Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – May 29, 2016
Theme: Living with Eternity in View
Topic: Persevering in Tribulation
Main Texts: Romans 8: 18-23, 2 Timothy 4: 5-8
Key Verse: Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, still on our theme Living with Eternity in View, we saw what Living by Faith means Our key learning from that study include the following:
- While miraculous deliverance from dire situations – either on the individual or some loved one – has led many to Christ in a rather easy way, those who come to know Christ simply by listening to and believing the Gospel often have real challenges before coming to faith in him. These include their rational thinking and the potential consequences of submitting to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can lead the sinner to repentance and saving faith in Christ.
- We need faith, not only to be saved, but to sustain us on the journey to eternity because the journey is never smooth-sailing! Apostle Paul affirmed this when he said “the life I now live .. I live by faith in the Son of God ..” (Galatians 2:20).
- To claim by faith and benefit of God’s promises, we need to (a) be sure the promise is for us, (b) we are obedient to Him, and (c) we do not make the granting of our request a condition for our continued walk with Him. He is sovereign and may choose not to grant a request even when we have played our part. We need to take ownership of the words of the Hebrew young men in Daniel 3:17-18 by saying “Our God is able to do what we ask, but even if He chooses not to, we will remain true to Him”.
This Sunday we will be considering what Persevering in Tribulation means, because The Scripture tells us that tribulations are part of our journey to eternity. Our key learning should include:
- The turmoil in the world today is because the whole creation has been subjected to frustration by God’s will (see Romans 8:20), and the frustration will not abate until the Lord comes.
- Over and above the frustration that is common to all mankind, the Christian faces additional challenges – and sometimes frustration – because of God’s Spirit in him or her that would not tolerate the evils in the corrupted world.
- For the Christian to stay strong, he or she must see these tribulations in the light of the Scripture, and appropriate the resources God makes available for His own, to survive in the troubled world.
- It is important to share the realities of tribulation with those coming to know Christ for the first time – especially the fact that submission to Christ could mean more troubles for them. As we share this reality, we must also share the reality and the effectiveness of the resources God provides to give the Christian the needed strength to stand.
Atheists (those who do not believe in the existence of God) and agnostics (those who claim to believe in nothing except what they see) often challenge Christians on the relevance of God in the face of widespread turmoil, suffering and injustice all over the world. Even Christians are often caught expressing hopelessness and extreme negativism about the future. One of the greatest difficulties with suffering is to find the meaning and purpose. When we do, we are usually willing to put up with it. The Christian can only find that meaning and purpose in the Scriptures. Apostle Paul in our first text today points out that, as part of God’s overall eternal plan, the entire creation is subject to turmoil: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it …” (Romans 8:20 NIV).
1. A) Name some typical frustrations in your environment that could sometimes make one wonder if God is really in control and if so, why He lets things be the way they are. B) Which of these frustrations are specific to Christians? It was in the context of Christian suffering that Jesus made his point about the creation being subjected to frustration – see Romans 8:17-18. He points out that the entire creation as it is today has been corrupted and is under stress. That corruption of the creation poses a particular challenge to the Christian, beyond what everyone faces: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV). The tribulations would be so severe that at one point He asked the rhetorical question: “… when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8 NIV).
2. What responses have the world developed to the global turmoil of confused morality, violence, extreme suffering, terrorism, natural and man-made disasters, and how effective are these responses? It is important for the Christian to see both the global turmoil and the Christian-specific tribulations in the context of the Scripture. Without this, the Christian would feel just as helpless as the rest of the world – even more helpless than the rest of the world because he faces more tribulations. Jesus warned against this when he foresaw “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth …” (Luke 21:26 KJV).
3. What practical steps can the Christian take to avoid his heart failing him for fear in the face of so much turmoil, both global and personal? One of the challenges of the contemporary Church is the widespread message to its members and to the world that turning to Christ provides an escape from the tribulations of the world. From the foregoing, it is clear that this view is inconsistent with Scripture. The realities of tribulation for the whole world, and even more tribulation for the Christian need to be acknowledged, as well as the fact that God provides the resources the Christian needs to face the realities. This is the balanced Gospel that should be presented to the world.
4. What are the appropriate responses of the Christian to a world that does not see God’s relevance to the constant turmoil in the world?
Father, thank You for warning us of the impending tribulation in the world, and especially for us Your children. Grant us the grace to utilise all Your provisions for these troubled times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.