Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lesson 9. Intimations of Hope

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 9. Intimations of Hope


Christians are hopeful warriors of God as we study more in the book of Job. Let us gather the results from our Strong's Concordance and computer search on the actual meaning of "Job" in Hebrew. The word origin is of uncertain deviation, but the definition is "patriarch." Job also bears the name in Hebrew, the "persecuted one," or from an Arabic word meaning the "repented one" who turns to God. It was noted in the Old Testament that Job, the patriarch, was remembered for his great patience, from which we often hear, "the patience of Job."

We see Job as the perfect example of facing hard times with great losses and turmoil. This is like seeing in our everyday life the battle between Christ and Satan. Battling woes and sufferings can be depressing to the medical world, and they prescribe antidotes of medications called pills to alleviate the pain, yet the problems come back, they don't go away.

We are human, with a sinful nature, battling every temptation seen on television and in the computer world. We are just like Job, confronted with other people's concepts of God that are distorted: "But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value. ... Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will" (Job 13:4, 13). This is indeed the lesson that Job learned, and it will be exactly what God's people will face at the end of time.

Job thought that the turmoil being poured out on him by Satan was from God. Job had some blind spots where it was hard for him to distinguish good from evil. Little does he know that behind the scenes, as disclosed in chapter 1, the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan was planned for him. Job has every right to voice his righteous indignation against God, with screaming and protest in God's ears. I'm glad God hears us loud and clear, better than with any hearing aid, and respects Job for speaking up from his heart.

Job himself reasoned out "the atonement," as noted in Job 13:15, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." We see the turning of hearts as a corporate body being at-one with God, in the light of Christ's sacrifice. And to be an instrument of God in our stronghold in Him, that light of faith that permeates through us is like an electric shock.

The key point of hope is expressed in the book of Job: Can a favored, righteous person hold on to their faith in God when things go wrong? In a conversation with Satan, God argues that such a person can indeed persevere, and points to his servant Job as an example. God then allows Satan to visit terrible trials upon Job to test him. We see the refining of faith of character. Satan afflicts Job with invaders, lightning claiming all his livestock, then a desert wind blows down his house, killing all of his sons and daughters, stripping him of all his possessions--he has nothing. Job still worships God, and does not give up his faith.

There were times when you saw Job constantly questioning God, asking: "Where are you, God?" Like a father to his child, God gets a chance to finally reply to Job at the end of the ordeal. God challenged Job on His greatness, asking him if he can count all the clouds in the sky, or know when the mountain goat gives birth. Job has been restored to wholeness, in family and possessions. The hope depicted in this lesson of faith is the message that has endured through the 1888 message.

"Through Job's ordeal, an interesting question was raised: Did Job endure what Christ endured? ... What saved Job from utterly disintegrating under the trial he endured was that fleeting glimpse of hope. Job was not the Saviour. In his most desperate hours, he could not suppress an inner conviction that somehow he was not alone. There was somewhere a "daysman," a vindicator, a witness in heaven, who would stand for him and make matters right. "I know that my redeemer [vindicator] liveth" (Job 19:25). Job had a conviction of righteousness that can be his only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the mediation of a Saviour. His patience depended ultimately on the patience of Another, and did not spring from his own inner innate virtue. However bitter the cup was that Job drank from, he did not drink it to its depths, nor was it as bitter as Christ tasted." [1]

Vindication is to show or to prove to be justified. It is amazing to know that Christ, in our flesh, slew the "enmity" caused by sin (Eph. 2:15), because His flesh was our flesh. We have victory through the blood of Christ, through our testimony in Him. Even more, He proved Satan's charges are false, and accomplished the vindication of God. We are called now to receive the atonement, "be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

Christ suffers only once (Heb. 9:26). Mankind was reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Rom. 5:10). Ellen G. White has written that "Jesus paid an infinite price to redeem the world, and the race was given into His hands." [2] The resurrection of Christ became the demonstration of the sacrifice as a perfect atonement (Rom. 4:25).

"You should hold your peace from complaining, and take your burden to Jesus, and lay your whole soul open before Him. Do not carry it to a third person. Do not lay your burden upon humanity. Say, 'I will not gratify the enemy by murmuring. I will lay my care at the feet of Jesus. I will tell it to Him in faith.' If you do this, you will receive help from above; you will realize the fulfillment of the promise, 'He is on my right hand that I should not be moved.' 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' 'If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.'" [3]

There is also a beautiful gospel message written by one of the 1888 "messengers," E. J. Waggoner:

"Thank God for the blessed hope! The blessing has come upon all men. For 'as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life' (Rom. 5:18). God, who is no respecter of persons, 'has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places' (Eph. 1:3). The gift is ours to keep. If anyone has not this blessing, it is because he has not recognized the gift, or has deliberately thrown it away." [4]

May each day of struggles be a prayerful blessing of hope. Christ will wipe away every tear of sorrows that we encounter. Listen to the words to this old hymn written by Edward Mote, "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less." He was an apprentice in London to a cabinetmaker who took him to church to hear a gospel message. And from this, he became an active church member.

"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the vale.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found!
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!"

We are flooded with rainbows of hope throughout His Word: "The rainbow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature" (Gen. 9:16).

Precious thoughts are expressed by Paul in Romans 5:3-4: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation" (New Living Translation).

--Mary Chun, RN Care Manager, VA Community Clinic, California

[1] Robert J. Wieland, "The Atonement in Its Wider Aspect as a Vindication Before the Universe of the Character of God," January 1965.
[2] Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 372.
[3] Ellen G. White, "A Lively Hope," Review and Herald, August 6, 1889.
[4] Ellet J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, p. 66 (Glad Tidings ed.); also quoted in Ten Great Gospel Truths That Make the 1888 Message Unique, p.11.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 8. Innocent Blood


All of the arguments Job and his friends make to explain the misery Job is experiencing are based on a misunderstanding of the love of God. It is natural for us to project our own inclinations on to God. We think that when God pays attention to us, either negatively or positively, He is responding to something we have done or not done. It is a type of manipulation.

Essentially, Job's friends are reasoning that his troubles have been caused or allowed by God because of some sin Job either is cherishing or doesn't know about. Job argues that he knows of nothing and his actions and intentions have only been good. Both are wrong ways of thinking about God. The idea that God is justified in allowing innocents to suffer torture and death because all have sinned is a simplistic extension of the friends' argument that bad things happen to us because we are bad. To claim that God can torture or kill anyone He wants is to project sadistic and capricious intentions better suited to Satan.

God is love, agape. He loves His creation because that is who He is. His nature, not our actions, is why He loves us. The ultimate demonstration of the extent of His love was the cross where God, in Christ, reconciled His creation even while they were in rebellion against Him. This concept is fundamental to the 1888 message. The understanding that God loves us simply because we are His creation is the basis of the gospel.

In other words, because of the cross of Jesus the Father could "cause His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous [just] and the unrighteous [unjust]" (Matt 5:45). He was now free to treat "every man," believers and unbelievers alike as though they had never sinned.

Because He is love, God gave His rebellious creatures a way out of their woeful predicament in Eden. Unlike the heavenly "conference" with Job, Satan didn't even stay to hear God's plan to fix the mess he had led Adam and Eve into. We can look to the metaphor of the unwanted newborn baby girl in Ezekiel 16:6 to see what the evil one wanted to do with humans. "As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; ... No eye looked with pity on you ... Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born" (Ezek. 16:4-5). But God came by and cleaned and nurtured her so she could live.

This is not a picture of a God who needs to make us suffer to satisfy some perverse pleasure like a cat plays with a mouse. We can see the imagery of a tender Father who supports and disciplines His lost child. No doubt the discipline was not fun for her, but it was required to make her character complete and mature. God didn't allow Satan to make Job miserable just for His own fun. He knew the strength of Job's character, and He allowed the suffering to mature him, and demonstrate to the watching universe the fact that God could do that for a willing human being.

If the reader would indulge a personal story, I think this illustration helps. When my sister and I were young, our parents took us to Disneyland. We were so excited we had trouble falling asleep in the motel the night before. Our dad became so exasperated that he warned that the next one to talk would get a spanking. I whispered something to my sister, but he thought she was talking and she got the spanking I deserved. I am sorry to admit, I didn't speak up.

Is this the image we have of God? Do we think that He makes mistakes about who deserves punishment, and capriciously dishes out discipline to satisfy His wrath? How can we "count it all joy" to accept discipline from God when we think He is like this?

As an adult, I can understand my dad's actions. An 8-hour drive with a 5- and 7-year old was probably not pleasant. We all needed sleep. Our parents wanted us to enjoy the next day, and being tired and cranky would have prevented our fun. His motivation for setting boundaries was really love for his children. At 5 years old, I certainly was not sufficiently mature to understand that.

God is our perfect Father and loves us much more than our earthly fathers. He chastises us because He loves us. He doesn't make mistakes. If we insist on misunderstanding His motives, He can never move us in to mature faith.

What does mature faith look like? "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). Ellet J. Waggoner has written: "Most people have the idea that [peace] is a sort of ecstatic feeling. ... But peace with God means the same thing that it means with men: it means simply the absence of war. As sinners we are enemies of God. He is not our enemy, but we are His enemies. He is not fighting against us, but we are fighting against Him. How then may we have peace with Him? Simply by ceasing to fight, and laying down our arms. We may have peace whenever we are ready to stop fighting" (Waggoner on Romans, p. 5.93).

How did this happen with Job? Most of his defense was based on his integrity. In chapter 31 he lists his good intentions and his good deeds that supported them. By the end of the book, after God has spoken, Job has nothing to say. "Then Job answered the Lord and said, 'Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; even twice, and I will add no more" (Job 40:3-5).

He stopped fighting, willing to let God be his judge. His friends' opinions didn't matter because he was at peace with God. "Note that when we have peace with God we are not simply at peace with Him, but we have His peace. This peace has been left on the earth for men; for the Lord has said, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you' (John 14:27). He has given it to us. It is ours already. It has always been ours. The only trouble has been that we have not believed it. As soon as we believe the words of Christ, then we have in very deed the peace that He has given. And it is peace with God, because we find the peace in Christ, and Christ dwells in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18)" (Waggoner, ibid).

--Arlene Hill

Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sabbath School Lesson # 7 |"Retributive Punishment"

Lesson 7. Retributive Punishment

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job 

Lesson 7. Retributive Punishment


Many people have the idea that God is a vengeful Deity just waiting for a chance to strike them with His lightning bolts of retribution for their sins. And if God is indeed like this, a judgment with Him on the bench would certainly be a fearful prospect. The Bible, however, describes a God and a judgment that differs startling from this common misconception.

We also sometimes picture a loving Jesus who stands between us and a harsh Father. But according to the Bible, the Father loves us and is just as anxious for our eternal salvation as is the Son. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19).

This was one of the great Bible truths revealed in the 1888 message. E. J. Waggoner, one of the "messengers," put it this way:

"'By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.' There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death for every man. He has given himself for all. Nay, he has given himself to every man. The free gift has come upon all. The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception. If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift. It is a fact, therefore, plainly stated in the Bible, that the gift of righteousness and life in Christ has come to every man on earth. There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it. So many spurn the gift offered so freely." [1]


The book of Job, probably the oldest book in the world, describes an apparently terminal patient talking with his "friends" who are sure that the sufferer deserves his fate, a patient who protests that no one could sin enough to deserve this kind of punishment (certainly, not him).

As the discussion begins, Eliphaz warns the suffering Job that his agony is justly inflicted because he must be guilty of a terrible sin. Here are some transcripts:

"Think back now. Name a single case where a righteous man met with disaster. ... Evil does not grow in the soil, nor does trouble grow out of the ground. No! Man brings trouble on himself, as surely as sparks fly up from a fire. If I were you, I would turn to God. ... Job, we have learned this by long study. It is true, so now accept it" (Job 4:7; 5:6-8, 27, Good News Bible).

God is punishing Job, says Eliphaz, and Job can best serve his own self-interest by repenting. Isn't that good reasoning? It was the best that human minds could come up with in that day, and it is still the way many reason today. Suffering humanity must simply implore mercy from a heartless God who Himself does not suffer.

As the discussion continues, however, Job manages to penetrate to the inner fallacy of such a concept. Without our Bible to help him, he finally reasons his way out of the shadows. Behind human suffering stands a God who also suffers.

"Almighty God has shot me with arrows, and their poison spreads through my body. God has lined up his terrors against me. ... Why won't God give me what I ask? Why won't he answer my prayer? If only he would go ahead and kill me! If I knew he would, I would leap for joy, no matter how great my pain. ... What strength do I have to keep on living? Why go on living when I have no hope? ... I am angry and bitter. I have to speak. ... I give up, I am tired of living" (6:4, 8-11; 7:11, 16).

Then Bildad joins the discussion and presses the thorn of despair even deeper. Job must have sinned terribly, he argues:

"God never twists justice; he never fails to do what is right. Your children must have sinned against God, and so he punished them as they deserved. ... God will never abandon the faithful" (8:3, 4, 20).

"Yes," Job replies, "I've heard all that before. ... I no longer care. I am sick of living. Nothing matters; innocent or guilty, God will destroy us. ... God gave the world to the wicked. He made all the judges blind. And if God didn't do it, who did?" (9:1, 21-24).

Ah, Job! You are half right and half wrong. There is injustice—there you are right. But God didn't cause it; there you are wrong. There is an answer to the question that you don't know yet. We who can read the prologue to the book know what it is: God did not bring Job's suffering, Satan did. But Job can't yet break through his pain to realize this.

Zophar has been listening quietly, making up his mind what to say. When he joins the discussion, his comment is the most unkind thrust of all. He tells Job, "God is punishing you less than you deserve" (11:6).

Even without physical suffering, it is unbearable to feel totally condemned and forsaken by God. Job can't understand why God has turned so against him. He imagines himself as a helpless child, hiding in the basement until his father gets over his drunken rage and calls, "Job, my darling child, where are you? Come back."

"I wish you would hide me in the world of the dead; let me be hidden until your anger is over, and then set a time to remember me. If a man dies, can he come back to life? But I will wait for better times, wait till this time of trouble is ended. Then you will call, and I will answer, and you will be pleased with me, your creature" (14:13-15).

Meanwhile, Job's loathsome disease is so bad that even his family doesn't want to come near him. Worse yet, he feels that God has forsaken him too:

"My brothers forsake me; I am a stranger to those who knew me; my relatives and friends are gone. Those who were guests in my house have forgotten me; my servant girls treat me like a stranger and a foreigner. When I call a servant, he doesn't answer—even when I beg him to help me. My wife can't stand the smell of my breath, and my own brothers won't come near me. ... My closest friends look at me with disgust; those I loved most have turned against me. ... The hand of God has struck me down" (19:13-21).

Zophar responded: This is God's doing; your sins have caught up with you at last. Anyone as sick as you are is getting only what he deserves.

Job and his friends were both right, and they were both wrong. Disease and death do come as a result of sin. But it is not God who inflicts this torture on human beings.

There is a behind-the-scenes altercation going on between God and Satan over the issue of man's guilt or innocence. Job is a sinner—as all of us are. But he has a Redeemer who has taken his sin upon Himself. In Christ, Job is innocent; Christ's righteousness is his. No way does he deserve this suffering. It is Satan, the adversary, who inflicts it on him.

Thus Job's drama becomes the saga of humanity. Will he keep his faith in God despite his suffering? Will he honor his Lord? Yes, he did.

A divine link binds Job, suffering alone on his dung heap, with another Sufferer, dying alone on His cross. Do we dare see Him as He is—the Prince of sufferers who, although He "knew no sin" yet was made "to be sin for us ... that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him"? (2 Cor. 5:21, KJV). He became one of us that He might "taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Not only the horror of death due to a terminal illness, but something far worse—the horror of what the Bible calls "the second death" (Rev. 2:1120:14).

What's the difference? Every suffering patient can die with hope illuminating his soul because Christ is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). The loving assurance of forgiveness can steal into the despairing soul, and in the darkness a light will begin to shine. Death will lose its terror. The Holy Spirit will whisper the assurance that "the Lord hath laid on Him [Christ] the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6), and the sufferer can go to sleep confident of the peace of heaven filling his soul, and that he will rise in the first resurrection of the saints.

But when the Son of God died, He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). This was not the cry of an actor who has memorized his lines to recite them on cue. Christ tasted the kind of anguish the unlighted lost will feel in their final hour following the second resurrection.

Every patient in the world needs to see that divine Substitute and know that Christ is not merely an indifferent Onlooker to his torment, One who does not Himself also suffer. Christ shares the pain. More than that, He suffers agony beyond our limit to endure. Sleep and death can release us, but Christ suffers on because He identifies with all human pain worldwide.

Christ's disciples once asked him if a man who was born blind had himself sinned, or had his parents sinned. His reply stunned them: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." Then He healed him and the man "came seeing" (John 9:1-7). Jesus did not mean that God had made the man to be blind on purpose; rather, God overruled the blindness that He might demonstrate His saving power. God's grace specializes in turning curses into blessings.

"With the sufferings of Christ, there is also joy and glory. We are graven on the palms of His hands (Isa. 49:16), but with the marks of the nails of His cross there are also beams of light. In all our tribulation we are comforted by the God of all comfort. 'For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ' (2 Cor. 1:5). In being partakers of Christ's sufferings we are identified as children of God. (Heb. 12:7, 8). 'If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you' (1 Peter 4:14). There is glory with His sufferings in us, and as our sufferings are His, so also His glory is ours; and when that glory shall be revealed, we shall also be glad "with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:13)." [2]

God does warn us that "sin pays its wage—death," and it only makes good sense to "flee from the wrath to come," the "wrath" that sin brings on ourselves (Rom. 6:23, GNB; Matt. 3:7, KJV). But until death "is swallowed up in victory," God must suffer with us when we suffer, because He can't stop loving us.

From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

[1] E. J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 101, 1896.
[2] Waggoner, "The Sufferings of Christ," The Present Truth, June 6, 1895. You may read or download the entire article at:

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sabbath School Lesson # 6 |"The Curse Causeless?"

Lesson 6. The Curse Causeless?

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job 

Lesson 6. The Curse Causeless?


It is a powerful, persuasive and in some ways beautiful sermon, that Eliphaz preaches to Job. "My friend Job, I want to bring you all the resources of comfort and wisdom known to the world of the morally upright and religious. I want gently to encourage you to be consistent with your beliefs, to be realistic about our mortal condition, to be humble and not get ideas above yourself, and gladly to submit to the loving discipline of a good God."

Asks Eliphaz, "Is it possible for human beings to be in right relationship with God, to stand before God clean and pure in His presence?" (Job 4:17). The answer of human religion: There is no way that imperfect mortal human beings can stand clean and right in the presence of God.

We have our foundation from the dust (4:19). We may be crushed as easily as you squash a moth. We wake one morning full of hope and strength, but by evening we are dead, going back to the dust from which we came (4:20). "So be realistic, Job," says Eliphaz, "We are mortal, God is immortal, and never the twain shall meet" (4:21).

Eliphaz raises the question of whether there might be a supernatural, heavenly being who will mediate between unclean, dust-like mortals and the immortal God. He says this cannot be (5:1). Heaven is quite simply inaccessible to mortals. "So," says Eliphaz, "there is no point getting all hot and bothered about it all, and specifically about what has happened to you. That would be foolish, to be a hothead, impulsive" (5:2).

Eliphaz makes his appeal. "I have seen what happens when fools, people who get hot and bothered about injustice appear to be settled and secure." As a wise man, Eliphaz observed that the fool's home was cursed (5:3).

Eliphaz observes that bad things happen to people who get ideas above their station so far as God is concerned. "Be warned, Job, and don't be like that." Disaster comes to the fool. Troubles don't just appear from nowhere (the ground) but are the result of human sinfulness (5:6).

Eliphaz begins to give Job his clear advice. "If I were you," he says, "I would turn my face toward God and seek His face (5:8). I would trust in Him. And I would not try to be too clever."

He is the God who lifts up humble and lowly people (5:11). But He is also the God we cannot understand (5:9). He does many things, and we cannot search them out and understand them. So let's not try to be too clever and arrogantly think we can be wiser than God.

They think they can outthink God and be wiser than God. But God will always frustrate their schemes. "He catches the wise in their own craftiness" (5:13). This statement is true (1 Cor. 3:19). God does trip up men and women who try to be too clever for their own good.

Eliphaz thinks that Job is in danger of doing that, and so he warns him: "Don't do that, or the end for such people is that just when they think all is clear they find they cannot understand what is happening at all, and they are walking in darkness" (Job 5:14).

What's wrong with Eliphaz's counsel? What is wrong with exhorting Job to be consistent, realistic, humble, and submissive to God? What's wrong with exhorting Job to be consistent with your beliefs, to be realistic about our mortal condition, to be humble and not get ideas above yourself, and gladly to submit to the loving discipline of a good God?" The truth is nonbelievers and believers alike suffer.

The fact is all the sins of the world of lost sinners have been borne by the Savior. He has paid the penalty and has borne the wrath for every one of their sins, conscious and unconscious, past, present, and future. It follows that no suffering of believers and nonbelievers can possibly be a punishment for their sin. In the light of the cross, it is all undeserved. And yet the world suffers.

Christ did no sin; yet He suffered the vilest abuse and pain, even our "second death." He is called "the Prince of sufferers." But what He suffered is what we would have suffered, had He not suffered it in our stead:

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way: and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:4-6). This could well be translated into modem speech: "The Lord hath laid on Him the fate of us all."

God has not been reposing in sublime indifference, feeling nothing of our woe. The idea which declares that evil is unreal, that God cannot feel it, is contradicted in the Bible. God does feel evil. He is infinitely disturbed by it, precisely because He Himself is not evil. He is so much concerned about it that He plunged into the sea of human sin to take upon Himself its full penalty, and thus to cleanse the tide of humanity that will accept His salvation.

Then is there any meaning to the sufferings we still endure? Yes, much. The 1888 idea of receiving the atonement of Christ gives an answer to the meaning of our sufferings, which no human philosophy such as Eliphaz's can provide. Paul calls upon those who love truth to "rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake" (Col. 1:24).

E. J. Waggoner writes: "... The sufferings are Christ's, ... He feels them, and that being His, He is able in us to bear them, and we need not tremble for the result. To be saved we must be identified with Him, and to be identified with Him we must be partakers of His sufferings. This is how the martyrs have been able to endure with fortitude the terrible ordeals in which they have yielded up their lives. Their sufferings were the sufferings of Christ, a part of that which was 'left behind' after He rose from the dead, and He bore them in their bodies. 'Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.' The afflictions may be called ours, but it is He that bears them." [1]

When the eye of faith looks upon the sufferings of Christ, immediately we realize a kinship with Him; we become one with Him; we "know Him ... and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. 3:10). Our sufferings are in "fellowship" with His sufferings in that we share with Him the privilege of demonstrating the victory of faith over evil. None is in vain. The true disciple must share the life of his Master. Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).

Persecution and suffering is very difficult for us to bear if we think that it is God who inflicts them. But if we know that the agent is Satan, we can endure it joyfully because we realize a "fellowship" with Christ. It is no longer pointless, meaningless suffering. If we were transported to some place of reward (heaven) without our having experienced suffering in this life, we would feel miserably out of place in the presence of Jesus, who has had to endure so much persecution and suffering on our account. Humans who want to have fellowship with God on any level must also have fellowship with Him in suffering. Only then will they be able to appreciate His gift of salvation.

--Paul E. Penno

[1] E. J. Waggoner, "The Sufferings of Christ," The Present Truth, June 6, 1895; emphasis supplied.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:

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Raul Diaz