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Tested By Fire - 1 Peter 1:6-9

Peter’s message in these first few verses has been about rejoicing in salvation, which we see in verses 6 and 9, and it’s easy to see how the blessings in verses 3-5 would make anybody rejoice, as long as it seems like they’re coming true. But it doesn’t always seem that way. When you are living the life of an exile and a stranger, you don’t see salvation and glory and joy; you see grief, suffering, and trials.

Those are the objections that Peter sees coming, roadblocks to rejoicing: various trials, in verse 6, and the fact that they haven’t seen Jesus, in verse 8. You’re suffering, and you don’t see Jesus. So how come you’re rejoicing? In today’s verses, the Apostle explains why.

Peter faces the reality of suffering grievous trials head on. He doesn’t pretend that the trials aren’t that bad, and he doesn’t blame the sufferers for a lack of faith. But what he teaches is that the reality of grief in the midst of trials does not destroy Christian joy. Our joy is not based on a pain-free, trouble-free life, and so suffering can’t take our joy away. And not only does suffering not take away your joy, but Peter says that suffering serves to purify and perfect your rejoicing. For the Christian, suffering doesn’t hurt your joy, it helps your joy!

Suffering is a tool that God uses very carefully: He uses it for a little while, He uses various trials, and He uses trials purposefully. Peter’s reason why God chooses to use suffering as His tool is that suffering proves and purifies your faith. Why is it important that your faith be tested? Because faith is the instrument by which God guards you for salvation (v. 5), and how you obtain your salvation (v. 9). Only a pure, genuine faith obtains salvation. And so God uses suffering to answer the question: Is my faith genuine and pure? God’s goal in testing your faith is that you’ll pass the test, and come out stronger for having taken it.

That’s why Peter uses the analogy of gold being tested by fire: fire both reveals the genuineness of gold and burns away any remaining impurities. God wants a faith that will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus, and He uses various trials to purify your faith so that it will shine for all eternity. So when you are in the fire of suffering, you can rejoice, because God is doing something wonderful in you. That’s why the fire can’t take away your joy; fire makes your joy more glorious.

Peter has made the connection between suffering and faith, and so in v. 8 he moves on to make the connection between faith and joy. He does this by bringing up the problem of sight. He’s called on the exiles to rejoice in being born again, in a living hope, and in a future inheritance. But all of these things are invisible, and they are only found in Christ, whom we haven’t seen in the past, and don’t see now in the present. It’s hard for us to rejoice, since all these unseen blessings just seem like wishful thinking in the face of the persecution, trials, and trouble that we can see.

Here’s Peter’s solution: sight is not the only way to joy. When sight is not possible, there is another way to get to joy, and that way is faith. Faith enables you to “see” the unseen. In verse 8, Peter says that even though you do not now see Jesus Christ, two things are true: you believe in him (that’s that refined and tested faith in action) and you rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, and in so doing, you are obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

So is it any wonder that God tests and purifies and strengthens your faith? If you have genuine faith, tested and tried in the fires of suffering, you don’t need to wait until you enter the presence of Jesus to experience the joy of your salvation. By faith, you take Jesus at His Word and rejoice with glorious joy!

Genuine fire-tested faith is not just wishful thinking about Jesus, and it’s more than just a promise about the future. Faith establishes an actual connection with Jesus that brings the future into the present. Faith not only helps you “see” your future salvation, but by faith you start to obtain your future salvation right in the middle of your present trials, as you rejoice in the glory of Jesus.

Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 by CJ Bowen