Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A trial of a faithful man

In the Old Testament, faithful believers such as the "chosen people" acted shocked when suffering came their way, for they quite reasonably expected God to reward them with prosperity and health. This represents a step beyond the “works of faith” that are taught in the Old Testament: Do good and get blessed, do bad and get punished. God is using this man to prove to someone that a human being’s faith can be genuine and selfless, not dependent on God’s good gifts. (Note: works of faith and word of faith are the same in 'concept')

The man or the sufferings are not the themes at all but rather about faith during the trials. This is a story about faith, the story of one man selected to undergo a staggering ordeal by trial. His response presents a message that applies not just himself, but to every person who lived, lives and will live on planet Earth.

The trial: The contest over one man's faith and whether he will believe in God or deny God? God himself called this man “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”. This man has asked the same questions asked by nearly everyone who experienced sufferings, Why me? What is God trying to tell me?

In the beginning of the story, it is revealed that this man was not being punished. Far from it, he has been chosen as the principal subject in a great contest of the heavens. God is using this man to prove to one person (who says that this man had protection) that this man's faith can be genuine and selfless, not dependent on God’s good gifts.

God has chosen this man who must undergo a terrible ordeal in order to determine the winner between the two heavyweights (God and Satan). Satan’s accusation that this man loves God only because “you have put a hedge around him”. This was an attack on God’s character, which implies that God's people loves God because God provides everything they need. God was not on trial but rather this man's faith was on trial. Satan challenged God by asking Him to take away this man's positive rewards, and watch faith crumble (so he hoped).

From chapters 3—37, revolves around the "why was this man suffering?". This man's 3 friends, came to comfort him and to discuss his crushing series of tragedies. They insist his suffering is punishment for sin in his life. Every statement of those three friends was true. They said that God punishes sinners, and they were right. They said that none could hide his sins from God and they were right. Common sense and all reason tell us, they argue, that God will treat His people fairly and those who obey and remain faithful, they will get their rewards. Those who sin, God punishes. They are very biblical. That God makes good men prosper and evil men stumble. There are those who claim a “word of knowledge” to back up their beliefs, as did one of this man's friends who implied that this man who was suffering should turn to God for a miracle.

Why were those friends wrong? They were in error because they ASSUMED that Job SINNED, based on the "evidence" of his sufferings alone. They were so confident of their doctrine and arguments but they were wrong.

What's more important, God proved Satan of Job's faith. Job ultimately passes the test of faith by clinging to belief in God even when sufferings happens.

This story about about JOB. God Himself declared: "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was PERFECT" (Job 1:1). "And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a PERFECT and an UPRIGHT man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" (Job 1:8).

The Scripture clearly teaches that not only is it a possibility to be handed over to Satan. There are times and places and circumstances under the plan of God in which individuals are definitely to be turned over to Satan.

Reading Job is one example. God says, "Have you looked at My servant Job? And what a good man he is. What's interesting is that other biblical writers refer to Job as a real person. Ezekiel refers to Job along with Noah and Daniel (Ezekiel 14:14,20). And James draws upon the example of Job to comfort the suffering, proving the point that God is merciful. He commends the endurance of Job (Jas. 5:11). From the Book of Job, we see that God is in complete control. Satan had neither the power nor the authority to do anything without the permission of God. It was consistent with God's nature and will for him to have allowed those things to happen to Job.

In the sense that all sickness is linked to sin, because if there were no sin, there would be no sickness. But it is wrong in assuming that a person became directly sick from being sinful. In John 9:2-3, Jesus and His disciples encountered a blind man. “His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Satan sometimes causes illness (Job 2:7; Luke 13:16).

This sinful world do not discriminate between believers and unbelievers. Plane crashes, boat sinkings, train accidents, car collisions, heart disease, cancer doesn't discriminate between a sinner and a saint, or between a sinner and a sinner.

What have we learned in this "life"

To Produce Fruit.
Fruit of Patience: Hebrews 10:36, James 1:3
Fruit of Joy: Psalm 30:5, Psalm 126:6.
Fruit of Knowledge: Psalm 94:12
Fruit of Maturity: 1 Peter 5:10
Trials come to test the strength of our faith because they assist us in the knowledge of our own faith. (Genesis 22:1-18, Malachi 3:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-9). Trials come to us to reveal what we really love.

To Silence Satan Job 1:9-12 and Job 2:3-7

To Glorify God John 9:1-3 and John 11:1-4

To Make Us Like Jesus: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”. Phil 3:10

To Teach Us Dependence (On His Grace) John 15:1-5, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Trials come to make us think of our own reflections, trying to look at it from the biblical and the personal viewpoint.

To Refine Our Lives Psalm 66:10-12, Proverbs 17:3, and 1 Peter 1:6-7. Trials come to test the strength of our faith because they assist us in the knowledge of our own faith. (Genesis 22:1-18, Malachi 3:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-9)

Trials come to humble us that we must realize that God allows trials in our lives share our burdens with others. (James 1:3-4, and 12) Trials come to us to teach us to value the blessing of God from His perspective to enable us to help others in their suffering and to make us better able to assist others in their own suffering. God allows us to learn by experience to instruct others. Trials come to us to develop enduring strength for greater usefulness so that God can thrust us into greater places of ministry and effectiveness according to will in His Great Commission.

Trials including disabilities teaches us that the greatest good of the Christian life is not absence of pain, but Christ-likeness and to do His will. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29). Trials including disabilities teaches us that God is more concerned with the character He is building in us, He comforts us in His arms through His power of Grace on the journey to His destiny for us as Paul explains: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

Jesus said "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matthew 10:29-30)

I have two sides of the coins that I have used for years. Perseverance come to test the strength of our faith because they assist us in the knowledge of our own faith. (Genesis 22:1-18, Malachi 3:3-4, 1 Peter 1:6-9). "Perseverance in life's experiences" come to us to reveal what we really love.

One side of the coin is that perseverance experiences may be viewed as coming from God to bring out the BEST in us (See: Gen. 22:1-2, 15-18; Hebrews 11:17).

On the other side of the coin, perseverance expriences attempts to tempt us and trials to bring out the WORST in us (see: James 1:13-14).

Trials are intended to train Christians out of their worldly security and awaken them to the fact that they are to TRUST God during their trials or fall but at the same time, don't trust yourself or trust your faith. TRUST GOD. In the book of James, the entire letter is about living faith during trials and list the tests intended to reveal the legitimacy of someone's faith. The VERY first test is the test of severe trials which means that we need to understand the strength or the genuineness of our own faith. Trials cannot destroy true faith; they only put it to the test and strengthen it as in spiritual training.

1 comment:

Nancie said...

Thanks, Jim, for sharing this very encouraging portion. So glad you are back :) Thanks for your encouraging comment on my post too. Always love to read your sharing from God's Words and what He is teaching you.

The issue of suffering and God's sovereignty has often perplexed His people. Too many seems to think that if you are suffering then it means you have sinned. In my struggles with bipolar disorder and chronic depression, I have had to face many discouragements from God's own children who doesn't understand nor sympathize.

I am thankful that God has given us the assurance in His Words that though in this world we shall experience tribulations, He has overcome all. The book of Job is a great encouragement to me. Knowing that God is in control comforts and strengthens me. It is so true that we need to trust God and don't trust ourselves or even our faith. Our faith may fail us, our strength may fail us, but God remains faithful. He will never leave us nor forsake us and He is working all things for His glory and our good. May God enable us to glorify Him and serve Him despite our afflictions and limitations for we serve a Great God! Thanks again for this sharing. Take care and have a blessed weekends!