Find Fellowship in Christ’s Suffering

A. W. Tozer
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Some people in reading the Bible say they cannot understand why Elijah and other men had such active power with the living God. It is quite simple. God heard Elijah because Elijah had heard God. God did according to the word of Elijah because Elijah had done according to the word of God. You cannot separate the two.

When we are willing to consider the active will of God for our lives, we come immediately to a personal knowledge of the cross because the will of God is the place of blessed, painful, fruitful trouble! The Apostle Paul knew about that. He called it “the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.” It is my conviction that one of the reasons we exhibit very little spiritual power is because we are unwilling to accept and experience the fellowship of the Savior’s sufferings, which means acceptance of His cross.

God’s Will and the Cross

How can we have and know the blessed intimacy of the Lord Jesus if we are unwilling to take the route which He has demonstrated? We do not have it because we refuse to relate the will of God to the cross.

All of the great saints have been acquainted with the cross—even those who lived before the time of Christ. They were acquainted with the cross in essence because their obedience brought it to them. All Christians living in full obedience will experience the cross and find themselves exercised in spirit very frequently. If they know their own hearts, they will be prepared to wrestle with the cross when it comes.

The Cross and Saints

Think of Jacob in the Old Testament and notice the direction from which his cross came—directly from his own carnal self. It took Jacob some time to discover the nature of his own heart and to admit and confess that Jacob’s cross was Jacob himself.

All of the great saints have been acquainted with the cross.

Read again about Daniel and you will discover that his cross was the world. Consider Job and you will find that his cross was the devil. The devil crucified Job, the world crucified Daniel, and Jacob was crucified on the tree of his own Jacobness, his own carnality.

Study the lives of the apostles in the New Testament and you will find that their crosses came from the religious authorities.

Likewise in Church history we look at Luther and note that his cross came from the Roman Church which makes so much of wooden crosses, while Wesley’s cross came from the Protestant Church. Continue to name the great souls who followed the will of God, and you will name the men and women of God who looked forward by faith, and their obedience invariably led them into places of blessed and painful and fruitful trouble.

Trouble Because of Obedience

I must point out here the fallacy of thinking that in following Jesus we can easily go up on the hillside and die—just like that! I admit that when Jesus was here on earth, the easiest and cheapest way to get off was to follow Jesus physically. Anyone could get out of work and say goodbye with the explanation, “I am going to follow Jesus.” Multitudes did this. They followed Him physically, but they had no understanding of Him spiritually. Therefore, in that day the cheapest, easiest way to dispose of the cross was to carry it physically.

But brethren, taking our cross is not going to mean the physical act of following Jesus along a dusty pathway. We are not going to climb the hill where there are already two crosses in place and be nailed up between them.

Our cross will be determined by whatever pain and suffering and trouble which will yet come to us because of our obedience to the will of God. The true saints of God have always borne witness that wholehearted obedience brings the cross into the light quicker than anything else.

For Further Reading:

From the Grave

by A. W. Tozer

40-day Lent devotional from a beloved spiritual writer As for the field, so for the soul: “The neglected heart will soon be overrun with...

book cover for From the Grave