Easter - 2018

Monday, November 2, 2009

Effect of afflictions!

Romans 5:1-8
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
This is one of my favorite scripture passages that reveals the effect of afflictions.

1. Perseverance

First, tribulations bring about perseverance, or patient endurance. Paul doesn't mean this is universally true. For many, tribulations unleash hatred and bitterness and anger and resentment and murmuring. But this is not the ongoing effect in those who have the Spirit of Christ. For them the effect is patient endurance, because the fruit of the Spirit is patience.

The point here is that until hardship comes into our lives, especially hardship for the sake of Christ and his righteousness, we do not experience the extent and depth of our devotion to Christ. Until times get hard, we do not taste and really know if we are fair-weather Christians—the kind Jesus described in the parable of the soils in Mark 4:16–17.

"And these are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away."

So Paul is saying that one great effect of tribulation is that it brings about patient endurance and perseverance in God's people, so they can see the faithfulness of God in their lives and know that they are truly his.

2. Proven Character

That's the point of the second effect that's mentioned (v. 4). "And [this] perseverance [brings about] proven character." Literally the word dokimen means "the experience of being tested and approved." We could say "approvedness" or "provenness."

This is not hard to grasp. If, when tribulations come, you persevere in devotion to Christ and don't turn against him, then you come out of that experience with a stronger sense that you are real, you are proven, you are not a hypocrite. The tree of trust was bent and it didn't break. Your fidelity and loyalty were put to the test and they passed. Now they have a "proven character." The gold of your faith was put in the fire and it came out refined, not consumed.

3. Hope

The third effect comes from this sense of being tested and approved and refined. Verse 4b: "And proven character [brings about] hope." This takes us back to verse 2: "We exult in the hope of the glory of God." The Christian life begins with hope in the promises of God in the gospel, and it spirals up through affliction to more and more hope.

The people who know God best are the people who suffer with Christ. The people who are most unwavering in their hope are those who have been tested most deeply. The people who look most earnestly and steadfastly and eagerly to the hope of glory are those who have had the comforts of this life stripped away through tribulations.

I choose to press through in order to achieve greater hope...you know I love ya and praying for you to NEVER give up! - Don

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