How do we win in the real world?
OCTOBER 5, 2021
How do we win in the real world? Let’s talk about it on this edition of Key Life.
If you’ve suffered too long, under a do more, try harder religion, Key Life is here to proclaim that Jesus sets the captives free. Steve invited Pete Alwinson to teach us this week. Pete is a former pastor, founder of ForgeTruth.com and the author of Like Father, Like Son.
Hey, thank you Matthew. This is Pete Alwinson sitting in this week for Steve Brown. We’re giving them a little bit of a break and we are in the book of James right now, just this week. And we’re going to be looking today at the whole subject of trials. If you have your Bible, you might want to join me, but I’m going to read right now from James chapter 1, starting at verse 2. Here we go.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord; being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position, and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like the flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed. So too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
Well, this is God’s Holy Word. And what a privilege to talk with you today, a little bit about the whole subject of trials. And you know, trials, it’s fascinating as we think about James, because as we said yesterday, James is not a huggy body, kissy facey buck. I mean, it just isn’t, James does not have a fancy greeting at the very beginning. And you know what, the end of his book, he doesn’t even say goodbye. He doesn’t seem to carry on a whole lot of dialogue, with these people. In fact, James might’ve actually been a sermon or a circular letter written to many different churches. So, it has a broad appeal. But we said yesterday, that helps us understand why James could just jump into a subject like trials, that he really did meet the Lord Jesus Christ after the Resurrection. Of course, Jesus was his elder brother, his half-brother, but the reality is that he didn’t follow Jesus in his life. After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to James and James became a committed follower of Christ. He became the leader in the church of Jerusalem. And it’s interesting as he starts out this letter, talking to the 12 tribes who are dispersed abroad, who are they? Well, most likely they are Jewish Christians who had been expelled from Israel or forced out by some of the early persecution that they got from other Jews. The Romans really hadn’t started coming after Christians yet, in the book of James, but they were, the Christians were persecuted and it’s fascinating as we think of trials and difficult times, that Christianity was really founded in the midst of struggle, in the midst of dark times. And we’re coming out of COVID-19 and for many of us, this is the most shocking thing that’s really happened in our lifetime. The culture seemed to be shut down, jobs were shut down, people, culture and turmoil. Well the early church knew a whole lot about that, and trials are a big part of our life. And if we never learn how to deal with trials, we simply are not going to succeed. But grace is that energizing power of God that enables us to deal with trials. So, even though James doesn’t mention grace at all right here, he doesn’t even clarify the whole gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It’s in his mind, grace is in his mind as he teaches us how grace gives us the power to succeed, to live in a world, even though it’s filled with many, many trials. So, first of all, I want you to note in this text, trials defined in verse two, where James says,
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials.
Notice that the word consider is a command. It’s not a suggestion. And, it’s certainly counter-intuitive.
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials.
Now the word, trials, comes from a Greek word, peirasmos. And it’s an interesting word, because peirasmos can be translated either trials or temptations. I got to tell you, it wasn’t that long ago. I know some will say, I’m really old. I’m not that old. But, I remember in seminary, when we’d be dealing with a Greek text and we’d say, what does the word mean here? And the professor would almost always say, depends on the context. Used to drive me crazy. Just tell me what the word means. And he would say it depends on the context. Well, in James chapter one, the word trials peirasmos is used in two different ways. So, to define trial peirasmos one way is to understand that trials mean externally produced hardships. Those things that happen to us, that come from without, that cause, well difficulty, cause trials. But peirasmos can also be translated, depending on the context, as temptation. Now, unless you’re reading the King James of 1611, which translates peirasmos, in this verse, twice as temptation, most Bibles will translate this temptation, the second time. And temptation is usually in this context, to be seen as internally produced enticements to sin. And we’re going to see that later in James chapter one, probably later this week, as we unpack this a little bit more, so peirasmos can mean trials or temptations. And, I tell you, nobody likes trials. And so, when James says consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials, he’s got my attention. And all of us have messed up in the midst of trials and temptations. We’ve gone into a trial thinking, well God, here’s something that you could do in my life. And, you know what, we didn’t respond properly. We got angry. We yelled at people. We yelled at God. We, went the opposite way. We didn’t listen. So, considering a trial a joyful thing, is a really difficult thing. But if you know, God loves you. And if you really understand that, when Jesus died on the Cross, he had your name and face in mind, it will help you to see that your life is simply, simply not a fluke, that everything has purpose to it. Why? Because you are the deeply beloved redeemed son and daughter of the most high God. And so, there it is, trials are defined as either those things that hit us from the outside or those things that hit us from the inside. Now, secondly, I want you to note something that’s very, very important in verse two, he says.
Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials.
And so, we see here that it’s not an if we’ll encounter trials, but when. And these early Christians knew that they were suffering. They had already been ejected from Israel or on the run from Jewish authorities. They’ve already been dealing with trials. And so, it’s important to understand that Christianity is gut level, it’s gut level real, it’s straight you. Yeah. Since Genesis, we had our worldview set, that there are various trials that will face us because the world is broken in every single way. Theologians talk about the Noetic effects of the Fall, how sin affected the way we think. But sin also affected the way we feel and sin affected the way we act. Sin affects everything. Sin separates us from God. It’s separates us from other people. And it separates us from ourself. And so, when these, when we face this, the various trials that come at us, we may not be prepared and we may fail greatly. But the reality is, is that trials are inevitable and they will come to us with many different positions. They are inevitable and they’re various, of various kinds. Real quick, I could say a lot about that. But trials are inevitable in this broken world, but they’re very diverse. They’re impersonal trials. I was raised in Southern California, and we had earthquakes and I remember one time my bed rolling away from the wall, in a morning during an earthquake. Well, I mean that wasn’t taken, I couldn’t take that personal, because of the effects of the Fall in this world, you can’t take an earthquake personal, but there are so many things that happen to us by simply living in a broken world. So, there are impersonal trials, then there are personal trials, person caused trials. You know, when I was a pastor, people would leave the church and they’d say, don’t take it personally pastor. Everything is personal. We can deal with these person caused trials, when we go back to grace and remember who we are as the deeply beloved redeemed sons of the most high God. You take it to heart. Amen.
Thank you Pete. Such a good word there from James about how we view the trials we endure. And we’ll have more teaching for Pete tomorrow. Sure hope you’ll join us then. So, one of my favorite comedians, tells a story about talking to his mother on the phone and she was trying to guilt him into visiting his grandmother. She says, you know, your grandma isn’t going to be around for a lot longer. And the comedian is like, does grandma know you’re using that line to drum up business? Well, listen, if you’re in your fifties, sixties, seventies, or better, you know, there’s a finish line up ahead. So, then the question becomes, how do we run our last lap well? Well, recently on Steve Brown Etc, we discussed that very question with Robert Wolgemuth, the author of Gun Lap: Staying in the Race with Purpose. It’s one of my favorite episodes that we’ve done this year, and I would love for you to hear it. That’s why we put the whole thing on a CD. And if you call us today, we’ll be happy to mail it to you, for free. So, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE, right now. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for that CD. If you would like to mail your request, send it to
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