Tribulation’s Perfect Work

Rom 5:3-5

3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. NKJV

James 1:2-5

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. NKJV

We dealt with most of this last week but I want to review and then talk about the progression that Paul speaks of here before we move to verse 5.

We said last week that tribulations could be afflictions, pressures, stresses, difficulties, illnesses, or perhaps persecutions. They can take almost any form.

The question is, what is the Christians reaction to these things. They should not be that they grumble and complain.

It is not that they merely put up with adversities in a philosophical manner. What he has is not merely a passive resignation, what is the Christians reaction to the various trials and tribulations. He boasts, he exalts, he glories in them.

We showed last leek that the Bible is filled with similar passages.

Matthew 5:10-12. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Also acts 5:41and 2 Corinthians 4:17. Also James 1:2, and then of course 1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. NKJV

We said last week that these trials are a sign that God is interested in us and is working in us to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. Rom 8:28-30 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. NKJV

So in that we see that tribulations are a good thing. But then he lays down the progression for us in verse 3b-4. “knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope”

I.         Knowing that

            A.        This is the key

                        1.         Paul says we know these things to be true, that tribulations works patience.

                        2.         It is because of something we know, it is this knowledge and the application of this knowledge that enables us to exalt and the glory and to rejoice. Lloyd-Jones

            B.        We know it because the Bible tells us so.

                        1.         2 Cor 4:17-18 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,18 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 temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. NKJV

                        2.         It is a process that works out certain results, works them out in detail from step to step and produces a final product, namely patience. Lloyd-Jones

            C.        We know it because it has been true in our own lives.

            D.        We know it is true because we have seen it played out in the lives of others.

II.         Knowing that tribulation produces perseverance (patience kjv)

            A.        What is patience. Patience means consistency, patience means the ability to go on patiently enduring. In other words, it means steadfastness. Lloyd-Jones

            B.        The apostle says that tribulations produce or work this kind of endurance, this patient continuing. The moment these trials and tribulations come we realize a new and a fresh our need of our Lord. If we have true faith, that will make us turn back to him. That is the test, we will not just look at the problems. We will remember what he has said and what he is promised. Lloyd-Jones

            C.        Paul was not able to handle all those terrible things that he had gone through because he was strong. He was strong because he had gone through all those things.

            D.        God takes us through trials in order to make us more able to persevere.

                        1.         Children do not persevere very well.

                        2.         It only as the learn to handle disappointments and hurts that they are ready to handle more.

            E.        This only works for the Christian.

                        1.         The same sun that melts the wax in the blazing noonday sun only bakes bricks.

                        2.         Christians are like candles, the trials soften us and make us pliable in the hands of God.

                        3.         For the lost, trials only bake them into an unyielding rebellious person.

                        4.         In the trials and struggles of life, some will become hard and bitter, while others will become soft and sweet. It all depends upon whether or not they are a child of God, for WE KNOW that tribulations work patience or perseverance.

            F.        In other words, the trials and tribulations make him think of the Lord Jesus Christ again. In the one he is always liable to forget. They do more, they send him to Christ, they make him pray to him. They make him spend more of his time with him they make him plead with him and ask him for greater strength and understanding. They are driving him back to Lord Jesus Christ. They do not drive the man of the world to Jesus, rather a way from him. But tribulation always drives the man of faith back to Christ himself. Lloyd-Jones

            G.        But not only that, trials and tribulations are very good for us in that they help us to know ourselves better than we knew ourselves before, they help us see our true condition and how perhaps we have been drifting away from our Lord. They bring us not only to a better knowledge of him but to a better knowledge of ourselves. We understand that we are not as strong as we thought we were. It drives us back to a sense of dependence upon him. It was superficial before, it is much deeper now, we realize his strength. The result is that in further trials, we do not get frustrated and excited we are steadfast, tribulation works patience. Lloyd-Jones

III.       And perseverance, character (patience, experience kjv)

            A.        Experience here means proof, who trial, approvedness. It means this experience as a result of an experiment. It is a proof a trial is an approvedness. Lloyd-Jones

                        1.         NT:1382 dokime (dok-ee-may'); from the same as NT:1384; test (abstractly or concretely); by implication, trustiness: (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

                        2.         NT:1382 NT:1382 the proven or evident worth of someone or something - 'value, worth.' 'you know his value in that he has worked with me for the sake of the gospel like a son serving his father' Phil 2:22. NT:1382 that which causes something to be known as true or genuine, in the sense of being what it appears to be - 'evidence, proof of genuineness, evidence for the fact that.' 'since you seek proof of the fact that Christ speaks through me' 2 Cor 13:3. (from Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright (c) 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.)

                        3.         NT:1382 (dokimos];); 1. in an active sense, a proving, trial: thlipseoos, through affliction, 2 Cor 8:2. 2. approvedness, tried character: Rom 5:4; 2 Cor 2:9; Phil 2:22; tees diakonias, exhibited in the contribution, 2 Cor 9:13. 3. a proof (objectively], (from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 2000 by Biblesoft)

                        4.         So the NKJV translates it character, for that is what tells what we really are.

            B.        Remember the old commercials of the Timex watch. They would put it through the most unbelievable tests and trials. And then what would they say it takes a lick’n and keeps on tick’n.

            C.        Or what about the Bic pen commercials. The would take this Bic pen and shoot it through a board and then show how it would keep on writing. Those were the tests that prove the endurance.

            D.        Here the apostle Paul is talking about patient endurance. It leads to prove that we are really and truly Christians that we have passed the test.

            E.        James said James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing NKJV

            F.         And then again James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. NKJV

            G.        Peter says, your faith is much more precious than gold. But how do you purify gold? By putting it into the furnace, and the fire burns away the alloy and the mixture and all that is impure. That is what tribulations and trials do. Everything else is gone, but this true faith comes out brighter and more glorious than ever. Lloyd-Jones

            H.        And Character, Hope

                        1.         He starts with hope and he ends with hope. Having gone through all this. We are more certain than ever that we belong to God. That is why we glory in these things. They strengthen our hope. He is so concerned about me that he is perfecting me, he is going on with this treatment of me. By driving us back to the Lord Jesus Christ, by showing us God’s love for us, by giving us fresh experiences of God’s strength and grace and power. Sufficient for every trial and for every need, these things give us absolute proof of God’s purpose with respect to us. The story of the shepherd that breaks the leg of the sheep that often wonders away. Lloyd-Jones

Well we have come to the end of our time. What do the trials in your life show about you? Do you grow with each trial? Is God using the trials in our lives to form and shape or character and to conform it to that of His Son.