“I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Colossians 1:24-27 NLT
Paul was glad to suffer for the cause of Christ and His church. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 we read that Paul was given a "thorn in the flesh" to keep him from becoming arrogant and prideful. When you read the first several verses of 2 Corinthians 12, you will understand that Paul had experienced an extraordinary revelation from God. Paul had received divine revelation concerning the gospel of grace and had been given the responsibility to proclaim it to the church. The revelation was so extraordinary that God placed a certain kind of suffering in his life to keep keep him from losing his focus and drifting off course. We also read in Acts 9:16 what Jesus had spoken to Ananias concerning Paul: "And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake." NLT Even before Paul's conversion, God had chosen him to be the apostle of the grace of God. Paul suffered tremendously for the cause of the gospel. He was willing and glad to do so. He was absolutely and so unwaveringly convinced that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ - anointed One of God) that he was willing to die for the gospel. Let's take a look at his own account summary of his suffering: “Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NLT The gospel message needed to reach the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Paul was the one called by God to proclaim the entirety of that message to the New Testament church. In fact, he is credited with practically half of the New Testament writings (13 of 27 books - 14 if you count Hebrews as Pauline). The simple truth is this: Christ, the God of creation, lives inside of each person that trusts in Him.
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Rev. Curtis Norris