Volume XVI, Issue 4the teaching legacy of derek prince | dpm archive
Therefore, having been justifiedby faith, we have peace withGod through our Lord JesusChrist, through whom also wehave access by faith into this grace in which we stand, andrejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but wealso glory in tribulations, know-ing that tribulation produces perseverance [endurance]; per-severance, character.vv. 1–4
Endurance produces characterthat has stood the test. In essence,we are talking about the formationof our character. We can rejoice(boast, glory and exult) in tribula-tion because only tribulation pro-duces endurance. Endurance, inturn, produces proven character.In James 1:2 we read, “Mybrethren, count it all joy when youfall into various trials.” We need topraise God that He counts usworthy of the trials we go through,bearing in mind that the trial isalways for our own good. Jamesgoes on to explain how thisseeming paradox works:
Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience [endur-ance]. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lackingnothing.James 1:3–4
James is saying that if we gothrough the test and hold out, it willshape every area of our character andpersonality. It will make us complete,fully-rounded Christians.One of the great proving groundsfor our character development is theclose, committed fellowship wherewe meet every week with the samesmall group of people. As we shareour lives in this context, it oftenbecomes uncomfortably clear thatthere are some areas in our characterthat have never been dealt with. If wefail to expose ourselves to others, wecan deceive ourselves about untestedareas in our character and back off every time we face a test that wouldexpose those areas.Somebody has said that fellow-ship is “Roof off, walls down.” Wedon’t mind getting the roof off because God sees through the roof anyhow, but we can get prettyuncomfortable when we let the wallsdown so our fellow Christians cansee in. There is no greater provingground for our Christian characterthan close, committed fellowshipwith believers.
What are the tests that we willhave to go through? One verysimple outline is found in Matthew13, the well-known parable of thesower who spread the seed. In thisparable, Jesus speaks about thedifferent kinds of soil, each repre-sentative of a different kind of person who hears the Word of God.Describing how some seed fallsby the wayside and is devoured bybirds before it can enter the ground,and other seed falls on rocky groundand among thorns, Jesus explainsthe type of person represented byeach of these situations.
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does notunderstand it, then the wickedone comes and snatches awaywhat was sown in his heart.This is he who received seed bythe wayside.Matthew 13:19
The seed never gains entranceinto this person’s life at all, but justlies on the ground until a birdcomes along and picks it up. Jesus then goes on to describe twokinds of persons who did receive theseed and began to produce fruit.However, the fruit eventually came tonothing because they failed to passthe tests to which they weresubjected. The first group were thosewho had “stony places”; the secondgroup were those who had “thorns.”
But he who received the seed onstony places, this is he who hearsthe word and immediately re-ceives it with joy; yet he has noroot in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulationor persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stum-bles. Now he who received seedamong the thorns is he whohears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulnessof riches choke the word, and hebecomes unfruitful.Matthew 13:20–22
Very simply stated, there are twokinds of tests: when life is too hard