Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Intersection of Life and Faith

<< In the Presence of God

In the Presence of God - Week of November 4

  • 2013 Nov 04
  • COMMENTS
 

 

Avoiding a False Theology of Suffering

Martin Luther's tenure in the monastery was a time of spiritual desperation. He was tormented by unrelieved guilt coupled with a gripping fear of the wrath of God. Why would an educated man retreat to a barren cell and abuse himself with self-inflicted physical punishment? Why would a believer go out of his way to find personal suffering?

The answer may be found partially, though not totally, in a concept that emerged in church history that equated suffering with merit. Monks fled to the desert to seek rigorous forms of asceticism and self-denial, not only as a form of spiritual discipline to maintain a healthy dependence on the grace of God, but also in quest of sanctifying merit.

A biblical text that was often cited as scriptural warrant for such activity is Colossians 1:24. Paul writes, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sale of His body, which is the church." The key words of this verse are "fill up . . . what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ."

A false theology of suffering emerged that was built on the hypothesis that the meritorious suffering of Jesus, though necessary for the redemption of God's people, is not complete—there is additional merit that can be added to it by the suffering of the saints.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Reflect on this truth: The suffering of Christ cannot be augmented by your merit. It is complete.

Colossians 1:24: "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church."

1 Peter 2:21: "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps."

1 Peter 3:18: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." 

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved
.

 


Subscribe to Tabletalk Magazine from Ligonier Ministries

When you subscribe to Tabletalk, you get a tool that helps you grow in your knowledge of God and in your love for His Son and His people. Each month is packed with more than 60 pages of focused, practical Bible study and insightful commentary by today's top Christian thinkers. Learn more about the magazine

Archives

Follow Crosswalk.com