In God’s economy of grace and faith, God stirs, faith responds, and God works. God responds to those who respond to God. Romans 5:1-5 lays out a progression in the life of faith or, we might say, in the faith journey.
“Therefore being justified by faith, 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. 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.”
We are justified by faith. Then we have access by faith into “this grace” in which we stand. Therefore, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. But besides this, we must glory in “tribulations” or the pressure of trials and afflictions. Why? Trials start the process of strengthening faith.
Tribulation Leads to Patience
Trials test faith, and faith tested and proven produces “patience” or literally enduring abiding. The Greek word is a compound word combining the concept of endurance with the word for abiding. Abiding is the picturesque word for dependence—faith. The testing of faith produces enduring faith. If faith that is tested endures, the result is enduring faith. Knowing this, we can count it all joy when we face trials, because we know the testing of faith produces enduring faith (James 1:2-3).
Patience Leads to Experience
Enduring faith produces “experience.” The idea is an experiment that proves. Faith applied, tested, but endures, produces proven faith. Faith that will not let go. Faith that will not crumble. Some translations translate this word as “character” or “approved character.” Another way of saying this is enduring faith produces the habit of faith. The habit of faith is, in a very real sense, character.
Experience Leads to Hope
The habit of faith produces “hope” which is confident expectation. It is not the idea of wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is self-dependence, but faith in God is God-dependence. Faith tested, approved, habitually proved, produces confidence in God or, we might say, confident faith. No longer clinging (which still is faith), but resting, confident in God.
Confident faith does not disappoint because God does not disappoint. The love of God, which is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, is trusted. Love—because this is confidence in the God who is love, therefore, He—God—can be trusted.
The testing of faith leads to enduring faith, which leads to the habit of faith, which leads to confident faith, which is confidence in God (who is love) to come through.
Are you on a faith journey? Where are you on this journey? Perhaps you have been stirred to trust in God on some specific matter. If it was truly God who stirred you to trust, then if your faith is being tried, keep trusting, because faith tried produces enduring faith. When faith endures and you experience the trustworthiness of God, though for a time during the test you could not see anything, then you learn that when God stirs you to trust in Him, you can and must keep depending on Him even through the test of faith. As you learn the trustworthiness of God, you develop the habit of faith, the character to keep depending on God regardless of sight or feelings. Over time through experience you develop confidence in God. God is love. He will do right. When He leads, He can be trusted. Faith journeys you through trials, experience, and ultimately to confidence in God and His love for you.
John Van Gelderen