Home Bible Study- Lutz, Florida
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Romans by the Book
We paused our last Bible session at Romans chapter 5:3-4, after introducing and briefly studying this important message for Believers.
“…we also exult in our tribulations, (which beset us) knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
Please remember verses 3 and 4 build upon the two Bible verses preceding them (Romans 5:1-2) which end with this blessing, “…we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
Below is the Apostle Paul’s communication to the Believer’s in Corinth in which he refers to (“Thlipsis) tribulations as “our light affliction.”
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:16-18)
The Apostle Paul wrote both of these statements (as he was led by the Spirit of God) in part to encourage Believers (“Therefore we do not lose heart”) because Thlipsis or tribulations will be an element of your everyday life. These pressures are to include anything that burdens the spirit.
I want to spend a bit more time with this Bible teaching before we move on, and I’ll tell you why that is, of course.
Everyone suffers on this planet. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Believer or an atheist.
However, Believers are to become imitators of Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 5:1-21). Therefore, how we act in response to our sufferings matters to God the Father.
When the Lord Jesus Christ found us, not only were we dead in our sins we all had many imperfections. You may label these character flaws if you wish. They are the result of being born with an Adamic Nature and living in a darkened world. God the Father intends for us all to be conformed to the “image” of His Son once we are saved.
But what does the Scripture say?
1 Peter 2
21: For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you (watch this) an example for you to follow in His steps,
22: WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
23: and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
And this one:
9: “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker – An earthenware vessel among vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?
Therefore, we too will suffer many things as we are being conformed to Christ’s image.
Precious gems, silver, and gold are all created under extreme pressure. Some of these take hundreds of years. Some have to be heated and some have to be hammered, but all have to be put under great stress in order to become what the good Lord intended them to be. God in His infinite wisdom puts each of us in His furnace of affliction to create His image in us.
One pastor put it this way – “Suffering under trial and the pressures of life, sickness, or any other affliction is to ultimately iron out the wrinkles of the bride’s dress.”
Great heat and pressure is applied to the garment (Believer) and the wrinkles (our imperfections) are ironed out. It’s a slow, tedious, and often times painful process.
God the Father does not look upon pressure as we do. Where we see stress He sees opportunities. Where we view crisis, He sees growth and betterment. Our trials are intended to “build us up” and when we learn and grow spiritually from them God receives the glory.
I’m going to be honest with you. I did not enjoy these past two years.
There were plenty of times when I stopped and cried out to God to save the small business my wife and I started, to help me find work, and to stop or ease the 24/7 pain I was suffering after an injury. These prayers went unanswered but this doesn’t mean God is on vacation or that God isn’t listening. In the midst of all that and more, I never forgot to give God thanks at the end of the day for all that was in it and with a sincere heart. For when all is considered, what else can a sinner, saved by grace, offer the Sovereign God?
If you are truly walking with Jesus Christ in this life, you will experience pressures. If you’re not suffering some kind of stress at this moment, one’s on the way.
Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles wrote: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”
Please remember, Paul wrote of “our light affliction” even when he was heavily afflicted and when he acutely “felt” that affliction.
Being an ex-sailor I can honestly say you quickly forget the storm at sea once you are safely ashore; just as you might think less of the stomach virus you experienced when your health has been restored.
But Paul was in the midst of “affliction” when he named it “light.” To be sure, he also felt the “weight” of it (pressure) upon his spirit, but it was his strong faith put into action that enabled him at that time to call it, “our light affliction.”
Note the connection between the two phrases. “…our light affliction, which is but for a moment, “is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,”
The (painful) present is influencing the future.
It is not for us to question or philosophize about this, but to take God at His Word and believe it. Here is what we are invited to do: you place on one scale the present pressure, and on the other scale “the eternal glory.” Are they worthy to be compared?
The answer is No. One minute of coming glory will counterbalance a lifetime of suffering. What are years of sickness, suffering, poverty, persecution, (pressures) when weighed against the pleasures of being with the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity?
To sum up: Our suffering and sickness do not bring God glory.
It’s the way we “endure it in faith” that brings Him glory.
This thought brings to mind the early Christians who sang hymns in the Roman Coliseum as the lions circled them.
And the Apostle Paul and his companion Silas who were in the Roman city of Philippi doing the Lord’s work, when a crowd rose up against them, stripped them, beat them with rods, and threw them into prison because Paul ordered an evil spirit out of a woman. Paul didn’t lament his situation and curse the people of Philippi. He didn’t blame God or consider that God had abandoned him. Paul and Silas began praying and singing hymns to God around midnight even as they were shackled to the prison floor (see Acts 16) and good things came about because of their strong faith and witness.
God’s purpose and plan for us is higher than anything we can imagine.
Scripture informs us His plans for us include “pressures” which we have to endure and suffer through, hopefully in Christ-like fashion.
“The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Our flesh doesn’t like to endure affliction even as Jesus Himself did not want to suffer on the cross. Never forget Jesus was both fully God and fully man. In His humanness, the stress of the coming ordeal caused Him to sweat blood in Gethsemane. His prayer to the Father at that time was to remove this “cup from Me.” However, Jesus knew the outcome would ultimately give God the Father glory.
The Apostle Paul who suffered greatly in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ wrote,
18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Food for thought…
(To be continued.)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man ; dthough perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified eby His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved fby His life. 11 And not only this, gbut we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.