Romans, Spiritual Formation

What we have when we have Christ (part 2)

More insights from Paul’s amazing truths in Romans 5:1-11.

5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 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.

This section, often viewed as parenthetical, may actually be one of the main points of the passage.

Since we have peace with God, one my wonder why God would allow a believers to suffer.  So Paul wants us to understand that we have a certain hope, when we have Christ.

The salvation God provides is permanent because of how it was provided and it is able to withstand trials. The Holy Spirit’s presence is an assurance of the future and of God’s love in the present.

Rather than an example of the lack of God’s love, we are assured of God’s love through suffering.

Now I have to admit–this is not how I want it.  I want to escape difficulty.  I want the easy way out.

I recently ask several ministry leaders what enables them to grow (means of growth, spiritual disciplines, etc.).  As they responded (more on their responses another day) we began talking about suffering and how difficulty is often the best teacher.

But my purpose for asking the question was to help in the development of ministries and environments for discipleship.

The reality of life and the lesson from Romans 5:3-5 reminds us that suffering will happen. We don’t have to program for it.  But we also don’t need to fear it–our perspective should be (at least when we are able to look back), “How is God causing me to grow through this?”

And that is the question we should ask when we face difficulty–“Lord, what do you want me to learn?  How do you want my faith to grow?  How do you want me to bring you glory?”

But there is one more aspect, Paul says “we rejoice in suffering.”  Sound like James 1 “count it all joy when you suffer various trials.”

Not only are we to stoically endure trials asking to grow from them, but we are to rejoice.  How? Why?  Because it confirms our hope of the future and deepens our grasp of God’s love in the present.

The ability to rejoice in trials is not natural.

Thoughts?

Author: Steve

Steve Kilgore joined the staff of Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA in the fall of 2002 as the Pastor of Discipleship to facilitate the equipping ministries, which include Adult Bible Fellowship and other adult discipleship ministries, and work with the rest of the education ministries. He currently serves as the Executive Pastor of Ministries with a focus on providing ministries that facility individuals taking intentional Next Steps for growing and participating in the leadership and administrative aspect at Calvary. He has also taught part-time at Lancaster Bible College in the area of Spiritual Formation and New Testament. Prior to coming to Calvary he served in two churches as well as taught part-time at Philadelphia Biblical University. He was born in Dallas, Texas, but spent the first 13 years of his life in Guatemala where his parents were missionaries. It was there at the age of four and a half that Steve placed his faith in Christ as his Savior. Steve received a Bachelor’s degree in Bible from Philadelphia College of Bible and a Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Steve and his wife, Mary Anne, have their two boys, Andrew and Nathan (both in college), and live in East Lampeter Township. Steve lives and ministers by the personal motto, Know what you believe and why, live it, be able to defend it. His hobbies, other than playing with his family, include tinkering with computers, reading, drinking coffee with his wife, playing and watching basketball. Steve and Mary Anne are looking forward to exploring new hobbies as they transition to life as empty-nesters.

2 Comments on “What we have when we have Christ (part 2)

  1. Not only does suffering provide the opportunity to experience God’s love from the Father himself, it also opens the door for God’s people, the body of Christ, to demonstrate God’s love. Since my cancer diagnosis on Nov 12, I have been showered by God’s love through His people — Study and Share women, the Dayspring ABF, Christians in my neighborhood and family. I feel very loved and cared for . . . even though I have struggled to embrace what having cancer means. So inspite of two surgeries, discomfort, figuring out treatment and concern for my husband, the love of God surrounds me.

  2. Thanks Sally.

    I appreciate your comments about both God’s love and the love of the Body.

    We tend to be so individualistic in our understanding of our relationship with God. I find that I know the truth of the interconnection of the Body, but my instinctive (culturally conditioned) response is to individualize much of my relationship with the Lord.

    So thanks for the reminder.

    I have appreciated your sharing your journey on your blog. Because, I still hope I can learn through others not just “personal” experience.

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