Voice from the Past:
The Privilege of
Suffering with Christ
By C. H. Mackintosh
Shall we refuse to suffer from the hand of man with Him who suffered from the hand of God for us? That it is, in a certain sense, a question, is evident, from the Spirit’s constant use of the word if, in connection with it.
“If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim 2:12 KJV).
There is no such question as to sonship. We do not reach the high dignity of sons through suffering, but through the quickening power of the Holy Ghost, founded on the accomplished work of Christ, according to God’s eternal counsel. This can never be touched. We do not reach the family through suffering. The apostle does not say, That ye may be counted worthy of the family of God for which ye also suffer. They were in the family already; but they were bound for the kingdom, and their road to that kingdom lay through suffering; and not only so, but the measure of suffering for the kingdom would be according to their devotedness and conformity to the King.
The more like we are to Him, the more we shall suffer with Him; and the deeper our fellowship with Him in the suffering, the deeper will be our fellowship in the glory. There is a difference between the house of the Father and the kingdom of the Son: in the former, it will be a question of capacity; in the latter, a question of assigned position.
All my children may be around my table, but their enjoyment of my company and conversation will entirely depend on their capacity. One may be seated on my knee, in the full enjoyment of his relationship, as a child, yet perfectly unable to comprehend a word I say; another may exhibit uncommon intelligence in conversation, yet not be a whit happier in his relationship than the infant on my knee. But when it becomes a question of service for me, or public identification with me, it is evidently quite another thing. This is but a feeble illustration of the idea of capacity in the Father’s house, and assigned position in the kingdom of the Son.
But let it be remembered that our suffering with Christ is not a yoke of bondage, but a matter of privilege; not an iron rule, but a gracious gift; not constrained servitude, but voluntary devotedness. “Unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29).
Moreover, there can be little doubt but that the real secret of suffering for Christ is to have the heart’s affections centred in Him. The more I love Jesus, the closer I shall walk with Him, and the closer I walk with Him, the more faithfully I shall imitate Him, and the more faithfully I imitate Him, the more I shall suffer with Him. Thus it all flows from love to Christ; and then it is a fundamental truth that “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
In this, and in everything else, let us beware of a legal spirit; for it must not be imagined that a man with the yoke of legality round his neck is suffering for Christ. It is much to be feared that such an one does not know Christ, does not know the blessedness of sonship, has not yet been established in grace, is rather seeking to reach the family by works of law than to reach [their position in] the kingdom by the path of suffering.
C.H. Mackintosh, Notes on the Pentateuch: Genesis (1880)