Spiritual weight training

Romans 5:3-4

JP: Another take on Romans 5:1-8. I like what he writes about tribulation:

tribulation is a set of training weights


The word glory is fascinating, and helps us to understand its relationship to tribulation. Though they are different words in the Greek, notice that we glory in tribulation now as we look forward to the coming glory. What do tribulation and glory have in common? Well, they are both heavy, and Paul is very clearly using the image of training for something. This is not just training—it is weight training. We boast in the privilege of carrying the weight of tribulation now because we know that we are being prepared to carry the weight of glory later. Tribulation is a set of training weights.

A Christian approach to tribulation therefore strains toward a goal. It is not the response of one who just hunkers down to “take it.” Our trials are teleological—which means they all have a point. And this means we must interact with our tribulations with both faith and intelligence. Faith is first, and intelligence follows the argument through patience, experience, and hope.

But if tribulation is a set of training weights, who is the trainer? Well, of course, the answer in our text is the Holy Spirit. But as many who have had this experience can tell you, there will often come a temptation to think that your personal trainer is a maniac and a sadist. That’s what training does.

And that is why Paul turns to a discussion of the nature of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts. What has He shed abroad in our hearts? The answer is love, not aimless, mindless torture. Notice that God has not sent a sense of love from a distance. He has not sent love, He has brought it. The Holy Spirit is given to us, and the love He sheds abroad in our hearts came with Him.

God gives us things because He gives Himself, and brings the stuff with Him. He does not give as a substitute for giving Himself, but rather as part and parcel of giving Himself. The Holy Spirit is given unto us (v. 5). Christ was given to die for the ungodly (v. 6), that is, for us (v. 8).

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