PERSEVERANCE WORKS EXPERIENCE
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope (Rom 5:1-4, KJV). " . . . and perseverance, proven character . . . " (NASB). " . . . perseverance, character . . . " (NIV). "And steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope" (ASV).
Devotion 11 of 24
In our text, some versions use the word "character" instead of "experience." "And perseverance, proven CHARACTER; and proven CHARACTER, hope" (NASB). "Perseverance, CHARACTER; and CHARACTER, hope" (NIV). "And endurance produces CHARACTER, and CHARACTER produces hope" (NRSV).
Character is indispensable to spiritual life! It confirms the individual can be trusted--that he is a good steward of the "manifold grace of God." Such people can keep the faith under duress. They can keep the Word in their hearts when life's circumstances press them hard. Their love for God and the people of God holds up in the furnace of fire, lions' den, and arid wilderness. Those who imagine a person can please God without character need to seriously ponder their condition.
"Experience" is the establishment of trustworthiness through the process of testing. When life becomes difficult, extended effort is required to keep the faith and run the race. When we do persevere, we do not simply survive from being fatigued. Our character is developed and our faith is matured. Tribulation, stress, and endurance through them, prove the genuineness of faith! Spurious, or pretended, faith cannot stand up under Divine testing.
This is a vital aspect of the faith-life. We live in a time when moral strength and tried character are exceedingly rare. The contemporary church has placed its emphasis upon recruitment, not spiritual growth. The bulk of religious instruction is elementary in content and surface in nature. Such teaching cannot produce spiritual tenacity. This is the reason for the dominance of counseling in religion, and also the flood of "how to" books. The spiritually immature condition of the church has occasioned the rise of religious careers that are totally foreign to both the Word and salvation of God.
Professing believers fail the most elemental tests of life for at least two possible reasons. (1) Because the doctrine they have received cannot make them strong!
(2) Because they have not embraced the truth of the Gospel delivered to them.
Jesus, who Himself is the truth, speaks absolute reality. He neither exaggerates nor
understates the case. Here is what He said. "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). The freedom of reference is liberty from enslavement to sin and the devil. Where that freedom is not experienced, there can be no solid character. That unstable condition confirms the individual is not abiding in Christ's Word, and remains enslaved to sin. Any profession to the contrary is simply not true.
Were those professing faith in Christ to avail themselves of the benefits of the "common salvation," they would obtain a strong and stable character. That circumstance would put religious counselors out of business over night. Being able to come through the trials of life without smoke on their clothes, so to speak, they would become comforters themselves, just as the Scriptures say. "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Cor 1:4).
Sophists, or surface thinkers, make attempts to explain the erratic conduct of religious people. However, there is no satisfactory explanation. It is always wrong to be inconsistent, unstable, and vacillating. The reason for this is quite simple. It is the one that is "double minded" that is "unstable in all of his ways" (James 1:8). That is NEVER acceptable, NEVER right, NEVER tolerable! A lack of stability is always serious!
PRAYER POINT: Father, thank You for guiiding in such a way as to produce good character within me. I fervently desire to be a faithful steward for You.
-- Tomorrow: THE CONCEPT OF TESTING --