Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE TRIAL OF YOUR FAITH”

First Peter 1.6-9

 

Life is full of various kinds of suffering. Though “the way of the transgressors is hard,” Proverbs 13.15, let no one be as naive as to think that Christians have it all that easy. Second Corinthians 1.8 shows us the depths of the Apostle Paul’s despondency on one occasion: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.”

If you have not experienced that life is very, very hard, that challenges can be extremely discouraging, and that one must face obstacles that are daunting, then you either have a very wealthy mom or dad who spoils you rotten by smoothing your path, or you are very young and have faced few of life’s challenges.

It is especially the case for Christians that God intends for us to face and deal with difficulties, for a very good reason, a reason we will briefly consider this evening. Please turn to First Peter chapter one, where we will begin reading at verse one:

 

1      Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

2      Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

3      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4      To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5      Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6      Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7      That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8      Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

9      Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

 

I want to speak to you this evening about the trial of your faith. However, before we come back to First Peter, I want you to read James 1.3 and Romans 5.1-5 with me, so you can see that this concept of your faith being tried is not isolated to the Apostle Peter alone:

 

James 1.3: “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

 

Romans 5.1-5:    1      Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2      By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3      And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4      And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5      And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 

From Paul’s letter to the Romans, we know that subsequent to saving faith in Christ, the Christian can glory in the tribulations he experiences, knowing that God uses such to produce patience, experience and hope in the Christian’s life. From James, perhaps the very first of the New Testament books to be written, it is presumed that the Christian’s faith will be tried, and that such trials of faith produces patience, among other Christian virtues. Our text for this evening is First Peter 1.6-9, a passage in which we can see some of what God works to accomplish in the afflictions of your life.

Second Timothy 4.2 shows us what a preacher’s ministry to people is supposed to be: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Therefore, my design this evening is to encourage you by exhorting you, by showing you what God seeks to accomplish when He brings affliction into your life, when He tries your faith.

Christians suffer. Christians have always suffered. People suffer, as a general rule, but most people’s suffering is mindless and quite meaningless unless the suffering, unless the affliction, turns the lost to a consideration of Christ, or unless the suffering is experienced by a believer in Jesus Christ. Then, and only then, does the affliction have meaning.

I speak to Christians suffering affliction this evening, to show you from God’s own Word what He declares through His servant what His purpose is in trying your faith. Five considerations:

 

First, THE TRIAL OF YOUR FAITH

 

Please look to First Peter 1.6: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” From this verse, we see that the Christian life is, for the most part, a life of great rejoicing. After all, we have joy unspeakable and full of glory, our sins are forgiven, we have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, and our names are written down in glory. That said, despite the reality of the indwelling Spirit of the living God, Whose presence in our lives produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, we must recognize that heaviness is a real consequence of the many testings we experience.[1]

Do you know someone who is always happy, who is always up, and who is always excited about being a Christian, who is always buoyant, who is always effervescent, and who is always bubbly? Then you know someone who is a really good actor, and who is either dishonest or is sincerely mistaken to think there are not times Christians are discouraged. After all, did not the Apostle Paul clear up the misapprehension among the Corinthians that he was never discouraged by telling them that at times he despaired of life itself? So, we can be agreed that First Peter 1.6 shows us that though Christians are most frequently rejoicing (even in difficult times, such as when Paul and Silas were in the Philippian jail), we can and do experience from time to time what Peter refers to as “heaviness.”

Translating the Greek word lupew, Peter is referring to the emotion of grief.[2] Thus, it is entirely possible for even a very spiritual and mature Christian to experience the griefs that result from the afflictions of life.

 

Next, THE TREASURE OF YOUR TRIAL

 

Verse 7 begins, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire.” The meaning of this phrase is subject to a great deal of debate among commentators. Some commentators insist that Peter is asserting that trials will purify faith and remove the dross, leaving behind only genuine and pure faith, which is more precious than gold. I agree that this is what happens, though I do not agree that this is Peter’s thrust in making this statement.

Keeping in mind that Paul declares that of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these three is love, because only love will last.[3] Faith, of course, will last until there is sight. When we see our Lord, there will be no more faith. What, then, will not perish as gold will eventually perish, if we know that even faith is not forever? What is precious in God’s sight, even more precious than faith, is the trial of your faith. That is God’s great treasure, faith that holds fast and continues to trust God, even in the midst of painful afflictions and suffering.

My goodness, do we learn nothing from the experiences of Job? Whose idea was it that Satan afflict Job so terribly? It was God’s idea. “Hast thou considered my servant Job?” Job 1.8, and again in Job 2.3. God is greatly glorified, and therefore is wonderfully pleased by faith that continues to trust God as worthy of trust, even in the midst of great trials of affliction. That, my friend, is what He prizes. That is what to God is more precious than gold.

Would it make a difference to you in the course of your pains, during the experiencing of your agonies, whilst the discouragments wash over you like waves crashing down upon you, that God is exalted and greatly glorified by the tenacity of your faith in the midst of trials? It should, because it does.

 

Third, THE TRIUMPH OF YOUR FAITH . . . HERE

 

The last half of verse 7 indicates that your faith through all this, “might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” For simplicity’s sake, let me address this phrase as speaking to the triumph of your faith through various trials on this side of eternity. There will be times where your faith will be very weak, such as with the intensity of a small spark in a fierce wind. However, owing to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, we know that no Christian’s faith will ever finally be extinguished.

With that comfort in mind, with that certainty bolstering your heart even in the darkest hour, know what your faith’s triumph in this life guarantees. It guarantees praise, it guarantees honor, and it guarantees glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. What are the precise details of this praise, honor and glory? I will admit that I do not know. However, I suspect that since He alone is worthy of praise, honor, and glory, your faith during trials will somehow reflect on His greatness and majesty, and will more wonderfully make Him the object of the worship and adoration of His creatures.

 

Fourth, THE TENACITY OF YOUR FAITH

 

This is verse 8: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

Have you ever seen the Lord Jesus Christ? I have not. Though you do not now see Him, do you still believe in Him, trust Him, and embrace Him as the Savior of your immortal soul? This all being true, never having seen Him, do you not “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”? It is the very nature of faith not to see, but to trust still. Faith, that grace which acquires, that grace which apprehends God’s blessings (beginning with His Son), is the means through which God’s love for you is received and nurtured, and in turn loves the Savior who is as yet unseen.

Through faith, the sinner embraces Christ and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Though the Spirit is not mentioned in this verse, it is the indwelling Spirit who creates joy in the Christian’s bosom that is expressed in rejoicing that is unspeakable and full of glory, which refers to being full of great esteem for the Savior. What else would you call such a thing as faith, that can believe in someone never seen, that can rejoice over someone never physically encountered, and that can greatly glorify someone in absentia? Is not tenacity a good word to describe such faith, especially in the face of great opposition and severe trials? I think tenacity is a great word for the kind of faith that hangs on, which is the kind of faith that saves.

 

Finally, THE TRIUMPH OF YOUR FAITH . . . HEREAFTER

 

Verse 9: “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

This does not refer to that occasion when you were justified by faith in Christ and were saved from the penalty of sins, or to the process over time of you being saved from the power of sins. This looks forward to the completion of it all, the fulfillment of it all, when you are finally and forever delivered from the presence of sin and made to live forever in a glorified body and the eternal abode of your soul.

Though you travel a winding and sometimes confusing and discouraging road through this life, be assured that your faith in Christ as the great Object of your faith has but one end, one goal, one conclusion, and that is your resurrection. Keep in mind that Jesus is the first fruits, “afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”[4] Therefore, my friend in afflictions, my brother and sister in trials, my co-laborer in the hardships and discouragements of the gospel ministry, keep your eyes on the prize.

 

Some Christians you know seem to always be optimistic and hopeful. Others you know are famous for their toughness and indomitable spirit. Still others are always on an even keel, never being very high and never being very low. Therefore, you might think that is the way life is supposed to be lived.

Not so. God gave us emotions for a reason. Not that we would be ruled by our emotions, as so many of us have been so much of the time, but so we could live by faith and trust God and His Son Jesus enough during our trials of faith to conquer our emotions and to rule over them.

That we are emotional beings, and that there is nothing wrong with being an emotional creature, is clearly seen in First Peter 1.6, where Peter acknowledges without rebuke that his readers experienced “heaviness,” they suffered grief, which is clearly a deeply emotional experience.

Why do Christians suffer “heaviness”? Because we care. Because we feel. Because of our commitment. Because we are only human. Those who never suffer grief associated with the trials of their faith are quite simply lost.

What is the main thrust of this passage about the suffering experienced by a Christian’s trials of faith? Consider how much God treasures the response of your faith to these trials. Keep in mind that He is praised, He is honored, and He is greatly glorified by the way your faith reacts to challenges and testings sent your way by God.

In short, and to conclude, you are significant. Even though you may not be important to everyone you know, you are profoundly important to God, and to His Son Jesus. Your faith is tested, and the trying of your faith reflects on God just as did Job’s faith when he was tested.

The implications of recognizing this? God wants you to succeed when He tests you. His desire is for you to triumph when He sends afflictions your way. He has no interest in you coming up short or failing, for that would reflect poorly on Him. No, His desire is to work in your life so His greatness and His glory can be seen in the way you handle the difficult issues of life.



[1] Galatians 5.22-23

[2] Wayne Grudem, The First Epistle Of Peter, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), page 62.

[3] 1 Corinthians 13.13

[4] 1 Corinthians 15.23



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org