There is dynamic connection between the way you and I go through our troubles and what he did for us on the cross
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends, how in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook. You get accustomed to that little greeting, don’t you? As a matter of fact, whenever I’m out speaking here and there, if I forget to say that, people come up and scold me afterwards, said, “Why didn’t you say how in the world are you?” [chuckle]
Well, it’s nice that we belong to each other in a way that even little oddities like that can seem important. Actually, the closer you get to any human being, the more you value the unique things about him or her in the personality, isn’t that true? I never noticed that my father had a what we call a spit curl up in the middle of his forehead. It was just the way it was. He lost his thatch early and was just nearly bald for 40 years, I suppose, at least before he died. But there are always was that little wisp of hair that came from somewhere that he very carefully combed up over his forehead and there it stood up, curly and brave. And I must say, I just took it for granted. I never bothered to notice it. And then, as the years went by, and especially after he came to live at our house, and the closeness of relationship grew, as between adults, not just father and son, and then I began to notice some things about him.
And one day, I said, “You know, that’s interesting. You got that little curl. It always stands up there.” And he used to laugh, and he said, “Yeah, I guess that’s all I got left, boy.” [chuckle] But there it was, a little unique, a little kind of a Charlie Cook trademark that was there. I hadn’t noticed it, but then it showed up in my attention horizon one day. The closer you get to people, the more you notice things about them that are unique, and you appreciate them. Well, [chuckle] I threw that in free, no charge. [chuckle] How are you getting along today? Are you doing alright? Oh, I hope so. Bless your heart. And I know that some days are rough and others are a little easier. Whatever kind of a day you’ve struck, live it for Jesus. Whatsoever you do, do all that is in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. So, live what you do, live what you live, for your Lord Jesus Christ. And that touches the day with glory. Even one of those days when everything falls apart can be touched with the presence of God if you do it for Him.
You and I are looking at 1 Peter chapter 3. We were talking about the will of God, the knowledge of the will of God and how to do God’s will, and we ended on the thought that your willingness to obey God’s will is directly related to God’s ability and willingness to reveal His will to you. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. You want God to share His heart with you? Fellowship is a sharing of hearts. You want God to share His heart with you? Well, you better start walking in the light. See? “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand,” the psalmist says in the 37th psalm.
Your appreciation of the will of God, your knowledge of the will of God, is directly proportional to your willingness to obey. Always and always, when you read your Bible, ask the question, “What is God asking me to do today about this part of His will?” Preacher, always, when you preach a sermon, Sunday school teacher, always, when you teach a lesson in the Sunday school or in a Bible class, set the hook. Always show what steps of obedience can be taken as the result of the lessons learned. Don’t fail in that, because appreciation for knowledge of the will of God is directly tied to willingness to obey it. That, I think, is where we left off.
Now, he says, “It’s better if the will of God be so that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.” Life is, has its troubles. All that Peter is saying is be sure that the troubles that come to you are not your own fault. Suffer for well-doing rather than for evil-doing. Be sure that troubles and opposition and criticism that come your way are not your fault. If that be so, then, as Dr. Ironside said to me years ago when I was complaining about my critics, he said, “Well, if they’re right about it, mend your ways. And if they aren’t, go on and forget it, and serve the Lord.” You’ll get criticism. You’ll get opposition and you’ll have troubles. That’s how life is. The philosopher thought for six months and came up with a statement that life is difficult. He could have done that without spending so much time. We know that, don’t we?
So, you don’t fight the fact that life is how it is. You don’t spend time mooning around and saying, “Why does this have to happen to me?” No. You recognize that that’s how it is, but you live it for the glory of God and you make sure that your troubles aren’t caused by yourself. And if they have been, you mend your ways, and you go a different direction. “Better,” he said, “if the will of God be so that you suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.” Now, he goes on to say something that, oh, he just blows your mind if you think about it. He’s talking about our experiences, the troubles we face.
And he says, “Because,” verse 18, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” Now, what is Peter saying here? He said the will of God may well include trials. It may well include criticism. It may well include undeserved criticism and opposition. He said that’s a lot better than having criticism that you deserve and troubles that you brought on yourself. That’s his first comparison. But he says the business of living may well include suffering of one sort and another. Alright?
Now, he said, “Because Christ also hath once suffered for sins.” Why bring that in? Because in the economy of God, believer, you are divinely compared, human and limited and flawed as we all are, you are compared with the Divine Redeemer and His work on the cross. Now, you say, “How do you get that?” Well, the Bible teaches it. Philippians 1:29, “Unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Paul spoke of his own troubles and he said, “I go through these and the process involves,” and then he uses this word, “I fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ.”
Now I can’t explain the mystical relationship between Christ’s suffering for me on the cross and my troubles in a world that hates Him. I can’t explain the mystical relationship; I only know it happens. What is here said is there is a parallel. Are you willing to accept that in the kind of life you’re living? Some of you are in dreadfully difficult circumstances. Somebody has a broken heart, somebody has a busted purse. You don’t have enough month at the end of the money. And somebody else has a sick body and you can scarcely drag yourself around, or maybe you’re anchored to a wheelchair because arthritis has crippled those joints and you can’t move much. Or maybe you have been forgotten. You’re stuck away someplace in a what they call a retirement home, which is a warehouse for older people, oftentimes. I’m not saying they’re all that way, but you’re forgotten. Nobody, nobody drops in to say hello, and you’re alone with your memories. Some of them are bitter and some are bittersweet, but there you are and you’re forgotten, and you hear me talking and you say, “Brother Cook, you don’t know what I’m about, you don’t know what it is. Wait. Just wait ’til you get where I am.”
Well, that may well indeed happen. Who knows? But I know that many of you who listen are in difficult situations. You got a difficult job situation. Your boss not only is difficult, but he puts thought into being impossible, and it seems as though you can’t ever do anything right. Whatever you do seems to be wrong and you get constantly harassed and criticized. I’m talking to somebody like that. Difficult situations. And you know, I’m the last person to tell you that you should kid yourself into thinking that it isn’t how it is. You have to be a realist and face up to it and say, “That’s how it is.”
But here, we have a passage that looks at circumstances such as I’ve just described for us, and says, “For Christ also suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.” Did He deserve anything He got in the garden and in Pilate’s judgment hall, and with the scouring, and with the mocking of the soldiers? Did He deserve being stretched out on that cross, and have the spikes driven through the base of His hands and through His ankles with His knees bent so that he would have to lift His body every breath He took? That was the evil genius of crucifixion. The body was suspended in such a way that you’d have ultimately to lift the body with your legs every time you breathed in order to get a breath because the muscles of the diaphragm were stretched upward and kept you from breathing. Oftentimes, victims of the crucifixion died from suffocation, actually, because they could no longer muster the strength to take another breath. Cruel, cruel, cruel death. Ah, yes, and Jesus died, it says, “The just for the unjust.”
My brother, and my sister, you take a look at this passage now and find the Holy Spirit saying to you you’re a believer. You’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit and because that is so, you are connected this minute with what Jesus did on the cross. There is a dynamic connection between the way you and I go through our troubles and what He did for us on the cross. Because He died for me, I can live triumphantly for Him. It’s a great truth, isn’t it? We come back to this now the next time we get together. Link your life to Jesus, dynamically, step by step.
Blessed Father, we just trust Thee today to connect our living with the glory of the cross and the majesty of our Savior. In His name, I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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