More About Trials & Tribulations


A.     Introduction: We have begun a series on the character of God.
     1.     We must have accurate knowledge of God's character in order to fully commit
          to Him. Ps 9:10
     2.     Our theme is:  God is good and good means good.
          a.     But, that seems to bring up some apparent contradictions.
          b.     What about the difference between the OT and NT God?  What about
               Job?  What about suffering, etc.? How do we sort it all out?
     3.     Start with Jesus Christ, the complete revelation of God. John 14:9; Heb 1:1-3
          a.     He said God is good, and good is defined as what Jesus did. Matt 19:17;
               Acts 10:38
          b.     All contradictions must reconcile with what Jesus shows us about God.
     4.     In the past few lessons, it may seem like we have digressed a bit.
          a.     Instead of doing lessons such as God is love, God is good, God is a
               rewarder, etc. we have been talking about suffering, trials, and tribulation.
          b.     The reason is unless we get it firmly established in our minds that these
               things don't come from God, when we talk about how God is love and
               God is good, this is what many of you will hear:
               1.     God is love, but He may allow you to get cancer to teach you.                  
               2.     After all, He is the sovereign God, and He can do whatever He wants.
     5.     In the last lesson, we talked about trials and tribulation, and want to continue
          this week.  But, let's briefly review key points from last week.
          a.     Trials and tribulation do not come from God -- they are in the earth
               because of sin.
          b.     satan is ultimately behind all trials and tribulation because they are all
               either a direct or indirect product of sin and and his kingdom.
          c.     Trials do test our faith.
               1.     God has made specific promises to us in the Bible about His love and
                    care for us, and trials make those promises look untrue.
               2.     Bad circumstances are not God's test, His Word in the circumstance is
                    His test.  Will you believe what God says despite what you see?
          d.     Trials and tribulation (the difficulties of life) are not God's instruments for
               perfecting, purging, or disciplining us.
               1.     God perfects us, purges us, etc. with His Word and His Holy Spirit.
               2.     God works in us by His Word and Spirit, not on us by circumstances.
               3.     No where does the Bible call trials and tribulation our teacher.
               4.     The Holy Spirit and the Word are called our teacher.
               5.     II Tim 3:10-17; Eph 4:11,12; (John 15:2,3; Eph 5:26; Heb 9:14; I John
                    1:9 = same word = cleanse)
          e.     God has begun an inward work in each of us; He does not use outward
               things to complete that work. Gal 3:3

B.     Let's talk some more about where trials come from.
     1.     The Bible calls satan the tempter and identifies him as the one who brings
          persecution, affliction, and tribulation. Matt 4:1-3; I Thess 3:1-5
           Matt 13:19;21; Mark 4:15;17; I Pet 4:12; 5:8,9
     2.     Whether or not your trial is a direct attack of satan or just the result of living in
          a sin cursed earth, satan works on your mind in every difficulty with thoughts
          of discouragement, doubt, and fear. Eph 6:11
     3.     Jesus called temptation evil. Matt 6:13 (same word used in James 1:12)
          a.     This is the Father's will = that we be led out of or around temptation.
          b.     Adam Clarke's Commentary says temptation = sore trial (comes from to
               pierce through)
               1.     The word implies not only violent assaults from satan, but also sorely
                    afflictive circumstances.
               2.     Lead us not = a Hebraism:  God is said to do what He only permits.
     4.     We are told not to say temptations come from God because He does not tempt
          people with evil. James 1:13
          a.     The scriptures just cited call trials, tribulation, afflictions, etc. temptations
               and / or satanic activity; that means they are evil.
          b.     If God is behind any of these activities, He is using evil against His people.
          c.     Some say there are two kinds of trials or temptations:  Those from God to
               purge us, teach us, etc., and those from satan to make us sin.
               1.     There are no scriptures to support that idea.
               2.     All trials can lead us to the sin of unbelief.                 
     5.     Some say God allows these things in our lives for a purpose.
          a.     He allows people to go to hell -- that doesn't mean it is His will or He
               consents in any way.
          b.     Often, when the word allow is used, it implies consent.
               1.     That means God is a consenting partner in satanic activity.
               2.     That would make God a mafia boss who uses the devil as His hit man.
     6.     The Bible teaches that God comforts and delivers us out of trials, temptations,
          persecutions, etc.  Ps 34:17;19; I Cor 10:13; II Cor 1:3; II Tim 3:11; II Pet 2:9  
     7.     If God sends / allows something only to turn around and comfort and
               deliver us, that's a house divided. Matt 12:24-26

C.     Don't trials make us patient, and isn't that reason why God allows them? James 1:3
     1.     No!  If they made us patient, we'd all be patient because we all have trials.
     2.     Trials don't make us patient, they give us an opportunity to exercise patience.
          a.     Patience doesn't come from trials, patience comes from God!
          b.     Patience is a fruit of the recreated human spirit. Gal 5:22; Col 1:11
          c.     Trials work patience in the same way exercise works muscles.
          d.     Exercise doesn't create the muscle, it gives you a chance to use it, and
               through use, strengthen it.
               1.     The trial and proving of your faith brings out endurance and
                    steadfastness and patience. (Amp)
               2.     The testing of your faith stirs up your power to endure. (Beck)
     3.     Patience is actually supposed to be our response in trials, not the result or
          consequence of tribulation. Rom 12:12; II Thess 1:4; I Pet 2:20           
          a.     To be patient means to be steadfast no matter what the difficulty.
          b.     Patience can be translated: endurance; pass the breaking point and not
               break; power of going on.
          c.     Patience is the ability to remain the same, constant, consistent, no matter
               what the circumstances.
          d.     We have that ability in us because we are born again.
     4.     James 1:12 tells us a man is blessed if he endures temptation.
          a.     Endure:  doesn't give in; remains steadfast; doesn't give up; patient.
          b.     We are to stay the same in trials = more than conquerors, overcomers.
          c.     If trials are sent by God to correct or change us, then these verses
               contradict that idea.
     5.     These verses make it clear that it is not the trial that perfects us, but our
          response, based on God's word, in the trial. James 1:4
          a.     Let your patience make you stronger and stronger. (Worrell)
          b.     Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing so
               that you may be perfect, complete, lacking nothings. (Good News)
     6.     That same idea is found in Rom 5:3,4
          a.     We know that suffering stirs up the power to endure, and if we endure, we
               prove our strength, and if we prove our strength, we have hope. (Beck)
          b.     Afflictions give rise to endurance and endurance gives proof of our faith,
               and a proved faith gives ground for hope. (Knox)
     7.     We have the idea that trials do us good, and that is why God allows them.
          a.     That isn't automatically so -- Jesus Himself said so. Matt 7:24-27
               1.     The same storm had two entirely different effects.
               2.     Your response in the storm determines how it  affects you.
          b.     Mark 4:37-40  The disciples encountered a storm that didn't produce
               patience or strengthen their faith -- the storm took their faith.
          c.     Storms don't cause growth, and storms can do great damage.
          d.     Jesus shows us God -- He will not harm the helpless. Matt 12:20
     8.     All of this shows God's greatness and His goodness.
          a.     Trials are just here -- that's life in a sin cursed earth dominated by satan.
          b.     Remember these things:
               1.     satan has a legal right to be here until his time runs out. Luke 4:6;
                    Matt 8:29; Rev 12:12
               2.     This life is only a small speck in terms of eternity. II Cor 4:17
               3.     God has made full provision for us in the midst of all these difficulties.
                    Rom 8:35-37; John 16:33
          c.     God is actually able to use all of these things to His / our advantage.
               1.     Trials provide an opportunity to show what we are made of as new
                    creation men.
               2.     Faith grows strong through use and trials give us a chance to use our
          d.     A boxer cannot know how good he is or how effective his training has been
               until he steps into the ring.
          e.     He is fully trained when he steps into the ring; the match doesn't train him,
            it shows the results of his training.

C.     Some say trials are God's refining furnace, and that He is purifying us as a refiner
     does with gold. I Pet 1:6,7
     1.     From the context of the letter, it is clear the trials these people were
          experiencing were persecutions. 2:18-23; 3:3-17; 4:4; 12-16; 5:8-10
          a.     Can't be from God -- He'd be fighting against His own kingdom.
          b.     satan is identified as the source of their afflictions in 5:8,9.
          c.     Yes, but the devil is God's devil.  Do you mean:
               1.     The devil is more effective than the Holy Ghost so God uses him on
                    the really tough cases?
               2.     Or, he's more reliable and obedient than Christians, so God calls in
                    satan to do His work?
     2.     According to 1:7 these people are suffering these trials so that they will be
          found faithful at the day of Christ.
          a.     They are suffering because they are staying faithful to Christ.
          b.     They could give in and give up under persecution.
          c.     The suffering would end, but they wouldn't have praise from God because
               they hadn't run the race or finished the course.
     3.     People often misunderstand the analogy of gold and fire used here.
          a.     It is our faith that is more precious than gold, not the trials.
          b.     The analogy is not that our faith is molded and refined like gold in fire.
          c.     The analogy is that even the purest, most refined gold is not equal in
               durability or value to our faith.
     4.     Fiery trials don't perfect us; they give us another opportunity to show how well
          the power of God works in us.
          a.     If being in the fiery furnace is supposed to perfect us, why did Shadrach,
               Meshach, and Abednego come out of the fire untouched?  Dan 3:27
          b.     Why did God promise us in Isa 43:2 that we would pass through fire and
               water untouched if such things are refining tools of God?
     5.     What does I Pet 5:10 mean?
          a.     In the context of the epistle suffering = persecution and the cost of living
               righteously in a wicked world.
          b.     Those things are part of life in this world because an enemy is arrayed
               against us -- but God gives us victory even in this suffering. II Cor 4:17
               1.     Yes, you will suffer for a short time.  But after that, God will make
                    everything right.  He will make you strong.  He will support you and
                    keep you from falling.  He is the God that gives all grace. (Deaf)
               2.     And after you have borne these sufferings a very little while, the God
                    of all grace, who has called you to share His eternal splendor through
                    Christ, will Himself make you whole and secure and strong. (Phillips)
               3.     And God, the giver of all grace, who has called us to enjoy, after a
                    little suffering, his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself give you
                    mastery, steadiness, and strength. (Knox)

D.     Conclusion: Trials and tribulation do not come from God.
     1.     God allows them in the sense that He allows people to sin and go to hell:  He is
          allowing human independence to run its course.
     2.     But even in trials and tribulation we see God's goodness displayed.
          a.     He wants to cause these difficulties to work for us instead of against us.
          b.     He wants to lead us around many of these difficulties.
          c.     He wants to comfort us in and deliver us out of the unavoidable ones!
     4.     God is good, and good means good!!!

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