Friday, November 18, 2011

Rejoice in the Lord!

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.  (1 Peter 1:6-9)

Peter mentions suffering several times in this letter:  1 Peter 1:6-7; 3:13-17; 4:12-19; 5:9.  When he speaks of trials, he is not talking about natural disasters or the experience of God’s punishments, but the response of an unbelieving world to people of faith.  All believers face such trials when they let their light shine into the darkness.  We must accept trials as part of the refining process that burns away impurities and prepares us to meet Christ.  Trials teach us patience (Romans 5:3, 4; James 1:2, 3) and help us grow to be the kind of people God wants.

Why were Christians the target of persecution? (1) They refused to worship the emperor as a god and thus were viewed as atheists and traitors.   (2)  They refused to worship at pagan temples so business for these moneymaking enterprises dropped wherever Christianity took hold.  (3)  They didn’t support the Roman ideals of self, power, and conquest; and the Romans scorned the Christian ideal of self-sacrificing service.  (4)  They exposed and rejected the horrible immorality of pagan culture.

While there is much rejoicing (1 Peter 1:6) because of the salvation God has prepared for us, there will also be agony because of the pressures and difficulties of life. In 1 Peter 1:7, the trials refer to ordeals that we encounter in life rather than those things that would induce us to sin. Note that no one particular problem is in view here, but rather all the testing's of life.

As the purity of gold is brought forth by intense heat, so the reality and purity of our faith are revealed as a result of the fiery trials we face. Ultimately the testing of our faith not only demonstrates our final salvation but also develops our capacity to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes into His Kingdom and we reign with Him (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:9–12).  Otherwise, our trials, struggles, and persecutions refine and strengthen our faith, making us useful to God.

In 1 Peter 1:8, "having not seen" means that only a few believers had the privilege of walking and talking with Jesus when He was on this earth (John 20:29).  There is a final, positive outcome for trusting God through all the difficulties of life—our salvation, which here has an eschatological sense.  In 1 Peter 1:9, "salvation of your souls" refers to our glorification in heaven and perhaps the rewards we will receive for following Christ (Matt. 16:24–27; James 1:21).  Peter indicates that the Old Testament prophets knew of the gracious salvation we would one day receive and, as a result, studied it carefully and intensively (1 Peter 1:10-11).

References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.


Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Amen! I definitely wouldn't be what I am today if it hadn't been for all the refining fires, and hard times I've experienced. And the best is yet to come. He's not finished yet. He does promise He will be with us and help us as we go through our lives.

Pamela Keane said...

Wonderful post, Lloyd. Thanks. And many blessings to you. Pam

dfish said...

It's so easy to complain about our struggles, not recognizing that God uses them to purify and develop us. Thanks for a great reminder.

Brenda Rees said...

Hi Lloyd, yes we are told not to worry about the fiery trials and if we think of them as refining us, who wants to be tin when we can be fine gold. I have a poem that speaks of this somewhere at home. I will dig it out and put it on my blog. God bless you. Brenda

Lloyd said...

Karen - You are so right, "the best is yet to come". Thank you for your visit. God bless, Lloyd

Pamela - Thank you for your visit and encouraging comments. Blessings, Lloyd

dfish - Amen. If we would just concentrate of all the blessings God has given too us we really wouldn't have any complaints. God bless, Lloyd

Brenda - I think it is "human nature" to worry when we have severe hardship, but thanks be it to the Lord, He will get us all through the fiery trials of life. I look forward in reading the poem on your blog. God bless, Lloyd