Summary: Knowing that trials are coming and understanding the reason for them is half the battle for the Christian.
I Peter 1:6-12 “Preparing for Trials”
Intro—As we were looking at the Book of First Peter last week, we focused on the rewards, if you will, of becoming a Christian—and we said that Peter tells the churches he’s writing to that the Christian receives a Second Birth—and that as part of that Second Birth, God gives us a living hope, an incorruptible inheritance, and a salvation ready to be revealed. Now, in verse 6, Peter tells the churches “In this you greatly rejoice,” and that’s true, isn’t it? We do, all of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior, greatly rejoice in the gifts our Father bestows on us.
But that living hope, that incorruptible inheritance, that revelation of our salvation, are not things we can see in the here and now, are they? We feel the truth of that living hope within ourselves, we trust Jesus to bring to pass all that He promises in His word, but we walk by faith, not by sight, as II Corinthians 5:7 tells us. And Peter is not writing a letter here to someone he knows personally, or even to a church he knows well…this letter was a circular letter to be distributed to churches all over Asia Minor.
And the churches of Asia Minor were beginning to be persecuted by the Roman Empire. The regional Roman governors in the area, at about the time this letter was written, had already begun bringing in anyone accused of being a Christian for questioning—if they confessed to being a Christian, the Romans tried to force them to recant—they had to pray to the Roman Gods and curse the name of Jesus...if they refused to recant, they were either sent to Rome for a trial on heresy charges if they were Roman citizens, or they were punished—some were tortured, some were beaten—at the time of Peter’s letter, it doesn’t appear that execution occurred very often, although that later became a common practice.
So Peter, writing to churches he doesn’t really know, wants not to just tell them about future rewards, but he also wants to prepare them for the possibility of persecution—he wants them to be prepared for trials. And so as we begin in verse 6 today, we will see that Peter tells the churches what they need to know about the trials they are either in or will soon find themselves in.
I. First, Peter wants his readers to Know that Trials are Coming—they’re inevitable...in verse 6, Peter says “In this you greatly rejoice, though now, for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials...that phrase “if need be,” means “something that is necessary in the very nature of things.” Peter is telling the churches, not that trials may come upon them, or that bad luck may bring troubles upon them, or that if they’re not true to the Word and the Lord trouble may find them...he’s saying that by the very nature of who we are various trials are going to come upon us…
Now, what kind of trials does Peter have in mind? Well, he can’t have the everyday trials of the world in mind, because he’s linked the trials he’s talking about here with being a Christian—he gives us a clue as to the trials in Chapter 4, verses 12-16 READ. So Peter is talking about the trials that befall us directly as the result of being a Christian, for confessing the name of Christ...and Peter makes the assumption that if we are Christians, then we are confessing the name of Christ, not hiding it, not keeping it a secret, but publicly professing Christ. So Peter wants these Christians to know that their trials are inevitable and are because of who they are and who they have become as Christians.
II. Secondly, Peter wants his readers to know the reason for these trials—It’s one thing to say that trials are inevitable for Christians because of who they are—but why? Why should trials be inevitable for Christians? Let’s look at verse 7, READ...I want you to notice that phrase “the genuineness of your faith,” or some of you may have “the trial of your faith” or “the proof of your faith”...flip back a couple of pages to James Chapter 1—in James Chapter 1, verse 3, James uses the same phrase—he says the testing of your faith produces patience—now James is talking about the process of testing itself...that as you go through trials you begin to achieve patience...but Peter says something quite different...Peter doesn’t look at the process of the testing, he looks at the results of the testing or the trials...your faith is shown to be genuine through trials, and genuine faith is more precious than gold. So the reason for the trials Peter is talking about is to demonstrate the genuineness of your faith.