Would You Heed If For You I Suffered?

A Passion Message

Friends, this is a heroic story of people sacrificing themselves for people. Would you consider for a moment the possibility that, like these Set-apart chaplains, someone has suffered or died for you in order that you might hear the message of this preacher today? I imagine you would respect me ever so much more if I had suffered some for you; you would listen to me ever so much more intently than you do; and you might even consider doing what I beg you.

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

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"Early in the morning of February 3, 1943, the US troop transport "Dorchester" was wallowing through icy seas off Greenland. Most of the 900 troops on board were asleep in their bunks. Suddenly a torpedo smashed into the Dorchester's flank. Frantically pounding up ladders, the troops milled in confusion on the decks.

"In those dark moments of panic, the coolest men aboard were four US chaplains - First lieutenants Clark Poling (Reformed), Alexander Goode (Jewish), John Washington (Catholic), George Fox (Methodist). The four chaplains led the men to boxes of life jackets, passed them out to the soldiers with boat-drill precision. When the boxes were empty, the four chaplains quietly slipped off their own life preservers, put them on four young GIs and told them to jump.

"The Dorchester went down 25 minutes later in a rumble of steam. Some 600 men were lost, but the heroic chaplains had helped save over 200. The last anyone saw of them, they were standing on the slanted deck, their arms linked, in prayer, to the one Yahweh they all served."

Friends, this is a heroic story of people sacrificing themselves for people. Would you consider for a moment the possibility that, like these Set-apart chaplains, someone has suffered or died for you in order that you might hear the message of this preacher today?

Imagine that I had recently stepped in and saved your life at the expense of my own suffering. Would you feel pity for me? Would you consider listening more closely to what I say if I had sacrificed something of value for you? If I was scarred so that you didn't have to be scarred, would you respect me more -- enough to pay more attention to a word I might have for you?

I imagine you would respect me ever so much more if I had suffered some for you; you would listen to me ever so much more intently than you do; and you might even consider doing what I beg you.

Well, this is the situation that Paul tries to convince the Corinthian assembly that he is in. He has given much for their salvation, yet they have returned to their folly and sin as a dog returns to its vomit. Consider his words today as though they were meant explicitly for you:

(2 Cor 5:20b - 6:13 NRSV) We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to Yahweh. {21} For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of Yahweh.

1. "We entreat you" is understating the Greek deometha - Paul is literally begging the Corinthians to return from the backsliding that has excluded them from fellowship with Yahweh. He is begging that they turn around and be reconciled with Yahweh. Paul begs them remember that the one unworthy of punishment was punished to the extent that he became sin for us. It was through the humiliation and suffering of Yahshua that we might become righteous or Set-apart before Yahweh. "Return to Yahweh," the Apostle begs.

{6:1} As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of Yahweh in vain.

1. This is curious. Can one accept the grace of Yahweh with no effect? The answer is "Yes." You may have accepted the grace of Yahweh in your life, and still not be saved.

The question is, has Yahweh's grace affected you in such a way that you are repentant of your sins?

Are you continually seeking the will of Yahweh in your life and his holiness?

Are you engaged in "works of piety" such as prayer, study, and expecting Yahweh's spiritual gifts?

Are you engaged in "works of mercy" such as evangelism, mission, and relief efforts?

Are you working to develop the fruit of the spirit in your life, love, joy, peace, patience?

If not, the grace you have received, the grace you are hoping in, has not been met with faith enough to do the works of a Christian person. If you are not engaged in the life of Christ and his assembly, no matter how much grace you think have received, you haven't received enough to merit your salvation. Period. You have accepted grace in vain.

The Apostle Paul begs the Corinthians and us not to let another moment go by. He quotes the prophet, who is speaking for Yahweh in saying

{2} ... "At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you." [To this word of the Lord, Paul comments:] See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

1. Now! "Now is the time. Now is the day of your salvation." In other words, "Yahweh HAS DECLARED THE HOUR TO BE LATE! SEE TO YOUR SALVATION NOW!"

Consider how convinced Paul is of the condemnation of the Assembly. Although this assembly was active, alive, and growing, Paul has accused them of several mortal sins that they had purposely overlooked. The Corinthians were immoral; engaged in open homosexual and adulterous relationships; they called themselves Christians yet were celebrating pagan holidays; some were racists and held slaves; some women were seductive; some men were drunkards and gluttons; others promoted lies in the name of Yahweh; and some did not even believe in the atoning work of Christ. In addition, they didn't support the pastor Yahweh provided them!

Paul is so serious about his call to repentance and reconciliation that he shames them by his suffering for their sake -- bearing the proof of his message on his body like so many gruesome tattoos. He is righteously angry when he says:

{3} We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, {4} but as servants of Yahweh we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, {5} beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;

1. This call to reconciliation with Yahweh has cost Paul plenty. He bears the marks of it on his body. He burns with the scars of his message. He has become one with his cause. Yahweh has given him the word of rebuke to this congregation, and has made Paul to become sin for it: punished for their sins: persecuted for their deliverance. One, who so little deserved it, stricken for the sake of unheeding others. That's the shame of the matter.

2. Friends, did you ever wonder what became of the co-workers of Yahshua after the Bible record leaves off? Let me tell you about the fate of several:

Yahshua' brother James was thrown off the top of the temple.
His other brother Jude was crucified on mission to Turkey.

James Zebedee, brother of John, and Matthias, the 13th disciple, were stoned and beheaded at Jerusalem.

Matthew, a missionary translator, was speared to death in Ethiopia.

Brothers Andrew and Peter were both crucified; the former on the transverse cross, the latter upside-down.

Bartholomew and Thomas both died in India; the former was beaten to death by idolaters, the latter was speared by pagan priests.

Simon Zelotes, the one-time rebel, was crucified in Britain.

John Mark died a hideous, ritual death. He was pulled to pieces under the idol of Serapis in Alexandria, Egypt.

Of the seven deacons, Stephen, the second martyr after Christ, and Nicanor were stoned to death, and Philip the Evangelist was crucified.

Paul, the writer of our text today, was beheaded in Rome.

He was followed shortly after by his traveling companions: Luke, who was hanged by pagan priests in Greece, and Barnabas, the encourager, who was dragged and burned.

The message of reconciliation with Yahweh was deemed so important by Yahweh that he allowed his disciples to die hideously for it -- for us -- so that we might get some idea of the gravity of the Gospel. And many yet suffer and die in these days for the same message and we take little note.

Take, for instance, Margaret George - the "Joan of Arc of the Assyrians" - killed by communists in Iraq while fighting for the religious freedom of Catholics (1972).

Or, in the last year or so, Steve Welsh and Timothy Van Dyke of New Tribes Mission - kidnapped and murdered for the gospel in Colombia.

Consider Romulo Saune - Bible translator - shot to death by Shining Path Rebels in Peru.

Or Israel Havugimana and his two daughters, evangelists, murdered by Tutsi rebels in Ruwanda.

Then there is Sister Rani Maria, a Catholic nun, stabbed to death by Hindu militants in northern India.

And Veronica Diaz Jiminez, a Protestant laywoman, murdered by idolaters in Chiapas, Mexico.

Manzoor Masih, merely a Catholic layperson - not even an evangelist - who received the death sentence by the courts in Pakistan and died, becoming in the end a testimony to many.

And finally, how about Mehdi Dibaj, a Bible translator and missionary, gunned down by government assassins in Iran.

And look to this pulpit right now. You see a man here who has suffered for you and for the many people to whom he has tried to bring this message in the last 20 years of ministry. The message is, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Yahweh is among you!" Such sacrifice brings to mind the words of the writer to the Hebrews, which stings in our ears today:

Heb 11:{33} [Consider those witnesses who]...shut the mouths of lions, {34} quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. ... Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. {36} Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. {37} They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented-- {12:1} Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely ... {4} [For] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Think of the many who have borne your suffering, your chastisement, your punishment, so that you might have an opportunity to bypass such tragedy and hear me speak of atonement today. Friends -- make this lenten season one of repentance and reconciliation. Cast off all your selfishness serve Yahweh as a first priority.

3. Allow Yahweh to mercifully chastise you for your sins, for such chastisement brings virtue - the virtues Paul speaks of are found in his next verse (7:6)

{6} ... purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, {7} truthful speech, and the power of Yahweh ...

Such are surely good results stemming from just punishments. But virtue in not our only reward for being chastised. Power comes from humility as well:

{7b} with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; {8} [whether] in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute.

Yet there is warning. The world will not understand you when you are truly reconciled with Yahweh, your sins enumerated and forgiven, your love and right relationship renewed. No, not even your closest friends can share your newness. As Paul cautions:

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; {9} as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see--we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; {10} as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

But oh, it will be worth it all to you to be fully reconciled with Yahweh, assured of your right standing, and convinced of your superior resurrection in the end. Though such words as I speak today are difficult for me (though certainly more difficult for Paul), direct speaking is prescribed here. Now is the time for you to turn back to Yahweh, your Father.

{11} We have spoken frankly to you ...; our heart is wide open to you. {12} There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. {13} In return--I speak as to children--open wide your hearts also.

1. Oh, don't restrict your affections for me because I tell you must repent, be reconciled, and tread the pathway to holiness. Don't think me out of order because I command you to be fanatics for Christ's sake. So many have suffered for you. And I suffer daily for you. Put me no more to suffering, friends. Come - seek Yahweh in repentance and reconciliation - so I may be set free of my chains of prayer and concern.

2. And now is the time. This may be your final opportunity.

In Franz Kafka's great novel, The Trial, there is a parable of a man who is told to enter a kingdom through a certain gate. When he arrives at the edge of the kingdom, sure enough, he finds the gate there just as he was promised. He also finds a sentinel there - guarding the entrance. So, seeing the sentinel, he sits down on the grass outside, and he waits for the sentinel to either give him instructions or to grant him permission to enter. But the sentinel does nothing; he doesn't say anything or do anything. He just stands there at the gate.

The man continues to wait and wait. The days go by. Then the weeks. The months go by, and then the years. For a whole lifetime the fellow just sits there, and the sentinel just stands there. Finally one day, the sentinel leaves his post. He goes over to the big door, takes hold of it, closes it, and locks it. Before disappearing, he turns to the man on the grass and says, "That door was made for you and for you alone. I was guarding it so that no one but you would enter. But because you chose not to enter it, it is now being closed forever."

3. Yahshua stands at your hearts door at the beginning of this Lenten season knocking - knocking on behalf of all those who have suffered for your salvation. Yes, he is knocking. But soon he'll be finished, for the Set-apart Spirit will not strive with us forever. Will you answer his call?

Jackson Snyder, February 16, 1997

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  Why Does EL Allow Suffering?
By Dr. Brad Burke / David C. Cook

Several inspiring true-life stories are presented, including the account of how Steven Curtis Chapman faced the "thunder" and "lightening" in his own life. The chapter, "When Our Children Die" includes a heart-wrenching interview with a Believer family who lost three boys in eight years: two to suicide and one in a snowmobile accident.

Their losses took them through the pounding storms of heartache, guilt, pain, and physical and mental illness. But through it all, EL delivered a sunrise of hope and transformed faith that pierced even their darkest night.

It also contains a unique story that helps us to understand the real question at the heart of the matter: How can EL be altogether just, kind, Set-apart, righteous and loving in the midst of our suffering?

 
  A Different EL, A Believer View of Suffering
By Kristiaan Depoortere / Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

"There are so many different types of suffering. Pain has so many faces. If we want to deal with suffering, we have to start somewhere, from an unavoidably limited perspective," writes Kristiaan Depoortere. "The suffering persons we have in mind are the longterm ill, those still capable of contacts and relationships." There is no such thing as mere physical pain, the author contends. "[Pain] embraces physical, psychic, moral, social, and often religious facets."

"[S]uffering raises questions....Suffering interrogates life. It asks questions about our daily way of life, about its direction and its ultimate meaning." Further, "all these questions converge into one fundamental question: if there is a link between EL and suffering--of whatever sort--who is this EL?"

"Our considerations concerning the meaning of suffering and the different images of EL are directly intended for people who guide suffering fellow humans: professionals as well as volunteers, pastors, and lay pastoral workers, nurses, doctors, and also visitors and relatives."Arising out of Louvain's long tradition of theological excellence within the Roman Catholic tradition at large, the volumes in this distinguished series express some of the finest reflection on current theology and pastoral practice.

 
  The Suffering of EL
By Terence Fretheim / Augsburg Fortress

In this comprehensive and thought-provoking study, Terence Fretheim focuses on the theme of divine suffering, an aspect of our understanding of EL which both the assembly and scholarship have neglected. Maintaining that "metaphors matter," Fretheim carefully examines the ruling and anthropomorphic metaphors of the Old Testament and discusses them in the context of current biblical-theological scholarship. His aim is to broaden our understanding of the EL of the Old Testament by showing that "suffering belongs to the person and purpose of EL."

 
  A EL of Suffering?, DVD
By Dr. Tommy Mitchell / Answers In Genesis

In a world that seems destined to suffer tragedy after tragedy, it's understandable that people want to know why, if there is a EL, he would allow such horrible events to take place. Dr. Tommy Mitchell here answers that question with tact and empathy. Shot on location in the Katrina devastated town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, you'll be encouraged with the interviews of Katrina victims and see how their faith allows them to walk on, convinced that the Lord they serve won't abandon them in this trial. Region Code 1-6. Approx. 45 minutes.

 
  Suffering and the Sovereignty of EL
By John Piper & Justin Taylor, eds. / Crossway Books & Bibles

In the last few years, 9/11, a tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and many other tragedies have shown us that the vision of EL in today's assemblyes in relation to evil and suffering is often frivolous. Against the overwhelming weight and seriousness of the Bible, many Believers are choosing to become more shallow, more entertainment-oriented, and therefore irrelevant in the face of massive suffering.

In Suffering and the Sovereignty of EL, contributors John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Saint, Carl Ellis, David Powlison, Dustin Shramek, and Mark Talbot explore the many categories of EL's sovereignty as evidenced in his Word. They urge you to look to Messiah, even in suffering, to find the greatest confidence, deepest comfort, and sweetest fellowship you have ever known.

 
  Is EL to Blame?: Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering
By Gregory A. Boyd / Inter-varsity Press

Is EL to Blame? This is often the question that comes to mind when you confront real suffering in your life or in the lives of those you love. Pastor Boyd deals with this question honestly and biblically while avoiding glib answers. Writing for ordinary Believers, Boyd wrestles with a variety of answers that have been offered by theologians and pastors in the past. He finds that a fully Believer approach must keep the person and the work of Messiah at the very center of what we say about human suffering and EL's place in it. Yet this is often just what is missing and what makes so much talk about the subject seem inadequate and at times misleading. What comes through is a hopeful picture of a sovereign EL who is relentlessly opposed to evil, who knows your suffering, and who can be trusted to bring you through to renewed life.

 
  Examine The Evidence: Why Does EL Allow Suffering?
By Ralph O. Muncaster / Harvest House Publishers

Human suffering - nothing else drives us to ask "Why?" so passionately. The Bible claims to be able to help us with other questions. Take a closer look at what it says to you about this very difficult issue.

 
  A Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between EL's Mercy and Our Pain
By Elisabeth Elliot / Gospel Light

Must we stumble through sorrow and tragedy without understanding or is there a lighted way---a path---through suffering? In A Path Through Suffering, Elliot plots the treacherous passage through pain, grief, and loss, a journey most of us will make many times in our life. Not hesitating to ask hard questions, she tenderly examines the hurts we suffer and boldly explores the nature of a EL whose sovereign, intimate and perfect care for us confounds our finite understanding. Through it all, she says there is only one reliable path, and, if you walk it, you will see the transformation of all your losses, heartbreaks, and tragedies into something strong and purposeful.

 
  Women & the Value of Suffering: An Aw(e)ful Rowing Toward EL
By Kristine Rankka / Liturgical Press

This book offers a critical summary of recent discussions of evil and suffering from a variety of women's theological and spiritual perspectives. It incorporates the insights of feminist theory, cultural studies, biomedical research, psychology, theology, and spirituality. By exploring the complexity of suffering in our times, it reflects on how women of faith can come to terms with the enormity, diversity and, at times, apparent senselessness of human suffering.

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