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Thread: Tribulation, distress and persecution

  1. #1
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    Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Romans 8:35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

    From a Christian perspective, persecution means to be afflicted by others because of your faith in Christ. But I'm a bit at a loss concerning tribulation and distress. What is our understanding of these phrase from a scriptural standpoint?


    1. Does personal difficulties and hardship equal to tribulation and distress?
    2. How do we as Christians define tribulation and distress?
    3. Do tribulation and distress come about through personal circumstances, outside forces, God himself or perhaps, precipitated by powers against God?


    Your thoughts will be appreciated.

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    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Jeremiah 20 is a great example of what "can be" distress in this verse from Romans. Don't forget, Paul had to battle within the church as brothers and sisters listened to false teachers who spoke AGAINST Paul. This, is very distressful for any leader in the Body. He pleaded with brethren to listen... but some did not. Again, this is distressful for any leader in the Body.
    Slug1--out

    ~Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,~

    ~Honestly, the pain of persecution lets you KNOW you are still alive... IN Christ!~

    ~Colossians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.~


    ~"In the turmoil of any chaos, all it takes is that whisper that is heard like thunder over all the noise and the chaos seems to go away, focus returns and we are comforted in knowing that God has listened to our cry for help."~


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    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Quote Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
    Jeremiah 20 is a great example of what "can be" distress in this verse from Romans. Don't forget, Paul had to battle within the church as brothers and sisters listened to false teachers who spoke AGAINST Paul. This, is very distressful for any leader in the Body. He pleaded with brethren to listen... but some did not. Again, this is distressful for any leader in the Body.
    Very true, willful opposition to sound doctrine is distressful to the one propagating the gospel. But I'm still scratching my head about tribulation...

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    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Quote Originally Posted by Trivalee View Post
    Romans 8:35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

    From a Christian perspective, persecution means to be afflicted by others because of your faith in Christ. But I'm a bit at a loss concerning tribulation and distress. What is our understanding of these phrase from a scriptural standpoint?


    1. Does personal difficulties and hardship equal to tribulation and distress?
    2. How do we as Christians define tribulation and distress?
    3. Do tribulation and distress come about through personal circumstances, outside forces, God himself or perhaps, precipitated by powers against God?


    Your thoughts will be appreciated.
    The Christian is faced with with TWO grand goals. In Genesis 1:26-28 man is made to be
    1. in the image and likeness of God - that is, to function like God and to express God before all animated creatures
    2. a ruler of the earth and its immediate environs of sea and sky

    Because of the fall of Adam, these two goals now have to be achieved IN ADVERSITY. The pathway for God successfully achieving His goals is fraught with obstacles. And one of the main obstacles is the low pain level of fallen man. He loves his flesh and he loves his soul, and the fallen man will thus tend always to take a path that avoids pain. In the matter of man becoming a ruler, he needs certain attributes and he needs a certain training. And the road to these two is, just like boot-camp in the army, connected with pain. So concerning becoming a king in the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 13:21 warns that it could be thwarted by pain. It reads;

    "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."

    From the direct statements of the New Testament, and the Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven, we know that few Christians will finally pass this "boot-camp" and become co-kings with Jesus when He sets up His Kingdom on Earth after His return. That is, God's aim is to have Christians trained for rulership by the time our Lord Jesus returns, for this is when the co-kings are needed to rule the earth and the nations with a rod of iron, but that the PAIN of the training will stumble many.

    Romans 8:29 addresses the other goal of being in the image of God. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Here again, pain can stunt the process. God's aim is that by the time of the return of our Lord Jesus, He would have a people born-again with His divine life, full of the Holy Spirit, living by this indwelling Holy Spirit, righteous, and displaying God's attributes in everything they do. The question is, WHEN WILL THE CHRISTIAN REACH MATURITY?

    The answer of course is that some will be mature when Christ returns, and some will need further transformation. This is shown by the preceding verses. There will be some who live according to the dictates of the flesh, and some will live according to the dictates of the indwelling Holy Spirit (verses 1-14). So what is the solution to this "retarding" effect? Verses 15 to 23 shows the combination of (1) suffering and (2) the fallen body which causes us to "groan", and we are presented with a solution - the enlivening power of this Holy Spirit. Then, from verse 24 to 27 we have not only the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit, but also Christ's intercessory power as High Priest before God. Then, verse 28 says that whatever our circumstances, and whatever happens to us, if we are so represented by the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit AND the intercessory power of our Lord Jesus, we will be successful in this transforming process of being conformed to the image of Christ.

    In the next verses the KEEPING POWER of God and our Lord Jesus Christ are shown. And verse 35 simply shows that one of the main restricting agents in the transformation of a Christian into the image of Christ, though painful, will not stop God's purpose. I judge that the "... tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword" are BOTH the (1) mechanisms of living in a fallen world AND (2) the concerted efforts of Satan and his principalities to hinder the Christians transformation. The closing verses show that the Councils of God to conform those who He foreknew into the image of Christ, cannot be hindered though the road is bitter.

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    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Quote Originally Posted by Walls View Post
    The Christian is faced with with TWO grand goals. In Genesis 1:26-28 man is made to be
    1. in the image and likeness of God - that is, to function like God and to express God before all animated creatures
    2. a ruler of the earth and its immediate environs of sea and sky

    Because of the fall of Adam, these two goals now have to be achieved IN ADVERSITY. The pathway for God successfully achieving His goals is fraught with obstacles. And one of the main obstacles is the low pain level of fallen man. He loves his flesh and he loves his soul, and the fallen man will thus tend always to take a path that avoids pain. In the matter of man becoming a ruler, he needs certain attributes and he needs a certain training. And the road to these two is, just like boot-camp in the army, connected with pain. So concerning becoming a king in the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 13:21 warns that it could be thwarted by pain. It reads;

    "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."

    From the direct statements of the New Testament, and the Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven, we know that few Christians will finally pass this "boot-camp" and become co-kings with Jesus when He sets up His Kingdom on Earth after His return. That is, God's aim is to have Christians trained for rulership by the time our Lord Jesus returns, for this is when the co-kings are needed to rule the earth and the nations with a rod of iron, but that the PAIN of the training will stumble many.

    Romans 8:29 addresses the other goal of being in the image of God. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Here again, pain can stunt the process. God's aim is that by the time of the return of our Lord Jesus, He would have a people born-again with His divine life, full of the Holy Spirit, living by this indwelling Holy Spirit, righteous, and displaying God's attributes in everything they do. The question is, WHEN WILL THE CHRISTIAN REACH MATURITY?

    The answer of course is that some will be mature when Christ returns, and some will need further transformation. This is shown by the preceding verses. There will be some who live according to the dictates of the flesh, and some will live according to the dictates of the indwelling Holy Spirit (verses 1-14). So what is the solution to this "retarding" effect? Verses 15 to 23 shows the combination of (1) suffering and (2) the fallen body which causes us to "groan", and we are presented with a solution - the enlivening power of this Holy Spirit. Then, from verse 24 to 27 we have not only the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit, but also Christ's intercessory power as High Priest before God. Then, verse 28 says that whatever our circumstances, and whatever happens to us, if we are so represented by the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit AND the intercessory power of our Lord Jesus, we will be successful in this transforming process of being conformed to the image of Christ.

    In the next verses the KEEPING POWER of God and our Lord Jesus Christ are shown. And verse 35 simply shows that one of the main restricting agents in the transformation of a Christian into the image of Christ, though painful, will not stop God's purpose. I judge that the "... tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword" are BOTH the (1) mechanisms of living in a fallen world AND (2) the concerted efforts of Satan and his principalities to hinder the Christians transformation. The closing verses show that the Councils of God to conform those who He foreknew into the image of Christ, cannot be hindered though the road is bitter.
    I haven't considered it in this light. I suppose it's because of man's fallen nature that even unbelievers also go through these challenges even though they are not seeking maturity in Christ, like believers. Fantastic contribution, thank you.

  6. #6

    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Quote Originally Posted by Trivalee View Post
    Very true, willful opposition to sound doctrine is distressful to the one propagating the gospel. But I'm still scratching my head about tribulation...
    "tribulation and distress" is a phrase we find in 2Cor2:4 -

    "for out of much tribulation [G2347 - thlipseos] and pressure [distress - G4928* - synochēs] of heart I [Paul] wrote to you through many tears, not that ye might be made sorry, but that ye might know the love that I have more abundantly toward you." - ylt [*different "distress" word from Rom8:35 though, which is "[G4730 - stenochoria]"]


    "tribulation and persecutions" is used in 2Th1:4-6 (describing the Thessalonians' present and ongoing negative circumstances)

  7. #7

    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Perhaps this will be of some help.

    By grogers

    In Phil.4, Paul opens a line of reasoning in verses 4-7 that presents us with a formula for psychological soundness. He begins by linking one's potential for psychological soundness to the unseen.

    "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

    These non-context dependent character traits are critical elements for the psychological soundness of the believer. The circumstances of one's life are to have no influence upon the state of mind of the Christian.
    1. Rejoice in the Lord always.
    2. Display a gentle spirit.
    3. Be anxious for nothing.
    4. Be thankful
    The appeal in these matters is to the unseen world - "Let your requests be made known to God." The result then is the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, "will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." How is it possible? In verse eight Paul provides us with eight non-natural variables that we regard as virtues.

    "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

    These eight variables are a set of representational controls that serve as the foundation for psychological soundness. These representational controls allow us to govern our behavior in a way that is completely contrary to our circumstances. I call these non-natural variables because:
    1. These things do not originate from the natural world of human experiences.
    2. They are external to ALL circumstances.
    3. These
    variables
    proceed from the character of God.
    4. These
    variables
    are not relevant to time nor are they controlled by time.
    5. These
    variables
    allow us to bear up even under the most difficult of circumstances. I call these circumstances an "experiential index". An experiential index is a catalog of events in a person's life that are limited to time. In 2Cor. 11:23-28, Paul rehearses for us some of the events in his life that made up his experiential index.

    "...In far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches."

    In looking at this list of circumstances it is important we understand that these never represent a closed system. It is in the midst of all of these experiences that Paul says in Phil 4:11, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." Contentment in the mindset of horrific, catastrophic, or even life-threatening circumstances is a learned behavior. When Paul says he has leaned to be content in the midst of these experiences it is obvious that this knowledge is not obtained on the basis of his experiential index. He did not learn contentment from his sufferings. He learned it through the exercise of these non-natural virtues. All of the difficulties he rehearses are things that were imposed upon his body yet, these things are regarded by Paul as non-determinate. In other words, he does not allow them to control his mind. He does not allow them to determine his behavior or his psychology. Of course, these are pragmatic experiences imposed on his flesh that cannot simply be ignored and demand a psychological response. What must govern the Christian's response to his experiences are those non-natural
    variables
    that are stronger than the experiences themselves. These are things that strengthen the inner man and enable us to rejoice even in the mist of such difficulties. How does Paul learn contentment in the midst of such experiences? By cultivating a mind that is governed not by the circumstances or their effects on one's life but by the representational controls given in Phil. 4:8 and 2Cor 4: 4-7 where he adds to this list such virtues as endurance, knowledge, patience, and kindness. Paul regards all these hardships as nothing more than ephemeral concerns. In other words, these are things that are limited to time. They are temporary experiences that exist only briefly. Paul says in 2Cor. 4:17 that these things are but “light momentary afflictions” that are not even worthy to be compared with the eternal weight of glory. This is an extraordinary statement. Such experiences are by design intended to destroy the outer man and unless representational controls are in place that will allow us to properly contextualize these experiences, the inner man will also be overwhelmed and destroyed.

    Paul says in Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This is a statement that is very often taken out of its context and much abused. This statement is linked to the things Paul says he has learned. What has he learned? He has learned to:
    1. Rejoice
    2. Not be anxious
    3. Be thankful
    4. Get along with humble means
    5. Live in poverty
    6. Live in abundance
    7. Be filled
    8. Be hungry
    9. Endure need
    10. Be content in all things. Why? Because he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. "Do all things" is contextual to all the things he has learned to endure.

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    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Quote Originally Posted by grogers View Post
    Perhaps this will be of some help.

    By grogers

    In Phil.4, Paul opens a line of reasoning in verses 4-7 that presents us with a formula for psychological soundness. He begins by linking one's potential for psychological soundness to the unseen.

    "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    These non-context dependent character traits are critical elements for the psychological soundness of the believer. The circumstances of one's life are to have no influence upon the state of mind of the Christian.
    1. Rejoice in the Lord always.
    2. Display a gentle spirit.
    3. Be anxious for nothing.
    4. Be thankful
    The appeal in these matters is to the unseen world - "Let your requests be made known to God." The result then is the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. How is it possible? In verse eight Paul provides us with eight non-natural variants that we regard as virtues.

    "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

    These eight variants are a set of representational controls that serve as the foundation for psychological soundness. These representational controls allow us to govern our behavior in a way that is completely contrary to our circumstances. I call these non-natural variants because:
    1. These things do not originate from the natural world of human experiences.
    2. They are external to ALL circumstances.
    3. These variants proceed from the character of God.
    4. These are not relevant to time nor are they controlled by time.
    5. These variants allow us to bear up even under the most difficult of circumstances. I call these circumstances an "experiential index". An experiential index is a catalog of events in a person's life that are limited to time. In 2Cor. 11:23-28, Paul rehearses for us some of the events in his life that make up his experiential index.

    "...In far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

    In looking at this list of circumstances it is important we understand that these never represent a closed system. It is in the midst of all of these experiences that Paul says in Phil 4:11, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." Contentment in the mindset of horrific catastrophic or even life-threatening circumstances is a learned behavior. When Paul says he has leaned to be content in the midst of these experiences it is obvious that this knowledge is not obtained on the basis of his experiential index. He did not learn contentment from his sufferings. He learned it through the exercise of these non-natural virtues. All of the difficulties he rehearses are things that were imposed on his body yet, these things are regarded by Paul as non-determinate. In other words, he does not allow them to control his mind. He does not allow them to determine his behavior or his psychology. Of course, these are pragmatic experiences imposed on his flesh that cannot simply be ignored and demand a psychological response. What must govern the Christian's response to his experiences are those non-natural variants that are stronger than the experiences themselves. These are things that strengthen the inner man and enable us to rejoice even in the mist of such difficulties. How does Paul learn contentment in the midst of such experiences? By cultivating a mind that is governed not by the circumstances or their effects on one's life but by the representational controls given in Phil. 4:8 and 2Cor 4: 4-7 where he adds to this list such virtues as endurance, knowledge, patience, and kindness. Paul regards all these hardships as nothing more than ephemeral concerns. In other words, these are things that are limited to time. They are temporary experiences that exist only briefly. Paul says in 2Cor. 4:17 that these things are but “light momentary afflictions” that are not even worthy to be compared with the eternal weight of glory. This is an extraordinary statement. Such experiences are by design intended to destroy the outer man and unless representational controls are in place that will allow us to properly contextualize these experiences, the inner man will also be overwhelmed and destroyed.

    Paul says in Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This is a statement that is very often taken out of its context and much abused. This statement is linked to the things Paul says he has learned. What has he learned? He has learned to:
    1. Rejoice
    2. Not be anxious
    3. Be thankful
    4. Get along with humble means
    5. Live in poverty
    6. Live in abundance
    7. Be filled
    8. Be hungry
    9. Endure need
    10. Be content in all things. Why? Because he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. "Do all things" is contextual to all the things he has learned to endure.
    Blimey! Your exegesis is breathtaking.

    As we know, tribulation affects both the saved and the unsaved, but the advantage for the believer is the ability to utilise the tools you aptly described as "non-natural variants" to remain steadfast. I suppose for all to align, the believer must be strong in faith. Faith strengthens the believer in the recognition that irrespective of how ferocious the trial, it is but temporal.

    I am most obliged with your insight. Thank you.

  9. #9

    Re: Tribulation, distress and persecution

    Quote Originally Posted by Trivalee View Post
    Blimey! Your exegesis is breathtaking.

    As we know, tribulation affects both the saved and the unsaved, but the advantage for the believer is the ability to utilise the tools you aptly described as "non-natural variants" to remain steadfast. I suppose for all to align, the believer must be strong in faith. Faith strengthens the believer in the recognition that irrespective of how ferocious the trial, it is but temporal.

    I am most obliged with your insight. Thank you.
    Strictly speaking, this was not an exegesis. It is a generalization of revealed principles within the text. I am happy the information was helpful.

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