OVERCOMING MUCH TRIBULATION
Acts 14:22 ESV: strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
Here the Holy Spirit tells us through Paul that it is through much tribulation we enter the Kingdom.
Observe that Kingdom here does not just mean being born-again: this was written to disciples who were already born-again; rather it means entering into the experience of the total dominion of God’s nature and character in our spirits, souls: will, mind, emotions and bodies.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV: Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, why must we go through much tribulation to experience this?
We must go through much tribulation before having this experience because it is through much tribulation that God rids us of the pride intrinsic in the sin-nature in our souls.
It is this same nature that was found in Satan (Lucifer) because of his separation from God and the consequent corruption of the divine anointing he once had that caused his heart to be lifted up (Is. 14.12-17) and rebel against God.
Ezekiel 28:14-17 ESV: You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. (15) You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. (16) In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. (17) Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.
To avoid this happening to us when we experientially become kings in Christ, God will allow us to go through much tribulation to permanently rid us of the pride of the sin-nature in our wills, minds and emotions.
How does this happen?
When we experience tribulation: physical and circumstantial pressures, we seek God with greater humility and diligence; because we are faced with the fact that without the grace and mercy of God in sufficient measure the tribulation could destroy us. So we humble ourselves and seek God with greater diligence than we would have if we were not under that kind of pressure.
This is what Paul experienced in
2 Corinthians 12:7 ESV: So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Notice that it was the messenger of Satan: not of God; but allowed by God (Is. 54.16) so Paul would not become conceited or proud and puffed up, because knowledge puffs up (1 Cor. 8.1). Furthermore, this is why affliction and persecution arises for the Word’s sake: so the revelation of the Word will not puff us up and it will be only by the grace of God in sufficient measure through sufficient humility that we will overcome the tribulation and experience and enjoy the blessings of the Word with a humble and not arrogant attitude towards both God and men.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV: (8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. (9) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
So, we see that when we are weak: faced with the reality of our weakness and vulnerability because of the imminent possibility of destruction by an ongoing tribulation; we become strong by the power of God given to us in sufficient measure through sufficient grace which is given through sufficient humility.
1 Peter 5:5-6 ESV: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (6) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
We are to use the sufficiency of the grace of God that comes through sufficient humility to overcome much tribulation.
So ultimately the purpose of much tribulation is not to debase or destroy us, but rather to exalt us to reign with God in Christ in humility like Christ!
Philippians 2:8-9 ESV: And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
Similarly, we are to humble ourselves by being obedient unto death: crucifying the sin nature in our flesh by daily prayer in the Spirit with travail like the Lord Jesus did:
Hebrews 5:7 MKJV: For Jesus, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong cryings and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared,
Luke 9:23-24 MKJV: And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (24) For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, he shall save it.
Romans 8:13 ESV: For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Romans 8:26 ESV: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
So we see that much revelation attracts from Satan much tribulation which requires much graceto overcome, which is obtained by much humility, which enables much labour (1 Cor. 15.10) in the spirit which will lead to much victory and exaltation.
So we, like Paul, should count it all joy (Jam. 1.2-4) when we are faced with much tribulation knowing it is just a stepping stone to greater exaltation in God.