Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2020 Sermons . Enduring Saints - Endurance in Trials (Part 5)

. Enduring Saints - Endurance in Trials (Part 5)

ENDURING SAINTS (PART 5) - ENDURING IN TRIALS

James 1:1-12 (ESV) 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also, will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

Introduction.

We saw last week that James in writing to the twelve tribes in dispersion tells them that trials are a given. They will be various in kind, but there is a purpose behind trials and that is to produce endurance and the effect of endurance is a perfect or mature Christian who is complete and lacking in nothing. We spent quite a bit of time looking at what trials meant, what endurance means and what perfection means. You will have to read the notes on the web to get all that background. MacArthur gives 8 purposes for trials, which I thought are worthy to mention in today’s introduction.


  • * To test the strength of our faith.
  • * To humble us and to remind us not to let our trust in the Lord turn to presumption and self-satisfaction.
  • * To wean us from our dependence on worldly things.
  • * To call us to eternal and heavenly hope.
  • * To reveal what we really love.
  • * To teach us to value God’s blessing.
  • * To develop enduring strength for greater purposes.
  • * To enable us to better help others in trials.

Endurance under trials is critical. We need to be reminded of the words of Christ in Matthew 24:13 (ESV) “13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” These words are similar to the words of the Hebrew writer in Hebrews 3:14 (ESV) “14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”

There is a question that begs. What if somebody who we regarded as part of the faith bails out and departs from the faith. John answers this question in 1 John 2:19 (ESV) 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

Two weeks ago, we looked at people in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 who endured to the end. One of the benchmarks of their endurance was a believing heart, irrespective of what they endured. They had an absolute confidence in God’s promises. This leads us to the next part of the text this morning, which is the sustaining attitude of those in trials. A Christian in trial is never arrogant or boasting in his own ability to sustain trials or boasting in his own humility in trials. On the contrary he always looks to God for his help, as he needs wisdom from above.

Point 1. Wisdom from above.

“5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;”

Believers going through trials need a special dose of wisdom. Trials bring a necessary season to seek wisdom from God. We often don’t know we need wisdom until our time of difficulty. Once in a time of trial, we need to know if a specific trial is something God wants us to eliminate by faith or persevere in by faith. This requires wisdom. Strong, sound faith is not based on feelings or imaginations but on a knowledge and understanding of the promises of God’s truth which is spiritual wisdom.

It is deeper than a normal knowledge of stuff, or the ability to apprehend information. Knowledge is raw information, but wisdom knows how to use it.

Now, how do we get this wisdom? Very simple. James says we ought to ask it from God. Solomon had some wisdom on the matter. Proverbs 3:5-7 (ESV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”

1.1 To receive wisdom, we simply ask of God – who gives wisdom generously (liberally), and without despising our request (without reproach).

Sadly, so many Christians when they go through trials, run to books, to men, to seminars and they are in their trials ready to accept any answer that seems to work. We run after many overseas speakers because they are experts. Remember, an expert is a normal pastor 100 kilometers away from home. I love what Spurgeon said so plainly: “‘Let him not ask books,’ nor ‘ask priests,’ but, ‘let him ask of God.’”

The language here implies humility in coming to God. Spurgeon once again says: “The text does not say, ‘Let him buy of God, let him demand of God, let him earn from God.’ Oh! No – ‘let him ask of God.’ It is the beggar’s word. The beggar asks for alms. You are to ask as the beggar asks of you in the street, and God will give to you far more liberally than you give to the poor. You must confess that you have no merit of your own.”

The danger of running to man is that we can end with earthly wisdom. James later contrasts heavenly wisdom with earthly wisdom.

Earthly wisdom:

James 3:14-16 (ESV) 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

Heavenly wisdom:

James 3:17 (ESV) 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

1.2 Wisdom from above God gives generously.

“5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

But you need to ask for it. Although God has wisdom in abundance, and is more than willing to impart it, you need to ask. Our prayer life should be a 24/7/365 prayer life. We pray for one another as we think of one another. We communicate all day long with the Lord, but when trials come, the wrestling comes, the going aside, saturated in prayer and longing all becomes par for the course. I remember going through major trials a few years ago. Nobody had to tell me to pray, I prayed. Even fasting was not something I planned. I was so caught up with God and desperate for His wisdom, that I sought Him with all of my heart, and in my immense business with God the last thing on my mind was food, and I lost 15 kg in a few weeks. I needed God’s wisdom.

Remember that well known section that is so quoted out of context. We all know Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Most people who quote this verse kinda claim that God is sitting around and His plan for you is welfare, no evil, a future and hope. But we are too lazy to study this text in context. This is not written to us in the first place. It is a national promise to Israel. Here you have Israel sent into captivity for 70 years. Most are going to die in captivity. They are in Babylon, and it is trial after trial after trial. Does not sound much like the promises of welfare, future and hope, does it? But it sounds very much like James, doesn’t it? Rejoice in trials because it will lead to endurance even 70 years’ worth of trials, and it will bring you to perfection, where you are complete, lacking in nothing. And what God does for the individual or the 12 tribes in dispersion, He does for Israel in captivity under Babylon. But back to asking from God. Look at verse 12 -13 of Jeremiah 29: 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Notice what God says to Israel in trial, in captivity. In trial you will call on me, you will pray, I will hear, you will seek me and find me. In James we read that when we are in trial, seek God, ask Him for wisdom and He will give you wisdom, and He will do it generously.

But also:

1.3 He will do it without reproach.

James 1:5 “5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

John Calvin says: “This is added, lest anyone should fear to come too often to God… for he is ready ever to add new blessings to former ones, without any end or limitation.”

God is a generous God and He never despises or resents us for asking for wisdom. He is the God of the open hand, not the God of the clenched fist. So, when we want wisdom, the place to begin is on our knees and in the Word of God. True wisdom will always be consistent with God’s word. This is a lesson clearly learnt when we put on the whole armour of God, so that when the day of evil, or the day of trials come, we will stand. So much of the armour of God centres around truth and the Word of God.

1.4 We need to ask in faith without doubting.

James 1:6 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

Our request for wisdom must be made like any other request – in faith, without doubting God’s ability or desire to give us His wisdom. We notice that not only must one come in faith, but one must also ask in faith; and this is where the prayers of many people fail. The one who doubts and lacks faith should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. This lack of faith and trust in God also shows that we have no foundation, being unstable in all our ways.

There are many reasons why we tend to doubt. Sometimes we believe we are undeserving. Or we think that our trials are not worthy of God’s attention. Sometimes we rather end in dispute with God because we believe that what we are going through is unfair. Paul asked three times for God to take away his problem, but he then rested in the wisdom he received from God, and that God’s gr ace is sufficient and protected Paul from becoming conceited. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (ESV) 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

So, you see what Paul did. He called on the Lord in His trial. And he received wisdom from God. Not the answer he wanted, but heavenly wisdom.

The Hebrew writer is clear in Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

The text goes on and says that “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” The man who is not thoroughly persuaded that if he ask of God he will receive, resembles a wave of the sea; he is in a state of continual agitation; driven by the wind, and tossed at times rising by hope, then at times sinking by despair.

A wave of the sea is a fitting description of one who is hindered by unbelief and unnecessary doubts.


  • * A wave of the sea is without rest, and so is the doubter.
  • A wave of the sea is unstable, and so is the doubter.
  • * A wave of the sea is driven by the winds, and so is the doubter.
  • * A wave of the sea is capable of great destruction, and so is the doubter.

According to James a doubter is a double-minded man. James 1:8 (ESV) 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

To ask God and then to doubt puts us squarely in the category of double mindedness. It is like asking somebody for something and prefacing it with the words: “I know you are going to say no, but I am asking.” If we had no faith, we would never ask at all. If we had no unbelief, we would have no doubting. To be in the middle ground between faith and unbelief is to be double-minded. The man who said to Jesus, in Mark 9:24 (ESV) 24 “I believe; help my unbelief!” was not double minded. He wanted to believe and declared his belief. His faith was weak, but it wasn’t tinged with a double-minded doubt.

Do you believe that God can give you wisdom in your trials, and that he will do so if you ask him? Then, go at once to him, and say, ‘Lord, this is my situation, I need wisdom.’ Specify your wants, state your exact condition, lay the whole case before God with as much orderliness as if you were telling your story to an intelligent friend who was willing to hear it, and prepared to help you; and then say, ‘Lord, this is specifically what I think I want; and I ask this of you believing that you can give it to me.’” And then you ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.

Point 2. Encouragement for those affected by trials.

James 1:9-11 (ESV) 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also, will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”

2.1 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation:

Many times, our trials are in lowliness, or humble circumstances. Many in those days had their homes and possessions confiscated. James has a word of encouragement for people like these. While they are tramped on and despised by the world, they are exalted by God. He may be hungry, but he has the bread of life, he may be thirsty but he has the water of life, he may be poor, but he is a co-heir with Jesus and has eternal riches, he may be cast aside by men nut he has a glorious home in heaven prepared for him. The believers who is deprived in this life can accept his trials even with rejoicing because he has a divine inheritance that is eternal and secure.

That is why Paul can say in Romans 8:16-18 (ESV) 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

2.2 Let the rich glory in his humiliation.

As the poor brother must forget all his earthly poverty end exalt in his exaltation, so the rich brother must forget all his earthly riches and exalt in his humiliation. By faith in Christ the two are equals. The idea is that a believer who is materially well off, healthy and otherwise blessed should rejoice when trials come, for they teach him the temporary nature of things, and their inability to give inner and lasting satisfaction or spiritual satisfaction. It is so easy to trust in temporary things. Although it is true for all, the rich man must take note of verse 11: James 1:11 “11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also, will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”

The loss of material things is meant to drive the rich man to the Lord and to greater spiritual maturity, blessing and satisfaction.

And at that point the rich and the poor are the same. They both die and they both stand before their maker, naked, with nothing to bring.

Here is a verse that is equally fitting for the rich and the poor. Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I end then with verse 12, which by now needs no exposition, but to say, that this is the final outcome of perseverance under trial. James 1:12 (ESV) 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

It does not say, blessed is the man who is never under trials, who is always healthy and wealthy. But whether rich or poor, no matter who you are, you are blessed, happy if you endure under trials. In Matthew 5 Jesus gives us 9 blessings. Here we receive another one. But we need to withstand the test, draw near to God and ask Him for wisdom from above so that we can endure. We are promised a crown of life and it is worth it under every trial that we face.

James ends here with interesting words: which God has promised to those who love him.” This describes the motive for resisting temptation which is our love for God. The passions of sinful temptation can only really be overcome by a greater passion, and that is a passion for the honour and glory and relationship with God.

The best motive for enduring in trials is to love Him; to love Him with greater power and greater passion than our love for anything else.

Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church 23 February 2020.