What does the Bible mean by saying we suffer with Christ?

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Suffer with Christ

The phrase “we suffer with” Christ is found in Romans 8:17.  Paul wrote, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” The apostle encouraged the believers to endure their trials and pointed their attention to the glories that await the faith. And he gave the same message in 2 Timothy 2:11, 12: “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”

From pain to glory

The plan of salvation does not offer Christians a life without suffering and tests on this earth. On the contrary, it invites all of God’s children to follow Christ in the pathway of self-denial and suffering. As Jesus was continually opposed by Satan and persecuted by his followers, so likewise will be all those who are being changed into His likeness. Their growing unlikeness to the world will bring ever greater aggression.

Christ’s life is an model for the Christian. Jesus said, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38 also 16:24; 20:22). Jesus went through great pain in order to give us peace. And He experienced suffering to obtain glory. Therefore, His followers will have to walk in the same path (Colossians 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 3:3). “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our  consolation also abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5).

Rejoice in persecution

To suffer with Christ means to suffer for His sake and the gospel’s. When the early believers were faced with harsh persecution for Christ’s sake, Peter exhorted them with the words, “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13). The Christian can actually rejoice because he knows that he will not be asked to bear more than Christ suffered (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15, 16).

To suffer with Christ also means to struggle with the powers of temptation as He did, so that as He was made “perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2: 10), we may be also. The author does not mean that Christ was not previously perfect. Christ was perfect as God and in His incarnation, He was perfect as man. But by His sufferings He became perfect as Savior (Acts 5:31) because He simply persevered till the end.

God’s promise of power

The good news is that through trials and persecutions the character of Christ is duplicated and revealed in His children. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried” (Daniel 12:10). While man cannot of his own power purify himself, he can show forth by his life the fact that God has purified him.

God does the work of cleansing. “So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26). The Lord has made provision that every sin may be successfully resisted and overcome (Romans 8:1–4). This day-by-day cleansing from sin and growth in grace is called sanctification (Romans 6:19). And the initial step whereby the sinner turns from his sin and accepts Christ is called justification (Romans 5:1).

The process of growth requires careful watching unto prayer to prevent the old habits of thought and action from re-surging in the life again (Romans 6:11–13; 1 Corinthians 9:27). Thus, by sharing in the sufferings of Christ we are educated, disciplined and get prepared to be part of the everlasting rewards.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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