Tribulation, Part 1


July 12, 2019


It was my intention to begin a series on Covenant today, but because of a number of ongoing discussions with different groups in the past few weeks, I felt the necessity of changing gears for the next few weeks.


Most of us have grown up within the structured church world and subjected to a variety of teachings concerning “The Great Tribulation.”  In fact, there is no such thing in the Word — anywhere — as “The Great Tribulation.”


There ia absolutely no doubt that tribulation exists, but rarely do we hear teachers actually expound on its significance.  The word, “tribulation,” comes from a translation of the Greek word, thlipsis, (try pronouncing that without twisting your tongue!) and it actually means: pressure, affliction, trial, etc.


That believers should think this to be some event to escape from is a horrible misunderstanding of its purpose in the life of the believer.  Consider the following prophecy from Peter in his first general letter to the body of Christ.


I Peter 4:12-14:  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:


But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.


If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.


That’s a strange way to begin today, but buckle your seatbelt, we got lots of territory to cover on this topic.


Consider, first of all, something that Jesus said to His disciples.


John 16:33:  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.


You see it don’t you?  Tribulation — thlipsis — is a guarantee, and it has a real purpose in the life of the believer.


Take a look at what Jesus has to say about what takes place when we endure this process —NOT when we try to escape from it!


Matthew 13:18-23:  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.


But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;  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.


He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.


Using the “parable of the Sower” may seem like a strange way to illustrate the purpose of tribulation or trial, but let’s get into the meat of this parable.


Jesus is saying that first of all that we must hear the Word.  How we hear is critical.  If we hear without understanding, evil spirits come along to contradict that which we have heard and steal it from us.


Then there are those who hear the word, but are in the midst of rocky situations.  The word in Greek for “stony” is, petrodes, a word which identifies situations which appear to be trouble, hence, rocky.  The problem that folks encounter when they hear the Word in the midst of these rocky situations is that they have no grounding in the Word.  It has never taken root in them.


Jesus tells us that when folks receive the Word in the midst of these circumstances, because they have no root and grounding in the Word, prickly things come up (thorns) and choke out whatever Word they have previously heard.


Jesus makes it clear that when folks receive the Word in the midst of these rocky places, the Word gets tested.  Tribulation, pressure, persecution and affliction arise.  Those circumstances test what they have previously heard and they get offended.  The Greek word in this instance is: skandalizo.  It means: to get tripped up, to be enticed to sin, to be entrapped.


Finally, we have those who hear and receive the Word and allow it to take root in them.  They understand the Word, and as a result, even in the midst of testing and trial, they bring forth much fruit for the Kingdom.  Their lives are productive in every sense, because the Word has become their priority.  They both read, and hear the Word.  Their hearing is a rhema, and it produces a dimension of faith that stands the test of time.


Let’s take this the next step.  We go back to what Peter wrote to the body of Christ:


I Peter 4:12-14:  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:


But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.


If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

Let’s look at this fiery trial.


Here’s how the KJV puts it — and this is a poor translation of the Greek:


II Timothy 2:15-17 (KJV):  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;


Now, let’s take a look at this re-translation and amplification that I did some years ago.


II Timothy 2:15-17 (RAC Translation):  Be instantly responsive to the Lord, making yourself available to Him in the midst of the crucible, a tried and tested laborer who has no fear of being examined – one who, by virtue of God’s testing and the time spent in the crucible with Him, knows the proven Word of Truth.


Stand aloof from, and avoid the untested, untried “word” which comes forth from those who would propagate speculation and create their own doctrines.  These profane speculations and so-called “words” are empty babblings which will only serve to advance ungodliness;


And those who spread these doctrines will only yield a gangrene pasture – a source of poison to those who ingest their “word”…..  and we point out Hymenaeus and Philetus as examples.


 You see the enormous difference, right?  The word, “study,” is a really poor exchange for the Greek word, spoudazo, which really means to be responsive, to be diligent, the be prompt and earnest.


Then we have the word, dokimos, for being approved.  In this instance, the word represents being assayed, being tested in the midst of a crucible.  The history of this word in Greek is that this was used by those who smelted gold and silver for the purpose of making coins.


I’m sure you all know the picture of smelting.  Raw gold is placed into a crucible, heated to the boiling point, the dross or dirt is scooped off, and the gold is re-heated again for the same process.  This continues until the smelters can state without fear that the gold has reached 99.9999 purity.


THAT, folks is the purpose of the crucible.  That is the purpose of the fiery trial.  That is the purpose of tribulation and affliction.  That is the heat you are going through!

When we come out of the crucible, we KNOW the Word!  It is no longer theory.  It is established fact!  It has been proven again and again and again in our lives until it is a pure Word, and we are representatives of that Word.


This is where we are instructed to avoid strange doctrines — funny doctrines that are untested in the Word, and untested in life, and to take note of and avoid those who propagate error.


Before we continue, let’s take a look a what the Lord wants to reveal to those who will allow this testing and tribulation to take place.


But as it is written, natural eye has not seen, nor has the ear of flesh heard, neither has it begun to be conceived by the unredeemed, natural mind, those things that God has made ready to reveal to those that love Him, [those who are in Christ, and in whom He dwells].


But God has unveiled and revealed them to us by His Spirit; for the Spirit pursues, digs out and prepares to reveal to us the profound depths of the nature, the character and purposes of God which have been hidden away from us [for an appointed time in the development of our character in Him].  (I Corinthians 2:9-10, RAC Translation and Amplification)


Letr’s talk not about the overcoming that we are required to do in the midst of the tribulation and testing.  Let me first take you to Revelation 7.


Revelation 7:9-17: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.


And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,  Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.


And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.


For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.


In 1996, when the Angel of the Lord transported me to see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, this is about as good a description and picture of that which I saw.  Literally every single person there was an “overcomer,” having come through great tribulation, testing, affliction, fire — you name it!  And as John described it earlier in Revelation,


Revelation 12:11: And they — the redeemed and tried believers — overcame and demolished the Enemy (who had tormented and attempted with everything in his arsenal to bring them down and defeat them) — by the proven and tested Word because of the blood that Jesus shed as the legal basis for their authority, AND by the confession of their mouths in agreement with that proven and tested Word.  (RAC Translation & Amplification)


Consider, then, the rejoicing in Heaven when John saw and heard the following:


Revelation 19:6-8:  And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.


Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.


This is absolutely critical to our understanding of “tribulation.”  It produces righteousness in those who will overcome in the midst of the testing and trial.  The white linen is that picture of a pure individual.


Early in Jesus’ ministry, He had said, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48)


I have lost track of the number of times throughout the years when religious people have said to me, “You can’t possible be perfect!  Nobody can be perfect until they get to Heaven.”


What a crock!  What a pile of baloney!  Jesus would never have said, “Be perfect..” if He hadn’t provided the means for us to achieve perfection.  That means to perfection is the means to completeness in Christ Jesus.  It is the path to absolute wholeness in Him.


That path to completeness and wholeness leads us through the fire.  It leads us through enormous testing, pressure, circumstances that defy rationale, circumstances that look like death itself, situations with troublesome people, opposition from demonic spirits — in other words, the crucible!  Everything we experience is designed to produce opportunities in us where we will rely on the Word, listen to Holy Spirit and respond appropriately.


There is no room in Heaven for cry-babies.  There is no room for complainers.  There is no room for those who try to say, “Does God hate me?  What have I done to deserve this?”  By the same token, there is no room for those who proclaim their own righteousness, or claim that they have a right to go to Heaven because “I’ve done good most of my life!”


Maybe I should re-phrase this: There is a place in Heaven for cry-babies and complainers, but that place is Paradise, a place designed for testing, for schooling in righteousness.  Until people achieve the place where they demonstrate the fruit of righteousness, they will never become a part of that company we refer to as “the Bride of Christ.


Let’s wrap up today with the statement we’ve already covered earlier today.  This is the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ that we WILL BE TESTED in the crucible.


John 16:33:  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.


In case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:30AM Pacific.  That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#.  We are now making these gatherings available on video using ZOOM.  If you wish to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513.  If you miss the live voice-only call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later.  The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.

Blessings on you!



Regner A. Capener

Temple, Texas 76504

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