Friday

Why Is Good Friday Good???

.


If the Son of God was put to death in
a decidedly torturous and cruel way,
why do Christians call the day Good?

If Jesus' Father loved Him so much,
why did He insist upon His death as
so many critics of Christianity lament?


MORE!!!

5 comments:

Professor Howdy said...

1 Samuel 12:24


New International Version:

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.


King James Version

Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things He hath done for you.

Professor Howdy said...

The Purpose Of Trials by
Dr. John F. MacArthur

As we begin our study tonight in James chapter 1, you might open your Bible
to that wonderful section of Scripture that is filled with so much hope for
those of us who go through trouble.

While you're doing that, I want to share a letter with you. A couple of
weeks ago, someone called me on the phone in our church and said, "I wonder
if you could make a phone call for us to a brother-in-law who just had a
terrible tragedy in his life."

And I said I would be happy to do that. So I called. And when he picked up
the phone, responded, I said, "Hi, this is John MacArthur in California," he
was in Colorado. And he was stunned for a moment because he had been
listening to the radio and the tapes but had not met me personally, to my
knowledge anyway. And he said, "I can't believe this. I can't believe you
called me. I'm sitting here at the table writing you a letter."

And the letter came and in the middle of the letter, right in the middle of
it it says, "Wow, praise God, this is where you called me." This is on page
four of the letter. "I feel like God is telling me something."

Six-fifteen P.M. on the sixteenth of March, 1986, the letter says this:

"I would like to tell you a story that begins over a year ago. The story is
far too complex for me to write in a letter, at least in all its detail. I
would like to share perhaps a paragraph of it with you.

My name is Dan. I met you at Grace Church briefly and I sat four rows back,
dead center on December 22, 1985, you remember? My wife was not able to come
as she was ill. We have a son, Luke, age 4 and a daughter age 22 months.

In March of 1985, my wife was diagnosed as having a brain tumor in her right
cerebellum. On April 3, 1985, Carolyn went into surgery and they removed the
tumor along with 80 percent of her right cerebellum.

On Good Friday, April 3, 1985, things were looking good and they moved
Carolyn out of the ICU into a regular room. April 5, 1985, I went home to
her parents' house around 10:30 P.M. I went in to kiss the kids good night
and Sara, then 8 months old, was glassy-eyed and staring off into space. I
thought she was gone. The doctors at Children's Hospital took a spinal tap
and said she had Spinal Meningitis. They told me she could die, or have any
number of deficiencies. It would take 24 hours to tell if she would survive.

It was then that I really lost control. I could do nothing. As my daughter
lay there on an inclined crib, she had splints on her arms and one leg. She
had an IV in her left foot, right hand, left hand and scalp. She was tied
down with her arms spread and had three monitors on her chest.

I wept. Lord, why her? She's so innocent. I was totally at a loss for
answers. There I was trying to keep this from my wife, Carolyn, who was in
another hospital. I couldn't. Lord, what would I do?

On Easter morning, April 6, 1986, (should be 1985), I was at Children's,
holding Sara with all the wires and IVs, sitting in a chair. And a nurse
came in and told me that Sara had made it. The monitors indicated she had
responded well to the antibiotics and they could take off all of the
apparatus.

As you can imagine, during that time I did a lot of footwork between the two
hospitals. In doing that, I was using Carolyn's car and she listened to
radio station KWBI A.M. 91, somewhere in Longmont, Colorado. That's where I
first heard you. I don't remember the date, but you were in the series, "How
to handle persecution," from the book of Acts.

First time I heard, I had to stop the car. I was crying too hard to drive.
My wife, Carolyn, courageously fought back from her surgery and even though
her motor skills would never be normal, she never gave up. She was dedicated
to her children and me and her Savior and Lord.

I've included some of her notes from the Bible study on "Kingdom Life."--And
they're in the back of the letter, her own notes, written with obviously a
scrawling hand that would reflect some of the brain damage.

She was not a Bible scholar but she loved the Lord. She died May 8, 1986 in
my arms, the third tumor was inoperable.

Praise God, we have a Savior who has conquered death. As I write this
letter, I have wet eyes and the smell of funeral flowers fills my nostrils.
I'm not writing this for sympathy. I just could not let it go any longer
because I wanted you to know how much Grace To You has blessed me and my
family. And I speak for those outside my family as well.

Please give my thanks to your staff at Grace To You and also to Grace
Community Church. --And then I love this at the end--Many of your church
have prayed for Carolyn and I and the family and P.S., we're praying for you
and your new building. Your friend, Dan Hummel(Sp.?)"

Now there's a man who went through a very, very wrenching emotional
experience. In one sentence he said, "She died in my arms," and the very
next sentence he said, "Praise God for a Savior who has conquered death." In
the most profound of human agony, for the Christian there is great
hope...there is triumph no matter how deep the trouble.

It's all a question of perspective. The family that I mentioned to you this
morning, the Romanoski(?) family, whose two daughters were killed yesterday,
have been staying with Russ and Heidi Moir. I asked Russ what their attitude
is and he said to me, "To be honest with you, they were rejoicing today."
Rejoicing? Over the death of two daughters in an auto accident?

"Well, they're rejoicing because both their daughters knew Jesus Christ and
the other two students with them who were spared do not know Christ." Cause
for rejoicing.

It's perspective. Going through any trial of life for a Christian can be a
joyous experience if perspective is right. Now imagine for yourself the
worst trial you could possible face. Maybe for some people it might seem to
be financial crisis, all your investments are lost, your life savings. For
other people it might be the loss of employment, you're fired, you have no
income to support your family, you lose all your dignity. Or the
announcement from the doctor that you have just received word that you're
going to have to have a triple bypass immediately. Or that you have a
massive brain tumor. Or, your husband does, or your son does. Or, the word
has just come over the telephone that your daughter has had a terrible car
accident and has died. Or, been raped. Or your wife has been murdered by a
drug addict who broke into the house. Or maybe that your child has a fatal
disease and only a few days to live. And we could go on and on and on. And
frankly, folks, all of those things touch us one way or another, don't they?
Because as Job put it, "Man is born into trouble as the sparks fly upward."

And anybody who tries to create a fantasy world where everything is perfect
is only setting themselves up for even a more profound sorrow. It must be
anticipated. And I have to confess to you that the anticipation of the
reality of sorrow and agony and trouble coming close to us, cast a sort of a
shadow even over our highest joys, doesn't it? In a sense, it mitigates even
the most wonderful events of life. And maybe that's the reason that though
Jesus wept rather commonly, as Scripture records, no place in Scripture does
it ever say He laughed.

Perhaps He did. But His happiness at any occasion certainly would have been
offset by His overwhelming sense of sadness over sin. All of us, to some
degree or another, if we think realistically know we're going to face
trouble. We're going to have to look right in the eyes of agony at some
point in our lives. And we need to understand how to face that.

I was trying to think this week as I sat in my study of what to me would be
the severest trial of all trials. The most painful experience to go through.
And I thought about the classic Job who lost his family and his crops and
his animals and everything. And I thought about that for a while, lost all
his possessions, lost all his children. And worse, he was left with a wife
who didn't understand anything. He was personally struck with disease. And
that is admittedly a heavy-duty trial.

But as I thought about it more, I thought of another person who in my
judgment, and you may or may not agree with me, but who in my judgment
probably was faced with potentially the severest trial any human being could
ever endure. And the man's name is Abraham.

Turn with me for a moment back to Jame...Genesis 22. I really wanted to get
into James but I just got to thinking about this and felt that perhaps this
would give us a very good perspective. I think what God put Abraham through
is unquestionably the most unimaginable test that anyone was ever given.

In Genesis 22 verse 1, it says, "It came to pass after these things that God
did test Abraham." This is a peirasmos, folks. This is a trial for Abraham.
This is a test for Abraham. He was faced with the severest trial that is
imaginable. God did test Abraham.

"He said to him, Abraham, He said, Behold, here I am. And He said, Take now
your son...notice the emphasis...your only Isaac whom you love." Almost as
if God is rubbing it in. Not just your son, but your only son. Not just your
only son but the one you love. "And go into the land of Moriah and offer him
there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you
about." It's incredible. I want to sacrifice out of you and I want a human
sacrifice, I want your son, I want you to go there, I want you to kill him
as an offering to Me.

This did not fit Abraham's theology. There was no history in the covenant of
God of human sacrifice. That was a pagan thing. No child of God would ever
offer his own in human sacrifice. Furthermore, this was the son of promise.
God had touched the dead loins of Abraham and allowed him to bring to a
consummation, a relationship with his wife Sarah who was also dry in her own
loins and produce a son, a son of the covenant, a son of promise, a son of
hope, a son of Sarah who was barren all her life.

Why would God call for human sacrifice when He never had called for human
sacrifice before? And to do so would be the antithesis of everything Abraham
knew to be true about God. Why would God go to great lengths to enable a man
and a woman nearing 100 years of age who had been barren all their life to
produce a son then ask the son be killed? Why would God make a promise to
Abraham that he would be the father of nations and the seed that would come
out of his loins would number as the sands of the sea and the stars of the
heaven and then kill the only child he had?

The whole idea was absolutely bizarre. All hope of progeny in old Abraham
would die. All hope of promise would die. Abraham would be killing his love,
killing God's promises, striking a blow at God's Word, striking a blow at
the character of God, striking a blow at the covenant faithfulness of God,
killing the promise of God and cutting off the line of Messiah. Absolutely
inconceivable.

And what makes it the severest trial ever is not that Isaac was to die, but
that Abraham was to kill him with his own hand. Incredible. It's one thing
to have the one you love die, it's something else to be told to kill that
person. An unthinkable trial. A trial that made sense no way, not
theologically, not in terms of the nature of God, not in terms of the plan
of redemption, not in terms of God's Word, not in terms of His love or of
Abraham's love for Isaac. If there ever was anything that God commanded to
man to do that deserved a rather lengthy argument, this was it. And we would
have understood if Abraham had said, "Look, God, could You explain this,
please? This makes no sense. I can't do it."

Notice his response. Verse 3, "And Abraham rose up early in the morning and
saddled his ass and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son."
What? In the morning he got ready to leave, to go. "And he cut the wood." He
had to cut his own wood to put his son on to burn him to death. And he rose
up, and he went to the place which God told him to go.

Amazing man, absolutely amazing man...no questioning, no delay, no argument,
no dispute, no reaction. Three days later, verse 4, "Abraham lifted up his
eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men," he had
some people going along with him, "abide here with the ass and I and the lad
will go yonder and worship." Watch this one, "And come again to you." You
ought to underline that. I and the lad will go and worship and we'll be
back. Here's the secret. Keep that in mind. He said we'll both come back.

"And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, laid it on Isaac his son.
He took the fire in his hand and a knife and they went both of them
together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, My father. He
said, Here I am, my son. He said, Behold the fire and the wood but where is
the lamb for a burnt offering?" O my, this is agonizing...a trusting son who
doesn't know what's going on, says in such a loving way, and gently to his
father about this act of worship, "Where is the lamb? And Abraham said, My
son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering. So they went both
of them together." And you ought to underline that. You see, I believe down
deep in Abraham's heart, he knew God had something in mind that was
consistent with God's character and consistent with God's covenant. I don't
know that he knew what it was specifically, but I think he had a good idea.

"And they came to the place of which God had told him and Abraham built an
altar there." He had to build the altar. "Laid the wood in order, bound
Isaac his son." No struggle on Isaac's part either. "Tied him up, laid him
on the altar upon the wood. Abraham stretched forth his hand, took the knife
to slay his son." You can stop at that point.

Unbelievable. Do you understand by reading that story what it means when it
says "Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness?" Do
you understand why the New Testament says that Abraham is the father of the
faithful? He is the greatest single model of trust in God the Bible knows
anything about apart from Christ. The man is at the point of plunging the
knife into the breast of his own son. An unthinkable thing. What a trial.
Contradictory, indescribable, painful, murderous, inconsistent with
everything he knew about God...and yet he is submissive, he is obedient, he
will worship at any cost. And God took Abraham's willingness for
performance. God judged him on his willingness and didn't make him carry out
the act.

Verse 11, "The angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven and said,
Abraham, Abraham. And he said, Here I am. And he said, Lay not your hand on
the lad, neither do anything unto him for now I know that you fear God."
Guess what, this was a test and Abraham...what?...passed. He passed. He
would obey the Word of God no matter what. "You have not withheld your son,
your only son from Me." Umph...

Now Abraham shows us that we might be tested in things very near to us. We
might be tested in things very dear to us like a son or a daughter, or a
husband or a wife or a friend. We may have to offer up our own Isaac, give
the ones we love most over to the Lord, not only in death but maybe in life.
Maybe by letting them go the way that God wants them to go, not necessarily
the way we want them to go. You see, when Abraham was willing to give up
Isaac, no matter how much Isaac meant to him in every way, he showed by
being willing to give him up...watch this...that he had the right to keep
him. See that? He wasn't possessive. He would release him to God's will.
Why? Because he would do anything God asked him to do.

Now we all have a lot of trials in life, but I can't ever imagine a trial
like that. I can't imagine what I would do if God told me to do that....I
can't imagine what I would go through. But I think we can conclude from this
that the more excellent or the more difficult the obedience, the more
excellent the obedience. And the more difficult the obedience, the more
self-denial is inherent in it. So here you have an obedience that takes
tremendous self-denial and therefore is the most excellent. Abraham passed
the test. He says, "Now I know you fear God." In other words, you truly
reverence God at any cost. What a trial.

The commentary on this trial of Abraham is given in the eleventh chapter of
Hebrews. Would you look there for just a moment? In Hebrews chapter 11 and
verse 17, how did Abraham do this? How could he bring himself to this?
Hebrews 11:17 tells us very clearly, the first two words of verse 17 tell
the whole story, "By...what?...faith Abraham...and here it comes again, you
ought to underline it...when he was tested." This was a test. I think about
that on the radio. The other day I was driving in to the church and the
little beep came on and said, "This is a test." And I thought about Abraham.
God was saying, "Beep...this is a test. Beep...the test has just been
concluded." This is a test. "And when he was tested, he offered up Isaac and
he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom
it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called."

How could he do that? Here it comes...here's the key, verse 19, "Accounting,
or taking note of the fact, that God was able to raise him up even
from...what?...the dead." You know why he was willing to do that? Because he
believed God could raise the dead. Had he ever seen the dead raised? Not to
my knowledge, but he believed God could raise the dead. What he really
believed was this, that God was so true to His Word that if He made a
promise, He would even raise the dead to keep it. Tremendous faith.

Now I don't want to read too much into the story but it just may be that
Abraham was a little disappointed when he wasn't allowed to take his son's
life because he would like to have seen a resurrection. We don't know that.
But he believed, if need be, God would raise him from the dead.

Now what does that tell us? It tells us that a man can go through the
severest imaginable trial of life if he really trusts God. And if he
believes that God is on the throne, that God will keep His promise, that God
never makes mistakes, that God always fulfills His word and that God will
accomplish His purposes, it is that kind of faith that passes the test. When
Abraham was put through the peirasmos, that's peirasominos(?), when he was
tried or tested, he passed. And I say again, is it any wonder, is it any
wonder that this man is the single greatest human model of faith? In
Galatians 3 verse 7, "Know ye therefore that they who are of faith are the
sons of Abraham." Anybody who lives by faith in God is in a spiritual sense
a son of Abraham. He is the father of the faithful. He is the model of
faith.

Verse 9 says, "They who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." He
knew that through his loins the nations of the world would be blessed. And
he knew God kept His word and God would bring it to pass.

Now, beloved, we have to realize that God is going to allow us to go through
tests. And the thing that sustains us in the midst of that is our trust in
God, our faith that God is working all things out for His own holy purpose.
I know we dream of worldly ease, and we like to create a perfect
environment, we want to have absolute comfort. We want to get all the rough
spots out of life. We want to make sure everything is perfectly settled.
Frankly, I've never known such a moment in my life. Every once in a while I
think there's one there and I find out there isn't.

But the fact that we have temporary rest and temporary ease sort of fools us
into thinking we might find a permanent exemption when that is not the case.
I remember the words of the psalmist, you remember Psalm 30 verse 6, he
said, "In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved." Implied, but I was
wrong. "When I was fat, I thought it would always be like this." And you can
live in a fool's paradise if you want, never forecasting any trouble,
promising yourself ease. But that isn't what Christ said. He said, "Watch
and pray that you enter not into peirasmos, trials." Watch, look for trials,
pray, ask for strength. Watch and pray.

I was reading, as I often enjoy doing, the works of Thomas Manton, a
marvelous Puritan writer. And I found one line in some of the things I was
reading this week that stuck in my mind. He said this, "God had one Son
without sin, but no son without a cross." It just goes with the territory.
We're going to have trials. Psalm 23 says, "Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me."
Trials will come, the confidence is in the presence of God.

Now, let me talk a little bit more by way of introduction and I..as I said,
I wanted to get into the text itself but so many things came into my mind
this week that probably should have been covered in the introduction. So if
you'll indulge me a bit.

Trials can come to us through several means and through...and with several
purposes in mind. Let me just suggest some to you, all right? First of all,
trials come to test the strength of our faith. And we really did get into
that last week, I just want to touch this one. Trials come to test the
strength of our faith. There's a great illustration of this in 2 Chronicles
32:31, you don't need to look it up, I'll quote that portion of it. It
relates to Hezekiah who was king and of Hezekiah it says this, listen, "God
left him to test him that he might know all that was in his heart." Did you
get that? God left him to test him that he might know all that was in his
heart.

That who might know? Well, not God. God didn't need to know by testing what
was in Hezekiah's heart. He knew by omniscience, right? Does God have to
test you to find out what's in your heart? No. God doesn't have to test any
of us to find out what's in our heart, God tests us so we can find out.

In other words, He assists us in doing that spiritual inventory. He assists
us in self-examination. I need to know and you need to know the strength of
our faith. And so, God brings trials into our lives to demonstrate to us the
strength or weakness of our faith. If you're right now going through a
severe trial, it is revealing to you the strength or weakness of your faith,
isn't it? If you're shaking your fist at God, if you're wondering why it's
happening, if you're fretting all the time and worrying, if you're in
anxiety from morning till night, there's a good indication that you have a
weak faith.

If, on the other hand, you're going through a trial and you find yourself
resting in the Lord, having placed it into His care, letting Him bear the
burden of it, and going on your way rejoicing as best you can in a difficult
situation, waiting for God to show you the way out, then you are seeing for
yourself that you possess a strength of faith.

So, in one sense then, we ought to be thankful for trials because they
assist us in the inventory of our own faith. That's very helpful. I always
want to know where my faith is so that it can be stronger. For the stronger
my faith is the more likely I am to be useful to God.

When Habakkuk was going through the mystery of his own situation in the
devastating promise that the Chaldeans were going to come and wipe out his
people, in spite of everything he said, "Even if the fig tree doesn't
blossom, and the fruit is not in the vines and the labor of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food and the flocks are cut off from the fold and
there's no herd in the stalls," in other words, if everything that I know of
as normative in life ceases, "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in
the God of my salvation, the Lord God is my strength and He will make my
feet like mountain goat's feet and make me walk upon my high places." And
then at the end he says, "To the chief singer on my stringed instruments,
this is praise, sing it." In the midst of an absolutely unsolvable mystery,
his trust never wavered. He learned through that the strength of his faith.

And so one of the purposes of testing is to reveal to you and to me the
strength of our faith so that we can move along the path to greater
strength. Job was tested. As a result of his testing in chapter 42, that
familiar text, he says, "I had heard of Thee," speaking of God, "with the
hearing of mine ear, now my eyes seeth Thee and I repent, I abhor myself, I
repent in dust and ashes." In other words, he said I want to confess my sin.
Lord, I have never really seen You the way I see You now. And I realize that
some of the things I thought about You and said about You and felt about You
were sinful. Lord, my faith in its weakness has been revealed. So trials
come as a test to the strength of our faith.

Secondly, we must recognize that trials come to humble us. They come to
remind us not to think more confidently of our spiritual strength than we
should. It's closely connected to the first one, but a little different.
They come not only to show us our strength, but they come to humble us. Lest
we think that we are more strong spiritually than we are.

This is illustrated, I think, perhaps as graphically as anywhere in
Scripture in the wonderful testimony of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, you know
it. He says in verse 7, "And lest I should be exalted above measure." In
other words, lest I should think more highly of myself than I ought to think
because of the abundance of the revelations. And to be caught up into the
third heaven...and all of the things that Paul was able to do in the power
of the Spirit, miracles and signs and wonders and mighty deeds and
revelations coming out of him from God. And through all of these things, he
could well have been exalted in his own mind. So lest I should be exalted
above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to
me a thorn in the flesh to buffet me, to just beat me up all the time, lest
I should be exalted above measure.

And we must realize that God allows trials in our lives, especially when we
are blessed in places of spiritual service, to keep us humble, lest we think
more confidently of our spiritual strength than we should and start to feel
that we're invincible.

There's a third reason as I thought these things through, and these are
really my own reflections, trying to look at it from the biblical and the
personal viewpoint. I believe the Lord brings trials in our life also to
wean us from worldly things...to wean us away from worldly things. Have you
found that maybe the older you've gotten and the more things you've
accumulated, the more furniture or cars or houses or bank accounts or
whatever, the more success you may have had, the more worldly things you've
done, you've been here, you've been there, you've traveled, you've seen
this, you've seen that, have you noticed that as that has gone on in your
life, those things tend to have less and less significance? There was a time
when you thought that they were the most desirable things in life and now
you no longer feel that because they have not been able to deal with the
real issues of life? They don't really solve deep problems, great anxieties,
hurts.

And when trials come into your life and you reach out for all those worldly
things and they make no difference, and they mean absolutely nothing, that
trial is weaning you off of those things. Because it is demonstrating their
utter inability to solve any problem...or to provide for you any real
resource in a time of stress. We need to be weaned away.

Philip, you know, in John 6, he comes to Jesus and he says, "Boy, how we
going to get bread to feed these people?" He's looking at things from a
worldly viewpoint. "How...where we...there's no stores around here. And
there's not enough bread anyway. We've got a multitude here, a massive
crowd. How are we going to get food for 5,000 men plus women and children?"
And so he says, "Well, Philip, you tell Me, where are we going to buy
bread?" And it says in verse 6, "And this He said to test him." He wanted to
find out whether Philip looked to worldly resources. And, of course, he did.
But it wasn't any good at that point, and the Lord then created a meal and
very quickly weaned Philip off the worldly things and satisfied him with the
spiritual things.

I think about Moses, you remember in chapter 11 of Hebrews verses 24 to 26?
He had been raised in Pharaoh's house. He had been brought up as a prince in
Egypt. For 40 years he was educated. He was literally in line in the
Pharaoh's family for prominence. He had reached the apex of Egyptian society
which was at the height of the world. All the education, all the money, all
the prestige, all the honor, all the success, all the comfort was there in
his hands. But he considered the reproach of Christ, the Lord's anointed,
greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. See, he had gotten his eyes off
all of that and he began to be concerned about the trial of his people. And
the Lord used that trial to wean him off of worldly things. Trials will do
that.

There's a fourth, I think, purpose in trials. I think they call us to what
we could an eternal hope. Trials in life, I don't know how they work with
you but they work this way with me, trials in my life tend to make me want
to go to heaven. Have you noticed that? That's what I'm saying. I don't want
to make it too difficult, it's pretty simple. They call us to an eternal
hope. Like the dear man who wrote me the letter and said she died in my
arms, praise the Lord for a Savior who conquered death. All of a sudden for
him, heaven is sweeter than it's ever been. Or the little family that lost
two daughters, heaven is sweeter than it's ever been. And they have a
new...what should I say?...a new disinterest in the passing world, wouldn't
you say that if you've lost a loved one? If the most precious people in your
life and the most precious person in your life, the Lord Jesus Christ, and
if the most precious possessions in your life have been laid away as
treasure in heaven, you're going to have a very very disengaged relationship
with this passing world.

So trials...trials tend to show us the bankruptcy of human resources and
wean us off the world and sort of settle us on the heavenly hope. In Romans
8, among many scriptures that could be noted, we just support that thought,
in Romans chapter 8 it says, "The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that
we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, joint
heirs with Christ. If so be that we suffer with Him, we may also be
glorified together. And I reckon, or I count that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be
revealed in us." As I go through suffering, Paul says, I just get more and
more hungry for glory. "And I see the whole creation groaning and waiting
for the hope to be realized, waiting for the glorious...verse
21...liberation of the children of God." And then in verse 24, or 23, "We
are groaning, waiting for the redemption of our body," verse 24, "we are
saved in hope."

So we go through trials. Trials give us a greater affection for that which
is eternal. They help us long for the eternal city. They set our affections
on things above. That's a very important spiritual thing. They cause us to
think on things divine, things heavenly. And that's what Paul said in 2
Corinthians 4:16, "For which cause we faint not, for though our outward man
perish, the inward man is renewed day by day and our light affliction which
is but for a moment works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory." And then he says this, "While we look not at the things which are
seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen
are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

How did he get that kind of attitude? Oh, it's very easy. Just go back to
verse 8, "We're troubled on every side. We're perplexed. We're persecuted.
We always bear in our body the dying of Jesus Christ." Verse 12, "Death
works in us." He's going through so much trouble, it's little wonder he
doesn't like the world, he'd rather be in glory. So you see, trials have a
very, very helpful purpose. They test the strength of our faith. They humble
us, lest we think more confidently of our spiritual strength than we should.
They wean us off of worldly things. And they call us a heavenly hope.

Fifthly, trials also serve a very important purpose because they reveal what
we really love. They reveal what we really love. Could anything have been
dearer to Abraham than Isaac? Anything? It's questionable that anything
could be dearer to him than Isaac...anything in this world, certainly God
was dearer to him than Isaac. But that was the test, to find out--did he
love Isaac more than he loved God? Or did he love God more than he loved
Isaac? That's the test. You see, trials will reveal what you really love, by
how you react. You see, if you supremely love God, you're going to say,
"Thank You, God, for what You're accomplishing through this. Help me to see
that and give You glory though You're allowing this to happen."

But if you really love self more than God, you're going to say, "God, why do
You do this?" And you're going to be irate and you're going to be upset and
you're going to be bitter and you're going to be full of anxiety. You see,
there's a sense in which if anything is dearer to you than God, then He has
to have it. He's got to remove it. So in my own life, I just want to make
sure nothing is dearer to me than the Lord because I don't want Him to
remove it...not that He always does.

I was thinking about this and reading back in the Pentateuch a little bit. I
came to Deuteronomy chapter 13, verse 3, "Thou shalt not hearken to the
words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams." This would be a false
prophet. "For the Lord your God...look at this...tests you to know whether
you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Wow,
the Lord is testing you to see who you really love, whether you love Him
with all your heart and all your soul. In Luke 14:26, "If any man come to Me
and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and
sisters, yea and his own life, also, he cannot be...what?...My disciple. And
whosoever doesn't bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."

Now what in the world is He saying? Is He literally saying that it's a
Christian thing to hate everybody including yourself? No, what He means by
that is if you do not love God to the degree that you willingly if necessary
cut yourself off from father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sister, and
your own life, then you don't love God supremely. You're not worthy to be
His disciple.

Well, what do you mean cut off? We mean by that this, that you will do the
will of God first and foremost, no matter what appeals those others make to
you. No matter what appeal your father might make or your mother, or your
wife or your child, or your brother or your sister, or your own flesh, you
will do the will of God no matter what appeals are being made because
therein lies your supreme love.

God wanted, in the case of Abraham, to find out...let Abraham find out and
all of us find out, who Abraham loved most. He said to him, "Isaac, your
only son whom you love." Abraham passed the test. Whom did Abraham love
most? God. And that's the value of the trial. Abraham found out he loved God
most and everybody found out that. That's so important to know. When you go
through a trial, find out what it reveals about your love.

There's a sixth purpose in trials that really is very, very helpful, and
that is this, trials teach us to value the blessing of God. They teach us to
value the blessing of God. Reason...reason teaches us to value the world.
Sense, feeling tells us to value pleasure. Faith tells us to value God's
Word, God's Word and God's favor, God's blessing.

Reason says grab what you can grab in the world and go. Sense and feeling
says find pleasure at any price. Faith says obey the Word of God and be
blessed. See, trials teach us the blessing of obedience. In the midst of a
trial, we obey and are blessed. That's what they are intended to teach. They
show us that obedience at all costs brings the blessing of God. The psalmist
says in Psalm 63:3, and this out of personal experience, "Because Thy loving
kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee." God, I have seen
Your loving kindness, and it's the best thing there is...the best thing
there is.

Jesus is the perfect example of this in Hebrews 5, in the days of His flesh,
He offered up prayers, supplications, with strong crying and tears unto Him
that was able to save Him from death. Jesus going through the trial in the
garden, that's what's being pictured there. And He was sweating, as it were,
great drops of blood, weeping and crying out to God, deliver Him. And He was
heard in that He feared. And though He were a Son and a beloved one at that,
yet He learned obedience by the things He suffered. And being made perfect,
He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him,
through...watch this...through suffering, He was obedient and God exalted
Him.

Philippians 2 puts it another way, "He was humbled, took upon Him the form
of a man, offered Himself in death and God highly exalted Him."

Trials come to put us through suffering that we may obey in the suffering
and then receive the full blessing of God. And I would say that when you go
through a trial, if you learn to obey God, you will experience the
exhilaration of His blessing. That's His promise.

Let me give you two others that are purposes of suffering. Number seven,
suffering comes...and this is a very, very valuable purpose...suffering
comes to enable us to help others in their suffering. Sometimes when
suffering comes, it may have no more purpose than to make us better able to
assist others in their own suffering. I think of that in regard to the
twenty-second chapter of Luke where Jesus says to Peter, "And the Lord said,
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan's desired to have you that he may sift you as
wheat." Satan's going to take you and shake you. "And I've prayed for you
that your faith fail not." Now watch this, "And when you are turned around,"
when you come through that thing, He says, "strengthen your brethren." There
you go. A wonderful purpose, that's like Jesus in Hebrews chapter 4, Hebrews
chapter 2 also, who becomes a faithful merciful high priest, able to help
those who come to Him because He has been through every trial we've been
through, right? That's what makes Him a merciful faithful high priest.

So, we go through trials for the purpose of being able to help others. How
wonderful...how wonderful that God allows us to learn by experience to
instruct others.

And then finally, the eighth, and this leads us right into the
passage...we'll have to wait a week, but eighth, trials come to develop
enduring strength for greater usefulness. They come to develop enduring
strength for greater usefulness. Again, Thomas Manton said, "While all
things are quite and comfortable, we live by sense rather than faith. But
the worth of a soldier is never known in times of peace," end quote.

That's right. The worth of a soldier is never known in times of peace. God
has His purpose in trial. And what it is to do is to give us greater
strength. As you go through one trial, you're spiritual muscles are
exercised, you're stronger for the next one. That means you can face a
greater foe. That means you're more useful. You go through another trial,
and another trial and another trial and all those are strengthening,
strengthening, strengthening until now your usefulness is on the increase,
your endurance makes you more useful. And then the more useful you are, the
more used you are and the more used you are, the more you accomplish in the
power of the Spirit for the glory of God.

So, let me sum it up. What is God's purpose as He tests us? First, to test
the strength of our faith that we might know where our strength is, or
isn't. Secondly, to humble us, lest we think more confidently of our
spiritual strength than we should. Thirdly, to wean us away from worldly
things. Fourthly, to call us to a heavenly hope so that we live in the above
and not in the below. Fifthly, to reveal what we really love. Sixthly, to
teach us to value the blessing of God and to appreciate it as it comes to us
out of the times of suffering. Seventh, to enable us to help others in their
trial, to bear one another's burdens. And eighth, to develop enduring
strength for greater usefulness so that God can thrust us into greater
places of ministry and effectiveness.

Now aren't these all worthwhile purposes? All of these fit into the plan of
God by His grace. But the question still lingers in your mind, as it does in
mine...Fine, they're going to come...let's go back to James 1 for just a
closing thought...it says they're going to come, the testing of your faith,
it's going to come, verse 3. Verse 12, "Blessed is the man that endures the
testing, after he's tried, he's going to be rewarded." They're going to
come, there's no way to avoid them.

And we might say, "I know they're going to come and I know all of these
things are God's purposes in them and He wants to accomplish all of this. I
can buy into that. But it still doesn't answer the question: how do I get
through it in the middle of it? How do I make it through? It's fine to have
all this in place on a list in my sermon notes, how do I get through that
trial?" And that's where James 1:2 to 12 really speak to the heart.

First of all, it takes a joyous attitude. The first means to persevering in
a trial is a joyous attitude. "My brethren, count it all joy..." The second
is an understanding mind, "Knowing this..." that this test is producing
something. The third is a submissive will, "Let patience have its perfect
work." In other words, let it happen because God is at work. The fourth, in
verses 5 to 8, is a believing heart. Ask God for what you need. And ask,
verse 6 says, in...what?...in faith. You have to have a believing heart to
believe that God has a purpose and that He will supply everything you need
for that trial...a believing heart.

And finally, in verses 9 to 11, a humble spirit...a humble spirit. You
persevere through trials with a joyous attitude, an understanding mind, a
submissive will, a believing heart and a humble spirit. Now next time we're
going to look at those final two...a believing heart and a humble spirit. I
just wanted to set it up and I want you to notice, we're going to look at
some very, very exciting truth where it talks about asking of God for
wisdom, where it talks about asking in faith, never wavering. It talks about
a double-minded man and how that man forfeits anything from God. And then
we're going to look at that whole area of a humble spirit and what part that
plays in endurance.

Professor Howdy said...

Q & A Friday :: Why is Good Friday good?
Date April 6, 2007

So what is so good about Good Friday? This question was asked at our dinner
table the other day and has been rattling around in my head ever since.
Someday I’d like to make a tract with this question on it; perhaps for next
year. What follows are some meditations as to why Good Friday is good.

Good Friday is ‘good’ because…

…Jesus was my substitute there upon that blood-stained tree

…Jesus wore the crown of thorns that I might wear the crown of life

…Jesus was scourged that I might be healed

…Jesus was condemned that I might be pardoned

…Jesus was abandoned that I might be accepted

…Jesus was made to be sin that I might become righteous

…Jesus pleased the Father whom I had angered

…Jesus tasted death that I may never taste it

…Jesus drank wrath that I might drink the waters of life

…Jesus died that I may live

…Jesus was showered with judgment he did not deserve that I might be
showered with the grace that I do not deserve

…Jesus distinguished himself as the exclusive basis for divine forgiveness

…Jesus purchased eternal redemption through his eternal sacrifice to pay my
eternal debt

…Good Friday is good because I am so bad

….and Good Friday is only good because the Savior, our Lord Jesus is so good

:: Feel free to add your own praise evoking meditations of the cross in the
comments as to why Good Friday is so good…

.

Professor Howdy said...

Above all, let us remember the mountain of strength that offers the greatest
hope and inspiration for all. I believe with all my heart that standing up
for America means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. We
need God's help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we can't expect
Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in
our day-to-day living. There's a lovely old hymn which says: When morning
lights the eastern skies, O Lord Thy mercy show, on Thee alone our hope
relies, let us Thy kindness know. Trusting in Him, believing in each other,
working together, we will rebuild America -- the land of our dreams and
mankind's last great hope.

— Ronald Reagan, November 16, 1982

Professor Howdy said...

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only
Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him,
anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble
of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how
bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts
in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been
under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that
person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced
to him. "This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but
men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness
because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes
a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light
and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and
living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for
the God-work it is."

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