ROMANS LIVE: INSTALLMENT 25


 

With Dale Ratzlaff

 

We continue our study in Romans 5:3-5.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

 

Commentary

In these three verses we find a multi-linked chain that leads us from our trials and tribulations that is tightly linked to the solid anchor of assurance that we are in the center of God’s love, filled with the Holy Spirit. “No only this” connects these verses to what we studied in the last section. Without this connection the chain of blessing we have here would not be secure. We never leave God’s declaration of justification—completely forgiven and declared righteousness, resulting in peace with God

Paul now moves into a thought provoking statement: “We exult in our tribulations”. Immediately our human nature wants to dispute this statement. What about the time when I was driving a hay truck for my cousin and had four flat tires I had to change by myself on a hot summer day? “Exult”, really? I guess I missed my opportunity! The word translated “exult” in Greek includes the idea of “boast about, glory, pride one’s self”. This is not an isolated statement of truth. James says,

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (Jam. 1:2).

Not only is this a truth taught in Scripture, but we have the biblical record of its truthfulness worked out in real life:

They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Act 5:40-42).

Why we are able to exult in our tribulations is clearly stated in our text: “knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance”. We must “know” this truth well, or the next time we face tribulation or trials, these promises will not come to mind. James gives us the same connection:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (Jam 1:2-4).

Perhaps I should say a word or two before we start considering the links in the chain Paul gives us. In both Romans and James, especially so in Acts, the context appears to be Christians suffering for their faith in Christ. There are three categories of trials and tribulations that immediately come to mind: (1) suffering unjustly for Christ, (2) suffering accidental or health-related trials, and (3) suffering for our own poor or stupid choices. However, while the level of our exulting in tribulation would not be the same for all three types of trials, nevertheless Paul’s statement holds true.

Even when we make a purposeful mistake that leads to tribulations of some sort, we should be happy to know that as we experience the negative result of our actions, it will lead to perseverance, and perseverance will lead to proven character. There are many examples of this progression. David’s sin with Bathsheba recorded in 2 Samuel 11 brought all kinds of tribulations for David, Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, as well as many others. However, David’s repentance helped him realize the gracious love of God and he could write:

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!  How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!  When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.  I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin (Ps. 32:1-5).

Earlier I mentioned the day I had four flat tires on my cousin’s hay truck. That was not a happy day; however, the patience and persistence I learned that day has helped me face many other trials that came my way. The bottom line is that we must know more than the trial of the current situation, this knowledge helps us look beyond the present trouble to the positive future as we gain perseverance, proven character and hope. Not just any hope, but hope that will not disappoint. Too often in this sin-laden world our hope often leads to disappointment. For example, this spring our apricot tree was loaded with fruit, so much so that we had to thin them so what remained would size-up. We picked a few as they just started getting ripe and dried two quarts. Then I went out and picked about a hundred pounds. However, when we went to use them, we found that the sudden hot weather, or some other culprit, had cooked them, and they were all bad. So I carried out box after box to the garbage can. Our hope for a wonderful crop was disappointed.

The proven character of which Paul speaks gives us a hope that does not disappoint. Why? Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Paul will develop this truth later in Romans.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom.  8:28).

So here is a truth we can live by, even in times of trial and tribulation.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

One added thought: note that the Holy Spirit “was given” to us. The verb is aorist passive. It was given to us by God the moment we believed the good news of the gospel. He was not given to us based upon our moral attainments. Gifts are given, not earned.

 

Application

Knowing these gospel truths will help us face whatever tribulations we may and will have in the future. The outcome is certain. Etching these verses in memory will serve us well no matter what lies ahead.

 

Prayer,

Father, thank you that we can face the trials that come to us and turn them into greater perseverance, proven character, and hope that will not disappoint because we know the truth of your word.

In Jesus name

 

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