Sunday, June 24, 2007
In Ermelo, Holland, Brother Andrew told the story of sitting in Budapest, Hungary, with a dozen pastors of that city, teaching them from the Bible. In walked an old friend, a pastor from Romania who had recently been released from prison. Brother Andrew said that he stopped teaching and knew that it was time to listen.
After a long pause the Romanian pastor said, “Andrew, are there any pastors in prison in Holland?” “No,” he replied. “Why not?” the pastor asked. Brother Andrew thought for a moment and said, “I think it must be because we do not take advantage of all the opportunities God gives us.” Then came the most difficult question. “Andrew, what do you do with 2 Timothy 3:12?” Brother Andrew opened his Bible and turned to the text and read aloud, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” He closed the Bible slowly and said, “Brother, please forgive me. We do nothing with that verse.”
We have, I fear, domesticated the concept of godliness into such inoffensive, middle-class morality and law-keeping that 2 Timothy 3:12 has become unintelligible to us. I think many of us are not prepared to suffer for the gospel. We do not grasp the great truth that God has purposes of future grace that he intends to give his people through suffering. We can speak of purposes of suffering because it is clearly God’s purpose that we at times suffer for righteousness’ sake and for the sake of the gospel. For example, “Let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1 Peter 4:19; see also 3:17; Hebrews 12:4-11).
To live by faith in future grace we must see that the suffering of God’s people is the instrument of grace in their lives.
- John Piper