The Purifying Fire of Trials
(I Peter 1:6-9)
1. Life is filled with difficult to answer questions.
Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?
If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a radio out of coconut, why can’t he fix a hole in a boat?
Why does Goofy stand straight up while Pluto remains on all fours? They’re both dogs!
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all those Acme supplies, why didn’t he just buy dinner? And why did he keep buying from Acme with their dismal product performance?
Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he can’t wait to stick his head out the window into the wind?
[sermoncentral Greg Buchner]
If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?
If the number 2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still number 2?
If a person told you he was a pathological liar, would you believe them?
Here is my favorite: How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
2. But the question we ask, time and time again, is, "Why do Christians have to go through so many hard times?" Traumas, break-ups, health woes, financial stresses, crime, abuse, divorce, wayward children, tragedies and accidents…on and on it goes…
3. These sorts of things happen to everyone because we are in a cursed world. But God can stop them, and who knows how many He has stopped? Yet often times He does not stop them, even in the lives of His own children.
4. As much as we want to live in denial, God has purposes for us even in our trials.
Main Idea: Our lives are orchestrated by God to refine us.
I. God Develops Us Through TRIALS (6-7)
? Introductory Comments
• We are commanded to rejoice because of what we studied last week:
1. God has chosen us for eternal life
2. God has showered us with His good will
3. God has regenerated us – given us spiritual life in place of our previous spiritual death
4. We now have a living hope based upon the resurrection of Christ from the dead
5. We have an inheritance in heaven that cannot deteriorate or be lost – because we are kept by the power of God.
• Now Peter brigns up trials
1. Difference between trials and temptations
2. Persecution is a special type of trial addressed in 4:12-19; our text is discussing the trials that can happen to anyone.
Do you know how many brothers and sisters in Christ were martyred in 1999 alone?
Approximately, 164,000. Fredrik Rich, Sermon central
3. Definition of the word, "suffering" lupew "to cause pain, sorrow" and it includes the "mental effect of suffering" (R&R, p. 745)
Trials are the miseries, the unpleasant surprises, the expected or unexpected events that get us down or bring stress to our lives… sometimes trials have a name, "Aunt Matilida," sometimes a description, "clinical depression," sometimes a diagnosis, "brain cancer," other times a state, "my daughter is pregnant out of wedlock." We may be forced to face our fears and experience things we never feared because we never dreamt of them. Trials include all the negative experiences we face.
A. The Truth About Trials
• be prepared, at least intellectually, before they happen.
• C.S. Lewis "You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears"
• Peter does not hesitate one bit, but tells us clearly that we should expect to suffer.
1. They eventually bring about JOY (6a)
2. They are relatively BRIEF (6b)
Turn to 2 Corinthians 4:6-18 shows they eventually bring joy & are relatively brief:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
3. They result in real SUFFERING (6c)
• God does not enjoy seeing us suffer! Lamentations 3:33 reads, "For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men."
• God did not enjoy sacrificing His Son, but He took pleasure in what it accomplished.
4. They vary in KIND (6d)
B. They PURIFY our faith (7)
1. Their service is VALUABLE
2. REFINED and PROVEN faith
A speaker mentioned his experience in a nickel factory: I stood in the smelter at International nickel in Sudbury, and looked into the furnace that was burning at I believe 2200 degrees. The ore was reduced to a molten mass, and the ore was separated from the slag which was poured off. Then that ore was piped over the aisle into another smelter that was heated even hotter, and again it was separated until it was 99 % pure, and even then it had to be purified still further by acid until it was completely pure. (sermoncentral/Allen Hern)
3. GLORIFYING to God
Main Idea: Our lives are orchestrated by God to refine us
II. God Stretches Our FAITH (8-9)
A. The power of FAITH
Faith is a powerful force; back in the FDR years, America got off the gold standard; since then, American money has been stable on the basis of faith. Money represents American goods, services, and resources, and the rest of the world trusts it. Faith is powerful.
B. The relationship between DOUBT and faith
• These were either second generation believers or they lived far from Israel
• Early believers had it made as far as evidence goes. I Cor. 15:3-7
• For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles…
1. But faith can only be exercised in light of doubt. Faith revolves around the character of God; when we trust Him (faith), we affirm that He will keep His Word; when we doubt Him, we are calling His character into question…
2. There is a relationship between trials and faith; trials often cause us to doubt; they can shake our faith, make us doubt God’s goodness, care, or power. We ask, "why?" and no answer is forthcoming.
3. But our faith is in a Savior whom we have not seen (unlike Peter); Jesus words to doubting Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen….and yet believe."
4. Our choice: to go through our trials with God or without Him
5. We do not punish Him by denying Him.
C. Faith and REASON
Faith, in the Biblical sense, is not contrary to reason; it is based on evidence (the resurrection…vs. 3). But it could be entirely wrong. Everything we believe could be wrong; there is significant evidence for our beliefs, but not absolute proof. Faith can only exist with the option not to believe. Faith is our decision to take God at His Word despite our reservations.
The Christian faith is based on REASON and FACT. It offers us a framework for INTERPRETING life’s good AND bad times.
Main Idea: Our lives are orchestrated by God to refine us