“and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; 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.” – Rom. v. 3-5.
Paul, the inspired, wrote wonderful truths relating to our salvation, in the fifth chapter of Romans, as also in 1 Cor. xv, the two embracing the same central truths of sin and salvation, death and life, by Adam and by Christ, as representing sinners justly condemned in Adam, and the same sinners freely justified in Christ. Herein is revealed the whole fullness of the gospel of salvation. In this gospel the man Adam is embraced as the sinner saved, and the man Christ as the Savior. “By man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” Sin brought death to men; righteousness brings life to men. Sin and death are by the one man Adam, unto all men in him; righteousness and life are by the one man Christ Jesus, unto all men in him. All who are in Adam were created in him; all who are in Christ were chosen in him, and through him foreordained to be conformed to his perfect and holy likeness. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Each result follows the one disobedience, and the one obedience, with absolute certainty, unto the sinfulness of the many related to Adam, and unto the righteousness of the many related to Christ. For in both cases, the sinfulness of many, and the righteousness of many, are because of previous relationship; relationship so close and vital that all in Adam die, and all in Christ shall be made alive. To his own Christ said, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” So, on the other hand, because Adam sinned and died, all his people shall sin and die also, because they are in him and of him. “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy.”
Thus it is true that sin and death, with all their woe and curse, come unto the children of men through Adam; so is it alike true that righteousness and life, with all their joy and blessing, come unto the children of men through Christ. The Holy Spirit revealed it to Paul, that as all men in Adam die, even so all men in Christ shall be made alive. He speaks of the dissolution of man who is mortal, and of his resurrection out of death unto immortality. For it is a blessed mystery of godliness, that the children of men, who are only the creatures of God in Adam, were predestinated unto the adoption of children by our Lord Jesus unto God himself, and they are therefore the children of God as born again, born of the Spirit, having received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Thus, though we were the servants of sin under the law and its curse, yet now in Christ Jesus are we no more servants, but sons; and if sons, then heirs of God through Christ.
It is as thus made and manifested that “we glory in tribulations also.” In no other way could we do this. So Paul states what is true in our own experience when he says, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” This is a mysterious union of complex natures in the people and children of God, who are both the members of Adam and the members of Christ; yet so has the God and Father of his people and children foreordained them and put them forth. Sin reigns in them unto death, therefore, and they are brought into great tribulation, distress, affliction and sorrow, and the cry is made to go up from their burdened and suffering hearts, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death!” Then, in the depth of this tribulation, they joyfully exclaim, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” It is in view of all this truth, or because of it, and in this way that “tribulation worketh patience “in those who are thus moulded and taught. Their God is thus refining them, but not with silver or riches, for he hath chosen them in the furnace of affliction, and forms them for himself, that they should show forth his praise in their salvation from all their conflicts and woes. The Lord is the refiner and purifier of his people and children, that they may bear the perfect image of the heavenly Man, and be the sons of God in the life and nature of the holy Son Jesus, who was both the Son of man and the Son of God. From having borne the image of the earthy man only, they shall bear the image of the heavenly Man only. In thus saving his people from their sins, and all that sin brings upon them, they must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of grace and glory. In this way did Christ himself go before them, through tribulation, suffering and death unto sin in the flesh, and enter the kingdom of his Father. So must they follow him in his steps, as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, drink of his bitter cup, offer up unto God their prayers, with strong crying and tears, and be made conformable unto his death. For the suffering Christ says to his followers, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the rather, but by me.” So they must be made like him in his sufferings in their flesh for their sins, and die indeed unto sin, that they may live unto God in the life of Jesus. So Paul says, “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” (together with him).
Now, in this hope of his glory, we rejoice in tribulations also; for it is in this consecrated way unto God the Father, the way our dear dying Redeemer went, that we are brought into patience, or submissive endurance, and experience of our need of mercy and grace, and into the abiding hope in Christ, the good hope through grace that maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
In all this way of weeping and supplications, tribulations many, and deep afflictions, grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Therefore in his infinite love and rich mercy unto his afflicted and poor people, whom he hath appointed unto these afflictions, Paul says, God graciously sanctifies their manifold temptations and great tribulations through his Spirit of love and truth, the Comforter. In this way of holiness the Father brings his dear children into the faith; and hope in Christ his dear Son, in whom, believing, they rejoice on their way, and are meekly reconciled unto God, whom they love and serve in sweet submission. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” In this divine work and way of the Lord with his people, his word of truth is fulfilled in their experience, which says, “They that Bow in tears shall reap in joy.” “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so oar consolation also aboundeth by Christ. * * * And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” To his sorrowing disciples Jesus says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.” For us he has overcome the world, and every foe, and death, the last enemy. So to his people Jesus is the resurrection and the life; he is their redemption unto full salvation. All this way unto the Father of glory his people are made to walk in, because they are all taught of God in their experience of this way of salvation unto holiness, and therefore every one of them comes unto Christ, in whom they shall be made righteous and perfect by his obedience and through his sufferings, into which they shall be brought. So they are, as he was, in this world, and they shall also be as he is in the world to come. His sufferings unto death in the flesh shall be fulfilled in every one of his members, which brings them into tribulation and sorrow, even the exceeding sorrow of death for sin and unto sin in their flesh, and then also his resurrection unto life and holiness and glory shall be fulfilled in them and to them through him and with him, and they shall behold his glory and be like him. This shall be the full consummation of the choice and predestination of God in them, as he revealed it to his servant Paul. This is most solemnly a sorrowful way of salvation to the saved from their sins, as they find, in their personal experience, causing them to cry to God in their helpless weakness, when the waves of affliction go over them and they sink in deep waters; but they are only following their dear Forerunner, and to them he blessedly says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” These are precious truths to us in our tribulation and sorrow. The sorrow and mourning, as the clouds and rain, are before the Sun of righteousness arises unto us with healing beams of peace and joy. This is the experience of the dear children of God, who are called into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, to whom it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Their sufferings and trials often sorely perplex them, and they fear that they are alone, and that surely none of the children of God are ever brought into such depths of affliction as they are made to experience. This was the bitter experience of my dear daughter, after the Lord called to himself her mother and youngest brother, within three days. In one of her sorrowful letters to me, about a month after this great sorrow came to us, dated May 26th, 1880, she said: “My dear father, you said in your letter, ‘The hand that wounds can heal.’ Unless that hand gives comfort and peace, no earthly hand can do so. I know that ‘Whom he loveth he chasteneth.’ But are his children not chastened with one hand, and comforted with the other! If I am a child of God, why can I not trust! He has promised his children strength for any trial. I sometimes come to the conclusion that for the past nine years I have been deceived. Can it be possible that God would permit such a thing? I try to be submissive and resigned, but it seems to me that I never can be. It is an utter impossibility for me to tell my feelings. I have suffered agony almost beyond endurance. You spoke of my sorely tried faith.’ I have thought often, that surely no one was ever tried as I have been. For I have suffered till I felt that it would be a relief if my mind could become a blank.” That was a time of overwhelming affliction to us; but the dear suffering Christ said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” so did he fulfill his blessed word to us in our sorrow, and my daughter was again comforted in her faith and hope in the Lord, so that her troubled questionings were answered with peace, and she did sweetly trust in him, as in the time of her first rejoicing in Christ as her Redeemer. It has never been my privilege to behold such sweet and perfect patience as was given to her in her last long affliction, so that her peaceful and lovely face looked Christlike and heavenly. So true is it that “tribulation worketh patience,” and has its heavenly fruitage in the “hope that maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” In tribulation and hope,
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No.5
March 1, 1901