffering by going to the Cross of Calvary as our Substitute. Stop and think about all the things Jesus suffered in coming to the earth as a man. First, the Word tells us in Philippians 2:7 that He “… stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity] so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being” (Amp.).

The Word of God states that Jesus laid aside the use of His mighty power and glory, becoming a man. That was a terrible price to pay in itself. Think about what it cost the Lord Jesus Christ to lay aside His mighty power and glory!

Jesus was obedient to come to the earth to do His Father’s will. And we know that Jesus continued to be obedient to His Heavenly Father throughout His life on the earth.

 

HEBREWS 2:18

18 For in that he himself HATH SUFFERED BEING TEMPTED, he is able to succour [come to the aid of] them That are tempted.

This verse talks about Jesus suffering temptation. Well, we suffer temptation too. But, thank God, in the midst of temptation, Jesus is able to keep us and will. keep us! He is able to succor, help, or come
to the aid of those who are tempted. Why? Because Jesus Himself was tempted in His earth walk, yet He was without sin.

HEBREWS 4:15,16

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We have a High Priest, Jesus, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and sufferings. And even in the midst of our suffering, we can come boldly to the throne of grace for mercy and grace to help us
in our time of need!

Since Jesus was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, what are some more examples of the suffering He faced as our Example?

LUKE 4:1,2

1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness,

2 Being forty days tempted of the devil….

According to this verse, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where Jesus was tempted by the devil.

There were times the Holy Spirit has also led me into the “wilderness”! He’s probably led you there, too, at one time or another.

You see, many folks want to accuse the devil of getting them in the wilderness. But we just read that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, we know there was suffering involved because the Bible said Jesus suffered being tempted (Heb. 4:15). But Jesus successfully overcame the
temptation, and that involved suffering. Tration, leaving the other nine apostles at the foot of the mountain. As Jesus came back down, a man approached Him and said, “I brought my son to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” So Jesus had this man’s son brought to Him. Then He rebuked the devil, and the devil departed out of the boy.

After the man’s son was delivered, the other nine apostles asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast the devil out of him?” Jesus answered, ” … because of your unbelief.. ” (v. 20)!

But think about this: If the apostles hadn’t already been getting folks delivered, they wouldn’t have asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we cast this one out?” So they must have been casting out devils before that time;
otherwise, the man wouldn’t have taken his son to them in the first place.

If you knew someone who was sick and needed to be ministered to, you wouldn’t take him somewhere where the people don’t believe in praying for the sick, would you?

For example, back in 1939, I pastored a church in the blacklands of north central Texas. One Sunday night, a woman in my church brought me a letter from her neighbor across the street. It said: “Dear Reverend
Hagin, I don’t know you, but I read in the paper that you’re the new pastor of this church. My daughter and I visited several years ago for different services, so I know that your church believes in divine healing, anointing with oil, and praying for the sick.

“I have been bedfast in my home for two years. I realize that I’m 72 years old, but I just don’t believe God is through with me yet. Would you come to my house in the morning at ten o’clock to anoint me with
oil and pray that I may be healed?” And she had given her address.

Well, the next morning at ten o’clock, I was at this woman’s house She was lying on a hospital bed that had been cranked up almost to seated position. Her special nurse escorted me to the bed and introduced me,
saying, “This is Reverend Hagin.” As I shook hands with the white-haired woman, she reached out and held on to my hand. She said, “Now Brother Hagin, when you get as old as I am, you don’t have time to
mince words.”

I was only 22 years old back then. But today I can understand what she meant because I’m older now than she was then!)

The woman continued: “You may wonder why I sent for you since I’m a member of another church. But my church doesn’t believe in divine healing. They don’t pray for the sick, and they don’t anoint people with oil. In fact, as far as I’m able to ascertain, your church is the only church in town that does. Besides that, I know healing is in the Bible because I’ve been reading my Bible. Now just go ahead and anoint me with oil and pray, and I’ll be healed. You just watch!”

I didn’t know this woman. I had just met her that day for the first time. But I anointed her with oil and prayed the prayer of faith, and she was healed. The reason I know she was healed is that the next week
she came to our church for the Sunday night service.

But the thought I wanted you to get is that the woman did said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my  sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundred-fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, WITH PERSECUTIONS; and in the world to come eternal life.

We want to enjoy the “houses and lands,” the blessings of God, all right. But did you ever hear anybody say, “I’m claiming the persecutions in. Mark 10:30”!

You don’t have to be concerned about claiming the persecutions of Mark 10. When you obey God and begin prospering and receiving some of the blessings of Mark 10, the persecutions will come without your even
claiming them!

You see, this passage not only talks about the blessings, but it also talks about the persecutions. Well, we will suffer persecutions in this life (2 Tim. 3:12). For example, people are going to talk about and criticize us at one time or another. Not many of us enjoy that! Yet if you haven’t matured enough scripturally, you could let persecutions throw you and get you detoured or sidetracked from the plan of God for your life.

Criticism is something I’ve had to suffer in the ministry. For example, I never did it intentionally, but nearly everything I preached in my early days of ministry was unpopular with many folks. For instance, I preached and taught that God wants all of His children, not just some of us, to be healed and healthy and to live out our full length of time down here on the earth without sickness and disease.
Not everybody attains that, but it’s God’s will anyway; that’s His best.

I was raised up from a deathbed, healed of a deformed heart and incurable blood disease, because I found the revelation of healing in God’s Word, and I stood on the Word in faith. I was so overjoyed with the revelation of God’s truth about healing, that I wanted to share it with everyone. And I did. I preached it from church to church, but I got persecuted and criticized for it. Yet it was the Word of God that I was preaching.

That’s why some ministers today are so weak in character: They don’t know how to endure the hardship of persecution and criticism. When the storms come, they can’t stand their ground. I’ve had storms hit me
from every side, yet because I knew the Lord was leading me, I continued on course by faith.

The Holy Spirit actually led me to preach a meeting once for a fellow who would get behind the pulpit at various conventions and publicly take a broadside “sock” at what I was preaching! He publicly criticized everything I believed and preached! Yet he asked me to come hold a meeting for him!

I said, “Lord, why did You ever lead me to this place to begin with?” You see, there was some suffering involved. In fact, it was so uncomfortable, I didn’t know you could hurt in so many places and still
be in the will of God!

Don’t think it’s always going to be easy to obey God. But obeying God in the hard places is one of the things that will perfect or mature you. It will put some stamina and backbone in you – backbone like a crowbar instead of a cotton string!

I can’t begin to cover all the hardships and persecutions I experienced over the years as I obeyed the will of God. I went through some things in my ministry that I wouldn’t willingly go through again for ten million dollars. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t take twenty million for what I gained by going through them!

It was those things that I went through in obedience to God and His Word that gave me spiritual stamina and matured me. In fact, the things I went through successfully back then became the foundation for
the success of my ministry today.

Some of the biggest tests a person ever experiences are in obeying and fulfilling the call of God on his life to do what God has told him to do.

I’m not talking about experiencing sickness and disease. God is not the author of sickness and disease, and He does not lead His children into that kind of suffering. Jesus bore your sickness and disease in His substitutionary work on the Cross; therefore, you don’t need to bear them. Just ask yourself the question Why would God want me to bear what Jesus already bore? He wouldn’t! He doesn’t!

Dear friends, we need to learn the ways of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t always lead us on a bed of roses where the going is good. He doesn’t always lead us where there’s smooth sailing with no opposition
or persecution whatsoever. But if you’ll hold steady in whatever situation He leads you, you’ll come out on top.

So stay with the Word of God and with what He’s called you to do. God sees things differently than you do. And when you know what the Word says about suffering according to Christ’s example, you’ll begin to see
things as God sees them. You’ll be able to face the tests and trials of life with confidence and joy! You’ll know that God is faithful, His Word is true, and that He will bring you out on top and mature, strengthen, and settle you in the process.

By staying true to God and His Word when tests, trials, and persecutions assail you, you will eventually rise to the top victorious. You will gain valuable experience that will keep you steady in future tests and trials and make you a great blessing to God and to others. Coming through tests, trials, and persecutions by
staying true to God’s Word is what it means to suffer unto perfection or maturity in Christ!

THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN PUBLISHED BY THE WORD OF FAITH, SEPTEMBER 1995, PP 12-17. THE ABOVE MATERIAL HAS BEEN COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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