We ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.
2 Thess. 1:4.
One of the chief reasons why God permits Christians to suffer on earth is to make plain the distinction between their reward and that of the ungodly. In the sufferings of believing Christians, and in the wickedness, tyranny, rage and persecution directed by the unrighteous against the godly, is a certain indication of a future life unlike this and a final judgment of God in which all men, godly and wicked, shall be forever recompensed. When Paul speaks of the tribulations and sufferings of Christians, he means to say that these afflictions are the indication of God's righteous judgment, and a sign that you are worthy of the kingdom of God for which you suffer. In other words: "O beloved Christians, regard your sufferings as dear and precious. Think not God is angry with you, or has forgotten you, because he allows you to endure these things. They are your great help and comfort, for they show that God will be a righteous judge, will richly bless you and avenge you upon your persecutors. In this you have unfailing assurance. You may rejoice and console yourselves, believing without the shadow of a doubt that you belong to the kingdom of God, and have been made worthy of it, because you suffer for its sake."
But it is impossible that it should continue to be, as now, well with the world and evil with you. God's righteousness will not admit of it. Just because he is a righteous judge, things must be eventually different: the godly must have eternal good, and the wicked, on the other hand, must be punished forever. Otherwise God's judgment would not be righteous; in other words, he would not be God. This is an impossible proposition, since God's righteousness and truth are immutable, in his capacity as judge he must perforce in due time come from heaven, when he shall have assembled his Christians, and avenge them of their enemies, recompense the latter according to their merits, and confer eternal rest and peace upon his followers for the temporal sufferings they have endured here. Necessarily, then, he has planned a future state for Christians and for non-Christians, in either instance unlike what they know on earth.
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