James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is a tragedy. Sometimes the thing that puts you on the path you need to be on is pain and suffering. No one wants to face those things, but in reality they point us to God.
When things are going perfectly, we often have a tendency to overlook God’s role in the blessings we’re enjoying. Maybe every now and then we give thanks, but when it’s smooth sailing there is little time really spent calling out to God.
But when the going gets tough, it’s time to hit our knees. We cry out to God and beg Him to get us through this painful circumstance. We talk to Him more, trust in Him more, exercise greater faith, and grow more spiritually than we ever do during the good times.
It’s often said that if there’s no pain there’s no gain, but we seem to think this doesn’t apply to spiritual matters. The truth is, pain produces growth spiritually, and it perfects us a little bit at a time as we grow closer to God in the midst of our trials. So next time you’re going through a rough patch, give thanks to God for the opportunity to become more like His Son. Rely on Him to get you through to the end.
Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
What comes next? Sanctification is the process by which God prepares us to be in His presence, but there is a moment in time at which that process is completed – death. This seems a morbid topic to speak of, but death is part of the sanctification process for a Christian, not punishment. Though we die because of sin, death is a positive thing for the believer.
Our experience of death completes our union with Christ. He died and to be like Him we must also die. He conquered death and therefore when we experience death we become closer to Him and begin the final aspect of salvation – glorification. We leave this body and join the Lord in our real home (2 Corinthians 5:8), where there will be no more sorrow and no more tears (Revelation 21:4). We’ll become who we were really meant to be, in the bodies we were really meant to have. And we’ll never know death again.
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it great to know that you are not left on your own after you become a believer in Christ? God does a work in you to bring you to Himself, but He doesn’t just abandon you after that, expecting you to endure all on your own until the day of glory. No, He continues to work in you until that day.
Once you belong to God’s family, you are promised an inheritance and the Holy Spirit is given to you as a guarantee of that inheritance. Upon the completion of this life, you will inherit eternal life and everything that comes with it. This can only be achieved if you remain a child of God and maintain your salvation. But isn’t it wonderful to know that you don’t have to do that on your own?
It was God that began the work in you to enable you to believe and it is He who will continue to work in you until the end of this life on earth. He will never leave you nor forsake you and no one can snatch you out of your Father’s hand. Nothing can separate you from His love. Nothing. He will finish what He started. Your future doesn’t solely rest on you.
Hebrews 2:10-11 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers
He who calls you and causes you to be born again, who justifies you and forgives you, who adopts you as His own, will not stop at merely getting you. He’ll keep working in you to make you more like Christ until the day of glory. The process of spiritual maturing is sanctification, becoming holy.
To sanctify really means “to set apart”, so when you consider what God does for you in His act of salvation you can see that He sets you apart for something. Justification, the declaration of the sinner as righteous, is not done as an end unto itself. This verdict of “not guilty” is for the purpose of empowering us to do God’s work. We are saved for His purposes, for His own good pleasure.
While were were still sinners, He made us alive in Christ to do good works (Ephesians 2:5) and He will continue working in us to bring us into maturity. This means we grow in character, in faith, in works, and in love. God does this in us both by the work of the Holy Spirit within and by our own actions and choices that lead us to holiness. It’s only through Christ’s shed blood that we are capable of this growth, however. None of this is ours to claim credit.