Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2020 Sermons . Enduring Saints - Endurance in Trials (Part 4)

. Enduring Saints - Endurance in Trials (Part 4)

ENDURING SAINTS - 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.

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.”

For the past many weeks, we have been tackling the issue of endurance. Endurance is such an important subject as without endurance we will not enjoy salvation.

1. The audience of James.

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

I am not going to spend time on this, so you need to take my word without an in-depth study on the topic. The twelve tribes were commonly used in the New Testament to refer to the whole of Israel. Although they were split into Israel as the Northern Kingdom and Judah as the Southern Kingdom, God’s chosen people were the Jews of all twelve tribes. In short James is writing to all the Jewish believers that were dispersed abroad. Many of them were taken abroad through battles in the OT era and the early NT era. Some in the early New Testament period fled to these countries to escape persecution and others moved there freely for a better life. These are the believers to whom James is writing.

2. Patient endurance in trials.

“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 (endurance). 4 And let steadfastness (endurance) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I love the greeting of James. He is talking with a pastor’s heart when he addresses his fellow believers as brothers. The phrase is used to address all fellow believers. We are brothers and sisters of one another in Christ. This means that we are to share one another’s burdens, this means we pick one another up when we sin, this means that we pull each other out of the fire when we see one another in sin, this means that we encourage one another to holiness, this means that we do not judge one another or slander or gossip about one another because we are family with one Father, and we are joint heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ, and part of His will and testament for us which is written by the blood of Christ, we are all to receive equal award when we complete the race. What it also means is that we stand together in trials.

Now remember that James is writing to the 12 tribes or Jews in dispersion and he is telling them that trials are inevitable. These trials are varied in their appearance, they are of various kinds. But, at the same time trials are occasions for joy. We can count it all joy amid trials because of what it produces. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their trials; but Christianity teaches men to be joyful under trials, because such exercises proceed from love and not the fury in God. In them we are conformable to Christ our head, and they become marks of our adoption. If trials are received in unbelief and grumbling, trials can produce bitterness and discouragement. Therefore, James exhorted us to count it all joy. Counting it all joy is faith’s response to a time of trial. It is occasionally asserted that James asks his readers to enjoy their trials, but He did not say that they must feel it all joy, or that trials are all joy, but that they will see the potential of what trials can produce in their lives which should cause joy. In this case it was to produce perfection.

The word for trials is “3986 peirasmos {pi-ras-mos'} Meaning: 1) attempt, trial, proving 1b) the trial of man's fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy 1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances 1b2) an internal temptation to sin”

 

Now notice what James says about how these trials come about. In the ESV before us he says: “when you meet trials”, other translations say when you ‘fall into trials.’ Peter talks about these trials in an interesting manner. He says in 1 Peter 4:12 (ESV) 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Think about your own trials. You don’t necessary go looking for them, you don’t plan them, unless your trials are brought about by sin or irresponsibility. You see, all of us sometime, and somewhere will be thrown into the burning cubicle of fiery trials that seem to challenge our faith. Trials are always awkward, they come when and how you do not expect them. They are always untimely and a disruption to normal living. Think about how Job viewed his trials. He did nothing wrong, yet he suffered at the hands of men (the Sibeans) and he suffered by that which will be deemed an act of God.  They are as Peter said: “something strange happening to you.” They suddenly surround you. It is like David’s experience of trials in Psalm 116:3 (ESV) 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.”

Think of the trials that those in dispersion suffered. These Christians were being pressed from every side by a level of paganism they were not used to. They were persecuted if they failed in emperor worship. They died in full view of public in the arenas of Roman oppression, burnt alive, torn apart by horses, dying by the sword or spear, being set alight fastened to a pole to be the light at Roman Orgies. They were fed to the lions. This was not a small word used by James when he spoke about trials, no it was a real word of fiery, burning, persecuting death that would be a good cause for fear and depression.

They were not a one size fits all, or a carbon copy of each other’s trials. James says that they are trials: “of various kinds.” For Abraham to sacrifice his son, irrespective of the outcome, was a trial. For the rich you ruler to give all he had to the poor was a trial which he was not willing to bear. The Lord Jesus told Peter that Satan desired to have him to thresh him as wheat. For Jesus Christ, the cross he had to endure was a trial unto death. Paul hardly knew anything but trials. 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 (ESV)23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

Paul’s trials made up about the whole package for that era, but he was unique. Not every Christian suffered in the same manner.  And so, with our trials today. They are unique, they affect us in unique manners, they come unannounced, they appear suddenly, they are not planned, they rather appear as a trap like one a rat will step into, or like soldiers walking into an ambush. Remember Job. His sheep were grazing in the field, His sons and daughters were feasting, it was a normal day, and suddenly there came a wind that destroyed his children, and then lightning from heaven struck his flocks and then the Sabeans stole everything he possessed. And like us, Job was not prepared for His trials.

3. The purpose of trials.

The purpose is found in verses 3&4: James 1:3-4 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.”

3.1 It is a testing of our faith.

We are used to testing many things. The SABC trademark is of value as items have been tested. Many of these tests are in place to test the strength, or the overall level of endurance of products. In the same way you and I need to receive a stamp of approval that we have endured under trials. Faith comes to us by hearing the Word of God, but our faith is strengthened through trials. In a sense trials show us that faith is not just head knowledge but heart knowledge as faith is put under trial.

Let me give you an Old Testament verse on the testing of what is in one’s heart. Why were the Israelites put through the trial of the dessert for 40 years? This is answered in Scripture in Deuteronomy 8:2 (ESV) 2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”

Faith is tested through trials, not produced by trials. Trials reveal what faith we do have; not because God doesn’t know how much faith we have, but so that our faith will be evident to ourselves and to those around us.

3.2 It produces endurance which must take full effect.

“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 (endurance). 4 And let steadfastness (endurance) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The Greek word here for steadfastness or endurance or even patience as is used by some translations comes from the Greek word: “5281> (hupomone) Meaning: a remaining behind, a patient enduring. Origin: from 5278 Usage: endurance(7), enduring(1), patient(1), perseverance(21), steadfastness(3).

 

You will notice that it is used 7 times for the word ‘endurance’ and 21 times for the word ‘perseverance’. The ESV that I am using says ‘steadfastness’.

This word does not describe a passive waiting but an active endurance. It isn’t so much the quality that helps you sit quietly in the doctor’s waiting room, as it is the quality that helps you finish a marathon. The ancient Greek word hupomone comes from hupo (under) and meno (to stay, abide, remain). At its root, it means to remain under. It has the picture of someone under a heavy load and choosing to stay there instead of trying to escape. The philosopher Philo called hupomone “the queen of virtues.”

We have seen before that trials don’t produce faith, but when trials are received with faith, it produces endurance. Yet endurance is not inevitably produced in times of trial.

God has intended that we have strength in our Christian character and strength comes to us through trials that we endure. For example. A man develops strong muscle by watching TV shows of great athletes all day. Right? No, it is wrong. A man develops muscle by strength and stress. He does it by bearing weights. The same thing is true of our minds. It is through the discipline of study and concentration that our mind becomes sharp, knowledgeable and gifted. And so, it is with our spiritual life. The trial that we face has a purpose of God. But that purpose can be missed if we do not endure. What is that purpose? We see this under our next point.

3.3 It leads to our ultimate perfection.

4 And let steadfastness (endurance) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I am sure that as believers we all desire to be perfect, complete and lacking in nothing.

The work of patient endurance comes slowly and must be allowed to have full bloom. Patient endurance is a mark of the person who is perfect and complete, lacking nothing. Endurance must not be a centimeter shorter than the affliction.

We are not talking about sinless perfection here. The Greek word here is 5046 teleios {tel'-i-os} Meaning: 1) brought to its end, finished 2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness 3) perfect 4) that which is perfect 4a) consummate human integrity and virtue 4b) of men 4b1) full grown, adult, of full age, mature.

 

The Greek word has no relation to sin. It has a greater relation to maturity. A man is a teleios of a boy. An oak tree is the teleios of an acorn. So, the purpose of trials is to bring us to spiritual maturity, or to be strong in the Lord. Paul has the same in mind even though not related to endurance. Ephesians 4:13-14 (ESV) 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

When I think of maturing through endurance and maturing through equipping in Ephesians 4 it reminds me of the manna and the rod in the ark of the covenant. The same God who feeds us manna for sustenance which allows a man to grow and mature, is the same God who disciplines us with the rod to mature us. The problem is that we do not often see and understand God’s purposes. Think of the life of Job. We know his story; we know the start and the end. We know how he lost everything, and we know what he gained in the end. However, Job did not know it. He felt like we do in trials, even to the point that he felt that God was unfair to him.

In our trials, God matures us, even when we do not understand, because often is painful and slow. Remember Satan’s view of Job. He saw Jobs faithfulness linked to his prosperity. Satan asked God to let him touch Job’s belongings and Satan will guarantee that Job will curse God. God allowed Satan to take his belongings and how did Job respond? “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes. Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will return. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Then Satan turned God’s attention to the other popular vice of man today, ‘health’. According to Satan the only reason for Job’s ongoing faithfulness is because Job is healthy. If Satan could just touch his health, surely Job will curse God. God gave permission for Satan to touch his health, but not his life. So, Satan inflicted him from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet with sores and probably leprosy. How did Job respond? “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Here is the mark of a man who is teleios, mature, confident in God’s dealing in his life, even at the hand of Satan, and even though he did not understand it.

Job was so unlike many believers today. Listen to what CH Spurgeon says on the matter: “The natural tendency of trouble is not to sanctify, but to induce sin. A man is very apt to become unbelieving under affliction: that is a sin. He is apt to murmur against God under it: that is a sin. He is apt to put forth his hand to some ill way of escaping from his difficulty: and that would be sin. Hence, we are taught to pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation; because trial has in itself a measure of temptation’; and if it were not neutralized by abundant grace it would bear us towards sin. Yet, trials can prove a wonderful work of God in us. “I have looked back to times of trial with a kind of longing, not to have them return, but to feel the strength of God as I have felt it then, to feel the power of faith, as I have felt it then, to hang upon God’s powerful arm as I hung upon it then, and to see God at work as I saw him then.”

We will end here today, and next week we cover three more thoughts, namely how to seek wisdom from God in trials, how to encourage those in trials and the final purpose and blessing of trials.

For this morning. Can you say with Job? “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

Peter has much to say about this issue and I will end with his words in 1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV)
“6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 16 February 2020