Sunday, December 2, 2007
Test, Trials, and Suffering
Tests & Trials
1 Thes 3:3 (TEB) ... None of you should turn back because of these persecutions. You yourselves know that such persecutions are part of God's will for us.
Acts 14:22 (Jer) ... "We all have to experience many hardships," they said, "before we enter the kingdom of God."
When Bad Things Happen
The Scriptures speak of three types of "trouble" for the believer: 1) Discipline, judgment, or rebuke from the Lord; 2) tests, trials, persecutions, suffering; and 3) temptations or attacks from Satan. So is this present trouble the hand of the Lord in direct rebuke, or the promised testing of our faith, or are we being "had" by Satan? We should know, so we can respond accordingly.
James 1:12 (NIV) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor's crown, the life God has promised to those who love him.
STUDY 2: Tests, Trials, Persecutions, Sufferings
1 Pet 4:12-13 (NIV) Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
Deut 8:2-3 (NIV) Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you... to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Gen 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, [what about Isaac's older brother, Ishmael? See Rom 9:8, Gal 4:22-31, John 6:63] whom you love, and... sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
Ex 20:20 (NIV) Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
Ps 66:8-12 (NIV) Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
1 Pet 2:19-23 (Phi) A man does a fine thing when he endures pain, with a clear conscience towards God, though he knows he is suffering unjustly. After all, it is no credit to you if you are patient in bearing a punishment which you have richly deserved! But if you do your duty and are punished for it and can still accept it patiently, you are doing something worthwhile in God's sight. Indeed this is your calling. For Christ suffered for you and left you a personal example, so that you might follow in his footsteps. He was guilty of no sin... Yet when he was insulted he offered no insult in return. When he suffered he made no threats of revenge. He simply committed his cause to the One who judges fairly.
Suffering, The Cost Of Discipleship
John 15:18-20 (NIV) "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own... Remember the words I spoke to you; 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also."
1 Pet 4:1 (NIV) Since Christ suffered physical pain you must arm yourselves with the same inner conviction that he had. To be free from sin means bodily suffering, and the man who accepts this will spend the rest of his time here on earth, not in being led by human desires, but in doing the will of God.
2 Tim 3:12 (NIV) In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
John 16:2-4 (NIV) "... In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you..."
1 Thes 3:3 (NIV) so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know that we were destined for them.
2 Tim 3:12 (Phi) Persecution is inevitable for those who are determined to live really Christian lives.
1 Pet 1:6-7 (Phi) This means tremendous joy to you, even though at present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials. This is no accident--it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold, and gold, as you know, even though it is ultimately perishable, must be purified by fire.
James 1:2-4 (Phi) When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.
2 Tim 1:8 (Phi) ... Accept your share of the hardship that faithfulness to the gospel entails in the strength that God gives you.
This Is Good News?
1 Pet 4:12-14 (Phi) And now, dear friends of mine, I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience. You should be glad, because it means that you are sharing in Christ's sufferings. One day, when he shows himself in full splendor, you will be filled with the most tremendous joy. If you are reproached for being Christ's followers, that is a cause for joy, for you can be sure that God's Spirit of glory is resting upon you.
1 Pet 1:6 (NIV) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
2 Cor 4:16-17 (Phi) This is the reason we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain.
Rom 8:37 (Jer) These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.
Oswald Chambers: "The [wave] that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it. Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things--tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight. We are more than conquerors... super-victors, with a joy we would not have but for the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us... The saint knows the joy of the Lord not in spite of tribulation, but because of it."
Col 1:24 (Phi) ... It is true at this moment that I [Paul] am suffering... yet I am glad, because it gives me a chance to contribute in my own sufferings something to the uncompleted pains which Christ suffers on behalf of his body, the Church.
Rom 5:3-5 (NIV) Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Rom 8:18 (Jer) I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us...
Heb 10:32,35-39 (NIV) ... in the face of suffering... do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
1 Pet 4:16-19 (NIV) ... if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God. And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" So, then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Advice From Jesus
Rev 2:9 (Jer) "I know the trials you have had, and how poor you are--though you are rich!"
Rev 2:10 (NIV) "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."
Luke 12:4-5 (NIV) "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body and that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after killing the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."
Rev 3:10 (Jer) "Because you have kept my commandment to endure trials, I will keep you safe in the time of trial which is going to come for the whole world..."
WHEN TROUBLE COMES, WHAT KIND IS IT?
The Big Picture
Rom 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:35,37-39 (Phi) Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain, or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat and force of arms?... No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us. I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God's whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Believing The Gospel...
1 Cor 15:1-2 (Jer) Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel... because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you--believing anything else will not lead to anything.
1 Cor 15:3-4 (Phi) For I passed on to you,--as essential, the message I myself received--that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures said he would; that he was buried and rose again on the third day, again as the scriptures foretold.
A.W. Tozer: "As long as we remain in the body we shall be subject to a certain amount of that common suffering which we all share with the sons of men. But there is another kind of suffering, known only to the Christian: it is voluntary suffering deliberately and knowingly incurred for the sake of Christ.
"Such is a luxury, a treasure of fabulous value. And it is rare as well as precious, for there are few in this decadent age who will of their own choice go down into this dark mine looking for jewels. God will not force us into this kind of suffering; he will not lay this cross upon us nor embarrass us with riches we do not want. Such riches are reserved for those who apply to serve in the legion of the expendables, who love not their lives unto death, who volunteer to suffer for Christ's sake and who follow up their application with lives that challenge the devil and invite the fury of hell.
"Such as these have said good-bye to the world's toys; they have accepted toil and suffering as their earthly portion. The marks of the cross are upon them and they are known in heaven and in hell. But where are they? Has this breed of Christian died out of the earth?"