6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7
This section of scripture begins with an antecedent statement, point back to something.
What is the concept we should rejoice in?
Last week we closed with what this treasure was. It is the beautiful work of God in His grace by which we have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ to that inheritance that Peter described as incorruptible, and undefiled, that does not fade away and is reserved for us in heaven.
Having been grieved by various trials, haven’t we all gone through enough trials? It seems like sometimes we took the turn, made a wrong decision. We have to all live with the consequences that are results of our decisions. Think of the following concept.
Get your tickets
You’re far away, Alaska, Germany, India, and you’re trying to get home. You have been gone a long time, and you just want to get home.
You go to the Airport and go up to the ticket counter, and the ticket agent says, “Your flight to Atlanta is on time. There’s been some turbulence, but we absolutely guarantee that you’ll get there. Our plane is in great shape. Our pilot is fully qualified. You might experience a bump or two, but you’re going to get there just fine.”
“Hang on to my ticket,” you say as you make your way to a different ticket counter.
“Are there any seats available for the flight to Atlanta, Georgia?” you ask.
“You bet,” says the agent. “And we guarantee you’ll have a smooth ride. No bumps, no jolts, no airsickness. Guaranteed smooth sailing all the way. It’s the landing we’re not so sure about. You see, our landing gear is not working quite right, and we seem to have a problem with occasionally landing nose-first. Also, the brakes haven’t been serviced recently. But we guarantee the flight will be smooth—even if the landing is a little iffy.”
If you have to choose between a smooth flight with a crash landing, or a bumpy flight with a safe landing, you’ll no doubt opt for the bumpy flight.
There are those who say, “I don’t want trials. I don’t want to go against the world’s system. I don’t want to deal with all of those church disciplines you talk about. I just want smooth sailing.” They are fools, for although they might escape a bump or two presently, they’re ultimately headed for a fiery crash landing. On the other hand, those of us who presently deal with a bump or two along the way, will make a safe landing in heaven. Peter will continue to emphasize over and over throughout his epistle as he sets our sights on the big picture, on heaven.
Many times we go through some bumps and we persevere. We can see where a bump here and there is not that bad compared to the big picture. But there are those times when we go through hard times or difficult days, we can be tempted to say, “I don’t see anything good coming out of this trial.” Does the Bible say, “We see all things work together for good to those who love God”? No. It says,
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
We may not see things working together for good this month or this year or even in our lifetime. The Bible doesn’t say we see it. The Bible says we know it. That’s what Peter is reminding the believers to whom he is writing.
A key point to take note of in this section that will continue to unfold as well is how Peter shifts from “us” to “you”. It changes from the doxology where he was very inclusive with “us” to a more direct message that he was bringing to them.
Peter tells them what they think. How often do you write a letter telling someone what they think? What is this type of writing style used for?
When to rejoice
Have you ever taken the time to review, record and rejoice when things are going good? Not celebrate, but literally journal and capture the good things going on during those fruitful season in your life? This is a valuable habit that is often overlooked. Most people end up being in a tough time or situation and reflect back on when times were good and struggle to figure out what to do to get life back to when it was good. A true reactionary mode. Rather than struggling to try to figure out what changed by happen-stance, you can have clear definition of what you were doing when things were good. Don’t overlook the good times. They are valuable not only for the moment, but for the maturity of your walk. If you are not made aware of when things are good, it will be more difficult to return later to something you don’t have much details on.
Do you have an experience where you we in the shadows and struggled to get to a better place and it was not the difficult to change what you were doing, once you realize what needed attention?
Your precious faith
We have heard over the years, one way or another, the saying “refined by fire”. That symbolism of forging a sword or burning off impurities, and we tend to just use those thoughts in tough times. A person doesn’t usually desire to be thrown into the fire. We all know that we have things in our life that need some attention. We may even plead, “Lord, change me”. Yet we want the American instant version. Maturing Christians see trials in their life as opportunities, as a gift to persevere through some trials, for the better.
Do you have an example of a time when you had a big victory as a result of going through the fire?
Why do you think the readers of his letter were under the threat of persecution?
The displaced Jews Peter were writing to were still dedicated Jews. They may not live in Jerusalem any longer, but that did not change their God. As Roman rule was in place there were pressures to abide in Roman rule. The Christian believers were cast out in society. They were mocked and discriminated against. If not openly, at least in behavior. There were business setup to make money and lifestyles that revolved around the Roman rule, and when the “way” did not comply, it labeled them. When they did not comply with pagan culture that was prevalent, they became separated.
Do you have any examples where you get labeled a Christian today? Where you are either mocked, made fun of, or you know the air changes when you walk into the room?”
Even though we suffer unjustly at the hands of men, we never suffer unjustly at the hands of God. The concept is no matter how bad it gets here, it will be nothing in comparison of the glory, beauty and wonder of the future. In this verse Peter reveals that the refined gold that is in process is “your faith, the salvation of your soul”. Knowing that there is reward for situations does make it better. Just like the athlete that struggles in the gym, looks forward to the results of the reps put in solitaire.
Our faith is valuable not only to us, but also to God, who wants to refine it. Just like in any of our activities, we know we can do better with well conditioned tools, sharp knifes, sharp pencils, it sets our focus on the goal, not the activity. We can still cut things with a dull knife, and we can still write with a dull pencil, but the results could be so much better if there was some sharpening involved.
God values your faith more than He values your gold or your present comfort.
8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:8-9
What is the significance of this verse as it relates to the whole letter?
Peter is aware and moved by the fact that the readers of the letter love Christ, despite never having seen Him. This is a passionate, emotional fact that I think Peter visits often in his life as a reflection of times with Jesus. Remember the whole denial of Christ and the restoration and probably that whole condemnation situation where he cannot imagine not believing when he had spent time with Jesus, yet would deny him. There was another scene that Peter experienced and is really valuable in this context, it comes from the end of the book of John, chapter 20. This is in the upper room after the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection. So the believers and Apostles know that Jesus has overcome the grave and is not dead.
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:24-29
A precious and painful scene was probably very reminiscent for Peter when he was writing this letter. Jesus actually had to reappear to rebuke them for their unbelief, for their hardheartedness. They had not all believed the angel and the women, John and Peter, who were at the tomb. God places a premium on faith that is the substance of things not seen as indicated in Hebrews.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1
Trusting in faith is not easy. In most cases we have all faced situations where it is actually very uncomfortable and we just want the simple facts in front of us. Those challenging times when we don’t have the answers, when the enemy pushes in on us and doubt manifests it self.
We survive though those times, but it is not easy. It is where we are tested in a way that only results in us having to admit, we are not in control and we need to trust.
Things such as our heart continuing to beat, that air will be available to breath. Mere existing is more based on faith than we truly acknowledge. Where the wind comes from, how the waves at the beach don’t stop. There are more things in this life that you believe than you have ever seen. We believe there are places we have been told about. We believe there are organs in our body that others have. It is a reality that we live with everyday, yet as men we try to avoid the explanations. We just go with the idea, that it is just the way it is.
Inexpressible joy is a reality that human words can never adequately describe. Especially for men, when those moments come, we tend to just clam up and let the moment pass because we feel weak because we are not capable of sharing our feelings. It is awkward and uncomfortable. Many times when that inexpressible joy comes men flee.
Pay attention this week
Capture your thoughts this week of how you feel being a Christian is different than those that follow their own ways. How do you think you are “cast out” or separated by society, or labeled?
Relish the joy of life, sit and dwell in it and journal about it. Learn about it. Appreciate it.
1-2 Peter (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary) – RC Sproul