Trials & Tribulations
TRIALS AND TRIBULATION
A. Introduction: We have begun a series on the character of God.
1. Our theme is: God is good and good means good.
2. We base that statement on Jesus Christ.
a. Jesus is the complete revelation of God. John 14:9; Heb 1:1-3
1. He said God is good. Matt 19:17
2. Good is defined as what Jesus did. Acts 10:38
b. In His earth ministry, Jesus healed people, set people free from bondage,
taught people the Word of God, cast out devils, raised people from the
dead, fed people, met the needs of people, encouraged and comforted
people, had compassion on people, stopped storms from raging.
c. He made no one sick, nor refused to heal anyone, set up no circumstances
to see what people would do, taught people with His Word (not by sending
bad circumstances), sent no storms, caused no donkey cart crashes.
d. Jesus repeatedly said He did the works of His Father. John 14:10
3. This brings up a number of apparent contradictions. What about suffering?
a. Isn't that a part of Christian life sent by God to humble us / perfect us, etc?
b. How can a good God allow all the suffering in the world?
c. What about Job? What about the God of the OT?
4. There is no contradiction. The problem is:
a. We lack knowledge of what the Bible says and / or we read out of context.
b. We base what we believe on experience (our own or other people).
c. We mix apples and oranges = wrongly apply scripture.
5. In this series, we are sorting it all out.
a. In the past two lessons, we talked about how Christ suffered some things
for us so that we don't have to suffer them -- the punishment and
consequences of sin. Isa 53:4-6; Gal 3:13; Deut 28
b. We ²are ±called to suffer with Christ and for Christ. Phil 1:29; Rom 8:17
1. The only thing we can suffer for and with Christ is persecution and
any discomfort or cost connected with serving Him.
2. Even in that we have victory. Rom 8:35-37
c. Suffering for Christ does not include sickness, car wrecks, job loss, etc.
6. In this lesson, we want to deal with trials and tribulation -- are they sent or
allowed by God to teach us, test us, discipline us, refine us, etc.?
7. As we study, we will find that trials and tribulation do not come from God.
a. God perfects us, tests us, purges us, etc. with His Word and His Spirit.
b. Trials and tribulation are the result of living in a sin cursed earth
dominated by satan.
B. Let's make some general statements about trials and tribulation.
1. Trials and tribulation (the difficulties of life) are in the earth because of sin.
a. We must daily deal with the consequences of sin and its effects in the earth
and in the human race.
1. We live in an earth cursed by sin = killer storms, weeds, rust, moths.
2. We have bodies that are mortal = subject to sickness, old age, and
death. Rom 5:12
3. We interact with unsaved people dominated by satan. Eph 2:2,3
4. We interact with Christians who are carnal and have unrenewed
minds. Rom 12:1,2
5. We have an enemy who is seeking to destroy us. I Pet 5:8; John 10:10
b. In the last lesson, we talked about how our own poor choices bring
suffering into our lives (reap what we sow).
c. Jesus told us that in this life we would have tribulation = much
trouble, suffering, and affliction = life in a sin cursed earth. John 16:33
d. That agrees with James 1:2 -- we fall into temptations (encounter, meet
with, find yourself surrounded).
e. As we walk through life, we encounter difficulties -- remember Israel
crossing the Sinai peninsula.
1. It was a mountainous, desert region due to a sin cursed earth.
2. Their own foolish choices made the journey worse.
2. We need to know that trials and tribulation do not come from God.
a. He does not bring bad circumstances to test us, discipline us, or perfect us.
b. I know that brings up some "Yes, but..." questions. We'll get to them.
c. satan is ultimately behind all trials and difficulties because they are all
either a direct or indirect product of sin and his kingdom.
3. The difficulties of life do test our faith according to James 1:3.
a. Faith = trust or confidence in God that comes from what you know about
Him through His Word.
1. That trust, that confidence is then expressed or demonstrated by the
things we say and do.
2. Faith = agreement with God = knowledge of His Word and belief in
His Word which is expressed through word and action.
b. God has told us some specific things about His love for us, His care for us,
His ever - present help.
1. A difficult situation has the potential to shake your confidence in God
by making Him look unreliable, unfair, unloving, etc.
2. Difficulties, problems, make those promises look untrue -- He is not
helping me! He doesn't hear me! He doesn't care about me!
c. The test in the situation is: will you agree with the circumstance and what
it seems to say about God, or will you agree with what His Word says?
4. In a very real sense, God tests you every day, 24 hours a day! The test is: will
you believe His Word?
a. The bad circumstance is not God's test -- God's Word in the circumstance
is the test.
b. Let's look at some Bible examples of tests.
1. Israel in the wilderness. Ex 15:25; 16:4; 20:18-26
2. Joseph -- God's Word was the test in his trials. Ps 105:19
3. Abraham -- the test was the Word. Heb 11:17; Gen 22:1-18
4. Jesus -- the test He gave was His Word. John 6:6
5. Remember, we tend to mix apples and oranges.
a. We say trials are tests from or allowed by God as part of the suffering
Christians go through for perfecting, discipline, etc.
b. Remember one of our guide lines -- God allows people to sin and go to hell.
c. I Pet 4:16 talks about suffering as a Christian. Unbelievers have trials.
1. Persecution and cost to live for Christ is the only suffering we can
experience that the world can't.
2. That is the context of the epistle -- suffering persecution.
d. Tests and trials are not "Christian suffering" -- they are just here!
e. Christians and non - Christians both suffer them.
C. You must understand that God works in our lives through His Word and His Spirit
-- not circumstances (the way we mean it!)
1. God works in us, not on us -- that is a key point!
a. If we believe God works on us, our evidence is circumstances.
b. If we believe God works in us, our evidence is His Word.
2. The NT says God works in us, not on us! Eph 3:16; Phil 1:6; 2:13; Heb 13:21
3. If you think God is dealing with you through difficult circumstances, you'll be
looking to the circumstances to try to figure out what is going on instead of:
a. Looking in His Word and following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
b. James 1:5 -- "And if any of you do not know how to meet any particular
problem, he only has to ask God." (Phillips)
4. Nowhere in the Bible are circumstances (good or bad) called our teacher.
a. The Holy Spirit is called Teacher, and the Word is called teacher. II Tim
3:16; John 14:26; 16:13
b. You cannot know God's will by looking at circumstances.
1. satan is fully capable of orchestrating circumstances.
2. Remember when Paul was bitten by the snake in Acts 28:1-6
5. The difficulties of life are not here to purge us, cleanse us, or perfect us -- the
Word of God does that.
a. II Tim 3:17 -- Thoroughly furnished = perfected (in Greek)
b. Eph 4:12 tells us the ministry gifts were given to perfect the saints. Col 1:28
c. John 15:2,3; Eph 5:26 = same Greek word = cleanse (also used in Heb
9:14; I John1:7,9)
d. This makes perfect sense if we'll think it through.
1. The Bible reveals what God has done for us through Jesus Christ and
how to walk in it. Heb 10:14; II Tim 2:21
2. Paul posed this question to the Galatians (3:3) -- you began in the
Spirit; are you now made perfect by the flesh?
3. Why / how would outward circumstances complete and inward work?
6. Note the connection between the Bible and trials.
a. The Thessalonians received the Word in affliction (same word as John
16:33) I Thess 1:6; 3:10
1. If affliction is the teacher, why did they need the Word?
2. If trials perfect our faith, why did Paul send Timothy to Thessalonica
with the Word to perfect their faith in the midst of a trial?
b. II Tim 3:12 -- The godly suffer persecution. Not a word is mentioned
about persecution teaching us.Yet, the Word is called our teacher. v16
c. In the very same chapter where trials are discussed, James 1:21 tells us that
it is the Word that saves our souls = works out character flaws.
7. The Bible identifies satan as the source of trials, tribulation, affliction, etc.
a. satan is called the tempter (Matt 4:1-3; I Thess 3:3-5), and trials are called
temptations. James 1:2,3;12
b. Affliction, persecution, trials: satanic activity. Mark 4:15;17; I Pet 4:12;
8. People say that some trials are from satan, but that some are from God.
a. But James 1:13 tells us that God doesn't tempt anyone to sin.
b. Unbelief is sin. If choice in the circumstance is unbelief (sin), the
circumstance can't be from God.
9. Although God doesn't send trials, He does want to work in them.
a. He wants to comfort us = strengthen and cheer. II Cor 1:3,4
1. If God sends trials only to turn around and comfort us in them, isn't
that a house divided? Matt 12:25-27
2. What about "He won't give you more than you can bear?" I Cor 10:13
a. If we read the verse in context, the temptation referred to is a
temptation to sin.
b. You have never been tempted to sin in any different way than
other people. God is faithful. He will not allow you to be
tempted more than you can take. But when you are tempted, He will make a way for you to keep from falling into sin. (New Life)
b. God wants to bring genuine good out of evil. Rom 8:28
c. God wants to deliver us! Ps 34:17;19; II Tim 3:11; II Pet 2:9
D. What is the point of a lesson / series like this?
1. You cannot fully serve / commit to someone you don't trust. Ps 9:10
a. We love Him because He first loved us. I John 4:19
b. The depth of your relationship with God is connected to how much you
know of His love for you.
2. Lack of knowledge of God's character can make you passive = accept
everything in your life as God's will.
a. A passive Christian is usually a defeated Christian.
b. We are told to submit to God and resist satan. You can't do that if you
don't know what is from who! James 4:7; I Pet 5:9; Eph 4:27; 6:11
3. Lack of knowledge of these things can cause you to respond inappropriately
and make critical mistakes in trials.
a. You try to figure out what God is doing instead of looking to His Word
and Spirit to find out what to do.
b. You do not count it all joy and resist satan.
c. You become bitter and blame God.
1. We have not answered every question about trials and tribulation, we still have
much to cover.
2. But, as we do, we must remember our guiding principle -- what does Jesus show
us about God, trials, and tribulation?
a. God doesn't send them -- He comforts us and delivers us.
b. Jesus shows us: God is good and good means good.