Summary: God’s Purpose,God’s Plan,God’s Provision, and Man’s response to purifying us and making us more like Christ.
“The Refiner’s Fire”
August 26, 2007
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness…” Malachi 3:3-4
I read recently about a group of women who were studying the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) This verse kind of puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot--then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.
She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that’s easy--when I see my image in it."
This morning I want to talk a little bit about the refiners fire. It is a biblical concept and it involves each one of our lives. We all are going through that process - or we soon will. I’ve broken it up into four thoughts:
You may not realize it - but God has a plan for you. He wants you to become just like Jesus. In our Church statement we say that one of our purposes is to teach Christ-likeness. As a church, we are to preach and teach people how to become Christ -like. The bible says,
“And we … are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29 TNIV
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4 TNIV
It is important for you to realize, first of all, that God wants you to become Christ-like. C.S. Lewis said that once we give God permission, by surrendering our lives to Him, He will not stop that process of purifying us no matter how painful or unpleasant it may be. It results in our great beauty - but it involves going through the fire to become pure. But we have this promise:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 TNIV
The purifying process will result in glory and honor and praise for us. It will result in us obtaining eternal life in a heaven so glorious we can imagine it. Understand that it is God’s purpose to purify us.
Second, we need to understand that God has a plan to purify us. It is a two fold plan. There is God’s part and there is OUR part. God’s part was Jesus. The bible says,
“now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation”
“…who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. “
Titus 2:14 TNIV
Jesus died on the cross to, not only provide us with salvation, but also to purify us. Because of the cross and because of the Holy Spirit, God has done and is doing His part in purifying us and making us Christ-like. But that is only one part of the purifying process. Jesus never does anything without our permission. He invites - but never forces. He illuminates - but never compels.