‘Decree’ literally means to order something that comes to pass. Christianity rests on the truth about God’s eternal decrees concerning the salvation of men, and controlling all that happens in this universe. Everything is predestined by God. As R.C Sproul once said – “What predestination means, in its most elementary form, is that our final destination, heaven or hell, is decided by God not only before we get there, but before we are even born. It teaches that our ultimate destiny is in the hands of God.” In this sermon, we meditate on the doctrine of God’s Sovereign and unconditional election which was decreed much before the world began.
Elisabeth Elliot on suffering once said ― “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.” This needs to be the response of every Christian in times of suffering, because hardships are inevitable in this life. In this passage, we learn how suffering should enable us to trust in God, an expression of our humility and dependency on Him alone.
Suffering is a universal experience and an inevitable part of our lives. The world suggests us to flee suffering at all costs, so we are provided with millions of solutions everyday to get rid of suffering. However, according to the Bible, God doesn’t want us to avoid or flee from suffering but to embrace it for the greater purpose. In this passage, we learn the purpose of suffering in Christian life, and how God uses it in the lives of others so that ultimately He is glorified in and through our suffering.
There are many obstacles in our lives that keep us from giving our full attention to God’s mission. Deep down we’re not as passionate as God is, to serve others. Our lives are mostly surrounded by career, family, entertainment, vacation etc. This is why the passage calls us to make sacrifices in our lives so that we can serve others who need Christ. This passage also calls us to suffer just like Christ, in order to reach people with good news of the gospel.
We often define happiness based on how successful we are in our endeavors. If things in life are not as desired, then we will not be happy. But Jesus does not define happiness based on the good things that happen in our lives, he defines happiness even when bad things happen to us. He presents a counter-intuitive perspective on having a happy life. Listen to the sermon to find out.
Christians are called to handle conflicts (to whatever extent) in a different way and in a different place called Church. In other words, Christians are forbidden to take their brothers to court. Why are they forbidden? Because of the gospel! In this passage, we learn how the gospel becomes the basis on which we deal with conflicts and forgive one another, regardless of the kind of sin committed.
Suffering is a result of sin and sin dwells in our lives, our hearts and in our minds. Our culture often deals with suffering by trying to avoid it, not knowing the fact that suffering is the inevitable part of life. But the bible actually encourages Christians to face suffering with faith in order to grow in Christ and to draw closer to Him, because only God is the solution for all our sufferings. In this passage, we learn how to depend on the Lord in times of suffering.
God already showed us in scriptures what it means for us to be His children, and what it costs us to follow Him. In many ways, the Cross of Jesus Christ is the way of Christian Life. He humbled Himself to the cross and sacrificed His own life for us, He suffered for our sake, He endured all kinds of rejection from His own people. In this passage, we see how the Cross becomes the model for christian life.