Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
February 14, 2006
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness;
4 and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope:
5 and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.
- I. The Extension of Our Exulting.
- A. "And not only so..." clearly adds.
- 1. The preceding declaration is not difficult: we "exult" upon the foundation of our hope that God's "glory" is to be shared with us. This is, perhaps, the greatest scenario of hope that God has given to man.
- 2. The "addition" is, however, far from easy: we "exult" in our "troubles". This, clearly, takes a better understanding than most of us possess and, certainly, a greater ability than most of us give evidence of having developed/received.
- a. The "problem" is not that the Spirit is not within us and capable.
- b. The "problem" is that He functions according to a specified format and typically does not operate outside of that format.
- c. Thus, we have, in the Spirit, the abilities He is willing to impart; but, unless we come to an understanding/willingness to relate to Him within the divine parameters, we, who have His presence and powers, find life to be insignificantly different from those who have Him not.
- d. Therefore, the chief question is this: How do we relate to the Spirit within the given boundaries so that He accomplishes both in and through us that which He desires?
- B. The phrase, "...but we also exult..." is deliberately contrastive while also being a natural result.
- 1. The "contrast" is found in the "but", which is a strongly adversative word: it signals an "about face" that is to put us into a totally different perspective than we have had. When we turn 180 degrees ("about face"), we "see" a totally different "vista" than we were looking at before we turned.
- 2. But, there is also an "also" that is clearly a part of the original idea.
- a. We "exult" upon the hope of God's glory (the original vista) and we "exult" in the troubles of our experience when we do an "about face" and see a "new" vista.
- 1) The "old" vista is "sharing in the glory of God".
- 2) The "new" vista does not "junk" the old, but addresses, rather, one of the key, faulty "sub-vistas" that is unconsciously included in the "old" vista.
- a) The "old" vista, having to do with sharing in the glory of God, necessarily includes some particulars of "methodology" [this is why Paul spent so much effort upon the establishment of "justification by faith" (a methodological issue) before he declared that we "stand in the grace" and "exult in the scenario of the future that God has laid out for us"].
- b) "Methodology" issues are often "knee-jerk" and beneath our conscious awareness. They are very often fundamental assumptions that go unchallenged by reason of their fundamental and sub-conscious nature.
- c) For the vast majority of people, "sharing in the Glory" is somehow tied to the "sub-vista" of God's actions in clearing out the painful stuff before we get to it. But, the unobstructed vista of the Word of God is that God clears away the painful stuff after we have gone through it. In other words, all of the Word of God tells us that "dessert is last"; we must "eat our vegetables", "swallow our cod liver oil", and "endure to the end". Hope is focused upon the final reality, not the current mess.
- 3) Hope upon the foundation of the glory that is to be shared with us is a "vista" of final reality, but when we do an "about face" and start looking for the "way" we apply that hope to our present experience beyond the issue of simply "exulting" over the vista of glory, we discover that our "vista" has changed from the "eternal what" to the "temporal how". Paul says, though the "vista" has changed, the "exulting" should not -- for God's plan to "share His glory" includes the "methods" that are inalterably a part of the "sharing". Then the "shocker": the present mess is an integral part of the divine methodology. Our "tribulations" are an integral part of the divine process of addressing us in our immature ways of looking at experience and "Life" and cannot be set aside without also setting aside their fruit -- the particular shares of the Glory that are tied to the fruits of the troubles to which we have properly responded. By way of illustration, let us consider a young person's desire to be able to drive a vehicle to the various places he/she would like to go. Let us suppose that the parent ties the "sharing in the glorious freedom of driving about" to the necessity of having insurance, gasoline, and proper maintenance and repair of the vehicle -- paid for by the "driver". But, let us say that the youth is significantly undisciplined so that he/she cannot seem to get, or hold, a job because of an unwillingness to get to work on time and do the job according to the employer's expectations. And, (horror of horrors) let us say that the parent is unsympathetic to the youth's desire to have the privilege without paying the price of developing some personal responsibility. So, the youth does not get to participate in the "glory" because of significant character-flaw issues. Thus it is with the children of God. Participation in the Glory of God is necessarily attached to certain character issues. God, in His faithfulness to the principle of "Promise" (He who makes it, is responsible to fulfill it), is committed to the enforcement of "character-development" so that participation in His glory can occur. There is a limit to what even God can do "vicariously". At some point, the object of God's vicarious grace has to be involved personally. Jesus, by His vicarious death, bought us: we are God's children. But, He did not, by His death, provide for our "super-participation" in the glory of God: He erased our participation in His "wrath" (a very real part of His "glory"). Thus, the Spirit was given to take those whom Jesus had saved vicariously and begin to develop the kind of understanding and development of character that would "qualify" the vicariously saved for an actual place of service in the coming Servant Kingdom. The positions of reward in the Kingdom are not given "vicariously" -- i.e., on the basis of the understanding and work of a second party only. They are given to those who begin to understand and practice the principles of "inheritance". God is not going to turn the running of His Kingdom over to incompetents who do not understand, and refuse to practice, His Kingdom's principles of operation. The implication of our troubles is not only that we need to develop in both understanding and application of Truth, but also that there is no "development" beyond Time. Just as death seals the issues of Heaven and Hell irrevocably so that there is no "post-death second chance", so also does death seal the issues of Kingdom-placement. All post-resurrection judgment is both exactingly determinative and final. To whatever degree we grow in the Truth in this life, to that degree we experience a participation in the glory of God in the next.