Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Why You Should Expect Suffering

Leslie Basham: Our natural tendency as human beings is to avoid difficulties and trials, but Nancy Leigh DeMoss says there is no crown without the cross.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: There is no exaltation without humiliation. Suffering precedes glory. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, “Our sufferings are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, February 4, 2015.

Nancy has called the Transfiguration the most significant event that took place between the birth of Jesus and His death and resurrection. Why is it so significant? She’s been exploring that over the last few days in a series called "On Another Mountain."

Let’s hear part three of that message. We’ll begin with a short review of where Nancy left off yesterday. We read about the transformation of Jesus on the mountain in the past.

Nancy: Then there’s a present transformation that is taking place even now as our souls are gradually being transformed and His new nature is being manifest increasingly in us. We think of that as sanctification, transfigured, metamorphosed, a complete change of form and appearance.

The implication of His transfiguration is that the glory of God in us totally changes us. It makes us different.

It’s a word that is used in only two other places in the New Testament apart from the gospel accounts.

Romans chapter 12, “Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed [transfigured, metamorphosed] by the renewal of your mind” (v. 2).

And then in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transfigured into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 18).

Sanctification is that invisible process of transformation which takes place in us as believers during our lives here on earth in preparation for eternity in heaven.

Christ’s transfiguration, remember, happened as He prayed. As Oswald Sanders says in his book, The Incomparable Christ, “Is that not still the method of transfiguration?”

It’s as we fix our eyes on Christ, we all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror gazing upon the Lord. That’s why David says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4).

It’s as we gaze upon His beauty that we are transfigured into His likeness, and, can I say, there is no substitute.

You want to be like Jesus? You have to behold Jesus.

You want His glory to be increasingly manifest in and through your life? You’ve got to be beholding Christ.

I did a breakout session this afternoon on cultivating intimacy with God through the practice of a daily devotional life. At the end of the session I asked the 500 or 600 women there, “How many would be honest enough to say that at this point in their lives, in this season, they don’t currently have a consistent devotional life?”

And the response there was the same response I’ve had every time I’ve asked that question, many times to thousands of women over the years—pastors’ wives, Bible study leaders, Christian leaders, people in ministry—all kinds of groups of women. And invariably it’s true, as it was true today, somewhere in the vicinity of 90% of the hands were lifted. “I don’t currently have a consistent devotional life.”

I say that not to beat you up but to say there are no shortcuts to beholding Christ. In His Word, we see Him, and we are transformed into His image from glory to glory.

We’re not going to be transformed ultimately by gazing upon John Piper and Don Carson and Tim Keller and all their wonderful books. Buy them. Read them. Be impacted by them, but ultimately—and they would all say this—what you’ve got to do is get to Christ, to gaze upon Him, to listen to Christ.

You won’t be transformed by reading my books or listening to my radio programs or my messages. If I, or they or any of us, all of us, can just point you to Christ, and encourage you, urge you to listen to Him, that will be transformational.

So there’s a past transformation. We become new creatures in Christ. There’s a present ongoing transformation, sanctification that is taking place in our lives as we behold Christ. But then also we have to look forward to that future glorification.

The transfiguration of Christ gives us a preview of what God has in store for us as our physical bodies will one day be transformed, and all because of what Christ accomplished for us by His exodus, His death, His resurrection, His ascension.

Paul says it this way in Philippians chapter 3: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we wait a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform our lowly body [humiliation] to be like His glorious body.”

I can hardly wait! I long for that. I long for it more because of what I’ve seen in the transfiguration of Christ.

When Christ returns, the outward appearance of our physical bodies will be transformed, that which is now lowly will be glorious. That transformation is currently taking place in us as we are becoming like Christ.

And we see echoes of that transformation, that transfiguration, in verses like these: Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

Daniel 12:3: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”

It’s His glory shining through us, reflected through us.

Judges 5:31: “Let those who love him be like the rising of the sun in its might.”

And what’s the point of it all? To have people say how glorious we are? No! No! No! And a thousand times, no! It’s to have people look at us and say, “How glorious is Christ!” To see His beauty! Like the moon, we have no light of our own. We only are carriers and reflectors of Christ in us, the hope of glory. It’s His light that we are to manifest, His glory that we want to be seen felt, and known in this world through us.

So the vision of Christ’s transfiguration gives us a vision of our own transformation into His likeness. And then, number two, the vision of Christ’s glory on the mount gives us a perspective and a context and a hope for our lives as we live them, not on the mountain, but in the valley below.

It was the Mount of Transfiguration, the vision of what they saw up there of Christ’s glory, that prepared the disciples for what lay ahead. And the vision we’ve seen of Christ on the mount should prepare us as we await His return in glory. We have that hope of sharing His glory. 

  • There is no crown without a cross.
  • There is no exaltation without humiliation.
  • Suffering precedes glory. 

As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, “Our sufferings are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (see v. 17).

In the passage we’ve been looking at, the disciples experienced both ups and downs, and you can look at just the terrain that they traversed. In chapter 17:1 it says that Jesus led them up a high mountain.

Thank God for those moments where we see for brief periods of time just a glimpse to the magnificence, the splendor, the glory of Christ maybe in ways we don’t see on an everyday basis. And, as for them it is for us, those moments don’t last long. They’re just a foretaste, and they’re intended to make us long for the eternal glory and to help us endure the suffering down in the valley that seems eternal but is really only temporal, light and momentary afflictions, heavy and as long-lasting as they may seem.

And then we see them in verse 9 coming down the mountain. On the way down the mountain, Jesus spoke of His imminent death and how John the Baptist had come to restore all things and had been rejected and put to death.

And then it says in verse 12, “So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” This is the Son of Man who had just been shown in His glory, but He reminds them there’s suffering coming, and so will be true of His followers.

Then He comes down to the valley, verse 14. “They came to the crowd.” The scene they encounter there is as far from what they had experienced on the mountain as you can possibly imagine: A man with a son who’s demonized; he’s epileptic with self-destructive behavior. There’s  consternation down there; there’s confusion; there’s this morass of human need.

Where do we live most of our lives in this world? Down in the valley, faced with expectations we can’t possibly meet. How often do people bring situations to us, hoping that we can do something about it? “My husband . . . my kids . . . what can you do to help?”

Well, the Christ who manifested His glory on the mount went with His disciples down the mount into the valley where the glory was once again veiled, and He will go with you from this place to your valley.

I’m confident that Peter and James and John never, ever forgot what they had heard and seen on the mount, even though for a while they couldn’t talk about it to anybody else. They were meant to see the circumstances down in the valley in light of the glory of Christ that they had witnessed up on the mount.

The God of glory is the God of all grace, and the God who spoke and manifested His greatness up on the mountain is the same God who speaks and exercises His power over evil in the valley.

For the past sixteen months or so I have been in the throes of some deeply painful and confusing circumstances that involves some horribly fractured relationships. One week ago, a week ago Friday, I received, in relation to all of this, a devastating letter—twelve pages, handwritten. As I read and tried to take in the humiliation of that letter and all that is surrounding it, I’ll tell you, honestly, that the last thing in the world I felt like doing at that moment was working on a message on the Transfiguration or standing on this platform, talking about another vision of God in the Scripture.

I wrestled with even coming here, being a part of this. It’s because this passage, and the others that we’ve been considering, at that moment, they seemed so far and disconnected from the reality of my life and my pain.

I know that there are moms and grandmoms here who are crying yourselves to sleep at night over a prodigal son or daughter or grandchild. I know that many are facing financial hardships. Perhaps you’re a widow dealing with the recent loss of a mate. Maybe health issues, church conflicts that are brewing, a frayed marriage.

Maybe you feel like your life is imploding, and that would describe what I have felt through many of these circumstances over the last months. And maybe to you, this account and others we’ve been looking at may seem irrelevant, far removed from the reality of your life.

I want to tell you that the glorious, all-powerful, resurrected, ascended, reigning Christ has given us His Spirit and goes with us down into the valley and the challenges and the craziness of life in this fallen world. He gives us hope. He gives us perspective. He gives us strength. He gives us courage. He gives us grace.

And to know that God will use that craziness, as we view it, as a means to transform us. Not just that we’ll make it to heaven surviving all of that, but that we will thrive. We will come forth as gold because we’ve been through it. And as we go through it, we cling, sometimes just with raw, naked faith, to the hope that in God’s sovereign wisdom, the humility and the suffering of this season will one day soon give way to exaltation and glory.

In that brief span between the glory that Jesus had in eternity past and the glory that will be His for all of eternity to come, for a brief span Jesus took on human flesh, and the glory was veiled as He suffered for us. And because of what He has done for us on the cross, because of His exodus, our span of suffering in these bodies of flesh in this broken world will be short and will soon give way to eternal future glory with Him.

So take heart my sisters and be of courage for He has promised, “You make known to me the path of life. In Your presence there is fullness of joy, and at Your right hand are pleasures forever more.”

A few days ago, a friend, knowing the enormous battle and confusion and pain that I was walking through, said to me, “How you doing?”

I said, by faith what I know in my heart to be true, “All is well in heaven, and all will be well on earth, and it’s all because of Jesus."

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and you rejoice with joy inexpressible, filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9). All this for the everlasting glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Would you pray with me, please?

Oh, Father, I lift up my sisters in this place. I pray that somehow the experiences that You have in Your providence put into my life over these last months, and the glory that You are pointing me to in the midst of them, the unseen glory, that the glory I see by faith, I pray would somehow minister grace, encouragement, hope to sisters who are in their own valley and who know that what they are facing in the hours and days ahead is really, really difficult.

Assure them that You will go with them from this mount down into the valley, that the glory we’ve seen here will continue to be at work in us and through us until that day when faith becomes sight and prayer becomes praise, and the veil is forever removed, and we shall see Him; we shall be like Him; and for all eternity, we shall worship. I pray in Jesus’ holy name.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss encouraging everyone who feels like they’re in a valley today. We all need teaching like that because all of us go through dark shadows and need truth we can cling to. 

Nancy’s here with an example of a woman who needed God’s Word in one of those valley experiences.

Nancy: As you might imagine, people listen to Revive Our Hearts sometimes while they’re right in the midst of messy, tough situations.

I’m thinking of one woman who wrote me and said,

I have the divorce papers filled out and signed sitting in my office, but I can’t bring myself to end this marriage because I promised it to God even though my husband is a liar and talks mean to me. Our four children have asked me to please divorce him. They are tired of his selfishness.

Well this woman is obviously really desperate. We don’t know the end of her story yet because it’s one that’s still being written. And I would just encourage you to pray for women like this one who are grappling with what it looks like to obey God when they’re living in the midst of very difficult circumstances.

I’m so thankful that Revive Our Hearts is available to point women in the toughest life situations to seek the Lord through His Word, and we’re able to do that thanks to listeners who pray and who support this ministry financially.

Would you help us continue speaking biblical truth into the lives of women who are desperately needy for it? Thank you so much.

Leslie: When you donate any amount, we’ll say "thanks" by sending you a book called The Incomparable Christ.  Nancy was so moved by this book that she used it as a basis for a teaching series on the life of Jesus. So she followed the chapter outline of the book and also came up with new material. 

You’ll hear that series starting February 18 and running past Easter. I hope you’ll read this book and listen to the teaching series. And we’ll also send you The Incomparable Christ journal. It includes questions that will help you think through practical ways to live these truths out. 

Ask for The Incomparable Christ book and journal when you call with your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one set per household with your donation of any size. Then join us for The Incomparable Christ, here on Revive Our Hearts starting February 18. 

Tomorrow we’ll hear the story of a woman who felt devastated when her gospel-piano-playing husband was unfaithful. But she decided, by God’s grace, to stay in the marriage and watch God work. Hear the story, starting tomorrow. 

The series we heard over the last few days was recorded at a women’s conference sponsored by The Gospel Coalition. Nancy encouraged the women there to get together and share some of what they learned. Now, we’re not at a conference, but as you hear this final thought from Nancy, ask yourself, “Who could I talk with about all that God’s been teaching me through this series? Who would be encouraged?”

She’s about to give some penetrating questions to jump start that discussion. Here’s Nancy:

Nancy: One of the dangers and challenges of trafficking in these great truths to the extent that many of us do is the danger that the supernatural would become commonplace, that the fact that God would make Himself known to us would no longer amaze us.

It’s so possible to have heads that are full while we have hearts and lives that are empty. I’ve been there, and perhaps you have as well.

I just want to remind us that sound theology should always, always lead us to doxology and to transformation. It’s not enough just to get our notebooks filled, but my prayer, and I know that’s that of those who are leading this event and all the other speakers, is that as we hear these great truths that our hearts would be lifted up in praise and worship and adoration of our great God and that our lives would be transformed by that vision.

So I want to encourage you tonight before you go to bed: Would you find someone else, a roommate, or somebody that you’ve come with, or somebody that you’ve just met, and would you just dialogue for a few minutes at least about a couple of questions?

First of all: 

  • How have you seen God in a new light?
  • How have you been given a fresh vision of God this weekend? Maybe just pick out some things from your notes.
  • What have you seen that has encouraged you, has blessed you, has challenged you, that has given you a fresh vision of God? 

And then, secondly: 

  • How does that vision, what you’ve seen, how does it shed light on the path that you are now walking?
  • What difference does it make for the journey that you are on right now? 

I’d just encourage you to dialogue with one another. Malachi says that those who loved the Lord, who feared the Lord, spoke often of Him to each other. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture was taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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