A Secure Faith That Sustains Through Trial and Temptation

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Secure Faith That Sustains Through Trial and Temptation’

© October 18, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin October 18, 2015

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Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – James 1 and 1 Peter 1); Prayer                                      

Opening Hymn #224: How Firm a Foundation; Choruses                                          

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                     

Today Scriptures: Genesis 3:8-24, Job 1:1-12, 1 Peter 2:18-23   

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 Let us pray…

Our lesson today looks at how we are able to deal with the suffering caused by life’s tests and temptations depends upon how well prepared we are.

When I was a young student in school, I used to dread tests and exams. This dread was usually directly proportional to the importance of the test to the final mark in the subject.

My problem with tests and exams was resolved by how I prepared for them. The first step in my preparation was to understand what the purpose of test, which was often related to subject, involved.

For example, tests in subjects such as spelling, basic arithmetic and history usually required a simple memorization, or learning by rote, of  terms, tables, events, dates, peoples, and places. I found that with these subjects requiring memorization of facts and figures, that repetition is the key to being prepared, and a review the night before was often beneficial.

Higher levels of related subjects would call an understanding and application of the rules of grammar, mathematical equations and formulae, and understanding the effects of ethnic, social, political, and economic change upon various peoples on a national or global scale. Exercises that included the application of the rules throughout the term helped me to understand and prepare for tests in these subjects.

The true test of our education comes with the practical application of what we have learned to address the challenges and problems that we face in reality. How successful we are meeting these real life tests and resolving our problems often depends how faithful we were in our preparation before we are tested.

In our faith walk, we find that there are many accounts of people being tested and suffering throughout The Scriptures. In order to understand these tests and how we may apply them to resolving our own tests and sufferings, we must first understand their purpose.

In our first Scripture, we encountered the suffering that came as a result of God’s judgement upon Adam and Eve, as well as all of humanity, because of sin,

Genesis 3:8-24 English (ESV):

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And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[a] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[b] 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,     

cursed are you above all livestock     

and above all beasts of the field;

on your belly you shall go,     

and dust you shall eat     

all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,     

and between your offspring[c] and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,    

 and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;     

in pain you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be for[d] your husband,     

and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife     

and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you,     

‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you;     

in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;     

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face     

you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,     

for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,     

and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.[e] 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:8 Hebrew wind b. Genesis 3:9 In Hebrew you is singular in verses 9 and 11 c. Genesis 3:15 Hebrew seed; so throughout Genesis d. Genesis 3:16 Or against e. Genesis 3:20 Eve sounds like the Hebrew for life-giver and resembles the word for living

God decreed that Adam and Eve, as well as all generations their offspring would be separated from the paradise of Eden, no longer having a close relationship with God, and subject to hard labour, pain of childbirth, shame, self-loathing, and ultimately, death. These judgements and sufferings come as a punishment for sin.

We find another account of challenges and tests, this time when God permitted the devil to inflict tests and suffering upon Job, the Lord’s faithful servant. The testing was meant to show whether faith comes from prosperity and when prosperity is removed, faith will also disappear. Satan was permitted to bring suffering upon Job, to the point of death. Job 1:1-12 (ESV):

Job’s Character and Wealth

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1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed[a] God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Satan Allowed to Test Job

BLCF: Satan Before the Lord by Corrado Giaquinto, c. 1750

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Footnotes: a. Job 1:5 The Hebrew word bless is used euphemistically for curse in 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9 b. Job 1:6 Hebrew the Accuser or the Adversary; so throughout chapters 1–2

We know that Job’s faith passed the tests and his trust in his Lord was rewarded with God restoring Job to being more prosperous than before when the testing began.

Which brings us to the third type of suffering found in the Bible,  which we find is described in 1 Peter 2:18-23 (ESV)?

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

As followers in Christ, we may expect to suffer unjustly for their faith. Like Job, we can expect Satan to bring testing and suffering upon us, though we do not deserve it. However, unlike Job, through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are graced with the company of the Holy Spirit to allow us to endure our suffering. Both Adam and Eve had to endure the shame and hardship wrought by their sin. And while Job kept his faith, he did not have the benefit of the presence of the Holy Spirit to help him endure the pain and suffering inflicted upon him by Satan.

On the front of today’s Bulletin you will read that while we may be accused and punished unjustly, we may take comfort and have peace that God is with us through the Spirit, Romans 5:1-5 (ESV):

Peace with God through Faith

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5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:1 Some manuscripts let us b. Romans 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith c. Romans 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3 d. Romans 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11

As believers in the gift of Christ, we may rejoice in our pain and suffering, without the worry of Job or the shame of Adam and Eve, but with the comfort and hope brought to us by the Holy Spirit, secured in faith in the knowledge that we may endure any test we may endure. If we deserve it, faith in Christ makes it undeserved. The Sprit brings us comfort and joy having the understanding that God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us unblemished in His presence.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #252: O Soul, Are You Weary and Troubled?

Benediction: – (1 Peter 5:8-10):

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.


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