Vol: 22 Issue: 13 Thursday, April 13, 2017
Why do Christians undergo trials and tribulations? Is there a higher purpose? Or do we just suffer at random? Is it just a roll of the dice? Good luck vs. bad luck?
Or do you believe that everything God does is to a specific purpose?
The Bible says that even a sparrow in the sky is so important to God that not one of them shall fall to the ground without His knowledge and permission.
“Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
That is more than mere rhetoric. If God cares about a sparrow and not one falls from the sky without it being part of His plan, then how likely is it that He allows you to undergo trials and tribulations for no purpose?
When a sparrow does fall from the sky and is, say, eaten by a cat, would you say that it was purposeless? Clearly not – in this case, the sparrow’s purpose was, at minimum, to feed the cat.
Your value, on the other hand, is such that Jesus Christ died in your place so that you might have everlasting life. Your purpose is also clearly outlined in Scripture. When you were lost, your purpose was to be saved.
“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)
That was your purpose from even before you were born – to be conformed to the image of His Son. Look right above this line – it SAYS so in black and white!
If we are to accept the premise that the Bible is true, then you were foreknown, predestinated, called, justified and glorified. There isn’t any other way to understand what the Apostle Paul is saying.
Did God foreknow your existence? Of course He did – He is the omniscient God! Were you predestinated? How could you be foreknown and NOT predestinated?
If God knows the end from the beginning, then He knows YOUR end from YOUR beginning. If He knows your end, then by definition, he knows your destination. You are predestinated.
That in no way impairs your free will – you are free to choose. It is just that God knows your choices in advance – you have to wait until you make them to find out what they will be.
It really isn’t that difficult a concept, if we are willing to accept God as He describes Himself and accept the Bible as a true record.
You were also conformed to His Son. “Conformed” is the English rendering of the Greek word, summorphos meaning, “jointly formed, fashioned like unto.” Note that you didn’t conform yourself to the image of His Son.
It was done for you. You were foreknown, predestinated, called, justified and glorified – all in the past tense indicating that it is already accomplished.
It doesn’t say you will be justified and glorified when you get to heaven. It says it was already accomplished in heaven before the world began.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)
God cannot lie. Eternal life was promised, not according to our works, before the world began. You were foreknown, predestinated, conformed, called, justified and glorified.
It isn’t a linguistic trick. It isn’t a mistranslation or a misunderstanding of either the original Greek or in our English translation.
To every thing there is a purpose, the Bible says, and for every purpose God has appointed a time.
I find it interesting that most Christians have no problem with Romans 8:29-30 but they have a HUGE problem with predestination. They have no problem with 2 Timothy 1:9 but somehow believe that they can lose their salvation by their works.
And the biggest stumblingblock of all is the part where it says “He.” He did it. He did it all. He foreknew, predestinated, conformed, called, justified and glorified. What did you do?
You accepted that you were a sinner, believed you were deserving of punishment, and trusted that Jesus made a way for you to be saved by faith, since the Ten Commandments prove it is impossible to be saved by your works.
AFTER that, YOU added the rest of the conditions, set the standard for what sins God finds acceptable, and made the decision as to whether or not you were good enough to be saved. It HAD to be you – it isn’t in the Bible.
The Bible says that salvation is a gift offered through God’s grace and received by you through faith. The Bible goes so far as to say that even the very faith by which your receive salvation is of God.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that (faith) not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So if there are extra requirements that must be brought to the table, they are extra requirements imposed by you, not by God. God says, “whosoever will.”
Now, returning to a higher purpose, good luck vs. bad luck and God’s eye on the sparrow, let me ask again: Do you believe that everything God does is to a specific purpose?
Now, can you identify from Scripture the purpose for Tribulation Period? The Bible identifies only two reasons, which is why it has two names.
It is called the Tribulation Period. (Greek: thlipsis: “affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble”). And, it is called, “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble“.
The affliction, anguish, burden, persecution, tribulation and trouble of this time is to be inflicted upon all those that dwell upon the earth. The Bible tells us that it will be meted out in the form of 21 judgments.
The Bible does not separate the judgments into six minor judgments which are then followed by fifteen major judgments. It outlines twenty-one consecutive judgments that will befall those that dwell upon the earth, starting with the first judgment – the rider on the white horse.
This period of judgment is set aside for two distinct purposes. To judge a Christ-rejecting world and to bring about the national redemption of Israel.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
At the moment of salvation, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us and bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
The Bible further tells us that it is the Holy Spirit that guides us into truth and that He will indwell us forever – or until Christ comes for us. And that the Holy Spirit must be taken out of the way before the antichrist can be indwelt by Satan.
The antichrist is the rider on the white horse and the indwelling of the antichrist by Satan kicks off the Tribulation Period.
The Tribulation is seven years long. In the first half, the antichrist confirms a covenant with Israel that enables the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of temple worship.
Daniel 9:27 says the antichrist breaks that covenant halfway through. 2nd Thessalonians 2:4 tell us he reveals himself when he sits on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant and declares himself to be God.
Revelation 7 reveals that 144,000 Jews are sealed with the Holy Spirit to spread the Gospel, Revelation 13:17 says that they are given the choice between accepting the Mark or martyrdom and Revelation 20:4 tells us they were beheaded for the witness of Jesus.
Now, we return (again) to the questions we started out with. Why do Christians undergo trials and tribulations? Is there a higher purpose? Or do we just suffer at random? Is it just a roll of the dice? Good luck vs. bad luck?
Christians undergo trials and tribulations according to His purposes. What is the purpose behind Blood-bought, eternally-saved, indwelt Christians being separated from the indwelling Holy Spirit so that they can undergo half of the judgment period set aside for those that rejected Christ?
Why would the Lord subject His own Bride to judgment for sin after He had already redeemed that Bride from judgment for sin at the Cross?
We endure the consequences of sin all the time because the world is created in sin, but consequences aren’t the same as judgment.
The consequences of reckless driving is oftentimes an accident. But the judgment for reckless driving is a legal penalty imposed by a court after a finding of guilt.
Salvation means justification. Justification is a finding of not guilty. The finding of not guilty is itself a judgment that no penalty is due.
The Tribulation Period is period of judgment imposed by God after a finding of guilt. Those under judgment are guilty of not repenting of their sin that they might be saved.
“Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” (Revelation 9:21)
The Bible says that everything has a purpose. If the Church is to endure any part of the Tribulation, including the first six judgments (the pre-Wrath position) then there must be a purpose.
Is it to finish the work of the Cross? How does that apply to Christians in previous generations? Did they die with their salvation unfinished? Is it a punishment for Christians?
It IS a punishment on the whole earth. And the pre-Wrath position includes Christians. But not all Christians? Just the ones unlucky enough to be alive when it starts. (So luck plays a role?)
Or do the Tribulation judgments fall at random, judging those already judged at the Cross a second time because of when they were born? A roll of the dice?
Does that make sense?
The pre-Wrath position, if you listen closely to its proponents when they articulate it, is a position not unlike that of Catholic Purgatory. Purgatory is a place between heaven and hell where people are “purged” of the sins Jesus was unable to sufficiently cleanse by His Blood.
After they’ve been sufficiently purged and cleansed, they are then permitted to continue on into heaven.
The pre-Wrath Rapture posits that Christians of this generation alone deserve a second judgment for sin, evidently for the same reason. But after they have suffered “pre-Wrath of God judgments” they are then permitted to continue on into heaven at the pre-Wrath Rapture.
(Provided that they survive the first six judgments for sin that claim a quarter of the population alive at that time.)
The pre-Wrath position makes sense if one believes that just because somebody is saved doesn’t mean that they should be spared a second judgment if everybody else has to endure it.
But so does Purgatory because some sinners are worse than others and deserve some kind of punishment.
But it only makes sense if Jesus wasn’t able to wash away all my sin. Otherwise, since I am saved, Blood-bought and heaven bound — but temporarily abandoned by Holy Spirit, it is purposeless.
Apart from the Holy Spirit, I can’t lead anybody to Christ. Apart from taking part in the suffering, I have no purpose to serve. I can’t find anywhere in Scripture that says that God does things without a purpose.
Especially when it comes to judgment.
Featured Commentary: The Second Woe ~J.L. Robb