Grace For The Journey
Yesterday we began a four day learning adventure into God’s Word looking at what God wants us to know and do when go through times of suffering and difficulty. We began to look at 1 Peter 1:6-9 and discover from these verses the biblical way of dealing with suffering . . .
The biblical way is not to deny the pain or grief from suffering,
But at the same time
To experience genuine joy in the Lord as you go through suffering
I stated that the above way seems like a contradiction. How can you experience joy while you are going through pain and suffering?
God’s Word can help us come to a balanced understanding of this truth.
We looked at the Principle of suffering in yesterday’s blog.
We saw that Peter, in writing to suffering Christians, tells his readers that they are to “greatly rejoice” in suffering, while they at the same time that they are “grieved” or “distressed” by various trials (1 Peter 1:6). We discovered that when he wrote about this truth . . .
He is not denying the distress – the word “trials” means “grief” or “pain.”
But neither is he discarding the genuine joy that a
Christian can experience in the midst of the pain
If he has the right perspective.
Peter himself had felt it. After being flogged and warned to speak no further in the name of Jesus, he and the other apostles “went on their way … rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
That is dealing with suffering in God’s way!
In our text, Peter tells us how to have it:
Trials do not have to ruin us …
God can use the trial …
To refine us, if we are surrendered.
In today’s blog we will look at . . .
The Purpose of trials – God allows trials in our lives to refine their faith.
The word “that” in verse 7 points to the purpose of the various trials of verse 6:
That our faith might be tested or refined, like gold,
To remove the dross so that at
The coming of Christ there will
Be praise, honor, and glory.
Peter contrasts faith with gold. He contrasts it in that faith is more precious than gold because gold is perishable, but faith is not. Gold won’t gain heaven, but faith will. All the gold in the world is worthless the instant you die and stand before God. Only faith in Jesus Christ will do in that day.
Peter compares faith with gold in that both are refined by fire. The word “tested has the nuance “of testing with a view to approval.”
God does not test our faith to make it fail,
But to burn off the dross and leave the pure gold.
He does this by putting us in the furnace of affliction
Where we are forced to trust Him in ways
We never would apart from such trials.
There is such a thing as false faith that does fail. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that in the shallow, rocky soil, the seed sprouted, but when the sun came out, it withered and died because it had no root. He explained that this refers to those who first receive the word with joy, but when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, they fall away, thus showing that their faith was not genuine (Mark 4:5-6, 16-17).
But genuine faith will grow stronger, not weaker, through trials.
As the great hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” puts it, “The flame will not hurt thee, I only design, thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.” Martin Luther, in his Commentary on Peter and Jude [Kregel], pp. 39-40) said that if he had not been attacked as strongly as he had been, he would never have come to the place of certainty or to the full development on the doctrines of faith as he did. All of us could identify with him, in that the Lord uses the attacks against us to strengthen our understanding of the basic truths of the gospel which are under attack in our day.
George Muller, a great man of faith, housed, clothed, and fed over 2,000 orphans at a time simply by faith and prayer. He refused to tell potential donors of the needs of the work, even when directly asked, but instead would take the needs to God in prayer. He went through times of severe trial. For one seven-year period, he seldom had funds for more than three days’ needs for the orphans, and often the need was met on the very day, sometimes at the exact moment the children sat down to eat. Muller wrote, “The Lord gives faith, for the very purpose of trying it for the glory of His own name, and for the good of him who has it; and, by the very trial of our faith, we not only obtain blessing to our own souls, by becoming the better acquainted with God, if we hold fast our confidence in Him, but our faith is also, by the exercise, strengthened: and so it comes, that, if we walk with God in any measure of uprightness of heart, the trials of faith will be greater and greater” (A. T. Pierson, George Muller of Bristol [Revell], p. 439).
As we look to Christ and His salvation, and lean on Him as we go through times of great trials and suffering, God will be with us, His grace will be sufficient for us, and we can experience His supernatural joy. Tomorrow we will look at the perspective in suffering.
This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”