Summary: This is an article that I did for a newsletter that goes into several prisons.
The Cycle of Faith
ROM 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
A story was told about a young man who approached a minister and requested prayer for his lack of patience. The minister lays hands on his head and prays,” Dear Lord, send him tribulation.”
Have you ever heard it said, “ We know that tribulation works patience”? Did you know that statement by itself is not a true statement? Tribulation does not always work patience. In some people tribulation works despair and depression. Tribulation causes others to lose hope and give up. This verse that states that tribulation works patience needs to be looked at in the context that it is written. The first thing we need to understand is that tribulation (pressure) does not come from God.
JOH 16:32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation (pressure): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. This verse states that tribulation comes from being in the world. Some tribulation comes from other people and some comes by our own doing. The enemy designs tribulation to keep us from growing in the word. In the parables of the sower we see that after the word is sown that the enemy comes to steal the word. MAT 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation (pressure) or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. The enemy knows that if the word remains in our hearts, it will produce the kingdom of God in us.
If we look at the context of the first verse we see that it is talking about faith. It talks about being justified by faith. The next verse talks about access by faith. We are justified by faith and then we have access by faith into a grace where we stand. The word stand means to fix or establish. This is describing a place in faith where we are established and fixed. Now in this context tribulation cannot hurt us or rule our lives. Because we are established in this grace by faith, the tribulation doesn’t stop us but we are actually strengthened by faith that produces patience in us (verse 3). This word for patience in the greek language means steadfastness, sustaining and perseverance. It doesn’t mean just to put up with the circumstances and hope that things will change someday. The force of patience carries and sustains faith to completion. Verse 4 says that patience works experience. Experience carries the idea of proven character. This is a very important part of the process of faith. If the only thing we realize out of our faith walk is the end result of what we prayed for, we will not grow. God uses our faith not only to bless us in the things of this life but also in our character, which has eternal value. It’s amazing how as we grow in faith that we grow in character. As we grow in character we quit making a lot of mistakes that caused us to be in bad circumstances. The pressures of this life affect us less and less. The next thing that happens is hope (verse 4).
Hope is a favorable expectation. It is like a blueprint. It is not the finished product but an image of the finished product. My wife and I built a new house about a year ago. The process began with my wife trying to tell me what she wanted. It was a concept in her heart. It was her dream house and she was the only one who knew what it looked like. We hired a man to draw our blueprints. We spend several hours with this man as my wife described her dream home. He drew the plans and brought them back for her to see. She told him that she liked part of it but wanted to change part of it. It didn’t match what she had in her heart. Finally he got it right. This was only the blueprint but it was a very vital part of the process. If the blueprint had not been exactly right then the end result would not have been right. Hope is like the blueprint. We establish hope in our heart by the word of God. Faith produces the hope that is in our heart. HEB 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith begins with hope. After faith comes patience and then experience and then hope again. This indicates that character causes a bigger hope to come alive in us. As we grow in hope, we will grow in faith.