… the truth will make you free

John 8:32

The Training to Maturity

Suffering, Endurance and Perseverance

Standard christian thought concerning becoming mature in the faith is focused on "knowledge". Not much imagination is required to connect the dots. Humanity's problems started with searching for "knowledge". Read books. Attend seminars. Listent to teaching tapes. Go to school. Pass exams. Attend church regularly and often. Give till it hurts, God shall reward. This all sounds good. However, God's training is quite different. He is more concerned with character than a fact-filled head, or a fat bank account.

Various verses are presented with minimal comment. Not much comment is required to get the gist.

Genesis 2:16-17 ADONAI, God, gave the person this order: "You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die."

Genesis 3:22-23 ADONAI, God, said, "See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, to prevent his putting out his hand and taking also from the tree of life, eating, and living forever" therefore ADONAI, God, sent him out of the garden of Eden to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.

God in His mercy saved us from living forever in a decadent body in that He shut us out of the garden holding the "Tree of Life". The choice is that we can have either life, or "knowledge", but not both.

James 1:2-4 Regard it all as joy, my brothers, when you face various kinds of temptations; for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance. But let perseverance do its complete work; so that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing.

God has called us to be complete. The prerequisite of completeness is perseverance. Can we rejoice in it?

James 1:12 How blessed is the man who perseveres through temptation! For after he has passed the test, he will receive as his crown the Life which God has promised to those who love him.

As we preserver through temptation, we will receive the crown of Life.

Revelation 2:10 Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Adversary is going to have some of you thrown in prison, in order to put you to the test; and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful, even to the point of death; and I will give you life as your crown.

We have to wrap our brains around the fact that ten days of suffering had been ordained.

Romans 5:3-6 But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope; and this hope does not let us down, because God's love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the Ruach Hakodesh who has been given to us.

The standard reaction to troubles is to doubt God's love. However, the mature man sees God's love in the midst of trouble.

1 Peter 1:3-7 Praised be God, Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who, in keeping with his great mercy, has caused us, through the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah from the dead, to be born again to a living hope, to an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for you in heaven. Meanwhile, through trusting, you are being protected by God's power for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time. Rejoice in this, even though for a little while you may have to experience grief in various trials. Even gold is tested for genuineness by fire. The purpose of these trials is so that your trust's genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of Yeshua the Messiah.

What is it going to be? We are promised a life is issues, obstacles and problems. How we react to them proves whether we are real or not.


Suffering is part of the deal:

1 Peter 4:12-14 Dear friends, don't regard as strange the fiery ordeal occurring among you to test you, as if something extraordinary were happening to you. Rather, to the extent that you share the fellowship of the Messiah's sufferings, rejoice; so that you will rejoice even more when his Sh'khinah is revealed. If you are being insulted because you bear the name of the Messiah, how blessed you are! For the Spirit of the Sh'khinah, that is, the Spirit of God, is resting on you!

1 Peter 4:19 So let those who are suffering according to God's will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator by continuing to do what is good.

1 Peter 5:9-11 Stand against him, firm in your trust, knowing that your brothers throughout the world are going through the same kinds of suffering. You will have to suffer only a little while; after that, God, who is full of grace, the one who called you to his eternal glory in union with the Messiah, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you and make you firm. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

The child considers suffering outside of God's will. He does all he can to "fix" the inconvenience. Pray. Fast. Stand on the word. Claim the Victory in Jesus name! When God does not take it away, the child turns to complaining and whining, and at some point believes that God does not love him. Nothing could be further from the truth. The mature rejoices in suffering (but explicitly not DUE to suffering). Victory in Jesus is not so much the being saved out of trials and problems, but acting saved while in them.

Hebrews 12:1-4 So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us, too, put aside every impediment that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement and keep running with endurance in the contest set before us, looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won't grow tired or become despondent. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in the contest against sin.

Hebrews 12:5-11 Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons: "My son, don't despise the discipline of ADONAI or become despondent when he corrects you. For ADONAI disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son. Regard your endurance as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father? All legitimate sons undergo discipline; so if you don't, you're a mamzer and not a son! Furthermore, we had physical fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them; how much more should we submit to our spiritual Father and live! For they disciplined us only for a short time and only as best they could; but he disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in his holiness. Now, all discipline, while it is happening, does indeed seem painful, not enjoyable; but for those who have been trained by it, it later produces its peaceful fruit, which is righteousness.

If we are sons, we shall endure suffering. If we do not endure suffering, we are not sons. Running from God's upbringing and the suffering it brings is a sure sign of immaturity.

2 Timothy 3:10-12 But you, you have closely followed my teaching, conduct, purpose in life, trust, steadfastness, love and perseverance as well as the persecutions and sufferings that came my way in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. And indeed, all who want to live a godly life united with the Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted,

2 Timothy 4:5 But you, remain steady in every situation, endure suffering, do the work that a proclaimer of the Good News should, and do everything your service to God requires.

This is the point. Do we remain steady in the face of troubles? The child does not.

The Total Body

The standard believer is unbalanced. This is due to the fixation on a pastor only - and this in an unhealthy relationship of false submission. Man's wisdom has his plan. God has a different plan. See below.

Ephesians 4:11-17 Furthermore, he gave some people as (1) emissaries, some as (2) prophets, some as (3) proclaimers of the Good News, and some as (4) shepherds and (5) teachers. Their task is to equip God's people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah, until we all arrive at the unity implied by trusting and knowing the Son of God, at full manhood, at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah's perfection. We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into him who is the head, the Messiah. Under his control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function; this is how the body grows and builds itself up in love. Therefore I say this indeed, in union with the Lord I insist on it: do not live any longer as the pagans live, with their sterile ways of thinking.

We cannot lose sight of the fact that the body is held together by the Messiah, under His control. One has no chance of reaching "unity", "full manhood" or "maturity" without input from all of God's gifts. Remember, however, that God's "gifts" are just that, free, not paid for.

Colossians 1:27-29 To them God wanted to make known how great among the Gentiles is the glorious richness of this secret. And the secret is this: the Messiah is united with you people! In that rests your hope of glory! We, for our part, proclaim him; we warn, confront and teach everyone in all wisdom; so that we may present everyone as having reached the goal, united with the Messiah. It is for this that I toil, striving with all the energy that he stirs up in me so mightily.

The true servant binds the sheep to unity with Jesus, and nothing else.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 but we urge you, brothers, to confront those who are lazy, your aim being to help them change, to encourage the timid, to assist the weak, and to be patient with everyone.

2 Thessalonians 3:15 But don't consider him an enemy; on the contrary, confront him as a brother and try to help him change.

The confrontation to change is a daily walk, not a once a week pep rally. Additionally, it is a challenge by many, not a few.

Should one want to become perfect, stable and mature, there are no short cuts. Suffering is in your future. If you have not suffered, now is a good time to ask the question "Why not?". Notice very carefully that "being plugged-in", "attending church regularly and often" and "accurately knowing a particular doctrine" are not mentioned with regards to maturity.

If the Lord has infinite value for us, whatever hardships we face will have no effect. Only a child throws a tantrum when it gets the blue plate in stead of the green one. For the child, the color of the plate is a life and death struggle. "Adults" have the same issues, but the object of scorn changes. The objects may seem more important, but in the scheme of infinite, they mean just as little. Our complaining and murmuring are inversely related to the Lord's worth in our eyes, and our faith in Him. The test displays our heart, and where our treasure is.

Trials have to do with inconvenience and pain. We are in a situation where our power and resources are not capable of assisting us in avoiding an undesirable state or creating a desired result. This often centers around prestige in relationships, physical limitations and sickness, and money. Patience is a well used word in the scriptures concerning becoming perfect. The patience waits for God's schedule to remove us out of a preferred state. Impatience demands immediate solutions.

Those attending military bootcamp experience hardship, not a cushioned life of liesure devoid of sweat, tears, hunger and pain. Christians are soldiers. They go through training to become useful in the Army of the Lord.

Scott Wallace Brians
March 2014
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