Temple Builders Prophetic Web Book: Purpose of Affliction
by John Robert Lucas
 
Prophetic Web

      When is Jesus going to return?

      When He has a church without spot, wrinkle and blemish!

The word in the Greek for "spot" which is found in Ephesians 5:27, is used in only one other scripture. In 2 Peter this word is used to describe deceivers that attend our lovefeasts; it refers to them as spot and blemishes. Jesus is returning to a church without deceivers in our lovefeasts. Jesus will gather together a church free of false doctrine and heresy at the last trumpet sound. Hard to imagine if you look to the natural, but that is what Jesus is preparing. How is He going to do it? Through FIRE! It is not for us to figure out all the details. His criteria and His weeding out process are beyond our natural reasoning.

      “Without Wrinkles” refer to a church that has been PRESSED with the HEAT of the fire of God.

Let’s examine the tribulation that we are called to endure…

The Greek word for tribulation is:
<2346> thlibo-
1) to press (as grapes), to press hard upon
2) a compressed way, narrow straitened, contracted
3) metaphorically, to trouble, to afflict, to distress

Lets look at its usage..

Matt 7:14

Because strait is the gate, and narrow (thlibo) is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Jesus lets us know once and for all what kind of way to expect when we follow Him. His way is a way that will press us like grapes. Yet we can have rest and joy when we go through the pressing. As we fall on our face and receive the grace He gives - we endure tribulation.

2 Cor 4:8

We are troubled (thlibo) on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Do not get distressed or in despair, don’t lose hope, but trust in Him Who is Hope. In our most serious trials, the most severe pressings, we do not always understand yet it never leads to despair. We may be struck down by Satan’s best shot – but we are not destroyed. We cannot lay down, we cannot quit, we must receive His strength in our weakness. This is when Jesus is most exalted in your life; this is when the fullest measure of resurrection power is manifested and exerted.

2 Cor 4:9-11

9      persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

10     always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

11     For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (NAS)

Jesus is real; Jesus is most real when… in these impossible situations we see Him come to our rescue. My friend it is this part of our relationship with Jesus that brings the rest that only He can give. This is the only way to a fruitful life. There is no other way. A thief and robber will present a different way. Some may teach that it is through revival. Revival can LEAD to a fruitful life but it does substitute God’s pruning. Revival is what you get before the “thorn” type of affliction. These afflictions will produce bitterness for those that do not submit to God’s purposes but the same affliction produces joy in us. This makes no natural sense; it is alien to the way of the world. This is God’s way to get His life in your mortal body so the world can see what God looks like.

Heb 11:37

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted (thlibo), tormented;

Hebrews 11 is a hall of faith and yet faith when tested is tried as silver. Affliction will purify as silver by pressing you and by afflicting you. True faith has good works because it has become pure faith. We many times try to believe God and we fail time and again but if we will draw close to Him in worship and accept all His dealings in discipline, we shall then learn true faith. There are entire churches that claim they are able to have faith but in reality they experience disappointment and a lack of fruit. I too tried to be a “man of faith”. It was only in reverent, intimate worship and submission to His dealings, did I learn faith. Truth contains no formulas; it is a faith relationship with our God that will be tested as Hebrews 11 declares.

If we have the faith that pleases God it will have works that “demonstrate that faith” and these works are usually not great feats but in scripture we see that most of the time it was a laying down of life. Moses’ faith was first demonstrated by rejecting the pleasures of Pharaoh’s house and sharing the affliction of his brethren and went on to become a multitude of afflictions throughout his life. Moses spent the first forty years of his life growing up in the natural. He spent the second forty years of his life in the desert dying to self. Moses spent the third forty years of his life suffering for his faith, suffering for his children, - esteeming the reproach of Christ as the greater riches. Surely some had less physical sufferings and received greater blessings in this life but others received the reproaches of Christ. God chooses - not us in regard to the sufferings you are to bear in His Name.

2 Cor 1:6

And whether we be afflicted (thlibo), 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.

It is when you are afflicted, it is when you are “pressed as grapes” that you can be used of God to console others. It is not just for your sake but it is for the sake of others. Therefore we must learn to go through the “pressing down” in a manner that is pleasing to Jesus. Our refusal of the sufferings that we are destined to be partakers of, will affect the lives of everyone we meet. They will remain in their pain because we refused the pain of the cross that we were suppose to bear.

      There is a Greek word for "suffer with" and it is only found in two scriptures.

Rom 8:17

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

      We are to suffer with Jesus

1 Cor 12:26

And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

      We are to suffer with the body

This is the TRUE life of a Christian. It is a life that is emptied of our own desires, our own ambitions, and our own goals. It is a life that is lived for God and overflowing to the body. Many claim to be spirit filled, but God's definition of spirit filled is one whose life is so full of the Holy Spirit and His gifts and fruit to the point that they spill out all over the place. We suffer corporately therefore we can rejoice corporately as well. If you refuse these sufferings we speak of then you will not be a member of the body that this scripture speaks of. You are destined to suffer if you are attached to the body because you must suffer with the afflicted members. It is especially hard to see ones we served God with - decide to stop serving Jesus. They become amputated from the body of Christ or as Jesus said they are branches that are broken off the vine. It hurts, but we must continue in the doctrine of Christ for the sake of others that shall be added daily.

Healer of Your Broken Heart

We must bear patiently the tribulation for acting outside of Jesus. We must endure even more tribulation if we have chosen Jesus Christ. The first one everyone faces, but the second one can be avoided by not choosing Jesus. You must discern which one you are facing. However if we suffer righteously than we can console others as they suffer for doing right. This is the unity of love. This is the true “tent of the congregation” that is symbolized in the Tabernacle. Even as God ha s a purpose of affliction, Satan also has his purpose of why he afflicts you. Remember this, Satan afflicts you because you are God's vehicle to manifest Love in this earth. Each time something has happened to you, to break your heart or destroy you, it is because Satan hates God and he hates that which is capable of manifesting God. He will do his utmost to afflict you and he will use anyone at his disposal to do it. If he can break your heart then you are rendered incapable of loving with the love of Jesus. But Jesus has come to mend the broken heart and heal it totally - as if it has never sinned and if it had never been damaged.

Heb 2:10

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

The word perfect here is a different one then the one we mentioned earlier. The word perfect here is the word used when Jesus called to the disciples to follow them; they were "mending" their nets. Mending is the word perfect, meaning to take something torn and make it whole or perfect again. He suffered by having His heart TORN and then made whole again, so He could take your heart that was torn and make it whole again. Truly He is the healer of the broken hearted and He can heal any wound in you. Satan conspired to destroy you but Jesus will take what Satan meant for destruction and turn it to heal others. This is how He will bring many sons and daughters unto glory. Even if we are the reason for our affliction, God in His mercy delivers us! Thank you Jesus! We deserved hell yet He gave us heaven.

God will uncover those parts of you that that are unlike Jesus, those parts of you that are broken hearted, those parts in your heart that MUST be dealt with. Look to yourself when you hear God's word and see your own impurities and hurt and you come to God and reason together with Him to heal and purify.

Old Testament Suffering

In the Old Testament we can also see some examples of suffering that happened either to encourage us or to admonish us. Let us examine first, one that encourages, Daniel and the Three Hebrews - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Throughout the scripture we see the many impurities that resulted in judgment or suffering. We can also observe suffering on “men of God” for preparation. God must prepare them to become MORE righteous than they presently are. It does not matter to God if they are already more righteous than others around them. He measures righteousness according to His own righteousness and completion is based on His hope. We can also observe those who are afflicted because they are mature – because they have completed the course set before them by God.

Paul finished his course and he offered up his own physical life as a sacrifice. Jesus said that no man TAKES MY life – I offer it up. Paul followed Jesus and walked in His steps even to the end of the course set before him. Paul was perfect. Not our English word for perfect but God’s definition meaning to “finish the course”, to be “completely built up”, to be “full-grown” as a plant or body, to be “pure throughout”. The Apostle John also ran a completed course and the difference was that he was not required to lay down his physical life. He was instead given to suffer in banishment on an island. What the devil meant as a suffering for John became a revelation - A revelation of Jesus and the culmination of the plan of the Father at the end-time.

Maturity will cause additional suffering that could have been avoided by staying a baby. When we were babies we did not have to work, we did not have to make many decisions and we had more carefree lives. As we grew up in the natural we accepted responsibilities, we went to work and many of us raised families. Our maturity brought to us additional sufferings that could have been avoided by not raising families, by not accepting responsibility and by not working. The church is full of those that refuse to spiritually grow up and our spiritual father (Paul) strongly admonishes us in the first Corinthian letter to – GROW UP! But there will always be a COST that is involved with growing up and that cost is the AFFLICTION that comes with maturity.

Daniel was mature and it cost him. He served God and he prayed when it was considered civil disobedience. The consequence was the death sentence – a den of lions. Daniel is afflicted because of doing right and we should observe also his heart. He did not do right because of the Jewish law; he did right because of his heart.

Dan 6:22

My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

The Hebrew word “innocency” means PURITY – Literally to be washed translucently pure. This Hebrew word is found only here in the scriptures. God’s method of deliverance was the angel but God was able to deliver Daniel because of purity. God is giving us an example that we need to note. Our heart must be found in the state of purity that Daniel’s heart was found. Then when we become afflicted, in the future, we shall remain UNTOUCHED. Noah is another example of being untouched as he preached righteousness and was found righteous.

Gen 7:1

And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

When affliction came to the whole earth, Noah was found in the ark that shelters from the flood. Jesus Christ is our ark and that shelter. Noah remained untouched because of a heart that received mercy and grace to do righteousness. Three Hebrew men in the book of Daniel were used to teach this same principle. Jesus taught principles so we could learn God’s way in a very natural sense. God’s ways are past finding out, unless the Holy Spirit comes and teaches you through scripture. The Holy Spirit shows you the Son - His character and His ways. If you see the Son than you see the Father for Jesus reveals to us the Father.

Just as Daniel was kept harmless, so were these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their names mean, “Royal”, “King’s guest” and “Servant of the High”. In our natural thinking we would start our Christian walk as servants and work up to being royal but in God’s kingdom you start out as Royal to show that it is conferred upon you strictly based upon birth and not works. Secondly, by being led of the Spirit we will become sons that learn to attend encounters with our God as a guest.

Zephaniah 1:7

Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.

The phrase “bid his guests” is a Hebrew term meaning – literally, to sanctify the called ones. In reference to the Babylonian king’s court there was a required purification BEFORE COMING. Thirdly, we become the “servants” of purity before the Lord Most High. The Bible definition for “elect” will include all three of these attributes. In the three men it resulted in not bowing down to false gods and the consequence of their election was the death penalty. They did right because their heart was right. They did the right thing because of the manner of living they had already demonstrated.

Dan 3:28

Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

Just as in Daniel’s case we see in the Hebrew language a point that God wants to make to us. The angel was God’s method of deliverance because they had a heart that “trusted”. The Hebrew word for “trusted” is only found here in the scriptures. The literal meaning gives the idea of bathing and washing. The Hebrew root for this definition is “to bathe”. Why is trusting related to washing? What does faith have in common with taking a bath? Because we are “washed pure” which results in trusting. If we lack faith in our walk we should look to our heart to examine if we have left “known impurities” to exist, because faith goes hand in hand with purity.

1 Tim 3:9

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

Daniel was found pure, the three men were found trusting in purity and we must be found before God with a pure conscience – believing in Him for our deliverance. We see an awesome reality if we follow the example of the three Hebrews; the enemy made the flames seven times hotter and yet it was the enemy that was destroyed as they tossed them into the fire. The Hebrews were bound with “cords of affliction” yet after being tossed into the fire the cords were burned away. The fire itself had no power over them; the fire could not even cause the smell of smoke to cling to their clothing. In the midst of the fire was revealed one like the “son of man” that the enemy saw. It is through fire that the world shall see Jesus Who is the Son of Man. The carnal mind says, "if judgment on the world occurs then I will be destroyed". This is not the case for the ones that trust with a pure heart. The pure in heart shall see God. They see Him as a shelter, they see Him as their salvation, and they see Him as the Master that they shall SERVE.

Zeph 2:2-3

Before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD'S fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you! Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD'S anger. (NKJ)

This is quite an important scripture so pay extra attention. When you see the number three in the Bible then God is making a point of “complete testimony” to you. God wants you to see His great desire for you to SEEK HIM BEFORE these days have come upon you. Why? So that you may be “HIDDEN ONES” in the day of God’s wrath. So that you may be a model of the three men. So that you will be already found pure before His throne and have nothing remaining (at least in comparison to His acceptable measure) to be purged out.

James 1:27

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Serving others is a manifestation of purity. Serving and comforting others in their affliction will cause our consciences to be pure before God and therefore have the faith that God requires. Purity must not get soiled from the world. We must become a people that must stay pure – without spot, blemish and wrinkle. God fully intends to have a powerful church in the last days, but what will proceed this great power will be purity. God will hide us from the “plagues of Egypt” but at the same time will cause us to be in “their midst” shining forth as an answer for their affliction and a testimony against those that reject Jesus. Daniel and the three men were a testimony to Babylon because God preserved them - though Babylon tried to destroy them. Babylon shall try to destroy us and will not succeed because God will preserve us.

We have focused here on the perfect examples of faith, purity and its consequential rescue from affliction. Observe the person’s heart that God found as you read other “scriptural examples” of deliverance of affliction. To experience affliction like these examples is to remain untouched! This is an encouragement to those walking pure before their God. We would call this type of affliction the “Daniel” type of affliction. The heart of the individual is much the same heart as the “martyr” type of affliction but the consequence is different. God keeps both, but Daniel was kept “untouched” in body. Both types of righteous suffering contain hardships but one lays down his life for the eternal reward and the other is kept for “God’s continuing purpose”.

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