THE EXILES PURIFYING TRIALS
1 Peter 1:6-12
Suffering is the birthplace of Joy. One would think that would be rather strange and morbid to say that suffering produces joy. Now! Pain and suffering are not in themselves good; they are the result of a fallen world. In spite of the evils of persecution, pain, and hardship, God providentially brings about good results. Sam Storms said, “Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God.” What do we know about trials and sufferings? They are necessary to humble us and turn our attention from self to God. They are distressing, painful, and difficult; they are not delightful or easy to endure. They come in different forms, at different times and for difference durations. They prove the genuineness of our faith, as Peter demonstrates here in the text of Scripture.
But, what does Peter say here? Trials and suffering are refining us as we wait for this promise that he previously spoke of. Though, we don’t rejoice over our suffering like we would with a birth of a child, or the salvation of a loved one. We can rejoice in the results that our sufferings bring as we grow stronger and more in love with God. What Peter comforts the exile believer with is that the Christian life in all its circumstances is to manifest that fruit of the Spirit….. joy. R. C Sproul wrote, “Joy that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit is not a mere fleeting sense of happiness it is something that provokes within us an abundance of rejoicing. “ In our sufferings or trials we greatly rejoice as Peter opens this portion of his letter. (v6) Joy by the world is defined this way. “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” We would all agree with that statement. But, does that world definition still apply when we are faced with suffering or trials in this life? The world would say, “No”; but the Christian is to say, “Yes”. Joy according to a Biblical worldview is defined this way. “Joy is a feeling of good pleasure and happiness that is dependent on who Jesus is rather than on who we are or what is happening around us. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, abiding in God's presence and from hope in His word.
The world system sees joy as external, depended upon events, people, places, things and thoughts. True biblical joy is what God gives you in the midst of trouble. True biblical Joy is trusting God, by faith, and trusting that our suffering is serving a purpose; and that no suffering ever goes to waste.
Worldly joy says, “I am happy because of ______.”
Biblical Joy says, “I have joy in spite of ______.”
The Scriptures speak of Joy in this manner…….
God Given…”You have put gladness in my heart…” Psalm 4:7. The Fruit Of The Spirit…..”Love, joy, peace, longsuffering…” Gal 5:22. The Gospel Is Received With Joy...”having received the word in much affliction with joy…” 1 Thess 1:6. It’s The Heart Of The Gospel… “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy..” Luke 2:10-11. The Favor Of God…“You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy. Acts 2:28. Abiding In Christ….. “These things I have spoken to you, the My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:10-11. Joy shall be the final reward of the believers at the Day of Judgment. “..’Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'” Matt 25:21
Look what we see in (v8) “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” The believers joy is “ Inexpressible” this literally means “higher than speech. The believer who lives in personal communion with Christ experience a joy so divine that they cannot communicate it; humanly speaking. This joy is beyond the reach of speech and expression. This is rendered as the “highest of praise” from which doxology originates from. Trials and afflictions are not without a reason, they come with a purpose. Mainly what we see here in the text! The genuineness of your faith may be proved. What we learn about trials and sufferings from Peter is that…..
Trails Meet Needs….. “If need be or little while” indicates that there are special times when God knows that we need to go through trials. Trials are means of discipline us when we have disobeyed, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” Ps 119:67. Sometimes trials are for spiritual growth to prevent us from sinning. ”So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:7-10
The culture around us says “Suffering and trials are terrible and that person doesn’t deserve to go through this.” The Christian doesn’t say anything, because they know that suffering and trials are what God uses to bring about His providential plans. Joseph is a prime example of senseless suffering by the world’s standards. But if Joseph wasn’t mistreated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, sentenced to jail; the nation of Israel would have died. In Genesis we read, “As for you, you meant it for evil against me: but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Gen 50:20. Jesus Christ is the greatest of examples of senseless suffering, unfortunately the world would disagree it was senseless; they would say it was justified. The Perfect, Spotless, Son of God, drank the cup of wrath that we deserve so that you, and I, could have eternal life in His Son through the gospel. There are special times when God knows that we need to go through trials. We do not always know the need for our suffering and trials, but by God’s grace we receive the strength to endure it for our good in times of need.
Trials Are Varied…... “Manifested or various trials” means “multicolored”. Peter uses the same language to describe God’s grace later in this letter. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10. Whether it’s a blue Monday, or a grey Thursday, God’s grace is sufficient. No matter what color of trial you’re going through, God’s grace is sufficient to see us through despite the results you are hoping for or expecting. We live in a world that says, “How could God allow this to happen?” And that it’s a real question that plays on everyone’s mind at times, and we as Christians do a terrible job answering it. Most Christians will say, “God had nothing to do with this it. That was the work of Satan, not of God.” I understand comforting the hurting but to blame someone or something, so that God is exonerated of any blame is equally wrong.
We make untruthful statements
like this why?
So that it doesn’t harm one’s faith in God, because God is Love and a loving God would never allow that to happen to one of His children. (For that I would say look to the cross) R C Sproul in his commentary wrote this, “However, if God has nothing to do with death or our afflictions, we of all people are the most to be pitied. The comfort we receive from the Word of God is that God is involved with our suffering even to the extent that He ordains them, but the purpose of that ordination is always good and righteous. People attempt to avoid that truth by saying God does not ordain such things but merely permits them, whatever God permits, He must choose to permit, and what He chooses to permit, He thereby ordains. That should not discourage us but encourage us.” One thing we really need to understand is that as we overcome trials and sufferings, isn’t that we automatically win them all. Trials are varied and God matches to our strength and need in that time or moment. Remember, that even though we suffering unjustly at the hands of men, we never suffer unjustly at the hands of God.
Trials Are Not Easy.... “Grieved” Peter uses this word to describe a “heaviness” trials produce what we call “heaviness” so we are not to take trials and suffering lightly. They are weighty as we experience pain or grief in the Christian life. This word was used in the garden when out Lord was faces with his coming trial and death on the cross. “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." Matt 26:37. This word describes the sorrow of the saints at the death of a loved one. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thess 4:13-14
To say that our trials and suffering are not painful is to make them worse. It’s diminishes the purpose for our sufferings. Suffering hurts beyond words. Suffering draws our hearts to two things, a deeper love for God and the Scriptures or a turning back to a world that doesn’t care about you.
Tim Challies, an elder at Grace Community Church in Toronto wrote a book about the sudden passing of his twenty-year-old son who was a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, he had been participating in a school activity with his fiancée, sister, and friends, when he fell unconscious and collapsed to the ground and died. The book is called “Seasons Of Sorrow” Tim, shares real-time reflections from the first year of grief, through the seasons from fall to summer; introducing readers to what he describes as the “ministry of sorrow.” In Chapter three of his book titled “In The Deepest Darkness” he writes, “I know I am heading into a future that is utterly unknown, utterly foreign,…. I am heading into a future I cannot see and will not see until future has become present and present has become past. A wise man once said that the true victory of faith is to trust God in the dark and through the dark. I trusted God as He led me through the daylight; I will trust Him now as He leads me through the thickest darkness. I may not be able to see the way I go, but I don’t need to, because my eye is fixed on the one who is guiding me there.”
In Chapter five “From Grave To Glory” Tim Challies says something that gives great comfort for those who are heavy with grief as they were at the cemetery, “Though my eyes are fixed on the dirt, my heart is fixed on Christ.” Our faith is tested by the fire for a purpose, that it may be found to the praise, honor and glory of God….fixed on Christ!
Trials Are Controlled By God.... “For a season” they do not last forever and that’s what produces this living hope that Peter reminds us off in the opening of this letter. Why do we know God is in control of our trials and sufferings? The book of Job clearly reveals who is sovereign over my trials and suffering. We read in Job, “While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you." Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job 1:18-22
When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He is in complete control. Warren Wiersbe said, “God keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. If we rebel, He may have to reset the clock, but if we submit, He will not permit us to suffer one minute too long.” See look what trials and suffering produce! They teach us, and refine us, for the next varied trial in our life, though they are painful.
Peter uses the example of a goldsmith. No Goldsmith would deliberately waste precious ore. Just like a carpenter measures twice and cuts once. He puts it in the smelting furnace to remove the impurities, and then he pours it out into a form of beauty and value. It is said that Eastern Goldsmith keeps the metal in the furnace until he sees his face reflected in it. The same is true for you and me in light of our sufferings. God keeps us in the furnace until He sees His reflection in us, until we reflect the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. As an Assayer tests gold to see if it’s what? Pure gold or counterfeit. Our trials of life and the suffering we endure, tests our faith to prove its sincerity.
A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. It’s a false faith and will be judged in the end lacking eternal life. "A sower went out to sow. “And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear." Matt 13:3-9. A little further down Jesus explains this parable to disciples only, “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." Matt 13:18-23. The person who abandons the hope we have in Christ, never really had any hope or faith in the beginning, it was superficial.
Jesus said those who persevere to the end will be saved. ”But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matt 24:13. Those who endure to the end are the opposite of those in the previous verses whose love grows cold. “For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” Matt 24:5-12
“he who endures to the end will be saved” cannot be taken to mean that our salvation is somehow dependent on our personal ability to remain saved. This is a promise of perseverance; those who have the grace to endure to the end are the ones who are genuinely saved by grace. Trials, suffering will never destroy the faith of the child of God. Trials and suffering might break us in the moment, but it will never destroy our faith Him, and the eternal promise He gives us. We might feel at times, “Where you are God?” but we know He is right where He has always been. We may not like the trial and suffering before us, but it’s for our good and for His glory. We hate our suffering but it refines us, and produces worship in us to the glory of God. (v8-v9)
Whether you see Him or not?
Peter says you love Him and your faith is strengthening with every trial and suffering. Isn’t that true in your life? Again! I am not saying we win every trial and suffering, but doesn’t it increase your love for Him, though you have never seen Him? What I endure in the flesh is for God’s glory as He grows, matures, strengthens, and refines me for eternity. What we endure in this life is nothing compared to what we have in Christ in Heaven. I know it might be easy for me to say that not knowing what you’re enduring through your suffering or trial……. but let me ask you.
Are you submitting to Him through it or are you
fighting Him with every ounce of your being?
Though they are painful and can hurt terribly in the moment. They are for our good, as God refines you for the next one until you are ushered into glory. Justin Martyr said, “No one makes us afraid or leads us into captivity as we have set our faith on Jesus. For though we are beheaded, and crucified, and exposed to beasts and chains and fire and all other forms of torture, it is plain that we do not forsake the confession of our faith, but the more things of this kind which happen to us the more are there others who become believers…through the name of Jesus.” In other words you’re suffering and how you respond through the suffering is a demonstration, or public confession of Christ, that causes others to look into this grace.
Our suffering is for our good, whether you see it or not in the life of another sinner who needs Christ. Spurgeon wrote, “Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood. The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die, if we are ever to conquer this world for Christ.” Tertullian wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The present we endure must be understood in the light of the glorious future that God has raised for us. (v4) Biblical Joy comes when we totally surrender to God and live life led by the Holy Spirit; through every affliction or trial that is set before us by a Holy God. (v7-v9)