The only way out of a trial is what? Through it.
There are no side exits. God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that you're able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape that you may be able to bear in. And the way of escape is always through.
You know, if it were up to us, we would never volunteer for hardship. But like an athlete who grows stronger the harder he trains, your faith gains endurance as it faces more and more testing. John MacArthur is helping you understand that principle in his current study on Grace To You called, Benefiting From Life's Trials. Now, so far John has shown you the reason for trials to test your faith. He's also explained the important role a joyous attitude plays in persevering through trials. In today's lesson, John considers another key to handling testing, how you think about the troubles you face.
With that lesson now, here's John. 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. 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 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. I want to show you a second thing, a means to perseverance in trial. Not only a joyful attitude, but an understanding mind...an understanding mind. Notice verse 3. What's the first word in verse 3?
What is it? Knowing, knowing, that speaks of the mind. Not only are you to have a joyful attitude, but an understanding mind.
And the word is ginosko, basically has the idea of knowledge which comes from personal experience, the personal knowledge that we have learned because we have encountered the truth ourselves. Knowing this...now what he means by that is, look, if you're going to go through a trial victoriously, if you're going to persevere, you've got to know a few things. You've got to understand a few things. Christ had joy in enduring the cross because He knew what was going to happen.
He knew what was going to come. You need to know some things too. What do you need to know? Well, know this, that the testing of your faith works endurance. So you need to know that what's going on in your life is producing something very beneficial.
Let me see if I can break that down a little bit. What should you know to persevere in trials? What do you need to know? Well, first of all, you need to know your faith is being tested. You need to know that. You say, well, why do I need to know that? Because when you come through the other end of the trial and you still have your faith, it's good to know you're for real, right?
It's wonderful. If you ask me how I know I'm a Christian, one of the things I'm going to say to you is, well, I love the Lord with all my heart, certainly not as much as I ought to, but I love Him with all that I feel I have to give. And so I know I'm a Christian because of my love for the Lord, but I also know I'm a Christian because I've gone through difficult situations and I come out the other end and all my hope and all my trust is still in Him. So know this, that your faith is tested. Anything that's legitimate is going to be tested and the verification of true faith ought to be a wonderful thing. What an encouragement to see that my faith was genuine, that I went through the test and I passed. The word testing, docimion, means proof. Know this, that the proof of your faith brings endurance, works. The word works means to achieve or accomplish. Don't ever think trials don't accomplish something.
They do. Trials, all the trials that come into our life are designed to accomplish something. They're designed to produce something.
They're designed to work something. And what is it here? It is hupomone, not patience. The best word is endurance. Patience is that word macrothemia, which has to do with being patient with people. This is the word endurance. It's the staying power, is a good translation.
Perseverance, maybe the best one. And this is perhaps one of those passages where theologians of old drew the perseverance of the saints as a theological term. It's the tenacity of spirit that holds on under pressure while awaiting God's time to remove, to dismiss, to reward when the trial is done. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful thing to have in your life, endurance. And every time you go through a trial and every time I go through a trial and we pass through those trials, we are strengthened.
We have gained a little bit more endurance. In Psalm 40 verse 1, I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined unto me and He heard my cry and He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, set my feet on a rock and established my goings. He put a new song in my mouth. Boy, every time you come out of a trial, isn't that the way you feel? I cried unto the Lord, He picked me up, set me on a rock, put a song in my heart and off I went, stronger than ever because of the enduring of that trial. Now I want to show you something. Let's go to 1 Corinthians 10.
I need to just elaborate a little bit on this. 1 Corinthians 10, 13, it says, there is no trial...it's the same term here...there's no trial taken you but such as is common to man. In other words, you're not going to have some kind of supernatural trial that is going to be so overpowering that there's nothing within the human realm that can withstand it.
No. The trials that come are going to be common trials to human beings. But God is faithful, now mark this, who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able. I want you to just stop and think about that. Now does everyone have the very same ability in terms of enduring trials? Do they?
No. A brand new baby Christian with limited knowledge and limited understanding and very limited experience is not going to have the ability to endure trials at a level that someone else might. And I believe what the apostle is promising here is God will never put you through a trial that you can't handle until He has put you through some preliminary ones to strengthen you for that level of trial. And that's the promise of 1 Corinthians 10, 13. There will never come into your life or my life a trial which will be absolutely overwhelming. First of all, the Lord will bring us trials, testing our faith, strengthening our faith, producing endurance so that gradually we can move out for Him, encounter greater trials, and be ready to face those trials.
The sovereign, faithful, covenant-keeping God who secures His children does so in a personal, intimate way through all the days and hours of their lives, not just through some fiat statement made in time past, but rather through working with them day in and day out. It's like a runner. I remember a few years ago they had the...I don't know what you call it...a jog-a-thon at Cal State Northridge for the disabled people in Dr. Britton's program out there and somebody said, are you going to run?
And I said, well, I don't know. Well, people kept wanting to put money on me to run. And so by the time the jog-a-thon came around, I had a lot of people who promised a lot of money if I ran. I think one guy promised a hundred dollars a lap.
Now that's a lot of pressure. I mean, I know that every one more lap I can go is another hundred dollars for the program, right? And you had to do it within an hour. Well, I hadn't been jogging. I don't jog because I have bad knees from old football injuries. But I determined that day that I was going to jog. So I jogged...I think I jogged 26 laps in an hour. And I want you to know, folks, you didn't know this, but I could not walk for a week. My knees swell up.
You know, I don't want to go into my medical history, but I couldn't walk. And of course I got a lecture from my wife about overdoing things and all I could think about was, I got all that money for this project, you know. But it was a good reminder that anybody who wants to develop the ability to run long distance starts small.
Mine went backwards. I started big and I haven't run since. We work up, don't we, to maximum capacity? And James' point is that right here. Understanding and knowing that God is strengthening your faith. He's producing greater endurance for greater ministry, for greater service, for greater trials, for greater joy, may I add. And haven't I said to you on many occasions that the more difficult the battle is, the sweeter the victory, right? The more difficult the trial, the sweeter it is when you come out of it.
Oh, that's so true. And I have learned in my life that whenever you're going into a trial, there's always light in the morning. And when you come out of it, you rejoice at the increased strength and the deliverance of God, which again proves Him to be trustworthy, which strengthens your faith. In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul writes to the Thessalonian Christians, he says, grace to you and peace from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting because your faith grows exceedingly.
Isn't that good? Your faith grows exceedingly and the love of every one of you all toward each other abounds so that we ourselves glory or boast in you in the churches of God for your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that that you endure. You know what endurance brought them? It brought them growing faith, abounding love and a tremendous testimony.
It's very productive. In chapter 3 verse 5 he says to them, the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ. They were a wonderfully enduring group. In Hebrews chapter 11 also we have insight into this point being illustrated to us. It's a discussion of Moses, by faith Moses when he was come to years refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. He considered that the reproach of the anointed Messiah was greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.
Why? Because he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. In other words, the man lived in the light of what the endurance would bring in the future.
He saw the future plan. So by faith in that plan, by faith in God, he forsook Egypt, didn't get intimidated by the wrath of the king because he could see an invisible king. Through faith he kept the Passover, the sprinkling of blood on the doorpost and the lintel as the firstborn be destroyed. By faith they all went through the Red Sea on dry land and the Egyptians attempting to do that were drowned and so forth.
And then he goes on from there to talk about other people in terrible times of trial. And you go down to verse 32 and you just have more and more of them, Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and the prophets, always through faith, through faith, through faith, the great heroes of the faith here, they trusted God in the midst of unbelievable circumstances. They subdued kingdoms and wrought righteousness and obtained promises and stopped the mouths of lions and quenched the violence of the fire and escaped the edge of the sword.
Out of weakness remained strong, became valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others had trials of cruel mocking and scourging and moreover bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, sawn in half. They were tested or tried, slain with a sword, wandered about in sheepskin and goatskins. They actually encased them in skins. They were destitute, afflicted, tormented.
The world wasn't even worthy of them. They wandered in the deserts, in the mountains, in the dens and the caves of the earth and all of them received witness through faith. Having not received the promise, they did it all by faith. And then he comes into chapter 12 and says, that's the heroes of faith and you're compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses. That means so many people who testify to the virtue of faith.
Well, you better lay aside the stuff in your life and run the race of faith like they did. And the great finisher and author of faith is Christ who is the greatest example of joy in the midst of trials. When trials come then, we have an understanding mind. We understand that the Lord is creating endurance and endurance strengthens us for greater ministry.
And our faith is proven. The third necessary means for perseverance, first a joyful attitude, secondly an understanding mind, thirdly a submissive will...a submissive will. I love this in verse 4, it's so direct. Look at this, let but let...this is present, active, imperative.
This is a command. Let patience have her perfect work. Let God do His work.
Let endurance do what God wants it to do. This is a command demanding submission. What he's saying is be submissive to the trial. Don't fight it. Don't argue about it. Don't shake your fist at God.
Accept it. If you try to fight it, if you try to resist it, if you try to argue with it and debate with it, you may bring yourself under the chastening of God. My son, don't despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you're rebuked of Him. For whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son He receives. If you endure through chastening, God is dealing with you as a son.
He's perfecting, He's shaping. If you fight against it, you're going to find it becomes more and more difficult. The only way out of a trial is what? Through it.
There are no side exits. The way out is through. God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that you're able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.
And the way of escape is always through. So with joy in trials, because we see the glorious future, because we're drawn into sweet communion with the Father, because we are enriched in the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, because we see the sin being knocked off of our own life, because it gives us a greater hope for heaven in the joy of all of that, we begin to see how to persevere. Then comes the understanding that God is doing this to create a greater endurance for a greater usefulness, for greater trials. And then we submit to that with a submissive spirit or a submissive will. And look what He says here, let patience have a perfect work. What it's trying to do, let endurance have a perfect work, what it's trying to do is just make you better.
The word perfect here would be better translated spiritually mature...spiritually mature. Don't be reluctant when trials come. Don't fight against that.
Don't resist that. Don't deny God that wonderful perfecting work that He wants to do in your life. In Psalm 131, just a three-verse Psalm, it gets lost, but listen to what it says. Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty.
Neither do I exercise myself in great matters or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself like a child that is weaned of his mother. My soul is even like a weaned child.
Beautiful thought. Lord, what You've put me through has made me grow. I have matured.
I'm off the bottle, is what He's saying. And that's a privilege, a thankful heart for being weaned away to be strong. Job thanked God and willfully submitted to every trial the Lord gave him, even though his heart sometimes was confused. And you know what's interesting? It wasn't the circumstances that confused Job. It wasn't the circumstances that bothered him. It was the fact that he couldn't get an answer from God that bothered him.
He kept asking and nothing came back, and that was the difficulty. In Job 5, 7, he says, Eliphaz is speaking. Yet man is born into trouble. As the sparks fly upward, I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause, who doeth great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number, who giveth rain to the earth and sendeth waters upon the fields, to set up on high those that are low, that those who mourn may be exalted to safety. He says, when you go through a trial, just commit yourself to God. Just give yourself to God. Trust in Him. Psalm 37 says, Fret not yourself because of evildoers. Commit your way unto the Lord. Trust also in Him. The Scripture says, He'll bring it to pass.
Now that's what happens. Now listen, follow this. Endurance is not the goal. The goal is perfection. Endurance is a means to that.
It goes like this. You go through a trial, you get stronger, you have greater endurance. That greater endurance will allow you to go through a greater trial, and that greater endurance, a greater trial, and the sequence of that is going to bring about spiritual maturity. Perfection is really synonymous with spiritual maturity. Let endurance lead to the goal or the end or the fulfillment which is spiritual maturity. Doesn't mean sinlessness?
No, there's no indication of sinlessness. James 3, 2, in many things we all stumble. But the point is spiritual maturity, full mature development. In the terms of 1 John 2, 14, to be a spiritual father who knows Him who is from the beginning.
By the way, that term perfect, teleon, is used in secular sources of animals that are full grown. Here it is used of Christians that are full grown. It makes a full grown Christian. So the Lord is giving you endurance to put you through a greater test to make you a stronger Christian, a more mature Christian. And then Philippians 3, 15 Paul says, Let us therefore as many as be mature, so forth. So it's attainable.
You can get there. The Lord's putting you through that to bring you there. Faith is tested to make us more dependent, to give us stronger faith, to drive us to deeper communion, and that makes us more mature. The word perfect has the idea of richness of character, getting us to the place where we really want to be and where the Lord wants us to be. It also kind of conveys the idea of balance, a stable, balanced righteousness. The best verse to explain it, I love this, Galatians 4.19, Paul says, I'll never be satisfied or I'll be in travail, I'll always be having pain spiritually until...listen to this...Christ is what?
Formed in you. Isn't that a marvelous thought? That's the desire, that's the ultimate spiritual goal, until Christ is fully formed in us. And he describes what he means by perfection in verse 4. Let endurance have a perfect work that you may be perfect, and he repeats teleoi again, and complete, that's a marvelous word, holakleros, holos means whole. We get a word today, holography, which is a 360-degree picture.
Holography, holos and kleros means all the portions. He wants you to be all portions intact, well-rounded, fully put together spiritually. And then the negative of that, lacking nothing.
Oh, what a comprehensive statement. He puts you through trials so that you can gain endurance, so that you can go through more trials until you've become fully complete as a mature person in Christ. Only trials really can do that. Takes the Word of God, which is able to perfect you, 2 Timothy says, and trials, 1 Peter 5, 10, the God of all grace, after you have suffered a while, will make you what? Perfect. Trials and the Scripture and the perfection that comes. Let's pray. Father, we would not want that, having heard, we would forget, or having remembered, we would not apply, but we would desire that, Lord, we would hear and apply these things in our lives. Lord, work in every life, your perfect and gracious work, for the Savior's sake. Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. Along with ministering on this broadcast, John serves as pastor of Grace Community Church and chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and today he continued his study, Benefiting from Life's Trials. It's a look at how God uses pain and hardship for your good and for his glory. Now, it may be that today's lesson was something of a spiritual life preserver, something you will grab on to during the next trial you face.
And of course, John, that points to a bigger issue. If you don't know what the Bible contains, what a given passage means, if you haven't already done some digging, if you haven't already done some digging, you won't be able to take hold of truth when you need it the most. Yeah, and that is the whole purpose for learning the Bible, because you want to have available in your mind the truth of Scripture that is needed in any given crisis. You don't want to be going into a very difficult crisis and be reaching for your concordance to look up the word trial and chase through the Bible to try to figure out what it says.
You want to be prepared in advance, and that's what a series like this does. The New Study Guide, Benefiting from Life's Trials, if you read that study guide and familiarize yourself with that study guide, you'll have a bank of biblical knowledge that will really strengthen you in difficulty. Job said it correctly, man is born for trouble, Job 5-7. But thankfully, the Lord has also given Himself to you in a personal way to be the one who takes your trouble and turns it into triumph.
And that can happen no matter how tough the test is. James 1, Benefiting from Life Trials, this series is a treasury of truth for dealing with trouble, even tragedy. And I want you to get the New Study Guide.
This is maybe going to be the most dog-eared study guide you have because you're going to go back to it time and time again. Gives you an outline for each message in our current series and the content of the message. Essentially, it's six sermons in book form. The title, again, Benefiting from Life's Trials, the Benefiting from Life's Trials audio series has had a tremendous ministry to the Grace to You family over many years.
It's designed to help you look suffering right in the eye and see God's purpose at work and rejoice. You're going to want your own copy of the companion study guide. You also might want to pick up several copies to use with your midweek Bible study group or Sunday school class. The title, again, Benefiting from Life's Trials, 120 pages, price is affordable, and you can order it today.
That's right, friend. When you can rejoice in trials, it lets the world know there's something different about you, strengthening your witness for Christ. And so I encourage you to pick up the Benefiting from Life's Trials study guide when you contact us today.
You can place your order at our website, gty.org, or you can call us at 800-55-GRACE. Whatever hardships you're facing now or in the future cannot compare to the comfort found in God's Word. The Benefiting from Life's Trials study guide dives deep into that amazing truth, and you will turn to it again and again.
To get a copy for yourself or for a friend, call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. Also, if you're finding encouragement from these daily lessons, know that it's happening across the globe. People are growing spiritually, because men and women like you support us financially. We're able to reach pastors and Sunday school teachers, people on the job and in their homes, students, even inmates. Your gift helps us blanket most of the globe with verse-by-verse teaching. To make a tax-deductible donation, write to us at GRACE2U, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Or you can call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be back here tomorrow to see why perhaps nothing helps you overcome sin and worldliness more than times of testing. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on GRACE2U.
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