Pain with Hope or Hopeless Pain

By John Thiel, mp3

Pain with hope, or hopeless pain, which one will you choose? As sinners, you and I are destined for redemption. Every inhabitant on this planet must pass from death unto life and there is not one person who must not pass from death unto life.

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

If Jesus had to die for us, we are all dead. Unless we receive the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are doomed to horror beyond human imagination. We have a life and redemption to look forward to. As we let that enter into our mind, we consider that the sufferings of Jesus were there because we would have to suffer those sufferings. We awaken to the reality that without the actual sufferings of Jesus we have no life.

Christ bore the sins of the whole world. He endured our punishment–the wrath of God against transgression. His trial involved the fierce temptation of thinking that He was forsaken by God. His soul was tortured by the pressure of a horror of great darkness. .{UL 90.5}

When a sinner awakens to the sinfulness of his nature, he realises that he is forsaken. Jesus experienced and was tempted with that. You and I would be destined for that horror of great darkness, but we have this precious gift to contemplate that the very same horror that Jesus went through on my behalf is the horror that I would have to suffer if I had no Jesus.

The heavenly universe had watched with intense interest the entire life of Christ,–every step from the manger to the present awful scene. And what a scene was this for ten thousand times ten thousands of angels, of cherubim and seraphim, to look upon. They beheld the Son of God, their loved Commander, in his superhuman agony apparently dying on the field of battle to save a lost and perishing world. All heaven had listened to that prayer of Christ. His soul agony, which three times forced from his pale and quivering lips the cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt,” convulsed all heaven. They saw their Lord inclosed by legions of Satanic forces, his human nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. Everywhere he may look is a horror of great darkness beyond the measurement of human minds. And there was silence in heaven; no harp was touched. Could mortals have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as they watched in silent grief the Father separating his beams of light, love, and glory, from the beloved Son, they would better understand how offensive sin is in his sight. In the supreme crisis, when heart and soul are breaking under the load of sin, Gabriel is sent to strengthen the divine Sufferer, and brace him to tread his blood-stained path. And while the angel supports his fainting form, Christ takes the bitter cup, and consents to drink its contents. Before the suffering One comes up the wail of a lost and perishing world, and the words come from the blood-stained lips. “Nevertheless, if man must perish unless I drink this bitter cup, thy will, not mine, be done.” {ST, December 9, 1897 par. 2}

Prophecy had declared that the “mighty One,” the holy One from Mount Paran, was to tread the winepress alone; “of the people there was none” with him. His own arm brought salvation; he was ready for the sacrifice. The fearful crisis was past. That agony which none but God could endure, Christ had borne. {ST, December 9, 1897 par. 3}

The human nature of Christ was like unto ours, and suffering was more keenly felt by him; for his spiritual nature was free from every taint of sin. Therefore his desire for the removal of suffering was stronger than human beings can experience. How intense was the desire of the humanity of Christ to escape the displeasure of an offended God, how his soul longed for relief, is revealed in the words, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” {ST, December 9, 1897 par. 4}

Can you appreciate that Jesus had to suffer this? If He would not have suffered it, we would have had to suffer the horror of darkness of God’s mercy and grace being withdrawn from us. Because of those that take Him as their personal Saviour, and receive that wonderful gift, even the unbeliever’s doom is palliated at the present time. The wicked do not realise the horror that would be theirs had it not been for this sacrifice.

Hearts that respond to the influence of the Holy Spirit are the channels through which God’s blessing flows. Were those who serve God removed from the earth, and His Spirit withdrawn from among men, this world would be left to desolation and destruction, the fruit of Satan’s dominion. Though the wicked know it not, they owe even the blessings of this life to the presence, in the world, of God’s people whom they despise and oppress. But if Christians are such in name only, they are like the salt that has lost its savor. {DA 306.4}

We see here a scene of Christ’s suffering which He would have loved to have escaped. The path that Jesus trod will be ours to tread if we would pass from death unto life. Many a Christian does not realise that the horror of sin upon Christ is for them to discover, so that they might walk the path that Jesus walked.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Hebrews 5:7-9

While He was on earth in His flesh, He offered up prayers with strong crying and tears, because he needed to be saved from death. He had to pass from death to life. He was the author of the salvation that we must walk. He walked and trod a path that provided the book that He was the author of that we are to follow and read carefully.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: Hebrews 12:1-5

Jesus wanted to escape this dreadful experience. When we meet our experiences we want to escape them, we become weary and faint. Let us look at Him and consider Him that endured such contradiction.

Jesus walked the path of a son on earth and He cried unto Him who could save Him from death. He learned obedience by the things which He suffered because He had to provide a way for us to walk, that we would not faint when we have to walk it. To pass from death unto life means to pass from sin unto righteousness.

Let us investigate the experience of this example of Jesus that we are to follow.

Pain with Hope

Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22

We are to enter into the kingdom of God through much tribulation, so don’t let your faith become wearied, look to Jesus. This is the experience of passing from death unto life, from sin unto righteousness.

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Psalm 119:67

He kept his word after He was afflicted. Jesus was afflicted. When we become afflicted in keeping His word we will understand what the affliction is about. That is the experience we will meet. Those people who are going to be passing from death unto life, from sin to righteousness, will go through the affliction of God’s love.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Revelation 3:19

If I taste of the love of God, I must be rebuked, I must be afflicted. He gave us His love in giving Jesus to show us the way.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Hebrews 12: 5-10

We are to pass from death to life, from sin to holiness. The experience of that path is one of chastisement, rebuke and pain. If we endure that pain we might be partakers of his holiness. Do you like pain? Nobody likes pain, but we are sinners, and its either going to be pain with hope or hopeless pain.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:2

This is the counsel of the Lord to the preacher. This is one of the most unpleasant things for a preacher to do. I take no delight in it, I wish to avoid it but the Lord doesn’t let me avoid it. I try to put everything so nicely for everybody but then the Lord tells me, come along, you have to come stronger here, you’re not hard enough in your revelation of the rebuke. The people have to awaken out of their lethargies. We are so prone to say, smooth words please, it hurts too much.

When you are preaching these things it is a suffering to the preacher. It’s with all longsuffering, but you must rebuke, reprove and exhort with longsuffering and doctrine.

This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Titus 1:13

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I do the will of God. Is it necessary to be rebuked? Is it necessary to suffer pain? Indeed it is. We are sinners and sin is pleasurable to us but we hate the sinner. You want to be free to do what you like. It is said, if it feels good, do it. Sin feels good and people do it but they hate it being done to them. The fact is that pain is necessary.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

It’s easier to hear nice things. I don’t like the pain and discomfort of being corrected.

Are we living in that time? According to the word, after you have preached, your work is just begun. When I come to you and say, I’ve got to have a talk with you, and start pointing a few things out to you, will you like me for it? The Lord has sometimes pointed out to me that I have to do this, even though it kills me to sharply rebuke something. Then they whinge to somebody else and say, John is so terrible, he made some harsh statements here. I’d rather not do it, but when I see certain things that are gathering weight among God’s people I must sharply rebuke as God commands me to do.

The Lord estimates as of supreme value the holiness of His people, and He permits reverses to come upon individuals, upon families, and upon churches, that His people may see their danger, and humble their hearts before Him in repentance. He will treat His backslidden ones with tenderness. He will speak pardon to them, and clothe them with the garments of Christ’s righteousness. He will honor them with His presence. {SD 260.2}

In this, the great day of atonement, it is our duty to confess our sins and acknowledge God’s mercy and love in pardoning our transgressions. Let us thank the Lord for the warnings He has given to save us from our perverse ways. Let us witness to His goodness by revealing a change in our lives. If those to whom the Lord has sent reproof, warning them that they are not walking in His way, will repent, and with humility and contrition of heart make confession, the Lord will surely receive them again into favor. . . . {SD 260.3}

Didn’t He honour us with the presence of Jesus to try to recover us from death to life?

As painful as it may be, its there to be received in the favour of God. The Lord estimates the holiness of His people as supreme value and He is at work to produce that.

What are we called to do in our condition? We like to be cheerful and we like laughter rather than pain.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:7-10

We like to be cheerful and we like laughter rather than pain, but before gain comes pain. If I want to be lifted up by the Lord, the pain of my sinfulness must come before me so that I can repent and be clean from my wretchedness. This is part of the program. Jesus came so that when we meet it, we can say, Jesus is right there with me. A true servant of God according to Timothy, will administer material to the end of turning our laughter to mourning and our fun to lack-lustre. In this he receives God’s counsel.

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Proverbs 9:8 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked [man getteth] himself a blot. Proverbs 9:7

This is counsel to the preacher. If I don’t rebuke you, I regard you as a scorner. If I know that when I rebuke you you will scorn me, I will not rebuke you.

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; Ezekiel 14:3-4

If any of you and I hold an idol in our heart and we don’t want to let it go, the Lord will not rebuke me. He will rebuke the wise, those who open their hearts to Jesus. If you are wise, you will express this Scripture reading;

Let the righteous smite me; [it shall be] a kindness: and let him reprove me; [it shall be] an excellent oil, [which] shall not break my head: Psalm 141:5

This is the work of the Lord and it will restore us into his holiness. We need this.

Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful. Proverbs 27:6

Let the servant of God smite me, rebuke and chasten with the word of God and if need be, let Him come to me and show me my problem. It will be an excellent oil which won’t break my head. The pain of rebuke and Godly affliction is better than the pain of a hopeless consequence.

This brings to memory an instance of my son in his early teens. I didn’t want to punish my son any more at that age. He did something that was very naughty and I could have just mildly rebuked him like Eli but the Lord said this is to be severely treated. I said, son, taking my belt, I’m going to have to punish you and it will really sting. Which stinging do you want, the one I’m going to give you now or the one when you will have to burn at the end and al the lashes of your wickedness will be laid upon you in that fire, if I don’t sting you now? I had a prayer with him and then used three lashes of my belt. The first one, ooh, it hurt. The second one, ouch! It hurt. The third one ooh, why do you have to hurt me so much? Because it will hurt much worse in the fire. It is severe what you have done and it needed to be punished.

If the pain is severe when the Lord chastises us then let it hurt and deeply impress the heart that this is serious sin. It meant the death of Christ. We are rapidly approaching the close of probation are we not? The Lord has to reveal our sins to us.

Then my eyes were taken from the glory, and I was pointed to the remnant on the earth. The angel said to them, “Will ye shun the seven last plagues? Will ye go to glory and enjoy all that God has prepared for those who love Him and are willing to suffer for His sake? If so, ye must die that ye may live. Get ready, get ready, get ready. Ye must have a greater preparation than ye now have, for the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. Sacrifice all to God. Lay all upon His altar–self, property, and all, a living sacrifice. It will take all to enter glory. Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where no thief can approach or rust corrupt. Ye must be partakers of Christ’s sufferings here if ye would be partakers with Him of His glory hereafter.” Heaven will be cheap enough, if we obtain it through suffering. We must deny self all along the way, die to self daily, let Jesus alone appear, and keep His glory continually in view. I saw that those who of late have embraced the truth would have to know what it is to suffer for Christ’s sake, that they would have trials to pass through that would be keen and cutting, in order that they may be purified and fitted through suffering to receive the seal of the living God, pass through the time of trouble, see the King in His beauty, and dwell in the presence of God and of pure, holy angels. {EW 66.2}

As I saw what we must be in order to inherit glory, and then saw how much Jesus had suffered to obtain for us so rich an inheritance, I prayed that we might be baptized into Christ’s sufferings, that we might not shrink at trials, but bear them with patience and joy, knowing what Jesus had suffered that we through His poverty and sufferings might be made rich. Said the angel, “Deny self; ye must step fast.” Some of us have had time to get the truth and to advance step by step, and every step we have taken has given us strength to take the next. But now time is almost finished, and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months. They will also have much to unlearn and much to learn again. {EW 67.1}

You must die because of the recognition of your sin. It must become vivid and clear to us. Isn’t that pain with hope? That’s what we want. What will happen in those few months? Extreme pain, extreme discomfort of rebuke. This is our lot.

For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:17-19

We will either have pain with the gospel or pain without it. Are we going to run away from the pain, from sermons that really churn my heart and rebuke and correct me? When the preacher comes to you, will you say, I don’t want to have that conversation, thank you?

We only see our mistakes as we see them, we don’t see them as God sees them. We live in a time of modern Christianity where we make use of the mercy of God that says, I will show you the sins myself. He will. He shows you your sins through the agencies that He chooses. Submit to the counsel, correction and chastisement.

The prophet Daniel was drawing very near to God when he was seeking Him with confession and humiliation of soul. He did not try to excuse himself or his people, but acknowledged the full extent of their transgression. In their behalf he confessed sins of which he himself was not guilty, and besought the mercy of God, that he might bring his brethren to see their sins. {TMK 238.3}

He confessed the sins of His brethren as His own. That’s the way that the preaching and rebuking is to be done, but it hurts nonetheless.

God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them into positions which are calculated to reveal the motives of the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advance step the heart is tested, and tried a little closer. If any find their hearts opposed to the straight work of God, it should convince them that they have a work to do in overcoming, or they will be finally rejected of the Lord. {OHC 162.2}

This world is the place in which to prepare to appear in God’s presence. Individuals will here show what power affects their hearts, and controls their actions. . . . If they prize anything higher than the truth, their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus, and He is consequently shut out. If individuals, when tested, refuse to sacrifice their idols, . . . the Spirit of God will leave them with their sinful traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. {OHC 162.3}

It’s a calculated punishment and chastisement. We are just before the close of probation. We must step fast from one pain to the next to the next. If we refuse this we will be left without Christ and suffer a pain without hope.

The Benefit of Suffering

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11

If I will go through with that chastening which I deserve because I have an idol that I will not give away even though it is shown to me again and again, when I am hit with a thunderbolt, then there will come the peaceable fruit of righteousness. When the air is sultry there is a thunderstorm with the hail, thunder and lightning. When it’s all over the air is fresh. After your children have received a good punishment, they return loving you like they never loved you before, wanting to please you. They have discovered a relief.

There is no evidence of genuine repentance unless it works reformation. If he restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, confess his sins, and love God and his fellow men, the sinner may be sure that he has passed from death unto life. {SC 59.1}

When, as erring, sinful beings, we come to Christ and become partakers of His pardoning grace, love springs up in the heart. Every burden is light, for the yoke that Christ imposes is easy. Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure. The path that before seemed shrouded in darkness, becomes bright with beams from the Sun of Righteousness. {SC 59.2}

The loveliness of the character of Christ will be seen in His followers. It was His delight to do the will of God. Love to God, zeal for His glory, was the controlling power in our Saviour’s life. Love beautified and ennobled all His actions. Love is of God. The unconsecrated heart cannot originate or produce it. It is found only in the heart where Jesus reigns. “We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19, R.V. In the heart renewed by divine grace, love is the principle of action. It modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love, cherished in the soul, sweetens the life and sheds a refining influence on all around. {SC59.3}

Next time your life becomes sultry expect a thunderstorm. When the thunderstorm comes, this beautiful path of loving response takes place when a person gladly submits to the correction. Let us be glad for the chastening and pain that is laced with hope, so that we might avoid the hopeless pain when it is too late when probation is closed. When the books are opened they will then acknowledge it’s too late. May God grant us a willingness to submit ourselves to God’s wise corrections in our life, and suffer the pain with hope and not hopeless pain.


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Posted on 14/12/2011, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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