Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tribulation, Like A Storm, Arises Upon Earth's Horizon ....

It is not ease, health, luxury and abundance which build character, faith and endurance. It is persistent pain, suffering long, merciless persecution and all manner of hardship (tribulation) which builds those elements of character ... faith, endurance and spiritual stamina. Easy times build nothing but fat, weakness, laziness and the illusion of entitlement. That is why the Apostle Paul extolled "tribulation" as the seed and root of "patience"(endurance). Rom.5:3 "...We glory in tribulations ... knowing that tribulation worketh patience."

The Greek word translated "tribulation", in the New Testament, is "thlipsis" and means affliction.  The Greek word translated "patience" is"hupomone" and means patient endurance.

Jesus forewarned Christians that in the last days, a time of Great Tribulation would engulf the people of earth."For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Matt.24:21. Leading up to that "Great Tribulation" there will be, as clouds, wind and thunder precede the main storm, lesser tribulations which will strengthen Christians with patient endurance in preparation for harder times yet through the first half of the 7 year Tribulation Period. But Christians will be spared the last half, known as the Great Tribulation, by the Rapture.  The prophet Jeremiah calls that last half"Jacob's trouble" in Jer.30:7, and in which the Jews will be saved. Jesus assured we Christians that we will have to endure some tribulations, but it will serve His purpose in our lives. ..."In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 13:33.

He also reveals to us that tribulations will weed unbelievers out of His churches.
"Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." Matt.13:21. In the end times, persecution and tribulations will purge true Christian churches of pretenders and unbelievers. That is why the Apostle continually traveled back to the churches he had established ... to "confirm" the legitimacy of their membership and to strengthen the true believers.....
"Confirming the souls of the disciplesand exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."Acts 14:22. Paul also reminds us that for followers of Christ, tribulation is so certain as to be "appointed" to us by our God. We have an appointment with it."That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." 1 Thess.3:3

Even so, our Lord, who suffered every kind of suffering and persecution, will be there with us to comfort and strengthen us and use tribulation to build patience (spiritual endurance) into our souls."Who comforteth us in all our tribulationthat we may be able to comfortthem which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." 2 Cor.1:4.

So we see through the glass darkly that it is true that "All things work together forgood to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his  purpose" ....even tribulation, affliction and every kind of hardship. Rom.8:28.

Because of Paul's understanding of these deeper truths of God, he was victorious in every trial, persecution and hardship he suffered ... and rejoiced in them....

"Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation." 2 Cor.7:4.

It was so real to Paul that he could see the spiritual growth and benefits which grew out of tribulations ... even in the tribulations of his fellow disciples.

"So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure." 2 Thess.1:4.

"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patienceAnd patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" Rom.5:2-5.

Tribulation is absolutely necessary for spiritual growth and endurance. RB