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Sermon #3170

The Problem of Suffering

A Sermon on Romans 8:17


Romans 8:17 ESV KJV
and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV)

Sermon Description

The urgent problem for the Christian faith in times past and still today is to reconcile trials, tribulations, and suffering with the exceeding great promises of glory that await the children of God. This is the foundation of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermon on Romans 8:17 titled “The Problem of Suffering.” The Christian must remember, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, that Paul is no professor of theology, but a profound theologian with a pastoral heart. The apostle Paul is concerned with Christian assurance and when suffering threatens this security. But, Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues, suffering confirms the promises of the gospel. When rightly understood, far from raising doubts or questions, suffering is the proof of the truth of those promises. The doctrine of union with Christ is important for the pastoral task of understanding suffering, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones. As joint-heirs with Christ who suffered, the Christian’s suffering is absolute proof that they belong to Him. Moreover, this suffering is part of the preparation for the glory that awaits the believer. In their current state, counsels Dr. Lloyd-Jones, the Christian is unprepared for glory. But thanks to God that He is preparing them for it and Christians must remember that it is He who is doing so.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul introduces suffering in Romans 8:17 to provide practical help to Christians facing difficulties.
  2. Suffering is a common theme in the New Testament used to encourage Christians. Nearly all the epistles deal with suffering in some way.
  3. Jesus predicted his followers would suffer like he did (John 15:18-21). The book of Acts shows the early church suffering.
  4. Suffering proves our salvation and heirship with Christ (Romans 8:17). The devil uses suffering to make us doubt, but it actually proves our faith.
  5. Jesus suffered because he was the Son of God (John 5:43). The world hated him because he exposed evil (John 3:19-20).
  6. We suffer because we belong to Jesus. The world treats us like it treated him (John 15:18-21).
  7. Paul lists many sufferings he endured in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Suffering was a normal part of his ministry.
  8. Many passages teach that suffering proves our faith (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Philippians 1:28-29, 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 2 Timothy 3:10-12, Hebrews 10:32-34).
  9. Suffering prepares us for glory (2 Corinthians 4:17, Philippians 3:10, Colossians 1:24, Hebrews 12:10). It purifies our faith like fire purifies gold (1 Peter 1:6-7).
  10. We should rejoice in suffering for Christ (James 1:2, 1 Peter 4:13-14). If we live godly lives, we will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12).
  11. Suffering is a privilege allowing us to share in Christ's sufferings (Philippians 3:10, Colossians 1:24). We learn things about Jesus through suffering we can't learn any other way.
  12. If we don't suffer for Christ in some way, we should examine our faith. All true Christians suffer for Christ's sake in some measure.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.