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Refining Fire



PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH  

1 PETER 1:1-9                          23 JUNE 2024

 

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

Here we see Peter’s ever-present purpose:

To encourage those being persecuted and tried.

It is the faith that is tested, tried, proven, and approved that will receive such a reward.

And when will that reward be given?

In the end, when Christ returns, if we follow through and when He finds us true.

 

The analogy of the refining process might be outlined as follows:

It is a refining process:

            Gold is refined and proved by fire.

            The Christian’s faith is refined through trials and testing.

There is a product as a result of the refining process.

            Gold – pure gold remains after admixtures, alloys, and dross are removed.

            A Christian’s faith  - which, of course, is more precious than gold is refined by the fire of daily living in a sinful world.

            Think of the length of the existence of gold compared to the Christian’s life.

            Gold perishes.

            Christian faith abides till the revelation of Jesus Christ.

            We are told in Scripture that our faith will become sight.

            The Christian receives praise, honor, and glory from God.

A long time ago, very early in my ministry days – actually immediately after graduation from Johnson Bible College, John S May gave me a copy of a book he had written. It was titled Am I Not Free? A New Testament Commentary.


In that book, he wrote: “The finest gold must be purified. Gold is committed to the fire to enhance its beauty and its value.


Likewise, when our faith is committed to the fire –  that is, trials and tribulations – they are not for the destruction of our faith. Rather, they are to test the proof of our faith.”


Mr. May continued: “Sincerity and strengthening emerge out of testing. Trials verify our faith.


I would add if our trials don’t verify our faith, they declare our lack of faith.


We are told through God’s Word that a fiery trial is coming.


Every day, we, who are Christians, are living the refining process.


Our Christian faith brings us joy, happiness, peace, assurance, and many other warm and fuzzy benefits.


But did you ever know a Christian whose life was completely without some difficulty?


Christians do experience trials and testing. We have hard times, difficult times when Satan attacks us. And sometimes it is not Satan’s attacks but normal everyday life that brings us some hard times – a person loses their job through no fault of their own; the mother and father who have a wayward child even after having been brought up in a Christian home, an unexpected death in the family, an accident which disables the only breadwinner in the family ------ we could go on and on listing the difficult times even Christians experience in this life.


But, as Christians, if we will allow ourselves, we will recognize those difficult times as the refining fire.


Gold perishes, but the Christian faith – abides until the revelation of Jesus Christ.


One of my favorite songs is “It is Well With My Soul.” There is a line in that song that says: “And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight.”


That is the day the hope in things not seen becomes visible to us. That is the day we understand everything that has been a mystery to us.


That is the day we understand why everything happened the way it did.


That is the day we fully see God’s plan, and everything comes into focus.


There is so much the human mind cannot grasp hold of and process.


On that day, though, we will have a clear view we have never seen or experienced before.


In this fast-paced world today, we experience many unknowns. If you can bear hearing the news on TV or online, it doesn’t take long before you will hear reports of numerous negative events.


These can very easily create anxious and disturbing feelings and thoughts.   

  

And it doesn’t have to be news from your local area, somewhere else in the state or in the country – or in another country.


The news may hit right at home. Dad comes home—the business he works for is closing—he has no more job and no income.


Maybe you received a serious diagnosis at your doctor's visit.


Your teenager is in trouble with the law.


The list of events that turn our lives upside down is endless.


But, as Christians, we have the power to say, “It is well with my soul because I know my Lord, my God, my Redeemer lives, and He reigns in my life.


I can go on. Nothing is beyond God’s power.


Ok, I believe that. But why doesn’t God show His power to me TODAY?


That is where the refining fire comes in.


God allows Grief. He allows Trials. He Allows Suffering.


God causes none of those, but He does allow them for our strengthening.


Suppose you went, say, 50 years of life – never a troubled day in your life.


And then – tragedy strikes. You have no way to cope with that tragedy because you haven’t been tried by fire. You haven’t been tested.


God allows grief, trials, and suffering not to weaken us but to strengthen us.


  • We are Proved Genuine – by the refining fire

  • We are Filled with Joy – because of His love

  • We Receive Salvation – the goal of our faith by the faithfulness of Jesus dying on the cross for us.


I would encourage you to keep this word in your mind and in your heart from Revelation 19:6, which I referred to earlier:

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty Reigns!”

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