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From Trouble to Triumph, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2023 3:00 am

From Trouble to Triumph, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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January 18, 2023 3:00 am

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If anything is true of a regenerate person it is that they love God. And that is why they endure. And no matter what the trial, no matter what the struggle, what the difficulty, they endure because love holds them fast.

The Truth of Life Maybe you don't know how you're going to pay your bills next month, or you're burdened by a broken relationship, or maybe you're caring for a chronically sick child or spouse or elderly parent and you are overwhelmed. Trials take countless forms, and no one is exempt from hard times or even tragedy. But no matter what you're going through right now, and no matter what you face in the future, you can know peace, even in your darkest days. John MacArthur will help you see that today on Grace To You as he continues his study called Benefiting From Life's Trials.

And with that, here's John. Loving God is without question the key to enduring all the trials of life. Perhaps it is the single most decisive evidence of a regenerate soul.

If anything is true of a regenerate person, it is that they love God. And that is why they endure. They endure because they have a strong love for God. And no matter what the trial, no matter what the struggle, what the difficulty, they endure because love holds them fast.

I think you can see that in any relationship. Any relationship, even on a human level, where the bond of love is very strong will sustain all kinds of adversity. And in those trials and tribulations and testings and difficulty that comes into the life of a Christian, the thing that holds us to the Lord that keeps our faith firm is this strong bond of love. Now back in verse 2, we noted last time that we will fall into various trials. We also noticed in verse 3 that this is to test the validity of our faith. Various trials come into our life to test our faith, to demonstrate the genuineness of our love. Peter writes about the same thing, doesn't he, in 1 Peter 1, 6 through 8, as we saw last time.

Then in verse 12, he basically sums up this section with similar statements. The man who endures trials is going to be rewarded and he will reveal himself to be one who really does love the Lord. So here we're dealing with trials as a test for genuine salvation, which is based on true love.

Remember the word for trial here is parasmos from the word parazo, which means to put to the test. It is the test of living faith. Now last time we talked about the fact that we as true Christians are not only eternally secure from God's viewpoint, but we persevere from our viewpoint.

Remember that? Very, very important balance. Perseverance is the saint of God holding fast to his love and his faith.

And what are the means? How can we persevere through trials? Even as true Christians, how can we gain the most out of our trials? How can we be victorious in our trials?

Well, we're going to look at five key means to persevering through trials. First of all, we begin with a joyous attitude. We begin with a joyous attitude. Verse 2, "'My brethren,'" and he means by that believers, Jewish Christians, yes, to be sure, but nonetheless, though they are the Jews, the twelve tribes scattered, as verse 1 says, they are Christians, they are believers. He calls them brethren all through this epistle, chapter 1, verse 2, verse 16, verse 19, chapter 2, verse 1, verse 5, verse 14, verse 15, chapter 3 again in verse 1, chapter 5, verse 7, 9, 10, 19, and I may have missed some. And some of the time he calls them beloved brethren. So he's identifying them as fellow believers. And the word my is sort of a wonderful and warm word which has the effect of his identification with them in a common bond. So he embraces them, as it were, as his own Christian brothers and says to begin with, if you're going to persevere through various trials, if you're going to come out triumphant in the end, you have to look at whatever the trial is and consider it joy. First of all, a joyous attitude.

Now the word count, count it, that's an aorist. It means consider it or evaluate it as joy. I mean, that's something you discipline yourself in a sense to do. Whatever it is you say, this is going to be joy, I will consider this joy, a conscious commitment to a joyous attitude. When Paul says to the Philippians in chapter 4, I have learned in whatever state to be content, he says that just after he said, rejoice always, and again I say rejoice, and he said that while he was a prisoner. He had learned to do that. He had cultivated that. That's not something that happens by accident.

So my brethren, count it all joy, not just partial joy, but all joy. When...notice that little word when. It's not the word if, it's the word when.

In fact, it's the word hoton, it means whenever. And when used in this particular form with the subjunctive, it's in a sense saying that whenever, and believe me it's inevitable. So whenever you happen to fall, peripipto, the idea of sort of stumbling into a trial, it's used here and I think it's used only two other places. Once in Luke 10, 30 where the good Samaritan story is told, and the man going down the road fell among thieves, that's the word fall. It has the idea of being suddenly overtaken and surprised by thieves. It's also used in Acts 27, 41 where Paul was taking a boat over to Rome and it says the ship fell into a place where two seas met. If you've done any sailing, you know when two bodies of water come together it can be very rough. It's like hitting a wall.

And so they fell into that place. Again, a sudden inadvertent overtaking in that condition. So the word then means an unplanned, surprising, inadvertent occurrence that sort of takes you over.

Peri means around. It surrounds you. It engulfs you. So all of us in our lives are going to be sort of tripped up, surprised, shocked to fall into inadvertent troubles that surround us and the intention of that means there just doesn't seem to be any clear way out. Christ had that. Do you remember Hebrews chapter 12 verse 2? Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame? He went through what He went through because He looked beyond the trial to the joy that He would be able to realize when the trial was over.

In other words, what it would accomplish...what it would accomplish. Later on in Hebrews 12, I'm sure you're familiar with verses 10 and 11, it says, Trials don't seem to be joyous at first, no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous. Nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are properly exercised by that trial. So when you see a trial coming, your attitude is to be an attitude of joy because you anticipate what perfecting work the Lord will do through that trial.

You learn then to cultivate that right attitude. It was, of course, the Savior's way. He went through pain to joy.

Should we expect anything different? Do you remember back in Matthew 10 when Jesus in effect said that? He said to His disciples as He was preparing to send them out that they should certainly not expect anything different than He had endured. He says in chapter 10 verse 25, it's sufficient for the disciple that he should be like his teacher. And what He was talking about there was not so much discipleship as modeling, but discipleship as suffering. And then in John chapter 15 He says, If they hated Me, they will hate you.

And if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you. And chapter 16 He says, The day will come when men think they please God by punishing you. Can we rejoice because we see beyond? Can we rejoice because we have a vision that through the trial the Lord is bringing about some perfecting work? In John 16, 20 Jesus says, Verily, verily, and again He is really warning His disciples, I say to you, you will weep and lament and the world will rejoice. In other words, He's anticipating His death and the world will rejoice, but those who love Him will weep and lament. And you will be sorrowful, I love this, but your sorrow shall be what? Turned into joy. And then He gives an illustration. A woman, when she is in birth pain, has sorrow. Because her hour has come, but as soon as she is deliverer of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. What a beautiful analogy.

What a wonderful picture. And you now therefore, verse 22, do have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man takes from you. Now I believe that that is applicable to the life of every believer. As we enter into some kind of a trial, whatever that trial might be, we need to have the vision that sees beyond the trial to the joy that's going to come when we have passed that test.

When we have been strengthened by that. And so our response, back again to James chapter 1, is not partial joy, it's all joy. Having come to a settled, definite, decisive conviction that we're going to face trials with the right attitude. We can have all joy. Now some commentators say that means all joy and nothing else, which equals pure joy. Some commentators say that means unmixed joy. Some commentators say it means complete joy. Others say total joy, and one that I like said sheer joy.

Take your pick, they all mean the same thing. But this is the joy of one who counts it a privilege to have his faith tested, because he knows in the testing of his faith it will draw him to the Savior, and he so longs for that intimacy and that relationship of dependence that even the trial is a welcome friend. Have you noticed? Have you noticed that in your trials you are much more sensitive to the presence of God?

Have you noticed that? Have you noticed that when you're going through difficult times your prayer life increases? Your communion with God increases? You start searching the Scriptures to find answers to your problems?

You start asking people to pray for you? And all of that draws you closer to the Lord and closer to the very source of your joy? We are privileged to have our faith tested. We are privileged to suffer.

We should count it a privilege and accept it with joy. You're really suffering on his behalf. And remember this, Hebrews 12 says, you haven't yet suffered unto blood. I mean, you haven't suffered as far as Jesus did. Have you ever thought about that?

I think about that an awful lot. When I'm going through a trial, and I do have my trials, and it gets kind of difficult and I'm asking myself whether this is really a very happy occasion and there's anything to rejoice about, I'm always reminded that I have not come anywhere near suffering unto blood as did Jesus Christ. And if He could endure the cross and see it as a joyous opportunity to accomplish a great thing for the purpose of God, then how can I not endure my small trial with joy as well?

I not only look at Christ as a model, but I guess in some ways Christ is an unrealistic model for me because I say no matter what I do, I'll never be like Him, so find me someone who's more like me that I can pattern my life after and inevitably I am attracted to a man by the name of the Apostle Paul who seems to me to be as close to being like Christ as any man will ever be. And all the time he goes through trials, he seems to be able to joy and rejoice no matter what it is that's happening. I'm reminded of Acts 16, now at midnight Paul and Silas are in jail, you have to know that this is not a nice place. They're not like some jails are today, this would be a filthy place with no sanitary conditions, a dark and dingy place.

And not only that, they would be put in the stocks and the stocks meant that they would put their arms at a distance apart, stretching their limbs, they would stretch their legs apart so that their legs were pulled like a wishbone, again causing their muscles to tighten up into knots because of the immobility and the stretching. And here they are in that condition, in the stocks, in the jail, their life is on the line, and it says at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God. Now that is a joyous attitude in the midst of a very difficult trial, but that seems to have been Paul's portion. I'm reminded also of 2 Corinthians 12, and Paul, you remember, had some kind of a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him, a grave difficulty for which he prayed three times that the Lord would remove it, and it didn't go away, and so he says, my grace is sufficient for you. Paul, you don't need the elimination of the trial, you need the grace to endure it. I'll give you that grace because my strength is made perfect in your weakness. So then Paul says, most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

You ought to rejoice in your trial. First of all, it draws you close to the Lord. Secondly, it allows you to have the privilege of the fellowship of His sufferings. And thirdly, it keeps you what? Keeps you humble, doesn't it? Keeps you dependent.

It's a privilege. Look at Philippians 1. Not all suffering is necessarily physical suffering.

Sometimes we have to go through emotional and mental suffering. But in Philippians chapter 1, Paul is talking about the things that he's doing. He, of course, is a prisoner when he writes Philippians. And he says in verse 12, the things that have happened unto him, that is the imprisonment, has fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel.

So that my chains...he's chained in Christ...are manifest in all the palace. He was chained to all these Roman soldiers and as a result he was winning them all to the Lord. And they were having a revival in Caesar's palace.

And that's why at the end of Philippians, verse 22 of chapter 4, he says, All the saints greet you chiefly those of Caesar's household. They didn't know what they had on their hands. They thought they had a prisoner. They had a sort of self-appointed evangelist.

They had chained to their own soldiers and consequently given him a captive audience. He says in verse 14, many of the brethren in the Lord have become more confident by my bonds. In other words, people see that this jail ministry is a valid deal so they're going after it, and if I get in jail, I'll have a revival like Paul is.

I mean, there's a lot of ways to have a jail ministry, right? And Paul says, By the way, some preach Christ of envy and strife, and that is to say some preach Christ antagonistically against me. Some were at odds with Paul. And what they were really doing was, if you're going to study the background here, what they were doing was speaking evil of Paul, saying he was in prison because he blew his ministry. The Lord put him on a shelf.

He's had his day and now he's set aside. Some may have been saying he's committed some sin. Whatever it was, it was certainly strife and contention. Verse 16 says they were trying to add affliction to my chains.

It wasn't bad enough that he was chained. Now there were people trying to hurt him and wound him by saying evil things against him. They preached Christ contentiously. Some, however, preached Christ of love. And they know that I'm in jail because I was set for the defense of the gospel. Verse 18, I love this, he says, So what?

What's the difference? Christ is preached and in that I do rejoice and I will rejoice. What a model. What a model man he is. He is a man of joy. Look at chapter 2, verse 17. He says, If I have to be offered up like a sacrifice for your faith... In other words, if I die getting you saved, I joy and rejoice. I mean, he was expendable, wasn't he?

He really was. He didn't count his life dear unto himself. He says in Acts 20, all he wanted to do was finish the ministry. In chapter 3, verse 7, the things that were gained to me, what were those? Circumcised the eighth day, stock of Israel, tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew, the Hebrews, touching the law, Pharisee concerning zeal, persecuting the church, touching the righteousness of the law, blameless.

All of that sort of religious pedigree doesn't mean a thing to me. I counted them loss for Christ and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and I do count them manure that I may win Christ. And then over in chapter 4 he says, rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice. He learned in any state he was in to rejoice.

Why? Because he could see that he was drawing nigh unto God. He was communing in the sufferings of Christ and that was his prayer, wasn't it, that I may know him in the fellowship of his sufferings? And he knew that he would see the power of Christ in his weakness and he knew that out of that the Lord would make him a better man and accomplish some glorious work and prove his faith. This was the joy of Job. Job said, he knows the way I take. I'm not going to debate God. He knows the way I take. And then he said, and when he has tested me, I shall come forth as...what?

Gold. I mean, I want him to do what he's going to do for the joy of the final product. Trials are to be faced with a joyful attitude. They produce proven faith. They strengthen us. They draw us into communion with God. They identify us in the sufferings of Christ and what a sweet identification that is. And they promise better things to come, I guess in one way we can enjoy the suffering today because it will be so wonderful when we get to the future like Romans 8, the glory that shall be revealed.

The sufferings of today aren't worthy to be compared with, right? It's kind of like the guy who beat his head on the wall because it felt so good when he stopped. It's going to feel awfully good, isn't it, when it all is over?

What a privilege. So where do you start with your trials? I believe that what James is saying is you start with a joyful attitude because you know all the little things that God is using that trial to bring to pass in your life. What a rich and wonderful thing to see your faith proven, to see your faith strengthened, to see maybe some sin knocked off your life, to fill your heart with hope for that better day when you won't have trials, to draw you into prayer and communion, to let you identify with Christ. What wonderful things cause for joy.

I was reading Warren Wiersbeek and his commentary on Philippians and he had an excellent little paragraph, I want to share it with you. He said, our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to count it all joy. If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better, end quote. He's right. Your values determine your evaluation. Now listen carefully. If you can't rejoice in your trials, your values are wrong.

You got that? Your values are wrong. You're not seeing that God has a purpose in that. Now while I'm preaching this, I'm saying in the back of my mind, the Lord's probably going to make you live this sermon in a few weeks.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Amy Carmichael said, hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot or side or hand? I hear thee sung as mighty in the land. I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star, hast thou no scar? Hast thou no wound? Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent, leaned me against the tree to die and rent by ravening beasts that compassed me. I swooned, hast thou no wound? No wound, no scar? Yes, as the master shall the servant be, and pierced are the feet that follow me, but thine are whole.

Can he have followed far who has no wound or no scar? The joy and the privilege of bearing in our body the marks of Christ, enduring trials for the strengthening of faith, a joyful attitude. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John has titled his current series, Benefiting from Life's Trials. Well, John, this passage in James says, count it all joy when you suffer trials.

And that runs counter to my instincts, and I don't think I'm alone in that. When I'm going through a trial, my instinct is to ask the Lord simply to take away the difficulty. And the Apostle Paul did the same thing, 2 Corinthians 12.

So can you relate to that? Is there any biblical reason that Christians shouldn't pray for God to take away the trial? No, there's no biblical reason not to pray to take away the trial. I think one of the things the trial does is produce prayer.

I think that's the purpose of a trial. I remember when my son Mark, when he was just a college student, was told he had a brain tumor, and the neurologist said this could be terminal. And I remember immediately, I mean, this is a major trauma, and my immediate instinct was to pray to the Lord. And I remember fasting and praying for a prolonged period of time. And that was the sweetest time of communion with the Lord.

I think that's one of the purposes in our trials. Whatever the Lord may answer in the prayer, and in the case of my son Mark, the trial turned out to be less than we thought it would be, because the tumor was benign. But at the same time, the benefit of communing with the Lord was profound.

I look back on that, and when Patricia had her car accident and broke her neck, as the two most intense times of praying and fasting in a time when you could lose the most precious people in your life, and the Lord made those the sweetest times of communion. So yes, prayer, of course, is going to be the first thing you do as you connect with the Lord. And that prayer, not only is, Lord, deliver me from this trial, or whoever's in this trial, but the next part of that prayer is, Lord, show me what it is you're trying to teach me so that I can learn from the trial. So prayer is a very important part.

Thank you, Jon. And friend, if I can make a suggestion, Jon has written a book that will be a great help to you when you're dealing with trials. It's called The Power of Suffering, and it lays out a path to finding spiritual strength and peace, even in the most difficult times. To get your copy, contact us today. Call our customer service line, 855-GRACE, or visit our website, The Power of Suffering will not only help you better understand the unique and important role that suffering plays in every believer's life, it will also prepare you to comfort and encourage others during their suffering.

The price is $10.50, and shipping is free. To pick up your copy of The Power of Suffering, call 800-55-GRACE, or visit That's our website,, and while you're there, take advantage of the thousands of free resources available. You'll find helpful blog articles, daily devotionals, and more than 3,500 of Jon's sermons free to download in MP3 and transcript format. All of those free Bible study tools are designed to help you apply the life-changing truth of Scripture in your walk with Christ. Our website again, Now for Jon MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson reminding you to watch Grace To You television this Sunday, check your local listings for Channel and Times, and make sure you're here tomorrow when Jon shows you how to trust in the Lord faithfully through the trials that come your way. Find another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-18 19:52:29 / 2023-01-18 20:02:54 / 10

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