Matt 24:8                   Only the Beginning of Sorrows                          6/15/2008      ßà   

 

 

 

 

#1.       One Stone Upon Another (Matt 24:1-2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6, 19:41-44)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       See that Ye Be Not Troubled (Matt 24:6, Psalm 27:1-3, 46:1-3, John 14:27, Hab 3:17-18)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       All These Are Only the Beginning of Sorrows (Matt 24:8, Psalm 51:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 24:1 (2X). This is a very intense chapter, filled with end time events. It is the field of eschatology to sort out from the Bible what are the end time events and how should we arrange them in future history. Eschatology is a popular topic, for it deals with future prophecy. But eschatology can also be a trap and a snare for those who want to see their own imagination satisfied, rather than let the Bible speak for itself. Especially at the beginning of this chapter we must learn to focus, and consider the context. In the Gospel According to Luke the end time events are found in chapters 17, and 19, and 21. Matthew, who formerly was an accountant, has systematically arranged all these things in one chapter. Today we will deal with the first 8 verses in Matt 24, which end with the statement, “All these are the beginning of sorrows”. In other words, “all these events are only the beginning of sorrows”. There are many more intense sorrows to come, for the end time is characterized by the Final Tribulation Period (FTP). Therefore the title of this sermon is, Only the Beginning of Sorrows (2X). And so we must learn to distinguish the sorrows of the FTP from those that belong to the normal Christian life throughout most of the NT time period.

Mt 24:1-2  And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.    And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Mt 24:3  And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Mt 24:4 ¶  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

Mt 24:5  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Mt 24:6-7  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.   For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

Mt 24:8  All these are the beginning of sorrows.

The Lord tells His disciples that all these beautiful buildings will be destroyed. But look again at verse 3, for we need to recognize the three questions that the disciples asked Jesus. #1, “When shall these things be?” #2, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” #3, “What shall be the sign of the end of the world?” In other words, when Jesus spoke of a calamity as grievous as the destruction of the temple, the disciples immediately associated this event with the second coming of Christ, and they recognized that the second coming of Christ occurs at the end of the world. Many people today have an eschatology whereby the second coming of Christ is not at the end of the world. They have made up their own series of end time events, but it is not according to the Bible, because they have not harmonized everything else in the Bible. When we understand that every word in the Bible was spoken by God, as is clearly stated in 2Pet 1:21 and 2Tim 3:16, then we have the obligation to harmonize all the statements in the Bible. For if we believe that two statements in the Bible are in conflict, then we have declared God a liar in one of these statements. Now, these three questions are not so clear in the Gospels of Mark and of Luke. In the Gospel of Mark 13:4 we read, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” And in the Gospel of Luke 21:7 we read, “And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” In other words, in Mark and in Luke only two of the three questions are asked. When we turn to Matt 24 we can recognize that the first question about the destruction of the temple, is answered beginning in verse 9, and the second question about Christ second coming is answered beginning in verse 14, and the third question about the end of the world is answered beginning in verse 27. Today we will get only to verse 8. Let us start again at the beginning of this chapter.

#1.       One Stone Upon Another (Matt 24:1-2, Mark 13:2, Luke 21:6, 19:41-44)

Mt 24:1-2 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.    And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

Now this is a hot topic these days. It is true that the temple symbolizes the body of believers, for in the NT time we are the temple of God. But the temple also symbolizes the body of Christ, as He stated in John 2:21, and certainly the destruction of Christ’s body is not in view here in this chapter. And so, what does this passage refer to? Does this refer to the literal destruction of the temple, or does it refer to the spiritual falling apart of the church near the end of time? The question is: Do these words need to be spiritualized, or do we take these words as face value. When do we spiritualize our interpretation of any passage? The answer is: When the context calls for it. The context will dictate if we must spiritualize, or if we must accept the literal meaning of the passage in question. And this rule does not necessarily refer to the immediate context, for if the exact same words are used elsewhere in the Bible, then this is the context we are looking for. We have here an excellent example where we can apply this practical rule. Put a sticker here in Matt 24, for we will be returning there many times, and please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 19:41 (2X). Let us also remember the context where we found this passage in Matt 24 about the destruction of the temple, and let us remember that the chapter divisions in the Bible were made by man in the 13th century AD. In Matt 23 the Lord pronounced eight woes on the scribes and Pharisees, because they taught the people a false gospel of works. In Matt 23:37 the Lord accused the nation of the Jews, symbolized as Jerusalem, of unbelief of the true Gospel and of killing the prophets who brought them the true Gospel. In Matt 23:38 the Lord addressed the nation of the Jews that their spiritual house is left unto them desolate. In other words, all their efforts to obey the ceremonial law are in vain, and all their efforts to pull themselves up into heaven by their ceremonial laws are actually to their condemnation. In other words, the entire gospel of Judaism will be done away. And now we see that the beginning two verses of Matt 24 perfectly fit this context, for paraphrased the Lord says, “For this is so offensive to God that He shall destroy even the temple; the temple shall be turned into rubble”. Can we find confirmation of this interpretation? Absolutely Yes! The words, “One stone upon another” are also found in Mark 13 and in Luke 21, with the same context as found in Matt 24. We do not find anything new by studying Mark 13:2 and Luke 21:6. But when we turn to Luke 19 we find significantly more information. We read here in Luke 19:41-44,

Lu 19:41-43  And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,     Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.  For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,

Lu 19:44  And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Remember those words, “Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation”. Paraphrased the Lord says, “Because you did not recognize Me as your Messiah, therefore the temple and Jerusalem itself shall be totally destroyed”. And that this passage should be taken as the context for Matt 24:2 is proven by the fact that the words, “One stone upon another” are exactly the same as in Matt 24:2. This is how we compare Scripture with Scripture. And does this not perfectly harmonize with the context of Matt 24:2? Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 24:2 (2X). And thus the context of Matt 23 and 24, together with Luke 19, tells us the principle of God’s actions against OT Israel, “You did not recognize Me, or did not want to recognize Me as your Messiah, therefore you were not aware of the change from the OT economy to the NT economy of the Gospel. Therefore you were not aware that I came to atone for the sins of many, to whom I shall declare by My Holy Spirit that I have forgiven them their sins. Therefore the system of ceremonial laws that you hold has become a stink in My nostrils, and therefore I shall show to the world that I have removed you from being My favorite people, and I shall replace you with a nation that shall worship Me in spirit and in truth”. Now, to the disciples, and to all the Jews of those days, the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple was such a traumatic event that nothing else in the world could be worse. For them it was like the end of the world has come, for it meant that God’s dwelling place has been removed and that God has departed from them. And this is why the disciples immediately associated this calamity with the second coming of Christ and with the end of the world. And that is why the rest of Matt 24 is concerned with end time events, for this is Jesus’ answer to their concerns. And so, let take notice how the Lord Jesus answered His disciples. Rather than directly answering their questions about signs of the end, He focuses first of all on their priorities.

Mt 24:4 ¶  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

The disciples asked the Lord Jesus to show them the signs of the end time. They wanted to know what they should be warned of when we get close to the end. They wanted to be prepared in their fight against the Devil. But what was the Lord’s answer? “Take heed that no man deceive you”. This is our first priority. And how can we arm ourselves to withstand this deception? We need to study our Bible, and we must learn what it means to compare Scripture with Scripture. We have already seen how we should apply this principle on the subject matter of “One stone upon another”. And we must continue to practice this rule, so that get experience in it. Please turn to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 2:2 (2X). It means first of all that we must understand what the true Gospel is. If we do not have a clear idea what the true Gospel is, we also will not be able to distinguish truth from falsehood. God tells us here in 1Cor 2:2 how it all hangs together. We read in 1Cor 2:2  about the cross of Christ,

1Co 2:2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

What is the Gospel here? What is the good news? The Gospel is that God sent the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth: God the Son united Himself with a human body and soul. He came in the likeness of sinful man, except for sin, and God caused Him to pay the full penalty for the sins of those He came to save. He paid the full price for their sins, which meant that every one of these persons would be saved before their body dies. And thus, through the substitutionary death of Christ came salvation for many. There is no other way anyone can come into God’s holy heaven other than through the substitutionary death of Christ. This is the meaning of “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”, in 1Cor 2:2. Please turn now to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:8 (2X). But we also know that not everyone becomes saved. In fact, the Lord Jesus tells us in Matt 7:13-14 that the number of people who remain unsaved is far greater than the number of people who do become saved. It means that the Lord Jesus did not suffer and die for those of whom He knows that they are going to Hell, for since Christ is God He cannot do anything that is futile and ends up in failure. That is why we read in Eph 2:8-10,

Eph 2:8-10  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:   Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

By grace are ye saved. Grace means God’s unmerited favor, leading unto salvation. Can we merit unmerited favor? No we cannot! It means that none of our works qualifies to make God save us. This also means that God saved us according to His will, and not according to our will. Therefore we read in Eph 2:8 that the faith with which we believe this news of Christ crucified is not a faith that comes out of ourselves, but it is the gift of God. Therefore we are saved “Not of works” (Eph 2:9), lest any man should boast that he has made a wise decision to believe in Jesus. And thus, if God saved us according to the good pleasure of His will, like we read in Eph 1:5, it must mean that God picked us out for this great salvation long before we even came into this world. And this is what the Bible teaches everywhere, that God has reserved a people for Himself, whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the world to become the Bride of Christ. This people, whom God calls His elect, are a remnant chosen out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, He calls with an irresistible calling by His Holy Spirit to step out of their former life and lifestyle to dedicate their life to serving the triune God of heaven and earth. And once the Holy Spirit has converted these people, He will never let them go and fall again in the lifestyle that they had before their calling. This is the Gospel. This is the good news that centers around the fact of Christ crucified. Please drop down to Eph 4:14 (2X). And now that we know this, the Lord admonishes us to watch out for false teachers, “Take heed that no man deceive you”. We read in:

Eph 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

This is indeed true. There are many deceivers in the world who want to deceive us for their personal gain. Of course we already know that many politicians deceive us; that is nothing new. But when those who are standing in pulpits of churches around the world are deceiving us, that is a more serious matter, for then the wrath of God will come down upon the church. Please turn again to the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 24:6 (2X). Throughout the NT time period mankind shall be plagued with wars, and rumors of wars, and famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, and other troubles.

#2.       See that Ye Be Not Troubled (Matt 24:6, Psalm 27:1-3, 46:1-3, John 14:27, Hab 3:17-18)

Mt 24:6  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

There are six words in the middle of this verse: “See that ye be not troubled”. There is the emphasis of this verse. You see, the only thing that we should be concerned about is written in Matt 24:4, “Take heed that no man deceive you”. For if we are at peace with the Lord, then nothing else can be more important than this. Please turn to the prophecy of the Psalms in the middle of your Bibles, Psalm 27:1 (2X). While you look that up, let me read to you what the Lord Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. The Lord does not want us to be disturbed by the upheavals in the world. Although wars and rumors of wars are of concern to us because we live in this world, as long as we have peace with God we should be content with whatever the Lord brings. We read in Psalm 27:1-3,

Ps 27:1-3  The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.    Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

You see, this should be the comfort we have as a child of God. If the Maker and Upholder of the universe is on my side, if He is my Heavenly Father, then what in the world can bring me out of favor with God? “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” And so, this is the confidence we have when troubles strike in our life. If the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Satan is not causing these troubles in my life, but the Lord is doing it. And He does it for my overall benefit, for my spiritual growth, for the well being of my soul, for my witness in this world, that I may be  a more useful servant to Him. Please drop down to Psalm 46:1 (2X). Even though wars and rumors of wars are of concern to us, and even though we are concerned about pestilences and earthquakes, and even though we still secure our water boiler to be prepared for future earthquakes, we still do not live in an atmosphere of fear, for God knows our troubles, and God will take care of His children. We read in Psalm 46:1-3,

Ps 46:1-3    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

This passage speaks to us here in California, which is earthquake country. We can be struck by an earthquake at any day. And yet we will not fear, for God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, for we know that Satan is not causing these earthquakes; God is. What then should a child of God say when any calamity strikes? Let me read to you from Habakkuk, chapter 3:17-18,

Hab 3:17-18  Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:    Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

In other words, “See that ye be not troubled”. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation, for it is His will that these troubles have come upon us. Later He will let us know why He has done this. Please turn again to the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 24:6 (2X).

Keep in mind that we are not yet in an end time situation in this chapter. When the Lord admonished His disciples to “Take heed that no man deceive you”, and when He warned that “many shall come in His name” to deceive them with another gospel, and when they will hear of “wars and rumors of wars”, we need to keep in mind that these things go on all the time throughout the NT time period. All these troubles shall be upon us all the time unabated unto the end of time. We read in Matt 24:6-7,

Mt 24:6-7  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.   For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

You see, all these things must come to pass; and notice that the two words these things are in italics, which means that they were not in the Greek text. The verse must read, “All must come to pass”. All calamities must come to pass, for this is the mode that promotes the coming of the kingdom of God. And the Lord confirms us in this understanding when He says, “But the end is not yet”. In other words, all these calamities shall continually occur throughout the NT time, without actually being signs of the end. Even the next verse does not refer to an end time mode. Notice exactly what the Lord Jesus said: “For nation (singular) shall rise against nation (singular)”. From God’s perspective there are only two nations in the world. It is the nation of the army of Christ, and the nation of the army of Antichrist; the nation of the kingdom of God, the nation of the kingdom of Satan. These two nations, these two kingdoms, are continually at war with one another. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 3:15 (2X). We have here the first set of curses that God pronounced on Satan for the first sin recorded in the Bible. Satan, in the body of a serpent, had been deceiving first the woman and then also Adam in the Garden of Eden, by tempting them to eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was a sin so heinous that God calls it an act of murder, for at this time through this sin Satan had spiritually murdered the entire human race. We may not like to be at war, but the Bible declares that we are always fighting a spiritual warfare. God says so in Gen 3:15, where He curses Satan and says:

Ge 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

What is God saying here? God will put continual enmity, continual war, between thee, Satan, and the woman, the body of believers throughout time, and between thy seed, which are the multitudes that remain in rebellion against God, and her Seed, which is Christ, for the Seed of the woman is Christ; He shall bruise thy head, Christ shall mortally wound Satan at the cross, and thou shalt bruise his heel, and Satan shall hurt Christ in His heel at the cross. And when we read in Matt 24:6 that ALL must come to pass, it is implied that this too had to come to pass, for through this sin the path was open for the Lord Jesus Christ to come to earth, and pay the ransom for the sins of many. Please turn again to the Gospel of Matthew, Matt 24:8 (2X). And so, what we are seeing is that both the Lord had to endure a great deal of suffering, and all of mankind had to endure much suffering, for it is through suffering that the kingdom of God will established. And notice the words of verse 8.

#3.       All These Are Only the Beginning of Sorrows (Matt 24:8, Psalm 51:4)

Mt 24:8  All these are the beginning of sorrows.

When God smites the earth with famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, and hurricanes, and floods, and many other plagues we must remember this principle: The same events do not produce the same results in the two kinds of people on the earth. Those who are among the elect of God do not react the same way as those who have not been elected, when both are subjected to the same events or calamities. When the elect of God are struck by disasters, they turn to God and ask what they have done wrong. They seek God’s face and ask for mercy. They turn to God in prayer and in the study of His Word, and repent of their sins. They realize that these disasters are but a shadow of what Hell really is, and they plead with God to forgive them their sins. They realize that they have offended God Almighty. They pray to God the words of Psalm 51:4, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest”. And so, it is through calamities, and through suffering, and through other unpleasant experiences that the elect are brought closer to God, for they will not blame others for their suffering; they will always seek the blame in themselves. Some of them are a little stubborn, and require that God will afflict them many times. Others require only one or two chastenings from the Lord to bring them into the fold of Christ. O Yes! The elect do not see these afflictions as judgments from God, but as chastenings to bring them into the fold, or chastenings to draw them closer to the Chief Shepherd, so that they may become more useful servants of the Lord. On the other hand, when the non-elect are struck by disasters they will always seek to blame others for their stroke of “bad luck”. They either seek to blame  “mother nature”, or they seek to blame the government, or they seek to blame their employers, or they seek to blame their wife, or they seek to blame their computer manufacturer, and so on. Why do you think that there are so many lawyers in this country? Where do those lawyers get their money from? You see, this is a nation that excels in trying to find fault with others. People slip and fall in front of someone else’s driveway, and they sue the person who owns the driveway for a hefty sum of money. Therefore the non-elect are always trying to find fault with others, never with themselves, and thus they are never confronted with their sins or with their guilt. And so, calamities are used by God to draw the elect closer to Him, and at the same time these calamities are used to drive the non-elect further and further away from God. This is how God uses calamities to bring the kingdom of God closer to its completion. But this is also the reason why God says in Matt 24:8, “All these are the beginning of sorrows”. The beginning of sorrows starts immediately at the cross where the Lord Jesus suffered and died, and where the disciples felt as if their entire world and all their hope had come to an end. It was at this time that Peter wept bitterly, for he did not blame others for his failure; he blamed only his sinful self. He did not know that this was the process through which the Lord was drawing him closer to Him, so that Peter could be a stronger leader of the apostolic band later at Pentecost and thereafter. But let us now look at another aspect of sorrows.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 5:3 (2X). Through the pen of the apostle Paul we learn of God’s perspective on sorrows. When we think of the glory of God, and how we desire to give God all the glory that we can give Him, we find in the Bible that our sufferings also serve to give God glory. We cannot say more glory, for God is already perfectly glorious. But here in Rom 5:2 we find that “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God”. In other words, we rejoice in the hope of a future glory that God will give us when we are with Him forever in the new creation. We read in Rom 5:3-5,

Ro 5:3-5  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:   And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Here we read in verse 3 that we glory in tribulations. Actually the Greek word that was translated “glory” is the same that was translated rejoice in verse 2. And thus we should read this also as rejoice: We rejoice in tribulations. Why do we rejoice in tribulations? It is because suffering leads us to patience, which in turn leads us to experience in serving the Lord, and this in turn produces hope. It is the hope of the glory of God we shall receive after a short time of suffering on this earth. Please turn in your Bibles to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 12:9 (2X). In this passage we praise God for the glory of His grace that He is giving us to endure tribulation. If it was not for God’s grace we would not be able to endure sufferings. We would fall apart. But God declares to us here in 2Cor 12:9-10,

2Co 12:9-10  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory (rejoice) in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.      Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

God’s strength is made perfect when we are weak and we need much grace to endure sufferings. Therefore I will rejoice in my weakness to endure pain, or my weakness to endure reproach for Christ’s sake, or my weakness to speak out on behalf of Christ, for His grace will turn me into another man; His grace will make me strong, and His grace will give me the words to speak on behalf of Christ. Is it not wonderful that His grace is sufficient for me, because I am His child? The apostle Paul was beseeching the Lord to take away the plague of the Judaizers, who were for him like a thorn in the flesh. They not only persecuted Him, but they even stoned him and left him for dead. The Judaizers were a painful reminder in the flesh of Paul that they were messengers of Satan. But God arranged it so that the persecution of Paul worked out for the well being of many, for many were saved through his preaching. Please turn now to the first chapter of this Epistle, 2Cor 1:4 (2X). When we have endured tribulation, we have gained patience and we have gained experience, so that we can help others who are going through the same tribulations. We are then becoming better servants of God, for we have learned how to comfort others who are in a painful situation. We read in 2Cor 1:4-6,

2Co 1:4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

2Co 1:5  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

2Co 1:6  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

You see, it is to the glory of God if we grow in grace in this manner. For when we can comfort others who are in the same faith as we are, and who are presently suffering, we can teach them how to grow in grace as we did. And this too brings glory to God, for when His children are edified it is to His glory. This is how we love one another, and this is to His glory because He arranged our suffering to be for His glory. And even though this suffering was initiated by sin, it was God who worked through this sin and this suffering to accomplish those things that are for His glory.

 

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.