Monday, July 08, 2013

1st Peter 1 - The necessity of trials

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials" (1 Peter 1:6)
It is very easy to lose our perspective on life when we face trials and tribulations. We can become so absorbed in what Paul refers to as our "momentary, light afflictions" (2 Corinthians 4:17) that we lose sight of the bigger picture: our reconciliation to God, our forgiveness of sins, our hope in an eternal future, and the ever presence of grace in our lives. When we allow our gaze to drop to the point where all we see is our trouble then we lose our "great rejoicing." Rejoicing should be the normal state of our life even if, from time to time, we must face trials and tribulations in our life. Difficult times will come and go, but our position in God will never change. No matter what happens to us, there will always be reason for rejoicing, even in the midst of trials. "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. " (Psalm 30:5)
"so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7)
Trials from God are never random or merely pernicious, they are always sent for a reason; "if necessary..." The distressing of our souls is always meant to produce in us the qualities and character of God. The testing of gold is a process by which the gold is heated up in a furnace until it melts and all the impurities float to the surface. The impurities are then skimmed off and the process repeated until the gold is completely purified. The refiner knows when the process is complete when he can see him reflection in the molten gold. The same is with the testing of our faith; circumstances come to cause the dross of our souls to be exposed that they might be removed by repentance and forgiveness. This process is repeated until the reflection of our Father can be clearly seen in our lives. There are few things more precious to God than our faith and He will do all within His power to see that faith perfected.
"obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:9)
Salvation is not a singular event but rather a process that continues over a life time. Paul said, "who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us" (2 Corinthians 1:10) Our salvation begins with our deliverance from eternal death and ends with "our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:23) However, in the in-between time, God works a saving work in our souls as we continue to walk with Him by faith. The outcome of our faith, and our endurance in the face of necessary trials, is the sanctification of our souls in the removal of all things that offend. The Greek word for salvation is a rich word and means to heal, protect, make whole, cleanse, and to save. The salvation of our souls is our soul's healing of all its wounds, the protection from all defilement of the world, and the cleansing of all impurities that we might stand before God holy and blameless. This is the outcome of our faith.
"and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8)
Herein defines our faith; that even though we cannot not see God, yet we believe in Him and love Him. While there are many spectacular stories of supernatural experiences people have had; visitations of angles, appearances of Jesus, third heaven experiences; this is not the norm for most Christians. While such experiences would truly be a blessing, and do in fact happen today, they are not to be our hope or the foundation of our faith. Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20:29) Our faith must not rest on what we see but rather on what we know through faith. The evidence of God is all around us and, even more, the testimony of His Spirit is inside us, these are the foundations of our faith, whether we see or not. What we see comes and goes, but what we know remains and is the foundation of everlasting joy and love for God.

David Robison

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