Home  Creekside Evangelical Free Church

Sermons Library  Sermons & Articles & Writings

Audio  Listen Online

Sermon Based Study  Study


FAITHFULNESS AND TRIALS
1 PETER 1:7

Alex Thengvall
January 6, 2013


1 Peter 1:7:  “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (NIV)

How can we live a life of faith in the midst of trials?

The first thing we see in this verse is The Purpose Of Trials“These have come.” 

The “These” Peter is talking about are trials.  And notice who Peter is talking to, to fellow believers.

This is an uncomfortable verse to those who think that once you become a Christian your life will be all hunky-dory, that Christ is here to make your life comfortable.  We need to see here that as Christians we will experience trials, but our trials are different than those experienced by non-believers.

Our trials are connected to faith, we read “these have come so that.”   There is a link there, and we need to be mindful of that connection when we are going through trials, that our trials are joined with our faith.

Why is our Faith and Trails connected?  God wants to show us the genuineness of our faith.  I’ve picked a couple of the many examples of faith throughout the Bible to show this.

The first one is the story of Job.  In the beginning of Job we get a behind the scenes glimpse at a conversation between God and Satan.  In Job 1:6-12 Satan is claiming that the only reason Job follows and fears God is because God has never allowed for Job to be hurt. So God says, “All right, you may test him.” (NLT)  Why? to show Job as a truly faithful follower of God.

Now the question that comes to mind is one of, "Well if we are going to be tested to prove the genuineness of our faith, how do we know how far we will be pushed?" God put parameters on what Satan could do, and in the same way for us today there are parameters on what Satan is allowed to do.

We read in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (NIV)  I pray that when you are tested and tempted you will remember that God does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.

The other story is that of Abraham and Isaac.  In Genesis 22 God tests Abraham by having him take his son, his only son up the mountain to be sacrificed.  And at the moment where it is clearest that Abraham is going to follow Gods instructions, the LORD sends a replacement.  God does this to test Abraham’s faith.

Some have argued that since God knew Abraham was going to do what God told him, it was not necessary for God to have called Abraham to do it at all.  But as C.S. Lewis points out “To say that God ‘need not have tried the experiment’ is to say that because God knows, the thing known by God need not exist.” (1)  That’s like saying since I know the sun will rise tomorrow, it doesn’t have to rise.

So it was necessary for God to have Abraham go through that, and so it is for us today.  God knows each of our own levels of faith and tests us so that we may be encouraged and take strength knowing the genuineness of our faith.

This past year during school I have been experiencing a trial, a proving of my faith.  Who I was, was tested.  My beliefs my views had this constant heat and pressured applied to them, Christianity is seen as a backwards irrelevant religion, and is discussed only as a punch line.

Throughout this trial I had to continually take stock of what it was that I believed.  Did I believe that Christ is the son of God, came as a man, lived a perfect life, died on a cross for my sins, was raised from the dead and that by faith in Him, in Jesus, I could be made right with God?  I continually asked myself was what I believed worth fighting for worth holding on to.

At the lowest point I cried out like Peter when he said in John 6:68:  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.” (NIV) 

I had come to a point where I was thinking well is there anything else out there, because this is tough, and I realized like Peter that there isn’t.  So after a while I realized something: my salvation was being assured.

I’ll explain that.  Growing up in the church I received Christ when I was a Cubbie at about the age of 4.  As I grew up not having a clear conversion, Satan took that opportunity to whisper doubts:  “Are you sure your saved?  Do you really think that you’re going to heaven?” 

While I was going through this latest trial I realized this; why would I be holding on to so dearly something I didn’t believe?  That hit me like a 2x4. My own faith like Abraham's and Job’s was proven by trials.

The second aspect of living a life of faith in the midst of trials is to Value Your faith.

We read “Of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire.”  Faith is Precious Faith is Valuable.  More so than gold that was and is an incredibly valuable element.

Gold is worthy because… its worthy.  Because it looks pretty.  Other than being a good conductor there is no other use for gold.  Can't eat it.  It doesn't keep you warm.  It won’t shelter you.  Other to adorn and make things look pretty, its pointless.  Think about that… the world values something that has no inherent value, other than it’s rarity and visual appeal.  And it will like the rest of this world perish.  It will pass away.

I think Peter here is asking us to examine what it is exactly that we are striving for.  What are we seeking?  Are we spending our energy and time chasing something that will after we die or after the end of the world will be even more useless than it is now?  “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

While at school that is what everyone is trying to attain, the world.  But, through this trial I’ve seen that I would much rather have my soul.

So what are we striving towards?  Achieving and refining something that precious, and valuable, our faith or are we still trying to acquire what the world tells us is valuable?

According to this verse the end is this, that faith “may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  So the last thing is to Keep The Goal In Mind.

For the past couple of years I’ve had the privilege to work with Mr. Beames on his rice farm.  Something we do is plow the fields, creating rows that the rice will fall into when we plant.  The goal of this is to disc the straightest line possible.  Some old-timy wisdom is that the best way to make a straight line is to fix your eyes on something in the distance, a tree, power poll, line up a part of the tractor on that and focus on that, not looking back to see if you’ve made a straight line, not looking around, focusing on the point in the distance.

That’s what Peter is telling us, if we focus and keep the goal in mind trials will be a lot easier.  When we get a long-term, eternal perspective our trials become a lot more manageable.  “Let us fix our eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross scorning it’s shame and sits at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

My grandpa had his share of trials, living through the Great Depression, raising seven kids, my dad being the youngest.  But, he stayed focused.  We're lucky enough to have a recording of his testimony he gave and said that if he his life to live over and if he could start over again he wouldn’t have changed a thing.  He said, “I would go the very route God had chosen for me.”  Does that sound like a satisfied life to you?  As John Piper puts it “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”  Does that not show God to be great?

My grandpa past away this last year, at the age of 97.  I’m confident that he was keeping the goal in sight, that his faith will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

In this past season if my life this verse has been vastly encouraging, to know the Purpose of Trials, to Value my Faith, and Keeping the Goal in Mind has been my crutch through this latest trial.

Thank you for allowing me to preach which has helped cement this verse in my heart as well.  We know there are many trials and struggles ahead.  So let’s be ready.  Let us leave here keeping these principle in mind and live lives of faith through even the toughest trials.  Let’s pray.



______________________
1.  C.S. Lewis, "The Problem Of Pain", page 101