The First Means of Assurance of Security in Christ:
The Blessing of Affliction
Truth Contenders Sunday School Class
Green: on hand out
Ink: to be filled in on hand out
Since our relationship to God is changed, the relationships of all things to us have also changed, including the purpose and meaning of suffering.1 While our justification itself is a one-time, forensic act of God, its fruit grows thereafter in every part of our daily lives.2
We rejoice, exult, glory in our hope of future glorification, but we also rejoice, exult, glory in our sufferings. When the going gets tough, the redeemed rejoice.
Why we exult in tribulations
"In our sufferings" means "in the midst of and because of" the tribulations we experience in carrying on in the work of the Lord.
Rom 8:35-39; I Cor 4:9-13; II Cor 1:4-10, 11:23-30, 12:7-10; Gal 6:17.3
The words translated "glory/exult in tribulations/sufferings" do not mean that we glory in the midst of afflictions, but on account of them. They are themselves the matter or ground of the glorying; they are an honor and a blessing.4
Cf. Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are they who mourn," "Blessed are the persecuted," "Blessed are you when men shall revile you."
Acts 5:41, I Pet 4:13-14, II Cor 12:9-10.5
How can suffering be regarded as a blessing?
Heb 12:5-11; Ps 119:67, 71; Jer 31:18.6
Christians do not glory in suffering for its own sake but because:7
We glory in hope. And we glory in tribulations because they initiate a sanctifying process that ends in hope. Glorying in tribulations is not dissociated from rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; it is not even coordinate or complimentary. We glory in tribulations because they subserve the interests of hope.8
They produce patience, perseverance
They produce experience, (proven) character
They produce a hope...
...that does not disappoint
The ground of assurance is not the strength of our hope but the love of God given freely to us by the Holy Spirit.19
As we go through repeated tests and pass them with increasing frequency, we realize that God is doing within us the work He promised to do. Thus, the effects of suffering are another source of assurance.20
Note the masterful transition from faith (vv. 1-2) to hope (vv. 2, 4, 5) to love (v. 5). Ps 22:5.21
God's love is shed abroad in our heartsHow do we know that our hope of glory is certain, that it will it not disappoint us? The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
"The Divine process is as follows: God brings us into tribulations, and that of all sorts; graciously supplying therewith a rejoicing expectation of deliverance in due time; and the knowledge that, as the winds buffeting some great oak on a hillside cause the tree to thrust its roots deeper into the ground, so these tribulations will result in steadfastness, in faith and patient endurance; and our consciousness of steadfastness--of having been brought by grace through the trials--gives us a sense of Divine approval...we did not before have; and which is only found in those who have been brought through trials, by God's all sufficient grace. This sense of God's approval arouses within us abounding 'hope'...a hopeful, happy state of soul."25
1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 14, 16, 19, 23: Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, by Charles Hodge; Eerdman's, 1960.
2, 3, 6, 12, 18, 21, 22: New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, by William Hendriksen; Baker Book House, 1980.
8, 13, 24: The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans, by John Murray; Eerdman's, 1973.
10, 15, 17, 25: Romans: Verse by Verse, by William Newell; Moody Press 1974.
11, 20: Tabletalk, April 2002, Volume 26, Number 4; Ligonier Ministries.