Friday, April 13, 2007

What Do Trials Reveal?

Yesterday we took a peek at what trials actually are. Today I want to say more from the passage found in James 1:2-3. James says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” In the first part of this passage, James says we are to have a joyous attitude. In the second part, he now says we are to have an understanding mind. He says that as he is revealing that trials test the strength of our faith. He says in verse 3, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” The Greek word for “knowing” (ginosko) “suggests a knowledge grounded in personal experience. “As they adopt the attitude called for amid their trials, they will come to the personal realization ‘that the proving of your faith worketh patience’ (Hiebert)

James defines “various trials” as “the testing of your faith” (v.2) The word “testing” (dokimion) refers to “a means or instrument of testing.” Their trials are the agents which test their faith and reveal its true nature” (Hiebert). In the words of Johnstone, “Affliction lets down a blazing torch for him into the depths of his own nature—and he sees many things which he little expected to see. He finds his faith weak he thought it strong, his views dim where he thought them clear.” And these trials lead to a purging and purifying of his faith.

D. Edmond Hiebert said, “Faith is such a vital matter to the children of God that it must needs to be put to the test, first in order to prove that it is genuine, and second to purge and strengthen it” (James, 69). Peter said it this way in 1 Peter 1:7, “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In Job 23:10, Job said, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” The Word of God brings tribulation and persecution and serves as a test of the kind of soil the Gospel fell on. In Matthew 13:20-21 we hear these words as Jesus interprets His parable of the soils. He says, “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” Whether you a real or dead faith, trials will reveal it. Does that mean if I fail a trial I am not saved? No but it does bring a legitimate question to your faith, whether it is weak or strong or no saving faith at all. God tests the hearts of all people. The psalmist said in Psalm 66:10-12, “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.” Consider these things today and remember as a child of God the tests are for you not Him. He already knows your heart—you don’t.

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