Christ’s Sufferings Aint Done Yet

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

It’s a fine thing to say that Christ took all the sufferings for believers. Except if this were the case the Church would not have persecution, either that or the Church really is not the Body of Christ.

Paul suffered in the Body and claimed to be filling up the sufferings of Christ. Commentators are quick to tell us these sufferings are not meritorious or expiating sins, which I’d more than likely agree with.

But I think we throw this out without thinking on it. The literal translation is that Paul’s sufferings filled up the “deficiencies” of Christ’s sufferings. Christ’s sufferings were not complete in His physical, flesh body, He has more to endure.

Believers, being in the Body of Christ, suffer with Him. In fact, if we do not suffer with Him we won’t reign with Him, it’s akin to denying Him. If you’re in the Body you will suffer.

I’ve heard many well-meaning believers claim that Christ suffered so we don’t have to. I fear this goes too far. I fear it eliminates the realities of being in the Body of Christ. I fear it leads to Joel Osteenesque false doctrines.

Let us be careful and correct in our pontificating about Christ’s sufferings. We die daily, we take up our cross, we mortify the deeds of the flesh, and this leads to suffering and it’s necessary for all members of the Body.

Is it worth it to you?

2 thoughts on “Christ’s Sufferings Aint Done Yet”

  1. I agree with your assertions, but I’ve always taken that particular verse to mean that Paul made real the afflictions of Christ to people who had never physically seen Jesus. Thus, for people who have never physically seen Jesus, his afflictions are lacking, but Paul makes up for them by “being Christ” to them.

  2. Gal 3:1 indicates that Paul had “evidently set forth Jesus Christ” as “crucified among them.” I always assumed this was by his powerful preaching, and not because Jesus was being crucified in the sufferings of Paul. I still tend to that view, but it’s also possible that the other could be so in a lesser degree.

    Nevertheless, I think there is a brighter gem that you’ve uncovered here.

    By allowing sin, God has allowed Himself to be put on trial: “That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Rom. 3:4).

    We are God’s witnesses: “ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.” (Isa. 43:12). Not only is God on trial, but all of us are as well. Satan is the “accuser of the brethren.” He accuses God to us, and accuses us to God. Christ is our Advocate (and we are God’s witnesses).

    What is at stake here? Well, definitely our eternal lives, but also the truthfulness and faithfulness of God. Does God mean what He says? Is He really loving? Can He be trusted? Is His law really a good way, or does it oppress and restrict us? Do people (and angels) serve Him because they love Him or because they want a reward, or are afraid of Him?

    Some of these charges were evident in the first temptation. We also see some of them played out at the beginning of the book of Job. Job, by the way, suffered quite a bit. What was the point? The charge was that Job was only serving God because things were going well. God denied the charge and said that Job would serve Him regardless. So Job had to suffer a lot, and he still served God. This proved the devil a liar.

    Christ’s sufferings were similar, only greater in their scope and accomplishment. Christ proved that Satan (and the Jewish leaders) were murderers and liars. Christ also proved that God’s love is not in the least selfish. And He proved that whatever we may suffer, God will always overrule it for good if we maintain our trust in Him. He also proved that firm adherence to faith and obedience are always the best ways, even though they bring us into great troubles.

    So all of us are called to be witnesses to these things as well…since we are called to follow Christ. And I think it is the same with us as with Job…the really valuable evidence God needs for His case at the bar are testimonies of faithfulness to God when there is no outward reason to be faithful. It’s all fine to serve God when things go well, but even Satan did that when he was Lucifer in heaven. The real evidence is what we do when things don’t go well. Do we trust God then? Do we fear, do we fret, do we break God’s law to get out of the trouble?

    Sufferings are the most valuable opportunity to prove our allegiance and faith in God. We should covet them because God needs these kinds of witnesses (not for Himself, but for the onlooking universe, and the accusers). And we only get this short life on earth to give this kind of witness…after that, the opportunity is gone forever.

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