Romans 5:4-5

The First Means of Assurance of Security in Christ:

The Blessing of Affliction

Truth Contenders Sunday School Class
Two Rivers Baptist Church
Nashville, TN, USA

For Sunday, 04 August 2002

Handout: The Blessing of Affliction


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

  1. It is an honor to suffer for Christ.
  2. It is the occasion of manifesting God's power in our support and deliverance.
  3. It is the means of our own sanctification and preparation for usefulness here, and for heaven hereafter.

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

  • Constancy9 [Steadfastness, as in purpose or affection; faithfulness]
  • Steadfastness10
  • Under-stand (original sense), to stand (up) under, to stay or abide under.11 [Strongs G5281: hupomone (hupomone)]
  • Strength to bear up under plus the persistent application of this strength. It is the result of the Holy Spirit's operation but implies human action. It is not passive. Just as the refining fire of the goldsmith frees gold from the impurities, which in the natural state cling to it, so the patient endurance of God's children purifies them. Rev 2:10, 25.12

They produce experience, (proven) character

  • Approvedness13
  • Evidence or proof evinced by putting to the test, thus approbation, approval. Tried integrity, well-tested faith, awareness of having stood the test.14
  • A sense of Divine approval from having experiencing His grace under pressure.15

They produce a hope...

  • Confirmed and strengthened hope of the glory of God.16
  • A hopeful, happy state of soul in all circumstances.17
  • The hope of the redeemed is moored to the throne of grace, to that which is "within the veil," where Jesus is seated at God's right hand, and lives forevermore to intercede for His people. Heb 6:19-20, 7:25.18

...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 hearts

How 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.
  • God's love is not rationed out drop by drop, but is "poured out" by the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the redeemed. It is supplied freely, abundantly, copiously, lavishly.22
  • Communicated abundantly; diffused throughout our hearts. "The love of God," says Philippi, "does not descend upon us as dew in drops, but as a stream which spreads itself abroad through the whole soul, filling it with the consciousness of his presence and favour."23
  • Abundant diffusion. Our hearts are suffused with God's love through the work of the Holy Spirit.24


"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.

Recommended reading:

David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL