This past Good Friday, our church hosted another Secret Church simulcast. It isn’t only about studying the Bible; it is also a time of focused prayer for the persecuted church around the world.
If you’ve never heard of Secret Church: Watch “What is Secret Church?”
The title for this most recent Secret Church, “The Cross and Suffering,” was perfect for a Good Friday. Platt took us through 75 key scriptures, teaching the purpose of suffering as it is seen in each book of the Bible. Most interesting to me were the Minor Prophets. (Our pastor jokingly refers to that section of the Bible as “the clean part of your Bible” because we spend so little time reading and studying those books). I have not read those books with an eye out for the suffering of Jesus, but it is there. I’m actually looking forward to getting to that part of my Bible in my reading plan this year.
In addition to all that, Platt took the time to lay a foundation for understanding the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of sin, and our need for redemption. Then, close to the end, he helped us understand how God is sovereign over all things yet not guilty of committing evil.
He wrapped it all up with 5 conclusions:
1. A high view of God — His sovereignty, His wisdom, His goodness, and His glory — is essential for understanding suffering in your life and in this world.
2. A humble view of man — his sinful depravity and small perspective — is essential for understanding suffering in your life and in this world.
3. The ultimate reason suffering exists is to exalt the glory of God’s grace through the suffering of God’s Son for the salvation of undeserving sinners.
4. God ordains suffering for the Christian in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes. (At this point, he exposed the deception of the prosperity gospel).
5. The completion of the Great Commission will include great suffering, but eternity will prove it was worth the price.
Our prayer focus was on the Horn of Africa. Not only is life just plain hard in the horn of Africa, it is doubly difficult for the Christians. We were introduced to a handful of Christians in Africa who have lost everything, even had their children taken from them, because they refused to deny Christ. They are living the truths we were learning about that night: God is sovereign, God is good, God loves His children, suffering has a gospel purpose, and our suffering is a light, momentary affliction in light of knowing Jesus’ glory and joy for eternity. They suffer knowing that their reward and rest are waiting for them.
When it came time to pray, they did not ask for their suffering to end for they understand that their suffering is a picture of the gospel to those around them. They only asked that we would pray for God to open the eyes and hearts of their friends and family members who are still hostile to the gospel.