Faith Tested by Fire
Faith Tested by Fire - 1 Pet. 4:12-13
Counterfeiting is a major problem in our society. Forged money, fake social security cards, credit cards, jewelry, works of art, and virtually everything else of value are passed off as genuine to deceive the unwary. Consequently, valuable commodities must be carefully examined to determine their genuineness.
Beloved, these are times that are designed to test the souls of mankind and especially the genuineness of faith in those who profess to have faith. The Scripture is clear that all men do not possess genuine faith (2 Thess 3:2). Christ, when speaking of His return, asked this question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
In the Prophets, the Gospels and in the Epistles we are told that before Christ returns for His people, which coming could be at any given moment, saints, sinners and the ungodly will undergo an increase of intense trials.
These trials have a definite purpose and Peter is writing from personal experience as well as prophetic inspiration.
In chapter 1 and verse 6 of this letter, Peter uses the phrase “IF NEED BE”.
Commenting on this verse, Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Understand, my brothers and my sisters, that for many necessary purposes there is a needs be for trial. When understood from the context of this entire epistle, Peter is saying here, "If need be" that there should be a trial of your faith, you will get that trial, because God, in His wisdom, will give faith what faith needs.”
Listen to the words of Jesus in relation to a “NEED BE” trial in the life of the disciples, particularly Simon Peter.
Lk 22:31-32 (Today’s English Version)
"Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers."
Two weeks ago Rev. Brewer spoke to us about Holiness in relation to our calling and conduct. God confirmed that Word in my life with a “Need be trial”.
Last week, Rev. Hairston spoke to us about our need to meet with God at the Potters House. God confirmed that word by putting me on His potters wheel, and by the way, I’m still there.
This week, I have been led to speak to us about the fiery trials that are designed to purify and prepare us for greater service as well as our future meeting with the Lord in the heavens. It is my hope that God confirms this word to you, and when things heat up and you begin to feel the stress on your soul, instead of resisting, you must submit and let God have His way with you.
From the Scriptures I have learned at least eight purposes for the Lord’s allowing trials to come into the lives of His people.
First, trials test the strength of our faith. In many ways the Lord assists us in taking spiritual inventory by bringing trials into our lives to demonstrate to us the strength or weakness of our faith. A person who becomes resentful, bitter, and self-pitying when troubles come plainly exposes that his or her faith is weak. On the other hand, a person who turns more and more to the Lord as troubles get worse and asks for His help in carrying the burden just as plainly demonstrates that his or her faith is strong.
Second, trials are given to humble us, to remind us not to let our trust in the Lord turn into presumption and spiritual self-satisfaction. The greater our blessings, the more Satan will tempt us to look on them as our own accomplishments rather than the Lord’s, or as our rightful due, and to become proud rather than humble. Paul testifies that, "because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!" (2 Cor. 12:7).
Third, God allows us to suffer trials in order to wean us from our dependence on worldly things. The more we accumulate material possessions and worldly knowledge, experience, and recognition, the more we are tempted to rely on them instead of the Lord. These things can include education, work success, important people we know, honors we may have been given, and many other types of worldly benefits that often are not wrong in themselves but can easily become the focus of our concern and the basis of our trust.
A fourth purpose of trials is to call us to eternal and heavenly hope. The harder our trials become and the longer they last, the more we look forward to being with the Lord. Although Paul knew that his ministry was not finished, and that it was important for him to continue his work on earth for Christ’s sake and the sake of the church, his personal longing, nevertheless, was "to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better" (Phil. 1:23–24). In his letter to the church at Rome, he testified:
A fifth purpose of trials is to reveal what we really love. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac not only proved his faith, but also his supreme love for the Lord. Nothing and no one else should be dearer to us than the Lord. He is our exceeding great reward (Gen 15:1).
Sixth, trials are given to teach us to value God’s blessings. Our reason tells us to value the world and the things of the world, and our senses tell us to value pleasure and ease. But through trials, faith tells us to value the spiritual things of God with which He has blessed us abundantly—including His Word, His care, His provision, His strength, and, of course, His salvation. Trials reveal where our affections really are. If they are set on things above, the fiery trial will reveal it. If they are set on the things of this world, the fiery trial will make that very clear.
Seventh, the Lord uses trials to develop in His saints enduring strength for greater usefulness. The Puritan Thomas Manton perceptively observed that "while all things are quiet and comfortable, we live by sense rather than faith. But the worth of a soldier is never known in times of peace." Paul confessed, "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10). The writer of Hebrews speaks of the godly men and women "who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong" (Heb. 11:33–34; cf. Isa. 41:10).
Eighth, and finally, the Lord uses trials to enable us to better help others in their trials. As we have already quoted, Jesus said to Peter, Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31–32). Peter’s sufferings were given not only to strengthen him for greater usefulness but also to prepare him to strengthen others. That is true of every believer’s sufferings and testings, and was true of our Lord in His humanity. "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:18; cf. 4:15).
Paul sums up this principle in his words to the Corinthians: (2 Cor. 1:3–6)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.
Since trials are so productive, it is essential for us not to frustrate the grace of God by murmuring within ourselves and complaining among ourselves, but to respond rightly to them.
As things heat up, we must look up. As it is written: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1Co 10:13 (NLT). As Deacon Westbrook says all the time, “Look to the hills from whence cometh our help, our help comes from the LORD.”
Our choir, marching in every Sunday, magnifies in song the City of God.
Here is something we must remember the closer we get to the Day of our actually entering that City, THERE WILL BE A “NEEDS BE FIERY TRIAL” THERE TOO.
The fire is none other than the Glory of God.
§ Ezekiel saw this glory and described it as “fire enfolding itself” (Ezek 1:4).
§ The writer to the Hebrews describes God our Savior as a consuming fire (Heb 12: 29),
§ and Paul reminds us that in that place, the City of God, and by His fiery Presence the work of each saved soul will be tested of what sort it is.
If my work is not destroyed by the fire, I will receive a reward, and if my work is burned up by the fire, I shall suffer loss, yet I myself will be saved and that by the same fire and from that point on, I and all the rest who are in right standing with the Lord, As Jesus has said, “will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt 13:43)
HE THAT CREATED US HAS ALSO CONVERTED US
HE THAT CONVERTED US WILL ALSO COMFORT US
HE THAT COMFORTS US ALSO COMMANDS US
Thus saith the Lord to His people:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”
“In your patience possess ye your souls
And I am closing with His closing prophetic message to the churches, He has said—
Rev 3:11 (MSG)
I’m on my way, I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.”