Growing Through Struggle

MEMORY VERSE: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” —James 1:12

MATTHEW 5:10, 11

ONE of the truths which Paul imparted to the disciples of his day was “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) The reference here is to the rulership phase of the kingdom. Those who qualify for this high position in the kingdom will indeed be called upon to suffer, and because the result of thus suffering for righteousness’ sake is so glorious, Jesus could say, “Blessed are ye” when such experiences come upon you.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ: if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:16,17) Peter explained that through the holy prophets the Spirit testified of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (I Pet. 1:10,11) The prophecies of suffering and resultant glory have a fulfillment in Jesus’ faithful followers as well as they did in Jesus himself.

Those who, in the next age, are blessed as subjects of the messianic kingdom will not need to suffer rebuke and persecution. Isaiah 25:6-8 presents some of the joyful flourishings of Christ’s kingdom. In this prophecy the kingdom is likened unto a “mountain,” and we are told that in this mountain the Lord will make “a feast of fat things” to all people. We are also told that he will “swallow up death in victory” and “wipe away tears from off all faces,” “and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.”

Satan is the chief persecutor of the people of God. The Lord foretold that his “seed,” his cohorts, would “bruise” the “heel” of the “seed of the woman.” (Gen. 3:15) The “seed” of the woman is the Christ class, and Satan’s emissaries have ever sought to deceive and discourage them. We have a reference to this in the second portion of our lesson: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Because of this persistent onslaught against us we will need, as Paul explains, to “take … the whole armor of God” that we may be able to stand in this evil day when Satan is permitted to rebuke the Lord’s people in the many ways of which he is capable. This “armor” of God in a general way represents different applications of the Gospel which the Lord has given to us as a protection against “the wiles of the Devil.”

Paul speaks of the “helmet of salvation.” He also speaks of the “breastplate of righteousness.” In I Thessalonians 5:8 we read, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”

In our lesson Paul also speaks of the girdle of truth, and of having our feet “shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. He speaks of “the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” He admonishes us to make good use of “the sword of the Spirit,” explaining that this represents “the word of God.”

Paul is simply drawing lessons from the ancient Roman armor to help us understand that if we are to be victorious against Satan’s deceptive and discouraging attacks we will need the provision which the Lord has made, which is the truth. Paul wrote to the church at Rome, saying that he was not ashamed of “the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation.”—Rom. 1:16

In our memory verse James adds a beatitude to those given by Jesus: “Blessed is the man who endureth temptation.” No blessing will accrue to any of the Lord’s people simply because they are tempted, or tested. The blessing comes through enduring, and we will be able to endure only if we know the truth, and the reason our loving Heavenly Father permits these trials to come to us—that it is for the testing of our worthiness to live and reign with Christ. That will indeed be “the crown of life.”


Why do Christians suffer?

What is represented by the Christian’s armor as outlined by Paul?

Will our trials result in blessing if we fail to endure them?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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