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Bible verses about Purpose of Trials
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Kings 8:35-37

God works with people using situations and illustrations that most affect them. He wants a change of heart and direction to occur in their lives. However, as the Bible's pages reveal, His chosen people are too often hardhearted and disregard the most pointed of trials to continue in their own ways.

Staff
The Garden of God


 

Psalm 73:1-17

Psalm 73:1-17 shows that the righteous man severely misjudged the reality of his situation for a time until God revealed the truth. This trap can catch any of us. The wicked appear to prosper only if we consider merely what appears on the surface.

What God reveals to the psalmist is that the people he envies may appear to gain the whole world, but in reality, they are lacking something of immeasurably greater value. Through prayer and meditation, the psalmist is able to grasp this, and through God's revelation, he returns to a better emotional and spiritual state.

However, while in that anguished state, he sincerely assumed God was plaguing and punishing him every morning (verse 14). There are times when that may indeed be the case, and we might need a firm spanking because we may have repeatedly committed a sin and need to be brought up short. But we must not allow this to be our only conclusion, as the Bible frequently shows that, in the case of God's children, most trials are not given as punishment.

As a trial continues, a Christian tends to reason that, if he were not sinning, he would not be going through this experience. He therefore has a strong tendency to recall scriptures that say something similar to, “Therefore you shall be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Verses of this sort become our guide to correct the stressful condition. It is at this point that, all too often, we make a significant mistake, assuming that we are being punished.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Eleven): Paradox, Continued


 

Ecclesiastes 7:15-22

A critical element will make Ecclesiastes 7:15 a bit clearer. The Hebrew word translated as “perishes” ('ābad; Strong's #6) creates a misunderstanding. In its strongest sense, if the context calls for it, it can indeed indicate death. Its first definition, though, is simply “to wander.” It can also suggest merely slipping away or declining. Solomon is indeed warning that danger is present, but it is not an emergency situation. Verse 15, then, is saying that the just man is declining in his righteousness, not that he is perishing because he is an evil sinner ignoring a character flaw.

The reality is that he is declining despite being righteous, which makes all the difference in the world. He is not perishing because he is not righteous enough; he simply is not handling a trial well. Punishment from God is not the issue here, just as it was not the issue with the author of Psalm 73, Job, Paul, or for that matter, Christ, in the midst of their deep trials. However, it is a warning because danger is present.

Job, a righteous man, went through a great trial but not because he was a terrible sinner. Job 1:1 clearly states, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” He was clearly not an evil man. However, his friends thought he was hypocritically hiding the fact that he was a sinner. Job did not judge himself as such, so he defended himself—vigorously. Job was correct. When he repented, it was of his lack of understanding, and God accepted it.

As he served God and the church, was Paul being punished through his trials (II Corinthians 11:22-33)? Did Jesus go through the horrible torture of the crucifixion and death because He was not righteous enough? He certainly received unjustified and painful punishment, but it was not for His sins but ours. Punishment from God is not the issue in this paradoxical circumstance either. It rarely is the issue with His children, and there are reasons why.

When we are called into God's Family and the church, our lives change radically because God's creative activities intensify. He must prepare us for our change. He has allowed Himself enough time, but He will certainly not waste any of it. Consider that God used Jesus, Job, and Paul, among others, for specific purposes in His great creative program. Their parts included difficult trials that were public enough to witness for God before the world and for us too. This factor will also be active in our lives.

In other words, paradoxical trials like the one described in Psalm 73, are not unusual for us. The stakes are high in our calling. We must be tested.

When a person is involved in such a scenario, in reality only three alternatives exist: First, with much prayer and steadfast submission to God's will, he can continue faithfully enduring. Second, he can give up in despair and leave the church. Third, he can strive all the harder to impress God by becoming super-righteous so that He will take notice and bless him for his righteousness, relieving the stress.

It is the third alternative that Solomon addresses in Ecclesiastes 7:15-22, a “solution” that contains an element of danger. We may have lived through such a trial and been delivered, totally unaware of the peril. Super-righteousness is peculiar and dangerous because it is really a deceptive form of evil.

How does super-righteousness arise within a converted person? On the surface, it actually seems like a natural outcome unless the situation is controlled to prevent it. Though a form of self-righteousness, it is different from the self-righteousness we are more familiar with. It can develop from a resolve to obey God better, but those efforts are allowed to get out of control.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Eleven): Paradox, Continued


 

Malachi 3:3-5

If we put this purging into a different metaphor, it means getting rid of the leaven (see I Corinthians 5:7); here people are being purged of sin. God shows that He will use persecution to purify His people through the testing of their loyalty. We know that our loyalty is being really tested all the time, but a time is coming when it will require a great deal more intense conviction about what we believe. This becomes very important because His purpose is to entrench these beliefs into our character.

If people are truly convicted regarding their beliefs, they will conduct themselves far differently than if they are unsure. It is right here that this point becomes important—super-important really—because the dross of cowardly believers is going to be removed. That is what Malachi 3:3 is about. It will either be removed or else. That is very sobering.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)


 

Philippians 3:7-12

Why do we have to go through this suffering? For the same reason that Christ did. Verse 10 gives the answer, "that I may know Him." In what way? By the experiences of going through the same kinds of sufferings He went through. We gain intimate knowledge of what it took for Him to do what He did even though our tests, trials, and sufferings are considerably toned down so that we can bear them. It is almost as if we are given a little taste of walking in His shoes.

That is why we are here and that is why we suffer. There is very good reason why we have to go through it. If we do not, we do not really know Christ. He Himself says in John 17:3 that eternal life is to know God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Wilderness Wandering (Part 5)


 

 




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