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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Saved by Judgment, continued
Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:4,5—NIV)
The persecutions and trials the Thessalonians were enduring were God's way of purifying the personalities of those believers. Because of their perseverance and faith during their trials they will be cleansed from all sin and counted worthy of the Kingdom of God.
The believers were suffering in order to obtain their entrance into the Kingdom of God. Isn't this what the passage is stating? Then, when the Lord returns with His holy angels and punishes the ungodly, the purified Thessalonian saints will be at rest. God cannot punish the disobedience of the wicked until our obedience is complete.
And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. (II Corinthians 10:6—NIV)
These sufferings were not afflictions they administered to themselves in order to earn the Kingdom. Rather the afflictions were the judgment of God on them to make them worthy of the Kingdom. Their sufferings were Divine judgment that was saving them, in this sense.
Let's look again at the fourth chapter of I Peter.
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. (I Peter 4:3—NIV)
In our day numerous Christians are not careful to gain victory over the lusts of the world and the flesh. They claim to be saved by a sovereign grace that overlooks their behavior. But they are deceived. If they do not repent quickly God will baptize them with fire. They will experience fiery ordeals that they might choose to turn away from their ungodly practices.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. (I Peter 4:12—NIV)
The saints to whom Peter was writing were suffering painful trials. It is normal for us who believe to experience many painful trials. And this is just what they are—trials. Our personality is being tested and judged continually that God and we may determine how pure we are. This is how we are saved from sin and conformed to the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are undergoing severe trials at the time you are reading these words, do not faint. Keep your eyes fastened on the Lord Jesus. Continue to give thanks while praying that you soon may be completely delivered. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
You are not in a grave but a tunnel. There is light at the end. You may be in the furnace like the three Hebrew young men. But Jesus is there with you.
You will come forth one day without even the smell of smoke on you. Only your bondages will be destroyed.
You are passing before the Judgment Seat of Christ so you may be prepared to be resurrected and to rise to meet Him at His return.
There is nothing strange about Christians suffering intensely, even being burned at the stake. Many have been. It is God's way of making us worthy of His Kingdom.
To be continued.