Back to 2023 Church Weekly List

Vol. XX No. 22
26 February 2023


Pastor Jeffrey Khoo

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (Jas 1:2). The Apostle James writes to his “brothers”, ie fellow Christians (1 Cor 5:11, 7:15, Gal 1:19, Col 1:1). James exhorts his readers very forcefully by an imperative, “count” or “consider,” “regard”. He commands them to be always joyful.

Believers are to consider it pure joy whenever they fall into various temptations. The word “temptation” is used by James in two ways: (1) the trials and testings that afflict the Christian from without (Jas 1:2–12), and (2) the motivation and desire to sin that afflict the Christian from within (Jas 1:13–15). The temptations or trials of the first kind God sends to perfect or mature the faith of believers, hence the cause for joy. But the temptation of the second kind, namely, the strong desire to sin, does not find its source in God but the sinful nature of man’s depraved heart (Jer 17:9, Rom 7:14–25).

Trials and sufferings can come in many forms (eg sickness, bereavement, persecution, poverty, natural disasters etc). But each time such a trial or testing comes, we should face it joyfully. In this case, the believing Jews were facing persecution. They had to flee Jerusalem because of intense persecution by their own countrymen (ie unbelieving Jews). The church in Jerusalem suffered no less than five persecutions as recorded in Acts 4:1–22, 5:17–42, 6:8–15, 8:1–3, 12:1–4. Even in such situations, James says, “Count it all (or pure) joy.” “Man’s disappointments are God’s appointments.”

There is a purpose in trials and testings. “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (Jas 1:3). The persecuted believers were perhaps very dejected that they had to go through so much hardship. James here encourages them to start recognising and understanding that there is a divine reason or purpose for such sufferings in their life.

God is putting the faith of believers to the test. The faith spoken of here refers to the subjective faith (ie our belief and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation). The Epistle of James is really first of all an Epistle of faith. Faith is mentioned before works. There can be no works when there is no faith. Faith must always come first. True faith will produce good works. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jas 2:26).

The “trying” is done to ascertain the genuineness of something through thorough examination and testing. By way of illustration, a student in the university is required to undergo a series of tests and examinations to ascertain how much he has learned and how hard he has worked. When the student passes the tests or exams, he will receive a diploma certifying his knowledge and ability. So is the case with the Christian. One way God proves the genuineness of his faith is to put him through a series of trials and testings. Will he continue to believe or will he abandon the faith?

The testing of one’s faith produces “patience” or “fortitude” (hupomone). The word hupomone denotes fortitude, the “capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances”. It is made up of two words, the preposition hupo meaning “under,” and menoem>, “to remain.” It illustrates the capacity to remain under pressure without breakage. It is a “never say die” attitude. A person with such endurance will not give up easily even under extremely trying circumstances (eg Job).

“But let patience have her perfect work” (Jas 1:4a). The ability and capacity to endure is not an overnight attainment; it involves and requires time. The word “perfect” speaks of a perfecting process, a gradual and constant development towards spiritual maturity so that “ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Jas 1:4b). One is perfect (ie not lagging behind in any point) when he is patient and forbearing. The word “entire” refers to a totality, with special emphasis upon the person as a whole in terms of his mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual state. In all these areas, he should not be found lacking.

The reason for trials is to increase the Christian’s stamina to endure hardships. The capacity to endure will shape Christian character and make a man mature in Christ.


Jonathan Hendricks

1 Peter 4:12–13, “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.”

Are you surprised by trials and afflictions? When trials and afflictions come our way, we tend to get surprised and start to murmur and complain against God. John Owen, the 17th century Puritan theologian and pastor from England had 11 children out of which 10 died in infancy. Later on, the only child that survived infancy eventually died when she reached adulthood. Then his first wife, who bore him the 11 children, later on died also when he was older. As he got older, he also suffered from a disease that eventually carried him away into glory. But this man never murmured or complained against God. All these afflictions and sufferings caused him to trust God which ultimately led him to produce masterpieces in theology and practical Christian literature which till today live on.

Was it not the same with Horatio Spafford, who lost his family and his whole business? But yet in that great sorrow and misery, he went on to pen one of the greatest hymns ever written, “It Is Well with My Soul”. This was because they both saw the Hand of God in the midst of their trials. To them it was not a surprise or shock. They saw God’s marvellous Providence in it. This is how the patriarch Job also reacted when everything was taken away from him. He lost his family, wealth and health in just a matter of one day. He was severely afflicted physically as well. Yet he concluded, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21). What a testimony!

Dear friends, may we also have the same attitude when trials and afflictions come our way. May we see God’s hand in everything and thank Him for sustaining us. May we not be surprised but rather see His sanctifying grace and holy purpose to draw us closer to Him. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 4:12–13 that we must never be surprised when God sends afflictions to us but rather be happy to be partakers in Christ’s sufferings. He sends afflictions and trials sometimes perhaps because we have been too busy and have forgotten about Him. Or rather He wants to test our faith, to see whether we will trust Him no matter the circumstances. After all, let us not forget that it is an honourable thing to suffer for Christ’s sake and we must count it all joy if we are tried and tested (James 1:2).

But in all this, when we do go through trials and afflictions, let us stop and think about how much Christ suffered for you and me on that Cross. He drank the dreadful cup of God’s wrath, just to save us from perishing in our sins. This cannot be compared to our tiny little afflictions. And when we think about this, surely we can smile when trials and tribulations come our way. It humbles us and strengthens our faith in Him. With Christ in our vessel, we can surely smile at the storm.

Let us also remember that our God is a loving Father and chastises us sometimes because He loves us and wants us to live lives that are well pleasing and glorifying to Him (Hebrews 12:6–7). He does so for our own good. So let us press on and keep trusting in Him until He calls us home to be with Him, for it is wonderful to suffer for Christ’s sake. We also have the Scriptures, the infallible Word of God which is our hope and comfort. Not forgetting, there will be a crown of righteousness waiting for us in heaven, if we endure unto the end (2 Timothy 4:8). Amen.

[Jonathan Hendricks is a BTh student at Far Eastern Bible College in his senior year.]


Chan Mun Cheng

My father had attended several gospel rallies with my mother and me. But he was an atheist and did not wish to attend worship services in church.

But God was good to him. After my mother started attending church, he joined my mother to listen to Bible stories at home.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic was a difficult time for most of us, it brought us blessings. For the past three years, the church started to have online worship services. My father willingly attended online worship with my mother and me faithfully throughout those three years.

In December last year, my father fell down. Thank God he was not hurt. I had reminded him that although he had fallen many times, God had protected him. My mother and I reminded him of this repeatedly. This time, to my pleasant surprise, he voluntarily said he wanted to accept Christ.

I shared the gospel with him again and asked him if he wanted to say the sinner’s prayer with me. Sensing that he had some hesitation, I printed out the sinner’s prayer so that he could pray it himself when he was ready. Our helper who is a Christian also shared with my father. My father mentioned to her that he would accept Christ and be baptised.

On 31 December last year, my father had a major stroke. When he was in the emergency department, his mind was clear although his speech was slurred. My mother and I asked him if he wanted to accept Christ. He agreed and said the sinner’s prayer with me. About two days later, my father slipped into a coma.

Thank God for His great grace and mercy upon my father. He had given my father many opportunities to know him, and one last opportunity to accept Christ before he lost consciousness. He is now safe in the arms of Jesus. Praise and glory be to God!

Invite your family and friends to your home on the Lord’s Day to hear about
Biblical Earthquakes (Matt 24:7)
With Chinese interpretation

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