Summary: There are three points for us to consider as we take a Biblical look at God’s purposes in allowing afflictions to come upon His chosen people.
Turn your Bibles to 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Title: Tested and Trained
Theme: Understanding God’s Purpose in Afflictions
Listen as I read 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” Pray!!!
Introduction: The Apostle Paul writes to the young pastor Timothy and there is a pleasure found in this passage of Scripture for all pastors as well as for those who are good soldiers of Christ. Paul did not fear death and neither should good ministers of the Word of God, nor Christians, because they have a sure hope of being with Christ when they part from this world.
There are three points for us to consider as we take a Biblical look at God’s purposes in allowing afflictions to come upon His chosen people. It is time of 1.) Testing so that Christians may be proved to be genuine believers in Christ. 2.) Training so His children will be able to achieve God’s will for them. 3.) Revealing His deliverance in the minds of mankind and before their eyes.
Propositions: I would propose to you that every one of us has the opportunity to speak in the same manner as the Apostle Paul who wrote, “…I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)
Interrogative Sentence: Just what will enable us to have the testimony that the Apostle Paul had toward the end of the ministry that was entrusted to him?
Transitional Sentence: Every child of God gift given of the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to be effective in the “Great Commission.” The heartbeat of every overseer of a church is that the children of God will be proven genuine in their Christian faith. Therefore, in this life there will be trials for the proof of a believer’s faith in God, Christ and in his ability to surrender to the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Peter to write, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:3-7)
Mankind places great worth on earthly things and considers the value of their lives by what they posses. God’s Word tells us that genuine faith in Him is much greater than the things that mankind values. The Lord knows what reveals genuine faith. His stamp of approval will be on faith that has been tested by the refining fires of trials in this life. (The Expositors Bible Commentary)
These various trials of life put the professing Christian’s religion to the test, thus revealing the nature of their real faith. “All kinds of” (poikilos) trials means temptations (The Complete Word Study Dictionary) of all kinds including disobedience, deceptions and lust. Christians will face various colors of trials (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon; Dictionary of Bible Languages; New American Greek Dictionaries) including disease, demonic attack but not demonic possession. They will face strange unbiblical doctrines, persecutions, and oppositions in service to the Lord.
“Proved genuine” (dokimiou) means “to test for the purpose of approving.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary; The Complete Word Study Dictionary) Here it means the results of a test proofing that a child of God is genuine. (The Preacher’s Outline &Sermon Bible)
Just as it is desirable to know whether that which appears to be gold is genuine, it should be desirable for those in the church to be tested to see if their faith is genuine. To gold we apply intense heat so we may know whether it is what it appears to be. So it is with Christianity. Considering that our faith is far more important than gold, it is imperative that it be subjected to the right test. A Christian that wants to make a real mark for His Lord in this world wants the alloy (that which lowers or takes from perfection from someone) to be taken from his heart. The Christian’s heart cry is not just “Lord use me,” but first “Make me useable.” He is in agreement with the psalmist who wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)