Creflo Dollar - The Purpose of Suffering - Part 1
Go with me to the book of 1 Peter chapter 1, and verses 6 through 7. 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 6 through 7. We have been in a series entitled "Understanding the Trials of Faith," answering that question, "Why is it that believers have to go through suffering"? "Is suffering somethin' that God actually uses to mature us"? "Is suffering of God"? or "Is suffering of the devil"? "Why we got to have trouble"? And so we wanna look at that, but we wanna spend time today talkin' about the trials that Peter had to go through, that Paul had to go through and examining the faith of Abraham and really get into this today so you can understand that, when you're confronted with trials challenging you and your faith, that you have some understanding where you can, you know, not be frustrated by it, not run from it, not fear it but to stand up against it. And, you know, it's kind of like, I love the Scripture, "Be still and know that God is God," and in those situations where you're being tried, be still and know.
So there are some things that we need to know when our faith is on trial. 1 Peter chapter 1, in verse 6 and 7, says, "Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, just for a season, if need be". For a season, if need be. So this is interesting. There may be a need for certain things to happen in your life to get you prepared for certain assignments in your life, okay? "If need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith," so that's a real thing, "the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire," so he says, "the trial of your faith is more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, than it might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ". "The trial of your faith," now, what is that?
I know what most people traditionally would say about and how they would define "the trial of your faith," but let me kind of give that to you first so you can really, you know, it'll have an impact as we go through this. "The trial of your faith" is not just testing your faith to see whether or not you have faith or not. Somebody says, "Well, you know, God got to test me to see if I have faith or not". That's not what "the trial of your faith" is. "The trial of your faith" is not testing your faith to see whether or not you have faith or not, neither is it testing you to see if your faith is sufficient or not, okay? So you have to go through a test to see if you got faith or not, or you have to go through a test to see if it's sufficient or not... that is not the definition of "the trial of your faith". "The trial of your faith" is literally "the purifying of your faith". It is "the removing of the impurity of your dependence upon self". It is "purifying your faith by removing the impurities of your dependence upon self".
Now, it took a whole lot of Scriptures and readin' a whole lot of books of the Bible to bring that into one, but I thought, just like everybody else thought, it was just testin' to see if I got faith or testin' to see if it was sufficient or not. No, it's actually purifying your faith, actually purifying your faith from you depending on self. Dependence upon self is going, this is what's gon' be put on trial. What's gon' be put on trial is this: Are you depending on God, or are you depending on self? The trial of your faith, not the trial of your works. The trial of your faith, not the trial of your accomplishments. "The trial of your faith".
And that's gonna be tried to see whether or not you have declared independence from God, saying, "I don't need God 'cause I got money. I don't need God 'cause I got education," or you made your mind up, "Regardless of what comes in my life, I am gonna depend on God and not depend on myself". And you'll find that this whole system, this whole life, Satan's purpose is to get you to declare... dependence from God. His purpose in everything about our lives is to get us to a place where we say we don't need God, we don't want God, and we don't depend on God because that's what he did. He declared independence from God with two words: "I will," and he went right in the Garden of Eden and tried to do the same thing with Adam and Eve and did, and they thought, "Well, the deal is, you know, if we'll separate from God and do what he told us not to do, then we can be like God".
This whole deal is about it, and so Jesus came. Satan's job is to try to get you to declare independence from God, saying you don't need him, and Jesus came to get you to operate in complete dependence upon God. Man, all these years, 40-somethin' years, could not see that. That is the theme of our life and this Bible. Jesus has come "that you might have life and have it more abundantly," but, you know, you can't have that abundant life unless you have complete dependence upon him. John 15:5, says, God says, "I'm the vine, you're the branch. If you're gonna bear fruit, you're gonna have to be dependent upon the vine because, without him, you can do nothing".
Oh, my God, are you gettin' this now? So the attitude towards God under grace, and we are no longer under the law, but we're under grace, amen? So the attitude towards God under grace should be, here's the attitude that we should have right now today. The attitude should be complete dependence upon him, and I don't know if that's so in church today. All we do is create new rules and new things to do so we can give ourselves the credit and boast about what we have done, and that's where the trial of your faith comes in that until there's no boasting, until you know it's not you without God, until you understand it can only be you with God. You were not created and designed to exist without him, so there's no need of you tryin' to be like God without God 'cause that's not gonna happen. And the whole point of Jesus dying and coming and shedding his blood and his body is so that you can get to a place in your life where you can depend on God.
So what trial have you gone through lately, after the trial is over with, you now recognize, "I need Jesus"? And sometimes God'll put stuff in your life, and you don't know what to do, reminding you, "I need to depend on God". And that's a great place. It might not feel comfortable for us, but it's a great place for God, and God is waitin' for all of us to say, "I don't know what to do. I need you," instead of you goin' around, bein' deep and pretend like you got it all together. There are some things in your life, if you hadn't had it happen yet, it will. There are some trials in your life that'll show up that say, "I can't do this God. I'm just a branch". Say out loud, "I'm just a branch. I need divine". But not all Christians think like that. No, some Christians think, "No, no, no, no, I'm not a branch. I got a Holy Ghost". And then you leave the Holy Ghost and then go on and figure out how to do somethin' on your own.
Yeah, I finally get it. Suffering could be understood in light of what we're gettin' ready to talkin' about. So how does God plan on perfecting and purifying this dependence on him since that is the object, the objection here? How does God plan on perfecting and purifying this dependence on him? 'Cause, as long as you have trials and you come out, and you still don't get it, there's gon' be some more. There's gon' be some more because, somehow, you keep comin' out, giving yourself credit. Until he can take that sense of you wanting to be important and can humble yourself to say, when somebody even asks you, "How did this happened"? "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus". But it's not like that.
There's a little arrogance in church these last days. People are tryin' to build their image up. They're tryin' to come up with the five things you have to do, to do this, then you've got to do that. They feel like they got the system down, but you don't know God. See, God might use mud to open somebody's eyes up, but don't try to marry that method 'cause, the next time, he'll use wheat to open their eyes up, and the next time, he'll just blow on you and open your eyes up, and the next time, he'll just cross his arms and say, "Open your eyes up". Don't marry methods 'cause he too big for you to figure out. Only thing you need to know is "I need him, and I depend on him".
And, certainly, in the time that we live on right now, the time that we're living in right now is the opportunity for you to declare complete dependence upon God. "I don't know how to deal with this. I don't know how to deal with that. I went to the store to get somethin'. Ain't nothin' on the shelves. I went to look at that, and inflation got so high, it was this price last week. It went up last", certainly, now is the time for you to lift your hands up and declare complete dependence upon God, and while the world is freakin' out and have no idea what to do, we, who are in the body of Christ, recognize that we have a vine that has never let us down. Oh, my God, help me, y'all. Glory to God, help me.
Now, here's what I believe: I believe that this provision is found, this provision of God perfecting and purifying, this dependence upon him, I believe that it's found in suffering. I know that's a bad word to some Christians. I believe it's found in suffering. "Mm, I don't believe in that". Well, I don't know who you think you are. Jesus, the captain of our salvation, was made perfect through the sufferings. I'll show you that in a moment in Scripture. If Jesus had to go to hell, how come you don't think you've gotta go through some hell? Jesus had to go to hell. A'ight, I'm not saying prepare to be defeated by the things you suffer. I'm saying prepare to let go of your self-dependence by the things you suffer. Are you listenin' to me?
So this might be the greatest explanation for suffering by God's people. Look at 2 Timothy chapter 3. Let's look at verse 10 through 12. 2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 10 through 12. Let's look at it in the King James and then the New Living Translation. Now, my challenge today is I've got to attack all that religious stuff that we've heard all this time, and the only way I know to do that is to turn to Scriptures and to challenge you to just read the Word and believe it. You have to make your mind up you're gon' believe God's Word.
Now, for some people, they just hold on to what they've always heard, and what happens there is your tradition has made the Word of God of no effect. In other words, you don't believe the Word. You believe what you have traditionally always known instead of believin' what the Word has to say. A'ight, now notice, he says, "But thou hast fully known my doctrine", Paul is talkin' here. "You've known my manner of life, my purpose, my faith, my long-suffering, my charity". He says, "You've known my persecution, my afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra," which, excuse me, "what persecutions I endured, but out of them all the Lord delivered me". That's the key thing. He says, "I've gone through all these things, but God's delivered me out of all of 'em". Verse 12, "Yea, and all that will live godly", how many of you are attemptin' to live godly? Okay, he says, "They shall suffer persecution".
So somebody says, "Well, you know, I'm saved by grace". It doesn't stop at salvation. Grace will teach you how to live godly. See, he says, "All that will live godly in Christ shall suffer, shall suffer persecution". Now look at this in the NLT. Okay, so, to me, that pretty much says it. It's like, okay, so if you're saved, and you plan on livin' godly, you're gonna be suffering some persecution, but the question that we're tryin' to answer is "Why"? "But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted at Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, but the Lord rescued me from all of it".
All right, so, yes, you will suffer persecution, but your dependence upon him, here's what you get: delivered from all of it. Why would God allow you to suffer persecution and then commit to deliver you out of all of it? So when you're out of it, you can say, "This is the Lord's doin'". A lot of us work real hard to get out of stuff on our own, and you think you made it out, only for it to return back again and again and again, but when God delivers you, it's complete. You come out not only delivered but with the wisdom of what happened and how not to repeat it again. See, some of us come out of trouble, and we leave the most important thing in trouble, wisdom. Bring wisdom out. Everything you go through out, you ought to know more. You gotta get smarter after each trial, and the number one thing you need to know is "I depended on Jesus and, like Paul, he delivered me out of them all".
Some of you might be goin' through a trial right now, but I have good news for you this morning: Jesus has committed to deliver you out of them all, okay? So instead of you goin' around, tryin' to figure out a way to get out of it, the first base for you should be "I have complete dependence on Jesus to deliver me out of them all". "Oh, you goin' through"? Da-da-da-da-da. "Yeah, but Jesus will deliver me out of this". And, after a while, you'll build a backlog where you can do a flashback of testimonies, and you realize he delivered you out of that five years ago. He delivered you out of that three years ago. Two years ago, he delivered out of that. A year ago, he delivered you out of that. Eight months ago, he delivered you out of that. Three months ago, he delivered you out of that. This mornin', when I rose, church... He delivered you out of that.
And there should be a confidence that's buildin' that "out of all these things, he delivered me out of that". And look at this in verse 12. He says, "Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will suffer persecution". Now, I don't know about you. If that was the first Scripture they showed me when I decided to get saved, I don't know if I would've finished sayin' the prayer. I mean, who wants to go through trouble, persecution? But there's a reason. There's a purpose for it. And for you to run from it, avoid it, and not see what's happening here, you're gonna limit what God's tryin' to do for you. You were put here for a reason. You were put here for a purpose.
There's an assignment that's on your life. There's an anointing and an equipping that God has put on you to do that. There's a season for you to rise and be prepared for that, but there must be preparation and a maturing to bring you to that place, that ultimate place that you're here for, and you can't run away from the preparation process of getting you ready to do the thing that God has anointed you to do. There's an anointing on each of you that, you know, that anointing on you just causes you to stand out above everybody and anybody else. There's nobody like you when that anointing is on you, but you're not mature enough sometimes for him to do things. There's certain things he's ready to do. You're not mature enough yet 'cause you think you know more than God, which means you depend on yourself. There's still too much confidence in yourself.
Even Jesus came and said, "I can't do nothin' except the Father do it". And we still say, "Well, I'mma pray for five hours, and I'm gon' fast for four hours". Yeah, yeah, there it go. I got it. Stop. You need God. Stop it. Stop all this church-playin' stuff. I realize some Christians don't even love God. They don't care nothin' about him. They're into the games of the church. I'm done with that. I'm done with all that, and I don't wanna, now I ain't got time to be playin' no church. You don't wanna hear the truth? Don't come around me 'cause if you're more concerned about your image than you are about people, and you're more concerned about what it make you look like than you are about what God's tryin' to do, "Well, I ain't gon' let nobody know I'm goin' through this because they gon' think that I'm not a powerful, powerful Christian".
I know you already ain't a powerful Christian because, if you don't depend on God, you're just a imitation of life. You're just this fake symbol that's tryin' to pretend like you're power, but, see, you can't fake the anointing, hallelujah. You can try to fake it, you can jiggle and fall out, but the anointing is not the anointing unless it removes burdens and destroys yokes, and you can't fake that. You can push people down, you can spit on people, you can kick people and make it look like you're anointed, but the anointing of the Holy Ghost cannot be imitated. It's got to be authentic or not there.
Look at Luke 22:42, in the NLT. Luke 22:42, in the NLT. This is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. A'ight, so here's Jesus, the Son of God, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he's goin' through with this serious attack on his soul. One translation says all the way to depression. He was resisting, to such a point, he started to bleed through his pores, and he said, "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me". That's the human talkin' to ya there. Every one of us have asked that. I know I have. "God, please take this suffering from me. When is it gonna be over"? But I saw the dependence of Jesus when he said this. After he said that, he says, "Yet", I know what I just said. "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine". "I want your will to be done, not mine".
So through intense suffering in Gethsemane, Jesus's unfailing dependence on the Father was expressed in these words, "not my will, but thine, be done". Have you ever thought about your life when you're living a life, and everything's about your will? Your prayers are about your will: "Lord, do this for me. Lord, give me that". Comin' to church is about your will. Tryin' to get some more knowledge of the Word is about your will, but when will the day come where your will is no longer at the top of the list? His will is. "God, I don't know why this is happening. I don't know why that's happening, but let your will be done". Somebody says, "Well, that ain't God's will".
Well, most trouble ain't, but it's still somethin' that you can grow through. "So, Lord, whatever you're tryin' to pull out of me, put in me, rearrange in me, change in me, not my will. I depend on you. Let yours be done. I don't know what's down the street, around the corner, and behind the buildin'. I don't know what that perfect 100% flawless will of God is for my life, and I don't know the preparations that are all needed and necessary for me to be ready for that, but you do. I don't", how do we pretend to act like we even know what we doin'? I often wake up, declaring, "I don't know what I'm doin' with a lot of things, but you do". And that's why I say there's a little arrogance in the church. We wake up, actually think we know what we doin'. We think we know the path we ought to take, and the Bible says some guys wake up, go down the path, and they have no idea where they goin' or what they're doing. "They won't depend on me. They won't look to me".
How about gettin' up in the mornin' and say, "Lord, I depend on you. Show me what to do today. Show me what path I need to go down today". You will be shocked of the completion of a day when you have said, "not my will, but let thy will be done". Now, somebody say, "Oh, but you gotta watch out, Brother Dollar. That's a scary thing". I don't care. I want his will. Why would I wanna be scared out of his will? I wanna know his will. Listen, Jesus had to go through hell to get to the will that God had planned for him in that physical body. He had to go through hell, and you think you ain't gotta go through nothin' to get to the place where God called you to, when the Son of God, who became the Son of Man so that the sons of men could become the son of God, the sons of God?