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These Inward Trials


Students realize that God does not intend the life of a Christian to be without difficulty but through difficulty, with Him by our side, He prepares us for Himself.

Scripture Basis:
2 Cor 4:8-14, Phil 1:29, 2 Cor 1:8-10, 1 Peter 1:6-9, 1 Peter 4:12-16


Packers "Knowing God", chapter 21

The Back Door:
There is a certain aspect of the Gospel ministry which is often omitted. Often times when we are trying to bring someone to the Lord we stress the difference that will be made in once life by accepting Jesus Christ. One of the most common evangelical tracts, the Four Spiritual Laws, has a small graphical model at the end that describes the difference between life before and after conversion. It looks something like this.

The left circle represents the man before turning his life over to Christ. the circle on the right afterwards. The S on the chair represents self on the throne, the Cross represents Christ. The black dots in each circle represent the elements of one life such as job, family, health, relationships, etc. They appear random in the left circle and ordered about Christ in the right one.

The message given with this graphic is that not only will a man find forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ but he will also find peace of mind, spiritual guidance, and order in his personal life. He will be able to overcome sins that previously mastered him, his relationships will be repaired and if we are not careful we might leave him with the concept that his life will begin to follow that "golden road" he has long sought.

Now in general this will be true for each believer someday, but it is possible, and common, for a believer to sell the gospel as a golden road and have the new Christian go away with the idea the world, the flesh and Satan will not give him any more trouble. For what really happens to the new believer as he starts his new life in Christ, is ;

Now if the new believer has been "sold" the "good" life, he will be very disappointed when it doesn't appear and he may begin to doubt. He may ;

And worse yet, if the new believer is attended by well meaning Christians who regard experiences of frustration, difficulty, depression, perplexity or continued illness as signs of sub-standard Christianity., the new believer may be sent on a search for some other spiritual method of achieving the good life.

You see some Christians have come to equate the "struggle" of Christianity with the complete defeat of sinfulness mentioned in Romans 6:1 - 11. They apply these verses to all situations of difficulty in ones life. The problem with this is that it is not scriptural it is miss-scriptural. If you read only the first half of 1 Thess 5:9 you could build a case that indicates we have not been appointed to suffer, and therefore should not expect to suffer. The second half of the verse however makes clear that it is Gods wrath we are not appointed to suffer. The truth is that God continues to expose us to the rough aspects of this world including -

Students Teach Students:

Key Message: When difficulty appears it is good to check our path and be honest about ourselves. Perhaps their is a behavior that needs to be changed. But scripture makes it clear there are multiple kinds of suffering -

When we get caught up in foolish things wholly on our own that cause suffering . We need to remember what Proverbs says;

My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Prov 3:21-24 (NIV)

Key Message: Difficulties for believers are a part of Gods plan. Exposure to them while having the Holy Spirit living within us helps us be "immunized" against them. These exposures increase our powers of resistance to the evils in which they are based. Here we see that God wants all Christians,

"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. John 17:15 (NIV)

2 Cor 3:18 tells us of the "transformation" which is occurring in us. Some Christians expect the Holy Spirit to do this entirely inside us through some sort of magical method. The truth is that much of the transformation is done through exposure to this world and its suffering while having the Holy Spirit and other Christians to rely on for strength and encouragement.


Does God answer prayer? Yes. Does God protect his loved ones? Yes. But usually God does not shield us from the world - but rather by exposing us to all things, he overwhelms us with a sense of our own inadequacy. Why? So that we will learn to seek Him and hold him fast. You see when things are going great, few men will seek God. The following poem on the next page sums it all up.

These Inward Trials *

I asked the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace ;
That I might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He'd answer my request,
And by His love's constraining power
He'd subdue my sins, and give me rest.
Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart ;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.
Yet more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe ;
He crossed all the fair designs I schemed
Emptied my heart and laid me low.
'Lord, why is this?' I trembling cried,
'Will you pursue me to my death?'
' Tis in this way,' the Lord replied,
'I answer prayer for grace and faith.
These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set you free;
And break your schemes of earthly joy,
That you may seek your all in me.'

* J. Packer , pg 229 Knowing God (slightly updated)