This is the second part of the sermon shared in my church on Saturday. You can click here for the first part
“Therefore, having been
justified by faith, we have
peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom also we have
access by faith into this grace
in which we stand, and rejoice
in hope of the glory of God. “ – Paul (Rom 5:1-2)
Paul says that we enter into grace by faith and we have hope in the glory of God. Paul is a man who had suffered much for God but he felt his suffering is worth it for the coming glory far outweighs the temporary suffering he encountered. He once shared with the church in Corinth.
The Glory That Is To Come
“It is doubtless not profitable for
me to boast. I will come to visions
and revelations of the Lord:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen
years ago—whether in the body I
do not know, or whether out of
the body I do not know, God knows
—such a one was caught up to the
third heaven. “ – Paul (2 Cor 12:1-2)
Paul said that it is pointless for him to boast about himself. He would rather share the about the vision and revelations from the Lord. The man which he was referring to is himself. He was once taken up into heaven. He is unsure if he had physically been brought to heaven or if he encounter a vision . But what was important was written in Verse 4
“how he was caught up into
Paradise and heard inexpressible
words, which it is not lawful
for a man to utter.”- Paul (2 Cor 12:4)
He was taken up into Paradise, it is in the spiritual realm where he heard of things that man cannot describe. When he say it is not lawful for man to utter. Of course it does not mean that he is sinning against God if he said it, but what he saw was glory that cannot be describe using the words of man. It is possible or one to compare and contrast various sites and scenes on earth. There may be places which we use to regard as beautiful. But if we come across another site, perhaps you can make a comparison and describe the difference using words.
But nothing on earth could compare to the paradise that Paul had seen, it is so indescribable which is why no man could utter a word to describe it. Paul was taken up to the heavens and he saw glory that cannot be compared with any place on earth. In the same way we have brethren who had seen heaven in vision and when their vision had finished, and we asked them how beautiful heaven is. But they were unable to describe it in words.
Glory In Tribulation
Paul was given the privilege to enter heaven and to see the glory that is to come. It is so glorious that nothing on earth can describe it. If we want to enter this glory, we would need to enter the grace of God through faith. After that we need to work hard to spiritual nurture ourselves in order to receive this glory. After we believe in the Lord, we will encounter trials in our faith. Paul once talk about tribulations in Rom 5:3
“And not only that, but we
also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation
and perseverance, character;
and character, hope.” – Paul (Rom 5:3-4)
In order to allow us to enter into that glory we need to go through trials and tribulations. That is why we need to be vigilant when we are suffering in difficulties. For nothing on earth can describe that glory that is awaiting for us in heaven. If our sufferings on earth can be use to exchange for this glory. This exchange will definitely be worth it. For these tribulation can allow us to remain strong in faith.
We need to be strong in the midst of tribulation for it will give us patience, through this patience we will learn perseverance. If we do not go through tribulation how would perseverance be produced? Without perseverance how could one endure in his faith till the end. If we do not endure to the end, we will be destroyed.
Trials Creates Perseverance
If we endure and persevere in faith, it that endurance is a proof that our faith is real. If our faith is real we would be just like the Roly-Poly toy. It would never tumble because of its low centre of gravity, the more you try to stumble the doll the more it would come back up. The anchor of our faith is Jesus, he is our rock and the centre of our faith. He is our base with a strong weight. It is because of this faith in Jesus, we could turn tribulation into perseverance.
Without tribulation we would not know our areas of faith that needs improvement. That is why God allow us to meet with trials so that our faith will grow. A faith that could grow will create within us hope. In life we often say that practice makes perfect. If we do not use a skill often, we would not be able to retain the same level of competency. For example, if we drive a few times in a year, we will sometimes make mistakes at the wheel for we are unfamiliar with driving. the more we drive, the more skilful we become. Eventually the driving will become second nature to us, inbuilt into our character.
How Perseverance Creates Character, and Character Creates Hope
This is what Paul meant by Perseverance creates character. In our lives we learn to rely on God to be victorious in tribulations. Over time these victories will create perseverance. Just like an Athlete who practiced often in order to compete with their opponents. They are able to respond to their opponents move no matter how fast they may be. In order to develop such reflexes thy need to practice for long hours. The same applies when we persevere in trials and it will create the character within us.
From character comes hope. Whenever we face tribulation and we overcome them by relying on God. From these experiences we learnt to rely on God and that God will opens a way of escape during the trial. Perhaps there are certain trials that we cannot avoid, but because of our reliance in God. We experience deliverance from God. Over time our reliance become our hope whenever we face trials. ‘
Hope that is created out from our character is not a theoretical understanding of how to rely on God. But it is build from our practical experience after going through many tribulation. That is why whenever tribulation arrive, we would rely on God and hope that God will open a way of escape.
This is a hope that is not built base on theory but from your own experience in Christ.
The Source Of Hope, The Holy Spirit
Paul continue his sharing saying
“Now hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been
poured out in our hearts by the
Holy Spirit who was given to us.”- Paul (Rom 5:5)
Here Paul tells us that this hope does not disappoint. Do we know of occasions where hope does disappoint? Hope can be disappointment when what we expect from God did not happen. When everything in life turn against you and those who hurt you ridicule you asking “You claim that your God is so great and powerful, why did he not save you from your troubles?” That is when we find disappointment in faith.
In the church there are many brethren who experience trials in faith. As long as they do not let go of their faith, their hope eventually does not disappoint. There are members who had unbelievers in their family. When they are stuck with illness, their family members mock them saying “You say that your God is so wonderful, why did he not save you from your illness? isn’t Jesus the best physician around?” But from our testimonies we hear of our brethren undergoing trials and how they feel that there was no way out. But God did not bring their hope to disappointment.
A Personal Testimony From The Preacher
The preacher shared that during the period in the 80s when he was a student in Singapore. There was a riot in his hometown in Sabah. the rioters were burning shops and overturning vehicles. The rioters were looting and destroying the area near his fathers shop. It was the grace of God that preserved his family, where in only the row of shop houses where his father shop was not set on fire. In that incident, all the buildings around were burnt and many of the shops are destroyed. But strangely their row of shop house were spared. When they came out after the rioters had left. They notice that the cars around the shop were all overturned and petrol was leaking out of the cars. But the shop did not caught fire. For his mother was in the shop, she was unable to escape on time, so out of desperation, she closed the shutters and hid in the shop. All she could is to pray.
She was the only believer around, according to her, there were other non Christians in the shop, whoever who tried to run risk being mugged and robbed. Even though his mothers faith was not strong, but she relied on God and she prayed. Later on when the the rioters left, the police started to check on any survivors. When his mother left the shop she notice that everything around them were burnt.
Trials And The Building Of Faith
Sometimes God allow us to encounter trouble so that we can learn to keep our faith. It is through trials and tribulation we can experience God. As long as we do not lose faith our hope would not be disappointed. In another words God will let us experience his salvation no matter what trouble we encounter. It is through these experiences we will experience God. These experience will give us hope so that when we encounter the similar situation again we will believe and rely on God. That will help us to overcome the trials that are before us.
During the Israelites 40 years of wandering of the wilderness, they encountered both Marah (BItterness) and Elim (Comfort) along the way, but they are mere stops along the way onto Canaan. Job experience a similar experience, but at the end of his trials God blessed him. The bible concluded his story by saying
“ And the Lord restored Job’s losses
when he prayed for his friends.
Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as
much as he had before.”- Job ( job 42:10 )
The bible tells us that Job met with much troubles during his trials. God tested him and allowed him to lose all his processions within a day. And later on God struck Job with illness so much so as he had sores all over his body. Job 42 records the end of the trials, at the end God gave him all that he had loss and blessed Job twice as much. This is the mercy of God to Job.
From here we know that no situation in life is permanent, God will change the situation around us. Whenever we encounter trouble we need to have the hope that Job had. Eventually God will change the situation and give us more blessing. If we compared Job procession in Job 42 verses what he had in Job 1, you will realised that he got back double of everything,
Love Poured Out To Our Heart By the Holy Spirit
The latter part of Rom 5:5 tells us that the love of God was poured out to us through the Holy Spirit given to us by God. God did not give us trial for the sake of destroying us. It is meant to build us up and establish our faith. He allow us to encounter trouble and difficulty in order for us to grow.
If a flower is place constantly in the greenhouse, they will not be able to withstand the storms outside. For these plants are too well taken care of. A flower from the greenhouse may appear strong and sturdy but if we were to plant them in the wild, they may just die and wither away. The wild flowers are as strong as the trees in the wild. They may not look tall but their roots are deep underground. They are able to withstand the strong winds and will not be uprooted easily.
From here we know that the stronger the winds the deeper the roots. As far as Christian life is concern, an easy life would not produce a deep root. Therefore God allow trials to come so that we will be deeply rooted in him . We remain rooted because the Holy Spirit was had poured out the love of God within us. The trials from God are meant to build us up and not harm us. He will give us trails based on our degree of faith. Those whoa re stronger will meet with greater test while those who are weaker will meet with a small test. As long as we believe in his love we will grow in faith at our own pace.
Rom 5:1-5 teaches us how is one justified by faith. Baptism allowed us to access the grace of God through faith, after our baptism, we must undergo trials to help us be established in the grace in which we stand. Trials and tribulation can grow our faith and build up the hope of God within us. This hope does not disappoint, when hope is perfected it produces perseverance, and from perseverance comes character and from character come a stronger hope. God will use trials and tribulation to train us up in faith, they can come from within and outside the church.
Therefore when we encounter trials let us not doubt the love of God. As long as one does not doubt the love of God, he will not be disappointed and God will lead him to a higher ground and bless him as he continue to grow in his love.