On Sunday we celebrated Easter, known also as Resurrection Sunday. We talked last week about how important it is to know that Jesus claimed to be God since that was the very reason He was crucified. And it is important to stand firm on that claim because it is for that very reason that His death on the cross even means anything to us. But equally important is the fact that Jesus then resurrected from the dead. Without the resurrection, our faith is based on nothing. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:15–19, we should be the most pitied if there is no resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection again proves that He is God and it proves His power over death. Only by conquering death and, thus, sin are we even able to receive salvation. Therefore, it is critical to the foundation of our faith that we have confidence in the resurrection of Jesus.
How can we have confidence in something that we didn’t witness firsthand? The same way we have confidence in any historical event that we didn’t witness firsthand: by reading the accounts of eyewitnesses and seeing the effects on others of that event. For example, we know that the Revolutionary War was really fought and won by the new nation of the United States of America because we have eyewitness accounts of it and we see the effects now of that victory, the fact that we have a nation called the United States of America.
By reading the eyewitness accounts found in the New Testament we know several facts about that Resurrection Sunday. First, we know that Jesus really did die on the cross. The Romans were experts on killing people. These executioners crucified criminals on a regular basis and would know when someone was dead. There is also the medical evidence when the Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side that both water and blood flowed out (John 19:34). It indicates hypovolemic shock resulting in heart failure. It is the medical confirmation that Jesus was dead. Even without that, there is the common sense factor of what Jesus had just endured to know He really died on the cross and didn’t just simply faint. Here was someone who was flogged to the point of exhaustion (he wasn’t even able to finish carrying His own cross to Golgotha), had thorns shoved into his head, had nails hammered through his hands and feet, and had a spear pierced into His side. It is not possible that Jesus could have simply fainted and awoke inside the tomb. He never would have been able to roll away the stone from inside the tomb. But even if He could have, His appearance to the disciples would not be one of a conqueror of death and the grave, but of one that was in dire need of medical attention. That kind of physical appearance would not have changed the disciples from sadness to rejoicing.
Second, we also know the disciples went to the correct tomb and found it empty. Jesus’ tomb was clearly marked by a giant stone over the entrance (sealed with the governor’s seal) and two guards posted by it. It would be very evident which tomb belonged to Jesus. We know the women went to the tomb that morning, but even Peter and John went to see the tomb for themselves after the women declared it was empty (John 20:3). It is highly unlikely that all of them visited the wrong tomb. However, even if for some reason they did go to the wrong tomb and started the rumor that it was empty, the Jewish and Roman authorities could have easily gone to the correct tomb and produced the body of Jesus. But that never happened.
Third, we know the disciples could not have conspired to steal the body. They had all been hiding and denying their association with Jesus even during the trial. They certainly weren’t going to then be bold enough to defy the governor’s seal on the tomb and get past the Roman guards after they saw Jesus executed. It is ludicrous to think they would have the gumption to steal the body. In reality, the disciples weren’t even expecting a resurrection. When the women first told the disciples the tomb was empty, they responded with disbelief, not confidence. Someone who is not expecting a resurrection is unlikely to risk their life to stage a resurrection.
So we can be confident so far that Jesus really died on the cross and the tomb was really empty. But even those two things wouldn’t be enough for us to have confidence in the Christian faith. The people actually seeing Jesus' resurrected body is what gave them confidence in who Jesus really was. Jesus could have just claimed that after His death He would resurrect in spirit – no one would be able to see it but we would just have to have faith that He really did. No, Jesus set the bar much higher than that. He claimed He would raise from the dead physically. That is a fact that can either be supported or refuted, not just supposed like a spiritual resurrection would be. So the appearances that Jesus made to others is something that cannot be taken trivially. He showed Himself to Mary at the tomb, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the disciples in the upper room, to Peter, to over 500 at one time, and lastly to Saul on the road to Damascus. If they were all just dreaming or hallucinating or fabricating this story, the authorities again could have produced Jesus’ body from its tomb to silence these claims. Any alternative explanation of the resurrection fails to explain the empty tomb or fails to explain the resurrection appearances. It was those physical appearances that drastically changed the lives of the disciples. They went from a small band of frightened mourners in hiding to an emboldened outspoken force that nothing could silence. The only thing that can explain that kind of change in their lives is the reality of what they claimed.
And it is from the effect of this event on the lives of those that saw it that gives us confidence in its reality. The lives of the disciples were completely different after the Resurrection than before. They all fled Jesus during his arrest, but later they all were martyred for their claims of two things: Jesus was the Son of God and He had resurrected from the dead. Thomas wouldn’t believe until he placed his hands in Jesus’ wounds, but later took the gospel outside the Roman Empire into Persia and India until he was stoned and stabbed to death for his preaching. Peter denied knowing Jesus during the trial, but after the resurrection, he preached the gospel until his own death by crucifixion. James, Jesus’ brother, wasn’t a believer at all during Jesus’ ministry, but after the resurrection, he founded the church in Jerusalem and preached the gospel until he was stoned to death for it. Saul was a Jewish Pharisee hunting down and executing Christian believers until he saw the resurrected Christ for himself. Then he became the most ardent and outspoken preachers for the cause of Christ. He endured beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, imprisonments, tortures, treacherous travels, and all kinds of perils and dangers to spread the message to Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was the Son of God and that He had resurrected from the dead. Eleven of the apostles died as martyrs, and all for the same reason: their belief in the Resurrection and their belief that Jesus was the Son of God. They were tortured, flogged, and killed, and all they had to do to save themselves was deny that those two things were true. People don’t die for what they know to be a lie. These facts leave us with the confidence that Jesus was God and that Jesus resurrected from the grave, giving us all the hope of eternal life with Him.
Come meet Cathryn and hear about why she wrote her book, Teaching Others to Defend Christianity. Pick up your copy at the event and have her sign it. Hope to see you there!
With Easter coming this Sunday, I wanted to talk about the significance of the crucifixion. Crucifixion was the Roman method of executing criminals. They crucified people on a regular basis. So for this particular crucifixion to be significant, it depends on who was being crucified. If Jesus were just a man, then this crucifixion may have been a sad travesty that someone so kind and nice, who did nothing wrong, would meet such a tragic end. But then we must ask why he was crucified in the first place? If he were just a nice man that did nothing wrong, what could account for him being crucified like a common criminal?
That question ultimately leads us to who this man called Jesus really was. It was the most unusual trial and execution in all of history – because it wasn’t for what he did but who he claimed to be. He was executed for making the claim of being God. Now, this is oftentimes a point of contention with critics because many say that Jesus never claimed to be God. They think the claim of deity was something added generations later. However, the fact that the crucifixion happened at all flatly disproves this assertion, for it was his assertion of being God that led to his crucifixion. If Jesus didn’t claim to be God, then the crucifixion would not have taken place because that was the sole reason for it.
In case that argument isn’t sufficient for some, let’s look at how Jesus really did make the claim to be God. First, Jesus exhibited characteristics that only God could have. He was all-knowing about the past, present and future. When he met the woman at the well in John 4:16-20 Jesus told her everything about her life. And it was from his intimate knowledge about her life that she knew there was something different about Jesus, that he might be the Messiah. He predicted his own death. He told Peter to get a coin out of a fish’s mouth to use for taxes in Matthew 17. He was all-powerful. Throughout the New Testament, He healed the lepers, raised Lazarus from the dead, brought sight to the blind, cast out demons, and caused the lame to walk again. He had power over the sea and the storms in Matthew 8. And in Matthew 14 he walked on water.
Second, he receives praise from those around him as though he were God. If Jesus didn’t intend to be worshiped as God, then he certainly would have stopped the people from doing so. We know that was how Paul and Barnabas responded to being worshiped like gods at Lystra in Acts 14. The people saw what Paul and Barnabas could do through the power of the name of Jesus and fell down to worship them like gods. But Paul and Barnabas stopped that by insisting that they were just men. They rejected the idea of being worshiped like gods. Granted, having others worship you like a god does not in fact make you god. The Roman emperors and Egyptian pharaohs liked to be worshiped like gods but they certainly were not. But it tells us about what they intended. If the people wanted to worship Jesus as God and he did not stop them, then it tells us he intended for people to worship him like God. But we also must take into consideration what kind of people were doing the worshiping. When those at Lystra or Rome or Athens worshiped something as god, it was just adding one more name to a list of hundreds of gods they already worshiped. But when the Jewish people began to worship someone as God, a people who were unique in this time by having only One God, it meant what they were worshiping was part of that one true God. Jesus even says himself in Matthew 4:10 that we are to worship the Lord God only, yet Jesus openly and readily received worship as that God. His followers were devout Jews who believed in only one true God, yet they all confessed Jesus to be God.
Third, Jesus makes the confession himself about his deity, which is really the whole point here. In John 5:16–18, the Jewish leaders confronted Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath because that violated the law of resting on the Sabbath. Jesus’ response was “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” He referred to God as His own personal Father, not as “our” Father. He put His work on par with God’s work, making Him equal to God. The Jewish leaders clearly understood Jesus was claiming to be God. It says they “sought all the more to kill him because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
In John 10, Jesus was approached by the Jewish leaders who questioned Him about being the Christ. His response was “I and My Father are one." At this, the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus. Jesus asks them for which miracle, which deed, are they stoning him and they replied, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” The Jewish leaders understood exactly what Jesus was claiming, and they were ready to execute Jesus on the spot for that claim.
In Mark 2, Jesus demonstrates his power and his deity by healing a paralytic but also by forgiving the paralytic’s sins. The scribes ask by what authority He is able to forgive sins. The scribes understood that only the one injured by someone’s sins can be the one to offer forgiveness. If you steal my money I can forgive you. But I can’t announce that I forgive you for stealing someone else’s money. This man’s sins were against God, so the only one who can forgive those sins is God Himself. Therefore when Jesus said that He could forgive sin, He was claiming to be God. He was forgiving sins as though He was the main person offended by those sins. He could only forgive those sins if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.
But the most definitive evidence of Jesus’ claim as God is in His trial. In Mark 14:60–64, the high priest directly asks Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus answered, “I am.” This is exactly the statement the Sanhedrin was waiting for. Jesus claimed to be God, the Christ, the Son of the Most High God. He was tried and convicted for this claim and this claim alone. So there is no mistaking that Jesus clearly claimed to be God and knew the full weight of that claim. It was the very claim that cost him his life.
But why does this matter? What if Jesus were not God? Then his death on the cross was insufficient to pay for our sins. If Jesus were just a nice, innocent man wrongfully convicted, then our sins are still upon us. It was only through the sacrifice offered by God Himself that we can have forgiveness. See, we all sin. And the punishment for those sins is death and separation from God. The only way to escape that punishment is by maintaining perfection and holiness – a standard that none of us can meet. Except God. Only God Himself can maintain that holiness and therefore provide the atonement for our sin-stained lives. If Jesus were not God, then our sins are left upon us. It is so critical to understand that Jesus was God. It is why He was crucified and it is how we have forgiveness. Otherwise, His death is insufficient and the wages of sin is still due us.
Why? It’s a question that comes up in everything we do. It’s something that can consume us and something that can drive us, sometimes backwards and sometimes forwards. We have this insatiable quest for understanding the reason behind things. It starts as early as we can speak. I field the question on a constant basis about everything with my toddler. “Don’t hit the cat.” “Why, mommy?” “Don’t put your fork in your nose.” “Why, mommy?” So sometimes I don’t feel the question “why” really even needs to be answered. But still, he wants to know the reason behind the imperative. Then again, I find myself as the mom often asking the child that: why did you hit your brother? Why did you tear the pages out of your book? Sometimes those questions we may not really want to know the reason behind it, yet we still find ourselves needing to ask it.
How did we come to be such curious creatures? I think we must first determine if we are the only creatures with this kind of curiosity. The old adage says that “curiosity killed the cat” but mankind’s curiosity goes much deeper than just an inquisitive moment of an animal. The cat may want to know why there’s a spot of light on the wall, but the human mind is going to want to know why that plastic device can bring forth light, why that light is a ray and a particle, why the light looks that color, why the light cannot operate indefinitely, or why the light reaches the wall faster than the sound of our laughter. But then we’ll also ask ourselves why the cat is chasing that light and why we are so amused by it.
The human search for answering why is something completely unique in the animal kingdom. Lions don’t investigate why the gazelle comes to the river to drink; the lion just knows that it does. The cow doesn’t research why the grass grows when there is more rain; the cow just knows it has plenty to eat. The dog may know it is cooler in the shade than in the sun, but it doesn’t understand why, nor does it really care. Therefore this can’t be some evolutionary advancement. Evolution doesn’t require the organism to understand the reason behind things, just whether they are better suited to survive.
But humans have this drive for understanding why. It is that quest for “why” that leads us to discover: why do plants grow in the sun? It’s what pushes us to explore and research: why are the pyramids here? Why does the sun move across the sky? But mostly, it shows our drive to understand the rest of mankind. This quest for why has generated entire fields of study in philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we behave the way we behave? The one question asked at the end of a relationship: why? The one question asked to people risking their lives to climb Mt. Everest: why? The one question we want answered when convicting a killer of his crimes: why? The one question we demand from God in the face of tragedy: why?
Should we then stop to consider, why do we ask why? What is it about mankind that compels us to understand the reason behind things? We want to discover more about the world around us. We want to explore what is beyond us in the universe. We want to understand where we have our beginnings. But why? Because it is what makes us uniquely human. Nature itself cannot account for the existence of this inquisitive feature. This quest for understanding why must come from somewhere outside of nature because nature doesn’t care why. People do.
We have philosophers and theoretical thinking, things that have no use in an evolutionary sense. Evolution is only concerned with survival, not theorizing about the cosmos or mathematics. Evolution would not drive our desire to discover reason. The very fact that we’re pondering why we ponder things goes to show that there is something more to us than an evolved set of rearranged matter. Something outside of us, outside of nature, must have given us that feature. It gave us this drive to discover, to explore, and to create so that we would have tasks to go accomplish above the simple nature of survival. We could dream things to do and invent and imagine. But then, not only were we as humans given this unique quest for why, but we were placed here with so many different why’s to explore. We were given this amazing earth with vastly different landscapes, more variety than any other planet. We have oceans with amazing creatures and snow-capped mountains with their own atmosphere. We have deserts, tropics, plains, and icebergs. We have huge mammals and microscopic bacteria. We’re comprised of complicated organic molecules, proteins and enzymes, organized into systems. The earth is uniquely placed so that we are able to see beyond our galaxy and send devices to explore the solar system and the universe. We’re able to seek for the whys in the cosmos and in microbiology. We have a need to discover and we have things given for us to discover.
Evolution could not suddenly generate this kind of awareness and theoretical thinking on its own. Something cannot arise from nothing. If in the beginning there were only particles, the spirit for discovery could never have arisen. If in the beginning there were a Divine Mind, then we can explain the existence of particles and mind. Ironically, many people want to use the quest for knowledge in their effort to disprove God. But, the very quest for knowledge itself cannot be explained apart from the existence of God.
Why do “apologetics”? The term can even cause confusion among people. People ask, “Why should I apologize for being a Christian?” Except that is not the definition of this word. The word apologetics stems from the Greek apologia, meaning to give a reasoned defense. If even the word itself is confusing, why should the church, or Christians for that matter, concern themselves with it? Because Jesus commanded us to spread the news about who He is and what He did for sinners. He commanded us to go and make disciples. How do we expect to do that if we are unable to defend the news that we are spreading?
Christianity is never presented in a vacuum. No one you share the Gospel with is a blank slate upon which we just simply write verses from the Bible. Everyone comes with their own ideas, their own worldview, their own family religion, their own concept of origins. So every time Christianity is presented it is being weighed against that person’s previously held beliefs. This is true even of the atheists, for they come to the table with their own religion of secularism and naturalism. In light of that, Christians indeed must be able to defend their beliefs against the ideologies from the world around us. And in all reality, if Christianity cannot be defended against alternative worldviews, then we should wonder why we are wasting our time with it. Because really, the goal for all of us shouldn’t be whose religion makes you feel better, or whose religion keeps peace within the family, or whose religion works best as the government. The goal should be finding which religion is truth. Because truth, by the definition of what truth is, will exclude the false. All religions cannot be true at the same time because they all exclude one another. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to show how Christianity is the truth that excludes all others and why that is so.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.” With that analogy, we are then appointed representatives of God’s truth, living in a land not as citizens but as foreigners. But as a wise friend of mine pointed out, ambassadors must be able to speak the language of the land they are called to. It wouldn’t make much sense if I were sent as an ambassador of the United States to Japan when I don’t speak the first word of Japanese. How am I to represent my nation when I can’t communicate with those I now live among? So going back to what Paul said, how are we going to represent God to the world if we can’t communicate with the world?
So when the world says things like: God doesn’t exist. Evolution is proven fact. All religions are the same. The Bible is just a bunch of made up stories. Jesus was just a good man. There is no life after death. God doesn’t exist if there is suffering. What language are we able to speak back to them to show them the truth about Christianity? Would our answer of “God loves you” or “Jesus died for your sins” even make sense if they don’t know there is a God, have no concept of sin, and don’t believe Jesus was real? We are not effective “ambassadors” if we can’t speak their language.
I know the common mode of operation among many Christians and churches is to show Christ’s love as their witness. There is a lot of truth to that. Jesus said that how we treat the least of these is how we treat Him (Matthew 25:31-40). He also said that they would know us by our love for each other (John 13:35). That is an important aspect of the Christian witness and Christian ministry. But when we really look at how the early church grew in the book of Acts, it wasn’t because they ONLY loved on people. Yes, the church showed love to one another and had “all things in common” to take care of one another. But that was not how Paul preached. That was not how Peter preached. That was not how Stephen, the first martyr, preached. Look at the words used to describe their ministries:
We must then consider the world honestly when we go out and make disciples. How are we reasoning with the Greeks? Are we speaking to someone that when we say “God” they understand that to be the God of the Bible? Or would they consider “God” to be just one of many that people choose to worship? Or would they consider “God” to be a fanciful creation of those who don’t understand science? How would you explain the truth of the God of the Bible in each of those situations?
Some churches may say that this apologetics stuff is for just the intelligentsia to be debated only in the forums of academia. I say to look at the world around you. Look at what your children are being taught at school. Look at what is being shown on our televisions. Look at the skepticism on the internet. The debate has been laid at the doorsteps of the church whether we like it or not. And for far too long the church has simply stepped over it on our way to “love on” people. But we must reach people’s minds as well. We are to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We are to believe in our heart and confess with our mouths (Romans 10:9). We are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). In truth, our mouths, our minds – all stem from what we think in our heads. The Christian faith is not divorced from our minds. If we aren’t fully grounded in the truth of what we believe and why we believe it, then we too can be swayed away from it by those who challenge it.
Go back to those sample questions I listed that the world asks: Is there a God? Is the Bible true? Was Jesus really God? Are you equipped to answer those? Do you look for conversations to address issues like these or do you hope you can just say, “Jesus loves you” and invite them to church? We must begin preparing ourselves to be the ambassadors of Christ to a skeptical world.
Showing love to others is not enough if we never speak the truth to them.
Hebrews 12:5-12 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
We are God’s children. And just like earthly parents discipline their children, our Heavenly Father will discipline His children. We know that parents discipline their children out of love. It’s never enjoyable or comfortable while you’re receiving it, but in the end it is to grow us and make us better. Parents do that because they love their children and want their children to grow into the best adults possible. The wonderful thing to think about though is we discipline as sinning, erring human parents. But God disciplines in perfect love. Think about how much better and wiser and more prudent that discipline is. The tricky thing for parents is knowing when to apply discipline and what it should be. We have to figure out when to pick our battles. We know we can’t discipline over every minor infraction. And we can’t apply the same technique for each offense either. Some things require more severe punishment than others. As human parents it is so hard to know the right path on each action. But discipline from God is perfect. He never has to question whether the battle should be picked or not or whether the punishment fits the crime. His discipline is in perfect discernment. Luke 11:13 If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to you children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” In the same way, if we who are evil try to discipline our children in love, how much more can the perfect Heavenly Father discipline us in love?
The scary thing is that it says if we are not receiving discipline from the Father then we are not really His children. And since discipline can be seen as suffering in the moment (since discipline is never “fun”), then this pretty much guarantees that as children of God we will suffer at some point just out of our need to be disciplined. We are His children and we will be disciplined, and discipline is painful.
A great example of God using suffering to teach is through Jonah. We all know that Jonah was swallowed by a whale but do we stop and consider why? Jonah was fleeing from God’s command to go to Nineveh. He was being disobedient. As Jonah boarded a ship to go in the opposite direction of where God told him to go, God caused a storm, God directed the lots to fall to Jonah, God prepared the fish, and God had the fish swallow Jonah. Was that suffering of being inside a belly of a fish God’s will? Not exactly. God’s will was for Jonah to obey. Because Jonah freely chose to disobey, God taught Jonah a lesson in obedience – just like we do for our children on a daily basis. But remember, God also had the fish safely spew Jonah back onto to dry land. God was the source of that suffering for instruction, but God was also the source of Jonah’s redemption. God played the same role to the city of Nineveh, where Jonah finally did obey and go preach. God had told Jonah that the sin of Nineveh was so great that He was going to destroy the city. Again, the people freely chose to disobey, but God was going to be the source of their destruction. But God was also the source of their redemption because God sent them Jonah. And because of Jonah’s preaching, the people of Nineveh repented, and God did not destroy the city.
God can also use suffering to teach other people around us. Let’s think about the Israelites who were too afraid to cross over into the Promised Land. Moses sent out twelve spies but only two of them trusted in the provision of God to have the strength to take the land. The other ten, and the rest of the Israelites, decided those people were too big and scary for the Israelites to conquer. They even said they would rather go back and be slaved in Egypt. Can you imagine how that made God feel? Well, we don’t have to imagine too much because it says in Numbers 14:26: “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against me. Say to them, ‘As I live, says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb and Joshua you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness.” But check this out in verse 37 “those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord.”
Wow. God was serious wasn’t he? He denied passage to the Promised Land for that doubting and untrusting generation, saving only the younger generation to experience His rest there. What kind of impact do you think that had on that younger generation? They had to live 40 years wandering in the desert all because their parents didn’t trust God. Do you think that made them trust God more? They had to toil and sweat as a punishment for their parent’s distrusting God. Think about the further impact once they finally saw the Promised Land and entered into it. They could see the full picture. They could see that God was trying to bless them if only they had faith in it. They could see where they could have been living for the past 40 years if it weren’t for their parent’s faithlessness. God used the suffering of the older generation to teach the younger generation about trust and faith, about God’s goodness of His promises.
But in reality, the entire Bible is basically one giant book of hardship. The whole thing involves the suffering. The suffering serves multiple purposes as God can use the same experience to accomplish multiple things. It may be a consequence of our sin that God uses to humble us while teaching a loved one what not to do at the same time it leads a coworker to salvation. But all of these stories of suffering in the Bible have one common effect: they all teach us. We can learn something from every trial and tribulation found in the Bible. We can learn that God is serious about obedience, that God shows mercy, that God hates sin, that God gives us comfort, that God is sovereign, that God judges our sin, that God loves us in the middle of our sin, that God does forgive us, that God loves us, that wants us to love Him, that God disciplines us because we are His children. So God uses the suffering of the saints to teach future generations about His character and about how we are supposed to live in light of who He is