14 NOVEMBER 2021



TEXT: ACTS 14: 22

   SUBJ: Tribulation in the life of true believers defined and explored biblically as to its reason, its value and the final outcome compared to some typical views of men and their approach to it.
AIM: That we see tribulation as a provision of grace and essential to growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord.
INTR: The concept of tribulation in the minds of many is seen as separate or to be separated from them and it was never the will of God for them.
1. In the minds of many, it is strictly an eschatological term - something in the future and their interest is a matter of curiosity since it has no effect on them.
2. To others, it is a legalistic issue and upon encountering it they become introspective and search for an answer to "why me?"
3. And there is a tendency to separate these things from the will and purpose of God and to see them as tragic occurrences that God should be correcting.
(Erasing the struggle and suffering from this story would mean less appreciation for peace because war had never broken out; less appreciation for food because famine had never occurred; less appreciation for righteousness because sin never appeared; less love for life because death never happened; and less glory to God and heartfelt worship, because we'd never have seen his grace, mercy, and patience. Randy Alcorn.)
THESIS: Tribulation in the life of believers is an appointment of God for the purpose of distinguishing the work of Grace in their lives. Thus, it is to be considered as such and embraced in a way consistent with the manner of our Lord.
I. What is it?
1. A suggested definition: Pain, suffering, grief, persecution or anything that tends to challenge faith, undermine devotion, hinder worship, divert the effects of love, take away joy and attack our peace with God.
1) The world, the flesh and the devil conspire to oppose Christ and His work of grace in us.
2) The effect in us is certainly not pleasant but neither is it unexpected!
2. Incorporated in the thoughts of Paul and Barnabas as to confirming the souls of the disciples.
3. It seemed to be a reason to encourage them to continue in the faith with the expectation that the faith would be challenged.
4. What of bodily affliction and injury? What of grief? Do these things befall all men alike? Are these connected with persecution?
1) Affliction provides occasion for the persecution
2) Satan responds to the cries of the afflicted as surely as a coyote to that of a wounded rabbit.
5. What do these things have to do with entering the Kingdom? "The violent take it by force..."
6. Even with normal illnesses (so called) the child of God feels greater pain in that he knows that sin is the cause (not a matter of recompense but of recognition of the fall).
7. But, especially in view is persecution because of the Gospel. Can we "rejoice and be exceeding glad" at such times as these?
II. What of the "must" that is placed here?
1. A fact with which we must deal: And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. Zechariah 3:1
2. Is there no alternative? An appointed fact?
1) Consider: These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33.
2) That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 1 Thessalonians 3:3.
3. The sovereignty of God must not be questioned - we are reminded here of: Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? Ecclesiastes 7:13 and Thomas Boston's The Crook in the Lot.
("A just view of afflicting incidents is altogether necessary to a Christian deportment under them; and that view is to be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the light of the world alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently, designs becoming the Divine perfections. When they are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of afflicting incidents, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances.")
4. We would note here the "musts" of Christ our Lord:
1) Must be about the Father's business, must suffer, must be lifted up, ought not the Christ to have suffered...,
2) Thomas Goodwin observed: "You would think with yourselves, Sure if Christ were ever Tempted by the devil, it would merely and only arise from the devil's malice: but Matthew tells us expressly that 'Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted.'"
5. The implication of these things to us is found in: For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29 noting
1) That the typical use is to confirm predestination while
2) Neglecting the conforming work of grace in us.
i. The ground’s reaction to the plow in breaking us fallow ground - Havner
ii. The refiner's fire and the smith’s hammer form the iron to a useful form
iii. And so: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Malachi 3:3.
6. Matthew Henry: (1) It is so appointed - the cost was counted (2) It is the lot of the leaders in Christ's Army as well as the soldiers (3) it is true that we must count on much tribulation but we shall get through it!! (4) We shall not only get through it, but get through it into the kingdom of God; and the joy and glory of the end will make abundant amends for all the difficulties and hardships we may meet with in the way.
III. The Reason of Tribulation
1. There is confirmation given to true faith - (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. Matthew 13:21) - the same things came to the good ground hearer! What do we suppose the effect was there?
2. A promised validation: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12.
3. Identity with Christ in His suffering:
1) being made conformable to His death (as opposed to being exalted above measure) - Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:10
2) The implications of taking up the cross is not merely of common burden!
4. Identity with the Saints - I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:9
IV. The value of tribulation: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Philippians 1:29-30
1. Benefits: And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; Romans 5:3; Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35 (We note that all these things try to separate); Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Romans 12:12
2. There is value to God:
1) Christ is exalted and He is glorified in the actions of true believers therein
2) His Claims are justified
3) Distinctions are made - consider the divine claim about Job
3. There is value to us:
1) True joy is discovered - "My brethren count it all joy..." and see And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Acts 5:41
2) Consolation becomes precious as in the "trial of your faith..."
3) The magnitude of victory is better understood and displayed
4) Our view of Heaven is enhanced - consider Stephen and other martyrs who go from intense suffering into the presence of God.
4. The New Birth and Suffering are connected by entering the Kingdom - now and then!
1) A present reality confirmed
2) A future prospect made more wondrously attractive!!!


We hope you have enjoyed the message. Please tune in each week as Pastor Seacrist brings forth sound biblical teachings.

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