James emphasized to us the glory of suffering. James would say to us, “Be willing to suffer and don’t worry about the future. Never worry about what God has planned. It is all in His good and gracious hand. But just be willing to suffer for the Lord Jesus.”
We should not suffer because we have sinned. Disobedience always brings suffering. Christians write to me who have lived in the world and have compromised by disobeying the Word of God, and they are paying for it. They say that they are “suffering for Jesus.” No, they are not; they are suffering for their sin.
There are well-meaning Christians who do not know the difference between being an offensive Christian and experiencing the “offence of the cross” (Gal. 5:11). If I suffer because of my big mouth or my stupidity, that is one thing; but if I suffer because I stand up for the Lord Jesus in a gracious way, that is quite something else. This world is an enemy. “In the world you shall have tribulation,” said Jesus, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Far too many Christians are comfortable in this world. They are comfortable because they are conformed to this world. But the Apostle James said, in effect, “Are you going to be carried to heaven on flowery beds of ease? Are you going to sit on the sidelines while dedicated Christians are suffering? Are you going to have an easy route to glory?” I do not believe that the Church of Jesus Christ is going to go through the Tribulation. I believe that God is going to
rapture us, and we shall be delivered from the wrath to come (I Thess. 1:10; 5:9,10). But I believe that we, as Christians, are going to go through suffering and trials and difficulties before Jesus comes, because suffering is the way to glory.
“The sufferings of this preset time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16). We are transfigured through suffering, by the grace of God.
Consider Stephen, a young man who was true to God. He stood before his enemies and preached a sermon that exposed the sins of the people (Acts 7). What did the nation do to Stephen? They stoned him to death. What did God do for Stephen? God gave Stephen a shining face! Stephen was transfigured! God gave him the grace to be able to pray for his enemies: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (v. 60).
John would say to us, “If you want to be a transfigured Christian, worship the Son.” Peter would say, “Spend time in the Scriptures.” James would say, “Be willing to suffer for the Lord Jesus.” Moses would say, “Serve Him and share the glory of service.” Like Moses, we must meet with the Lord in fellowship and then meet with His people an serve them. Jesus did that. Peter said, in effect, “O Lord, let’s stay up here on the mountain. What a wonderful Bible conference we could have up here—Moses, Elijah and the Lord Jesus. Let’s build some booths and just stay here” (Matt. 17:4). Then God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (v. 5). That means, “Listen to Him and obey Him.” Do you know what Jesus did?
He went down from the mountain because at the bottom was a little boy who was demon possessed and who needed His help.
You are needed today. You may argue, “I’m not important.” But you are important! Your prayers are needed, your service is needed, your encouragement is needed. You may reply, “I can’t even leave the house; I’m confined.” It makes no difference—you can still serve God. There are ways that you can serve Him and share in the glory. We are not like Moses, who just reflected the glory. We are radiating the glory (II Cor. 3:18). When the child of God looks into the Word of God and sees the glory of God, he is transfigured by the Spirit of God into the very image of God. Moses said to us, “If you want to share the glory, serve God—get involved in doing something for somebody else.”
What counsel did Elijah have for us? Elijah said, “Be separated. Don’t be conformed to the world, and don’t think like the world. Set your affection on things above. Give God your body, your mind and your will, and you will have a shining face.” The world may laugh at you and criticize you, but never give up—you will be sharing in transfiguration glory, the glory of separation. Worship the son of God, feed on the Word of God, be willing to suffer, serve Him, be separated from this world and the things in this world. If we follow these instructions, we will share God’s glory. Your face will start to shine, and your life will start to shine. Even the clouds will shine with God’s glory, and you will hear God saying to you, “You are My beloved child; in you I am well pleased.”
© 2006 Warren W. Wiersbe
© 1989 by The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).