Christ died on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and He accomplished an all-inclusive redemption for us, to bring us back to God and to our right to enjoy God. In the sufferings Christ went through for our redemption we cannot have a share – only Christ is qualified for this. But we as believers in the Lord can share and should partake of the sufferings of Christ for the producing and building up of His Body! We want to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10).
We cannot share in Christ’s sufferings for redemption
In the Old Testament only the High Priest was qualified to make atonement for the sins of the people, and in the New Testament Christ is both the perfect sacrifice offered to God for our redemption AND the Only One qualified to be the High Priest to offer this sacrifice to God. We cannot share in Christ’s sufferings for redemption, since it is only Christ who is qualified to bear this kind of affliction. Christ suffered to accomplish redemption on our behalf (Heb. 9:26; Isa. 53:3-8).
Christ is the only One capable to accomplish redemption, and 1 Peter 3:18 clearly says, For Christ also has suffered once for sins, the Righteous on behalf of the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God. To say that we can share in Christ’s sufferings for redemption is to speak blasphemy – Christ alone is The Redeemer, and the sufferings for redemption were fulfilled, completed, and bore only by Him as the spotless sinless perfect Lamb of God.
Sharing in Christ’s sufferings for the Body
On the other hand, Paul also says in Col. 1:24, I now rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the church. God is complete and perfect, and Christ is all-inclusive, having no need whatsoever – however, today there’s the need of some faithful saints who would partake of Christ’s sufferings for the producing and building up of the Body of Christ. It is our privilege and our responsibility to partake of the afflictions of Christ for the sake of His Body.
Yes, Christ did suffer for the producing and the building up of the Body of Christ, but these sufferings have not been yet completed by Christ Himself. There is the need of many believers in Christ who see the need and give themselves to the Lord to meet this need – some who suffer for the producing and building up of the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul took the lead in this, he saw the great need, and he suffered for the producing and building up of the Body. He is a pattern for all the believers to follow (1 Tim. 1:16) – we also need to suffer and have a mind to suffer for the building up of the church.
The ministry vs the gifts
Many people prefer the gifts / the gifted ones – just like the Corinthian believers did. Gifts are some abilities or capacities given to specific people and they are manifested to a greater extent only in some saints. But in 2 Corinthians Paul doesn’t even mention gifts anymore – what he emphasizes is the ministry. The ministry of the new covenant given to all the believers is constituted of, produced, and formed by the experiences of the riches of Christ through suffering, consuming presures, and the killing work of the cross. What do you prefer: the gifts or the ministry?
For the building up of the church we need the ministry – our experience of the riches of Christ in a subjective way, having Christ wrought into our being through all kinds of sufferings and consuming pressures…. This kind of experiences produces and constitutes the ministry for God’s new covenant, and these experiences are for the building up of the Body of Christ today! We love the ministry – we don’t “hate the gifts”, but we value more being a minister of the new covenant than desiring to be a gifted one…
[sharing inspired from the life-study of Colossians as quoted in the Morning Revival on the Crystallization-Study of Psalms (1); you can get the morning revival book online or become a fan on Facebook for more updates. Intro: sharing in the afflictions of Christ.]
Lord Jesus, grant us to see the need in the Body for those who would join You in Your sufferings for the building! O, Lord, may we join ourselves to You and experience You in such a way that the need in the Body would be met. Save us from aspiring or desiring to be great gifts to the Body…. Make us ministers of the new covenant, those who have Christ inwrought into them through many experiences daily! Make us those who build up the Body of Christ!
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