In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:6-9 NIV
In This You Rejoice
We can greatly rejoice because of what God has done in our live. He has given us new birth into a living hope and an imperishable inheritance. Our future rests secure in him. We may, and likely do, experience trials in this life. It is a natural part of life in this world. And even more for those who seek to faithfully live for Christ.
You probably find that most people around you will complain about their challenges in life. And it is certainly tempting to join them in that complaining. But, as believers, we can, and should, rejoice. Not because we like the trials and challenges of this life. But because we trust that God will use those trials in our life to help us to grow in maturity and usefulness to him (Rom. 5:3-5; Jam. 1:2-4). Peter will go on to express another reason why we can rejoice in our trials.
The Proven Genuineness of Your Faith
Is there any purpose served by the trials that we face? Peter tells us that there is. They have come to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith. Only a true and living faith will survive through trials. A faith with no depth behind it will collapse when the trials come. My response to trials will tell me, and the world, a lot about the reality of my faith.
Peter compares the testing of my faith to the refining of gold. The refining process heats gold to the melting point, which separates the gold from any impurities. The impurities can then be removed, leaving behind pure gold. So the trials I experience act to refine, or purify, my life; at least if my faith is real. When I am faced with life’s challenges, those things that are not really important have a tendency to be left behind. And I am left with what is most important; faith and dependance on God.
Praise, Glory, and Honor
The proven genuineness of my faith will ultimately result in praise, glory and honor. The question here is for who. Who will receive praise, glory, and honor? On the one hand you might see it as the faithful believer. In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the faithful servants are honored at the master’s return because of their faithfulness.
But you might also see this as praise, glory and honor that is given to Jesus at his return. He alone is worthy of praise. And our faithfulness points to what he has done in our lives, giving us new birth, and enabling us to live godly and holy lives. When we look at a masterpiece, we might praise it for how wonderful it is. But the real praise goes to the one who produced that work of art. In the same way, we might receive some honor and glory for a faithful life. But it is really pointing back to the one who made us.
And I think that points back to another reason that we can rejoice in our trials. Through them we can bring glory to our Lord and Savior. When we endure with patience and reliance on God, we demonstrate our faith before the world and glorify our Father above.
An Inexpressible and Glorious Joy
Peter is writing to people who had never seen Jesus. They had only been told about him. And yet they loved him and believed in him. This is much the same situation that we face today. I have never seen Jesus. Have never talked with him, and have never been able to sit at his feet and listen to him teach. Nor has anyone alive today. And yet we, like Peter’s original audience, can believe in him and love him.
But they did not just love and believe in Jesus. They were also filled with joy. And not just a little joy. They were filled with a glorious and inexpressible joy. A joy beyond anything that this world would be capable of producing. What produced this joy in them? It seems to be directly related to their belief in Christ. Their belief was not just at an intellectual level. But it was a belief that transformed them. They knew the resurrected messiah, and took great joy in his presence.
Receiving the End Result
Not only had they encountered the resurrected Jesus, they were also receiving the ultimate result of their faith. That result was the salvation of their souls. In 1 Peter 1:5, Peter looks ahead to their salvation; a salvation that was waiting to be revealed. But here he seems to be looking at something that is in the present, not the future. They were receiving salvation.
Salvation is not just the beginning of our journey of faith, although that is most often how we use the term. Nor does including the final salvation we look for fully describe salvation. Salvation also includes what is happening to us now. It is the transformation of our lives during our journey of faith with Christ.
The joy these believers was experiencing was not just because of the presence of Christ. And it was more that the expectation of their final salvation. Their joy was enhanced because they could see the work the Holy Spirit was doing in them. They were not the same as they had been prior to coming to Christ. They were being transformed, and took delight in that.
- How much joy is in your life today? Is it a glorious and inexpressible joy? Or something less?
- How might you come to experience greater joy in your life?
- What is your attitude toward the trials you face in this life? And to the trials you face as a believer?
- Is God being glorified in your life, and in your response to the challenges you face as a believer?
- Peter’s challenge to us is to rejoice in our trials. Not because they are enjoyable. But because we can trust that God will use these challenges in our development toward maturity and godliness.
- The refiner’s fire, or the carpenter’s sandpaper, is unpleasant to what is being worked. And yet it is necessary to produce a final product that is worthy of honor. So our trials are necessary to produce the person that God is ultimately shaping us to become. Learn to take the long range view and rejoice in your trials.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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