Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Necessity of Wounds and Suffering for Jesus Christ!

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word....It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes, (Psalm 119:67, 71)

[Before I make some profound comments about being wounded and suffering for Christ, the following remarks by A.W. Tozer will set the tone for an issue many Christians fail to understand, and may not want to be made aware of.]

     "It is amazing to me! There are people within the ranks of Christianity who have been taught and who believe that Christ will shield His followers from wounds of every kind.
     If the truth were known, the saints of God in every age were only effective after they had been wounded. They experienced the humbling wounds that brought contrition, compassion and a yearning for the knowledge of God. I could only wish that more among the followers of Christ knew what some of the early saints meant when they spoke of being wounded by the Holy Spirit....
     In every generation, the people who have found God have been those who have come to the end of themselves. Recognizing their hopelessness, they have been ready to throw themselves on the mercy and grace of a forgiving God." [Men Who Met God, pp.59, 62, by A.W. Tozer]
     One of the more inspiring portions of my life is to receive my daily dosage of words of wisdom written by prolific theologian, preacher and writer, A.W. Tozer, through my subscription of Insight for Leaders at Literature Ministries International. Not only do I subscribe and read them daily, but I have read (and have been deeply moved and inspired by) many of Tozer’s books, especially The Pursuit of God. No devoted Christian can become more motivated nor know more about God (next to His word alone) than this amazing book. [Click above link to download a free copy]
     Tozer’s message above is crucial to develop a greater understanding of the mission God has given to His disciples. A deep and truthful understanding of what it means to be wounded for Christ is probably the most important topic (and most misunderstood) to be studied by disciples who have moved past the initial salvation message. Most certainly, new babes in Christ need to be fed the milk issues of the Gospel; however, those who have picked up their cross and who want to follow Jesus as never before, must never forget that suffering is a part of being a Christian.
     Throughout the earlier part of my Christian journey, I cherished the sermons that spoke about salvation, mercy, grace and God’s loving kindness. After anchoring my faith in verses that alluded to these topics, I began to learn more about numerous aspects of the Christian walk, including such issues as the importance of prayer and putting into practice all of the admonitions the Apostle Paul speaks of concerning marriage, ethics, conduct and how to treat our fellow man. Even though I read much about the subject of persecution (of which my second book, Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation entails in great detail), the subject of suffering did not begin to have the profound effect on me it has these last ten years or so, due to the burgeoning physical afflictions one experiences later on in life.
     For the record, my physical maladies include Myasthenia gravis, which symptoms include the closure of my left eye and extreme fatigue. Add to this Sleep Apnea which causes erratic sleep patterns denying me of much needed sleep and rest. Then there is a severe case of Sciatica that has my entire left side in constant pain from my hips to my toes, degenerative arthritis of the spine from my neck to my tail bone, as well as both knees and ankles, a golf ball size bunion on my left foot that should have been operated on three years ago (stubborn me, I keep putting it off), as well as recently diagnosed cataracts in both eyes, which makes my vision virtually nil. Although my doctor has prescribed some very powerful medication for pain, I only take it right before I go to sleep (when the pain threshhold reaches its zenith); but never in the day while I labor for Christ, solely for the purpose that I don’t want anything to impede the power of the Holy Spirit due to drowsiness. Actually, most pain-killing drugs are a form of sorcery (Greek: pharmakia) of which I am praying that God will give me the strength to stop taking any kind of pain-killers whatsoever. I don’t mention this to get any sympathy, just stating facts.
     Nevertheless, these physical afflictions (or wounds) are not as bad as the outrageous fortunes and slings and arrows I receive from the very people I try to help, many of them, with lying tongues, accusing me of twisting scripture to validate my polemic, and castigating my character for simply doing what God has called me to do, to be a clarion for the masses that horrendous tribulation looms in the immediate horizon, of which they are not prepared to deal with.

     I have often felt my current pains and afflictions are caused primarily from past peccadilloes (of which there is much truth there); however, I am of the mind to believe as scripture states in 1 Peter 4:12 that suffering for being a Christian actually goes with the territory: Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. As a matter of fact, the remainder of this group of scripture tells us that suffering is actually part of God’s will and plans for us:
     But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,

If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”19 So, then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good, (1 Peter 4:12-10).
     I was discussing this specific issue with a radio talk show host the other day, who invited me onto his program to talk about my book, Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, the sequel to my first book, The End Times Passover.
     One of the questions he asked was “How do Christians prepare for the tribulations we see in the immediate horizon?” My response was that we obviously need to get closer to God through prayer and service, and that God’s preachers should teach more about this impending crisis to prepare them for this reality. However, I also added a subject matter that the majority of Christendom seldom broaches nor even discusses in private, which is that too many Christians are held in slavery by the fear of death! (see Hebrews 2:14-15).
     Most Christians who support the Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven doctrine (which both of my books clearly refute that notion) sincerely believe that God would never allow His children to suffer great tribulation, therefore He has to remove the church from earth to heaven to escape the pain (and death) they see in the Book of Revelation. Most of these good folks initially fail to see the difference between God’s wrath (which is described more so in the Book of Revelation) and the tribulation (persecution) which is spoken of throughout the Gospels and the epistles in the New Testament (see Acts14:22).
     Most certainly while God has told us that we are not destined for wrath, the Bible states most definitely that we are to suffer tribulation. I’m constantly criticized for pointing out these scripture verses, claiming that I am stating that our fellow servants should not believe in the "blessed hope" spoken of in Titus 2:13. The blessed hope in that verse is not speaking about escaping wounds and tribulation but rather about the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ!
     Why do we fear tribulation? Why do we fear pain and or even death? The Bible tells us why in 1 John 4:16-18; and it is primarily because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Those who fear pain (and especially death) do not have the confidence they will need on the Day of Judgment. Verse 7 in Chapter 4 of 1 John clearly tells us that we must love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Therefore, those who claim to be Christian, and do not demonstrate the love of God in all that they do, fail to recognize that to claim that God could not (or would not) leave us on earth during times of great tribulation have to re-examine their relationship with Him! Plain and simple!
     Yes! New Christians are still (or should be) learning the ways of God, should be on their knees in constant prayer, studying His word and working in His service. It is (however) one thing to spew out scripture to our friends to impress how knowledgeable we are of God and His word, and another to pick up that cross, realizing each day that we will suffer for this cause even to the point we may find ourselves in a situation that will require us to choose between life and death for Jesus Christ. This may not be happening today in America, but Christians throughout the world are already being tortured and beheaded for standing up for Jesus Christ!
     Sadly (especially in America) many Christians have not had to face great tribulation. This nation, for over 200 years has been the most prosperous and has possessed the greatest military force since the glory days of the Roman Empire. Other than the Civil War, it has not been affected by any war-torn tragedy until the 911 terror strikes on the Twin Tower on September 11, 2001. Therefore, to a great degree, Americans have not really suffered great tribulation. However, as we see in the immediate horizon, America has lost its superior luster and its military might is cracking at the seams. Should it come under similar or even greater attacks such as 911, or even natural disasters like Katrina in say ten coastal cities on both the Atlantic and Pacific Coast lines, at the same time, or a viral pandemic that could topple a city the size of Los Angeles within weeks, could (or is) this country prepared to suffer great tribulation?
     There are ersatz prophets who claim that American Christians will be Raptured to Heaven seven years before God pours out His wrath on mankind for failing to believe in Jesus Christ. They claim this seven year period (which they call The Great Tribulation, based on unproven theories gleaned from the book of Daniel) is designed to punish unbelievers who will be Left Behind to suffer God’s wrath. First of all, the specific phrase The Great Tribulation is not biblical. Theorists have coined a (pronoun) phrase for their own purpose based on erroneous Bible interpretation. Alert Bible students can clearly see in the Book of Revelation 7:14 that the phrase The Great Tribulation that modern day (ersatz) prophets use in the Rapture to Heaven mythology is not consistent with the actual Greek manuscript: And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
     First of all, one can readily see that the article (The) is not included before the adjective great in the verse they use to supposedly identify a seven year period of wrath. But, yet they have convinced millions of Christians that a seven year period of mayhem exists in these writings that the disciples of Jesus Christ will not have to endure.
     Secondly, they fail to recognize that when Revelation 7:14 is examined even closer, this verse is not identifying individuals who are to be martyred during any seven year period preceding the return of Christ, nor about the 144,000 mentioned in verse 4, but it speaks of ALL throughout history who have washed their robes and made them clean in the blood of the Lamb. Verse 9 makes that distinction very clear as it mentions a throng of people standing before the throne of the Lamb that no man could number: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (Revelation 7:9).
     More importantly, those mentioned in Revelation 7 do not wear white robes solely because they shed their blood in any seven year period leading up to the return of Christ; but it speaks of all of those who throughout history washed their robes and made them white and clean by the shed blood of the Lamb. Are we to believe that only those saints who die seven years before Christ returns are the only ones who washed their robes with the Blood of the Lamb? The entire issue mentioned in Revelation 7 is not about a select group of people who became ‘tribulation saints’ after a mythical Rapture to Heaven supposedly removed Christians from Harm’s Way. The main emphasis is on those who came through great tribulation through the Blood of the Lamb, of which history records their suffering from the beginning (since Christ ascended to Heaven), including the Crusades, the Inquisitions and those who barely died yesterday for standing up for Jesus Christ in some remote village in Darfur, Pakistan, China or Bangladesh.
     As stated before, there is a difference between tribulation (Greek word thlipsis=persecution) and wrath, the anger of God; and we have to make that notable distinction to recognize that while God’s wrath will not touch us (see
Psalm 91:3-8, we are destined for great tribulation.

     Many false prophets like those spoken about in Old Testament times are already at work and extolling soothing gospels to fearful Christians as we are warned to be aware of in 2 Timothy 4:3-5. Many of these prophets may love Jesus Christ and may mean well in their efforts to minister to the disciples of Jesus Christ. However, they cannot ignore the more than 40 Bible verses concerning suffering for Christ that most clearly and in no uncertain terms advise us ahead of time that Christians have not only been assigned (by God) their respective tribulations (persecutions), they have to be willing to accept them for the glory and the Kingdom of God.

     We need to read over and over again, study and pray upon the some 40 verses that specifically teach us concerning wounds and suffering for Christ, and their purpose in our lives. God is working out a greater reality than we can imagine as we suffer, one that could very well cause thousands upon thousands more people to come to Him and share in His everlasting glory.
     But, if for no other reason, study these verses for this one purpose alone, as we repeat that Psalm we opened with at the beginning of this message, which states, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word....It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes, (Psalm 119:67,71)


[For information about the author and his books, please click on Joe Ortiz


  1. Thanks, good Brother, for telling it like it is and like it will be. You are truly a watchman on the wall, if anyone is or ever has been. It's stunning that so many Christians, especially here in the United States, have swallowed the 19th century delusion of an any-moment, pre-tribulation rapture to heaven. May our wonderful Lord continue to use, bless, and fortify you in this momentous hour of the world's history!

  2. Excellent! I long ago abandoned the American Christian Fairytale of our exit before times get tough. I am glad to see there are more and more gradually coming to their senses. How? Just read the Word without inserting preconceived notions and dispensational doctrines and you will see it clear as day. We will suffer for Christ before His Glorious Return. Bring it on.